An island getaway to Koh Chang

A quick island getaway to Koh Chang, Thailand

On our last trip to Thailand, we had a few days to spare so we started looking for a quick island getaway from Bangkok. Sadly, my favorite island Koh Tao was 12 hours away so it was out of the question. We needed an island close by, preferable only a few hours by bus. And that’s when I thought of Koh Chang.

Koh Chang is the third largest island in Thailand, and it’s not located in the south like the majority of Thai islands. Koh Chang is in the east by the border of Cambodia, and you know what its name means in Thai? It means Elephant Island. Just like Koh Tao means Turtle Island and Koh Lipe is Paper Island and so on. 

I wanted to get some more information so we went to a tourist office and asked them how long it would take to get to Koh Chang from Bangkok. The tour agent, who looked more than a little irritated to be pulled away from her manicure, looked at us blankly and said it would take two hours.

Two hours. That’s perfect! So we bought the tickets right then and there.

But oh, Thailand. If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that Thais have a completely different concept of time. One hour often means three hours, and in our case two hours were really SIX. By the time we found out, it was already too late to turn around. Don’t you just love when travel agents pull a stunt like that?

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Once we got to Koh Chang, we found a hostel right across from a massage place. So after a few hours of wellness and proper rejuvenation, we went to the beach. This beach was different from other Thai islands I’ve been to. The water wasn’t crystal clear or turquoise blue like on Koh Tao, Koh Lanta, Phuket or many of the other Thai islands.

In fact, I felt a different vibe on Koh Chang than anywhere else in Thailand. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it didn’t strike me as cosy or laid-back like other backpacker places. It might have had something to do with the hordes of tourists, hotels and old men with young Thai girls we saw at the city centre. It always makes me sad to see this side of Thailand. I think it’s the most amazing country in the world, but the attitude towards trafficking and prostitution is disturbing.

Aside from that, we did have a nice time there. We spent most days exploring the island or relaxing on the beach, reading a good book and swimming in the warm ocean.

Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Our welcome to Elephant Island
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Thomas and his banana shake number I-stopped-counting
Koh Chang, Thailand


My favorite thing to do in Thailand, besides eating Thai food and getting massages, is renting a scooter with Thomas and drive around the area. I love it! We always rent a scooter on the islands, because it’s super cheap (around $9 for a day), you can explore at your own pace, and the traffic isn’t as crazy as in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. However, when we set out to explore Koh Chang, it started raining. Anyone who’s been to Asia knows how sudden and intense an asian shower is so needless to say, we got soaked within seconds.

On the positive side, the rain shower was short lived and it left the sky in all sorts of beautiful colors.

Koh Chang, Thailand
Who did this to us?
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Rainy kisses
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand


Rain showers aside, the food on Koh Chang was sublime. I have a long-standing love relationship with Thai food, and when I’m on the islands, I always go for the seafood. It’s fresh and so, so delicious! At most restaurants, you can pick your own fish and they will cook it however you want. I really like this concept.

Love Thai food, btw? Read about when I did a Thai cooking class here.

Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand


The food was great and the views were beautiful, but the best about Koh Chang was the sunsets, which can come as no surprise to anyone who knows me. We spent every evening on the beach with a cool Chang beer while watching the sun set in the distance.

Koh Chang might not be my favorite Thai island, but we sure did have a fun few days there.

Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand
Koh Chang, Thailand

What’s your favorite Thai island?

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An island getaway to Koh Chang in Thailand

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  1. Although I have been to Thailand many times I have never been to Koh Chang but my parents were two or three years ago. I have been to a the Andaman Sea a few times and on Koh Samui twice. My boyriend and I had considered to visit Koh Chang in 2008 but he got nervous when he heard that there is a higher Malaria risk than in other parts of the country and back then I wasn’t as chilled as I am now (I have been to places with a lot higher Malaria risks in the meantime) and I always take Malarone with me but only as a stand-by.

    It’s such a shame that there the ugly side of Thailand – old man with young Thai girls – are now also on Koh Chang. I didn’t expect them to be in this part of the country. Nevertheless it seems that you had a good time. Your photos are amazing and make me want to visit Koh Chang on one of my future trips to Thailand. 🙂

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I love Thailand, but the prostitution issue is a nationwide problem. More so in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, but Koh Chang is influenced as well. It is so sad.

      But thanks for the kind words! I hope you get to visit Koh Chang soon 🙂

  2. Nice write up on the island. The good thing about Koh Chang is that, with the exception of White Sand beach, it rarely seems crowded.

    Klong Prao beach, where a few of the pics were taken is always quiet even in peak season.

    True, the water isn’t as clear around the island as in other places. Partly because it’s close to large mangrove swamps & estuaries on the mainland.

    If you head down to Koh Kood or Koh Mak then you’ll see water as clear as in the south. They’re the islands to head to if you want to really get away from it all. No car ferries there. So no traffic and no tour groups. Plus no beer bars. So they don’t attract the ‘Single guy & rented girlfriend’ demographic. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the great tips on Koh Kood and Koh Mak! I’ll remember that next time I’m in Thailand! It’s always lovely to discover new Thai islands, especially those that aren’t crowded 🙂

  3. This brings back memories of our time in Koh Chang, which was about this time last year. We enjoyed many beautiful sunsets and the island was quiet as it was off-season. I didn’t like it as much as Haad Salad on Koh Phangan but it was one of the more relaxed Thai islands I’ve visited.

    1. I felt the same way, Amy. It was a nice getaway for a few days, but the vibe was different from some of the other islands, like Koh Phanang and Koh Tao. It was good for sunsets and a little quiet-time, though.

  4. However, it’s grown a bit over the years and is now the largest site about the island.  There’s over 1,000 pages of photos, reviews and Koh Chang related stuff.  Some of it is probably worth reading if you plan on visiting the island for a holiday.

  5. Hi Miriam,
    Came across your blog while fighting a self-proclaimed war between Koh Lanta and other beaches in Thailand. Don’t think I need to say, “good one”.

    Getting back to my own mental fight: which Thai island for a first-timer? A first-timer, oh did I mention, with a wife and nearly-6-year-old daughter
    Ilove the look and feel of Lanta but flights/commuting to and from Bangkok will eat up a good part of 2 days. And with a 10-day holiday, and itching to catch a bit of inland and Bangkok, that’s precious time wasted.
    Any suggestions? Commute apart, 3-4k baht is my daily budget.
    Any suggestion is welcome.

    1. Hi Shantanu,
      Oh, I know that dilemma 🙂 Have you thought about Koh Samui or Koh Pha nang? It’s a direct flight from Bangkok to Samui, so you won’t waste much time on the road. You could also fly directly to Phuket or Krabi, find a more secluded place and then do day trips to the nearby islands.

      Since you ended up on this blog post, I reckon you’re thinking about throwing Koh Chang into the mix? Just beware that you’re looking at a 6 hour bus drive both ways from Bangkok. And Koh Chang is not a “paradise island” like some of the other Thai islands (for instance the water is not as clear). But that’s just my personal opinion – lots of other people love this island.

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