STOP THE PRESS. Off-the-beaten track travel still exists in Thailand. Koh Chang is one of Thailand’s least developed islands: a beautiful slice of land covered in rainforest, mountain peaks and untouched beaches. In fact, so rugged is the terrain, not even McDonald’s dares to brandish its golden arches.
This refreshing lack of commercialism allows visitors to step back in time, to a Thailand that existed 15-years earlier. The white sand beaches straddling Koh Chang’s west coast aren’t tourist-tastic, and instead, more in tune with their local roots, and although the not-so-lonely ‘Lonely Beach’ is a populous hangout, work your way south and you’ll find coastal villages with little more than a few houses, seafood restaurants and golden sand. Pure relaxation is order of the day here.
Whether you’re after shaded naps and fresh coconuts, or waterfall hikes and diving off the coastline, accessible wilderness is what Koh Chang is all about. For the full island experience, the best time to visit is between November and March. Avoid monsoon season because unlike the mainland, showery spells are more akin to torrential rainstorms. Visitors fly from Bangkok to Trat, then ferry to Koh Chang, which takes between 20-45 minutes. You’ll then need to taxi, shuttle or transfer to your resort. For those living the high-life, certain 5-star resorts transport guests from Trat via speedboat (weather dependent). For others, a basic beach hut, with shared amenities and no-frills facilities might be more your cup of tea.
However you decide to experience Koh Chang, one thing is definite, you’ll be impressed by how pristine it remains.
OUR FAVOURITE THINGS TO SEE AND DO AROUND KOH CHANG.
1 | WHITE SANDS BEACH NIGHT MARKET. The streets are fringed with pop-up stalls, and the delicious Thai street food is a no-brainer.
2 | KAI BAE WATERFALL. A relatively easy 10-minute hike leads to a secluded and peaceful waterfall.
3 | LONELY BEACH. Fun and cheerful, the beach is great and everyone’s out for a good time. For relaxation, try a sea-fronting yoga class.
4 | BANG BAO. Soak up the small local vibe of a traditional fisherman’s village. Walk the pier, unwind on the beach, eat fresh seafood and book a snorkelling trip.
5 | HAT SAI NOI BEACH. Head to a massage hut for a Thai massage. If you’re a little pink from the sun, ask for an aloe vera massage.