Being one of the largest islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Chang or Ko Chang is a place that has it all. Dense jungles, beautiful beaches, a fun nightlife, and most of all, a myriad of fun activities and things to do. Loosely named as Elephant Island due to its elephant shaped head, this place still has its rugged charm and character due to the amount of nature around it. So regardless if you’re spending two days here or a week, here’s a list of a few of my recommendations for things to do in Koh Chang.
- Swing From a Palm Tree on White Sands Beach
- Hike to the Hidden Kai Bae Waterfall
- Take a Snorkeling Tour
- Explore the Bang Bao Floating Village
- Get an Aloe Vera Oil Massage on the Secluded Hat Sai Noi Beach
- Party Wild at Lonely Beach
- Hike Salak Phet, the Highest Mountain on Koh Chang
- Indulge in Delicious Curry at the Lucky Gecko
- Eat at the White Sands Beach Night Market
- Sleep in a Bungalow on the Beach
Swing From a Palm Tree on White Sands Beach
While nothing is usually the wrong thing to do, sometimes it’s the best activity while you laze around on an island in Thailand. White Sands Beach in the north of Koh Chang is a great spot to do just that. Sure, there are beach bars and boats to rent. But what’s wrong with sunbathing? Pick your own spot on the sand, preferably close to one of the many swings hanging from the palm trees. Since the beach is on the west side of the island, this is also a perfect spot for sunset.
Hike to the Hidden Kai Bae Waterfall
There are several waterfalls on Koh Chang you can hike to. Most of them are in the national park which you have to pay 200 baht ($5) to enter, and many of them require a guide to find. However, there is one which you can go to for free and no guide is needed. Just south of the 7-Eleven at the bottom of Kai Bae Beach is a road heading inland. Drive or walk up that to the end and take a left, then the first right. This is essentially a dirt track leading up to a village. Find a place to park, and then follow the signs (which finally show up) to the waterfall. It’s about a 10-minute hike. The waterfall at the end is secluded and peaceful. Chances are, you won’t find another person on the trail. To me, the seclusion makes Ko Chang one of the best islands in Thailand.
Take a Snorkeling Tour
One of the more enjoyable activities on Koh Chang is a snorkeling tour to see the coral reefs and clear waters teeming with fish. Tickets are for sale all over the island, but better (and cheaper) is to get the tickets on the boat itself. At the end of Bang Bao pier, several old fishing ships have been repurposed for snorkeling tours. They will take you to five spots, all within sight of each other, and many of them serve a full lunch on the boat. Make sure you bring sunscreen and plenty of water. If you enjoy diving, there are also a few sites in Koh Chang that are worth checking out.
Related: Best Dive Sites in Thailand
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Explore the Bang Bao Floating Village
Even if you don’t take the snorkeling tour, Bang Bao pier is worth a visit. The pier is an old fishing village built on stilts over the water. Many of the buildings have been turned into restaurants, shops or guesthouses, but there are still plenty of villagers who continue their lifestyle. Watch the fishing boats come and go, or eat at any of the great restaurants on the pier. Just don’t go for the fish. Unfortunately, they sell the fish to the mainland and then buy it back at higher prices. If you plan to head there, try Chill House instead for some great food.
Get an Aloe Vera Oil Massage on the Secluded Hat Sai Noi Beach
Most people are woefully uninformed as to the full benefits of a Thai massage. They go far beyond mere relaxation. A Thai massage helps with blood flow, digestion, stress, insomnia, etc. A Thai oil massage is even better, using herbs and minerals to rejuvenate the skin. Then there’s aloe vera, one of the best things to put on your skin after being out in the sun. After you’ve been relaxing on one of Koh Chang’s many beaches, head to a massage hut to get a massage and ask for the aloe vera. You’ll feel like a whole new person.
Party Wild at Lonely Beach
Koh Chang is no Koh Pha Ngan, but there is still a party beach on the island. Lonely Beach has been building up for the past few years as club central. The roads down to the beach are door-to-door bars and clubs, and several more line the beach. New Year’s gets particularly wild with raves and fireworks (except when the country is in mourning and fireworks are banned).
Hike Salak Phet, the Highest Mountain on Koh Chang
Waterfalls aren’t the only attractions to hike to on Koh Chang. You can also just hike through the jungles or climb the mountains across the island. Salak Phet is the highest point of the island, but it’s not easy to get to. While you can hire a tuk-tuk to take you out there, you might be better off asking your hotel or hostel if they have any tours heading out that way. If not, just ask around for the local hiking routes. There are also a bunch of local guides who will be happy to hire out their services for a day.
Related: Unusual Places in Thailand
Indulge in Delicious Curry at the Lucky Gecko
Aside from Thai street food, there are dozens of amazing restaurants on the island. Many of them have been started by expats, and blend Thai food with their local cuisine. One example is the Happy Turtle, serving a Thai/Swedish fusion. My personal favorite was the Lucky Gecko, where the owner serves Austrian schnitzel and sausages, while his Thai wife cooks up a mean green curry.
Read: What to Eat in Thailand
Eat at the White Sands Beach Night Market
There are few locations in Thailand that don’t have a night market, and Koh Chang is no exception. Every night, stalls pop up along the main road to ply their wares. While it’s nothing to write home about, if you enjoy good Thai street food, this is your spot for dinner.
Sleep in a Bungalow on the Beach
There are plenty of places to stay on Koh Chang, catering to all budgets. Habitat Hostel is the newest budget accommodation on the island, while several resorts line White Sands Beach. Perhaps the best place to stay is in a bungalow on the beach, with the sand coming right up to your doorstep. There are a few luxury rooms on Klong Prao Beach, but if you’re looking for privacy and quiet, head down to Hat Sai Noi at the bottom of the island for one of the many bungalows there. You’ll have a great place to swim too, where the water isn’t deep, and several massage rooms just a few feet away.