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It was only a few years back that visitors to Koh Chang (Elephant Island) remember it as a mountainous sleepy town nestled among coconut trees. Tourists were given the simplest of accommodations. But now, Koh Chang is a boomtown where moderately priced bungalows to luxury resorts can be found on the west side of the island.
Modern thatched roof bungalow resorts are plenty, sitting on spacious land and wide beaches. Yet this large island also gives visitors hotels and resorts with modern architecture and amenities of an international standard.
Located in the eastern part of Thailand, Koh Chang (Ko Chang) is close to the border of Cambodia. Around 85 per cent of Koh Chang (Ko Chang), along with 50 smaller islands, is part of the Mu Koh Chang (Ko Chang) Marine National Park. Clear waters of varying shades of blue surround the island and a terrain of high peaks and steep cliffs provide magnificent scenic points.
In 2003, Koh Chang (Ko Chang) was able to get a special status that meant less bureaucratic management while the government would finance infrastructure like wastewater treatment facilities, garbage treatment sites and piers. While it is a place that faces rapid growth the communities tries its best to maintain an ecologically sound environment.
Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok, Phuket and Ko Samui to a new airport at Trat. There are flights out of Bangkok day which takes about 45 minutes. Onward flights leave at 8:30 (PG310) and 16:10 (PG316) and return at 9:40 (PG311) and 17:20 (PG317), costing around 4,000 baht for the return journey. For reservations, call the Bangkok office on +66 (0) 2265 5555 and Trat +66 (0) 3952 5299-300. For more information and bookings.
By air-conditioned bus
First/second-class and VIP air-con buses leave from the Eastern Bus Terminal at Ekkamai, on Sukhumvit Road, which is conveniently serviced by the BTS Skytrain. The return fare to Trat — the stopping off point for Ko Chang — ranges from 147 baht for second-class coaches to 420 baht for the VIP coach. From the Trat bus terminal, take a cab or minibus to the ferry at Laem Ngop, which should cost you around 200 baht.
Getting out of Bangkok is always going to be troublesome unless you leave very late at night or early in the morning. But one of the most painless ways to travel is order a taxi that will take you all the way to the ferry port at Ko Chang. If you\'re a good negotiator, you can pay as little as 2,500 baht one way.
Dusit Princess Resort
Ao Bai Lan
Start: 3,550 THB .
Bang Bao Bay
Start: 2,350 THB .
Koh Chang Grand Lagoona
Bang Bao Bay
Start: 1,800 THB .
Sea View Resort & Spa
Kai Bae Beach
Start: 1,750 THB .
Klong Prao Resort
Klong Prao Beach
Start: 1,000 THB .
Koh Chang Resort & Spa
Klong Prao Beach
Start: 2,000 THB .
Kooh Mak Buri Hut Natural Resort
Start: 1,000 THB .
Koh Chang Lagoon Resort
White Sand Beach
Start: 1,600 THB .
Diving and snorkelling
The best dive sites are the seamounts off the southern coast to the island of Ko Kut, the best site being at Ko Wai where there is intensely colourful coral reefs, with depths of five to 18 metres. During the rainy season visibility can be poor and the best time to visit is from November to April. There are many dive centres offering specialising in PADI certificates on most of the main beaches. Prices range from $70-$280 per person. There is no snorkelling to speak of in Ko Chang itself, but the outer islands can easily be reached by boat.
There are a series of scenic waterfalls across the island. It costs 200 baht to enter the national parks. On the east coast the Nam Tok Mayom waterfall has three waterfalls and can be climbed in under an hour. A smaller waterfall at Nam Tok Klong Phu on the west coast can be reached via Khlong Prao. There are plunge pools to cool yourself off after the trek to the falls. There are other, less impressive falls in Khlong Son, White Sands Beach and Kai Bae.
Elephant trekking and walking
On Khlong Prao, Chang Chutiman offer elephant safaris into the interior for 150 baht for half and hour and 500 baht for an hour. Or, if you prefer to do it on foot, you can take a hike yourself. The best place to start is from the southern end of the island. But be warned, it is advisable to hire a local guide!
Sailing amongst the islands of Ko Chang with Thida Yachting Co Ltd between November and March, when you can count on steady winds of 15-30 knots. This time of the year there is the most agreeable climate too. 2-day trips available from 7,500 baht, 3-day trips from 11,000 baht, or charter a boat with a skipper from $400 per day.