It’s our second visit to Thailand. We came here for a really long stay when we first began our world travels. During that time, we moved around a lot, packing in as much as possible. Seven years later, we arrived on the island of Koh Change with zero plans and zero expectations. It turns out Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow, is a perfect island for just that.
How to Get to Koh Chang
Just off the coast of mainland Thailand, and an hour flight southeast from Bangkok is Koh Chang. There are several islands in this area. Fly from Bangkok to Trat (about an hour flight) and then secure a van on arrival at the airport. The van takes you from the airport, onto the ferry and across, then down the Island to your accommodations. We were the last ones to be delivered since we are so far south. Most visitors stay in the White Sand or Lonely Beach area. Cost for the airport to door service was about $21 pp.
Another option is to take a car or van from the Bangkok Airport. This was something we did not know you could do, and if we hadn’t already booked and paid for our flight we would have done this. This option, though it involves about a 4 hour drive, gets you to Bangkok at your desired time…not when the Trat flight arrives. We had a six hour layover in Bangkok. It wasn’t horrible but if we had it to do again we would hire a car or van.
Where We Stayed
We booked an Airbnb in Bang Bao, which much to our surprise, ended up being at the very ends of the earth in Koh Chang. The road only goes about a half a mile past our condo. But there are still some things in the Bang Bao area; several small bungalow type accommodations, a handful of Thai restaurants easily walkable and the Bang Bao pier where most of the snorkel boats go from. Apparently the road used to not end here. It used to go all the around the bottom of the island, but it washed out and has yet to be repaired. Our guide told us he didn’t think it ever would be.
We chose a lovely view condo at the Tranquilty Bay Residence. It’s kind of a strange place though. We loved the view and the pool too. But the complex, like so many places in Thailand, appears to have over reached a bit. It’s really big, but about a third of the units have not been finished. During our 30 day stay there were perhaps ten units occupied out of forty or more. Apparently there was a restaurant at one time, but not anymore.
We booked our condo through Airbnb and paid $80 per night which was a discounted price due to our long stay. The view though…amazing.
We spent the entire month of January in Koh Chang and we had great weather. The rainy season is over by November, but there still can be an occasional shower. It was mid to upper 80’s Fahrenheit every day.
We aren’t confident scooter people, but scooters are the way most people, locals and visitors alike, get around. We were surprised to learn the Taxi Union is strong and so Tuk Tuk’s are forbidden on the island. That was disappointing because we love Tuk Tuk’s. Because of the remote location of our condo, you can’t just stand outside and expect a taxi to go by. Renting a car is also a hassle. So, we managed to hook up with a taxi driver and contacted him on WhatsAp the few times we needed a ride.
I need to mention that this remote location brought with it some challenges as far as getting groceries. An easy walk to a decent 7-11 as well as a nice but tiny store that provided fruit, veg, coffee, toilet paper, rice and even fresh shrimp and chicken. We used those as needed but the two times we did tours (see below) we paid a driver to also take us to the much larger supermarkets in the town of White Sands Beach. By doing this we were able to have a good selection of ingredients for meals we made at home and then we ate out about once a week. See more about restaurants below.
Things To Do
Well we spent most of our time just hanging out. We did our morning run in our neighborhood (hilly, and aggressive monkeys hanging out in the road), did yoga on our beautiful deck and then spent a couple hours at the pool most days. I read seven books in the month of January so that tells you how my days went. But all that said there are some fun and interesting things to do on Koh Chang, if you get bored of the beach or pool. Check out this list;
We hooked up with Coco Dee Bo Tours on the island and booked a couple of tours through them. In an effort to get a feel for the island, we did a full day island tour. Our driver and guide, spoke great English and had wonderful insight to the sites on the island. We visited several beautiful view points, an elephant sanctuary, and Klong Phlu Waterfall. We visited a historic fishing village and took a ride in a traditional Thai boat. It was a great day.
We really enjoyed a private Bird Watching Tour we booked through Coco Dee Bo. Our guide was excellent with an amazing ear and eye to spot some really great birds. Walkingthrough both private land and National Park land we spotted 14 new-to-us bird species. It was really fun and a good little hike too with great flora. Highly recommend.
Bang Bao Pier
Bang Bao Pier is often a stop on island tours, but it is right in our back yard so we visited there regularly. The Bang Bao Pier is home to the snorkel and dive boats…all shapes and sizes. It is also where you might go to do some souvenir shopping as well as pick up fruit and vegetables, seafood or visit an ATM. There are also several restaurants, a few Thai massage spots and a 7-11. A few remaining active fishing boats are here and homes of fisherman. The ferry to outer islands and Cambodia leaves from here each morning.
Since we were on a mission to Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow we decided to hike to the Ghost Ship instead of hiring a guide. We like to hike and the abandoned ship is about four miles from our condo at the end of a long and dusty road. The story about the ship is that it was part of a resort, but when a guest fell or jumped from the top of the ship and died, people stopped coming to the resort. Today it’s an eerie shell of a place, but on the most spectacular beach. Staff (or an opportunist, I’m not sure which) collects 100 Baht (about $3USD) per person to enter and see the ship, resort, or go to the beach.
Bang Bao Pier is home to the majority of the dive and snorkel trips out of Koh Chang so it was very convenient to where we were staying. There are literally dozens of options; private, huge group, small group, family, slow boat, speed boat, catamaran…and the list goes on. You can do full-day with lunch and stop at five or six islands or choose half-day and stop at 2 or 3 islands. I would suggest use a clearing house like Coco Dee Bo to see all the options and book what works best for you.
Thai Cooking Class
We had the most wonderful three hour cooking class with Napalai Thai Cuisine School. At the class we learned to make ten things, all delicious, fresh and simple. I love Thai food and have cooked it often over the years, but taking the class was a way to learn even more. Our instructor Bunny was great. See the blog post I wrote about it last week here. If you come to Koh Chang, don’t miss it.
White Sands Beach Night Market
The night market at White Sands Beach, also called Walking Street, was a bit of a let down. I had envisioned the glorious night market of Chang Mai from our last visit to Thailand. Well, it wasn’t that. But I’m still glad we went. Mostly because the bustling area of White Sands Beach was fun to see at night….so different from the remote area we were staying near Bang Bao. The number of vendors at the White Sands Beach Night Market (happens every night) varies with the season.
While in White Sands Beach we also ate at Beach Tango, a colorful, toes in the sand bistro. A good choice when in this town.
Many years ago I had a Thai massage on the island of Koh Samui. OMG I thought they were going to break me in half. But this massage, at the Indie Beach Bungalows and Cafe was much more my style. Just enough pressure and very relaxing – with a little bit of chiropractic service thrown in. I enjoyed it so very much, I went two times. Everywhere you go on Koh Chang there are massage places. It’s a very Thai thing to do. Inexpensive too – starting at about $10 USD.
Where to Eat on the South Island
Since we didn’t have a car we didn’t wander too far for dining out, but there were several excellent places to eat within walking distance of our Airbnb. Although we primarily cooked in our condo, we did eat out about once a week and again the last few days when our food was pretty much gone. The following places we can recommend in the Bang Bao and Had Sai Noi area of the Southern most part of Koh Chang;
Indie Beach Bungalows and Cafe – this lovely spot is owned by our Airbnb Host and was an easy walk from our condo. We ate dinner here three times including once for their Tuesday night buffet. Additionally we ate breakfast here once. It’s a great spot and inexpensive and the view is amazing.
Ido Ido Beach Cafe – right next door to Indie Beach is Ido Ido Beach Cafe. We had dinner here one night. It’s a bit more rustic than Indie Beach but we enjoyed the food and a nice beach view.
Pipin Cafe – with some of the friendliest people we met on the entire island, the Pipin Cafe was conveniently located next door to our Airbnb. We first had breakfast there one morning when the power was out at our condo. Luckily they use gas for cooking and they created an amazing Thai Omelet for me, one of my favorites. We enjoyed it so much we returned for dinner on another night and enjoyed several delicious dishes and ended with a giant Mango Sticky Rice.
Nongyim Seafood Bang Bao – on the Bang Bao Pier we discovered a tiny little place highly rated for Seafood. We had only eaten shrimp since arriving, and really wanted to try the local fish. We we went to Nongyim where we had a whole fried Seabass as well as some great squid salad. Really enjoyed it.
Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow
So that is how we spent our month on the island of Koh Chang. Most people don’t come for a whole month. Four days would give you time to see and do a lot. A week would be perfect. Or stay a month, and take it slow.
Thanks for reading my post Koh Chang Thailand – Take it Slow. See last week’s post Cooking with Napalai Thai Cuisine, Koh Chang Thailand.
We are headed to Europe now for the next three months. Stay tuned!
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