Thailand’s second-largest island offers some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, untouched rain forest and coral reefs. By night, Koh Chang transforms into a party destination, with reggae-filled beach bars and seaside dance gatherings.
Hat Sai Khao, or White Sand Beach, is Koh Chang’s most popular attraction. As one of the largest and most beautiful beaches on the island, it attracts sun-worshippers like no other. Most of the resort hotels and beach bungalows are located nearby, so the beach is always buzzing with travelers. Arrive early in the morning to get a prime spot with your towel. Hat Sai Khao has the island’s largest concentration of beachside bars and restaurants, so cold drinks and great seafood is always close at hand.
For a quieter experience during the day, visit Hat Tha Nam, or Lonely Beach, on the southwest side of the island. This beach has cheaper, backpacker-oriented accommodations and appeals more to younger travelers. Visit on the night of a full moon or a half moon and join one of the island’s legendary outdoor parties held on the beach.
Join a boat tour to explore the coral reefs around Koh Chang. The richest marine life and clearest waters can be found around the small island of Ko Rang, so make sure your boat is headed there. Look for barracuda and the occasional sea turtle amongst the brilliantly colored coral.
Koh Chang offers the chance to spend time with friendly elephants. Feed, bathe and ride these gentle giants through the jungle, but be sure to book with a reputable operator for whom elephant welfare is paramount.
While the edges of Koh Chang are populated, over 70 percent of the island remains virgin rain forest. Hike along one of the many trails through the hills to see the wildlife of this untouched ecosystem. Visit Klong Plu Waterfall and cool off in the many natural swimming pools.
To reach Koh Chang, take one of many ferries from Laem Ngop, which is in the Trat province of eastern Thailand. Visit between November and April to avoid the wet season.