Koh Chang is a beautiful island located in the east of Thailand. It’s part of an island chain which includes Koh Mak, Koh Kood and Koh Wai. The island is one of the largest islands in the Gulf of Thailand and is loosely named “Elephant Island”. There are endless things to do in Koh Chang.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the popular Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi and Ko Pha Ngan then Koh Chang (and its surrounding islands) is an ideal choice. The best part is that the island is close to Bangkok. It makes for a fantastic destination to include on a Thailand and Cambodia itinerary. Start in Bangkok, head to Koh Chang and then visit Angkor Wat.
Koh Chang offers a lot! It’s full of nature and has a rugged charm about it. No matter if you’re visiting for three days or three weeks, you will never get bored here. Below is a list of my top 25 things to do in Koh Chang.
1. Visit the Bang Bao Floating Village in Koh Chang
The Bang Bao Floating Village is a great place to go shopping, enjoy a unique seafood lunch/dinner and book your snorkelling, fishing and island-hopping tours. The pier is located at the southern tip of Koh Chang. Walk to the lighthouse at the end of the pier and enjoy 360 panoramic views of the village, mountains, bay and surrounding islands. Near Bang Bao is the epic Rasta View restaurant which is well worth a visit too.
2. Check out the Mu Koh Chang National Park Viewpoint
The Mu Koh Chang National Park Viewpoint is one of the best things to do in Koh Chang. It’s perched on the top of a hill which overlooks the forest, sea and islands in the distance. The lookout offers the best view in Koh Chang. Located right off the main road, the viewpoint is easy to find and free of charge. Take a short walk down to the nearby beaches of the lookout or plan your arrival for sunset after a full day of exploring the island.
3. Go Island Hopping to Koh Mak & Koh Kood
The best thing about Koh Chang is that it’s the gateway to explore some beautiful untouched Thai islands such as Koh Mak and Koh Kood. You can either do day trips to these islands in private speed boats or book a couple of days on these islands at another resort. I highly recommend staying for a few nights in Koh Kood. There’s an amazing place called Koh Kood Resort which has one of the best beach fronts anywhere in the world!
4. Enjoy a Beach Day at White Sands Beach
White Sand Beach is the most famous beach on Koh Chang. You’ll see it as soon as you head through Kong Son and drive over the steep hill. Wind down and take in the views of a 2.5 kilometre beach lined with palm trees. If you’re after buzzing nightlife and a beach holiday with comfortable resorts, then White Sand Beach is the place for you. Backpackers can also find solace at the northern end which is more chilled.
5. Spend a Day on the Water Snorkelling in Koh Chang
You can’t come to Koh Chang without spending a day or two out on the water snorkelling. The best spots tend to be the small islands located northeast of Koh Rang such as Koh Lon, Koh Yak and Koh Thonglang. When it comes to the snorkelling itself, it’s not the best in the world. But there are some fantastic little spots teeming with fish and a splattering of colourful corals. It makes for a great day out in the sun nonetheless!
6. Take a Tour of the Wat Salak Phet Temple
Wat Salak Phet is another one of those special things to do in Koh Chang. It’s the most famous and colourful Buddhist temple in the island chain of East Thailand. Unlike other Buddhist temples in Thailand, the design of Wat Salakphet only boasts a single main hall and small museum. Entrance is free and if you’re lucky you might stumble upon a fair which is regularly held at the temple consisting of stalls, music and food.
7. Gorge on Seafood at the many Koh Chang Restaurants
Being an island (and being Thai too!), means that seafood is a big part of the cuisine. Most Thai restaurants on the island will serve all kinds of seafood such as fish, prawns, calamari and an abundance of seafood-based soups and curries. I recommend checking out Jae Eiw Seafood which is a restaurant with a big Thai clientèle. Eating where locals eat on Koh Chang is often your best bet to finding the best seafood options.
8. Stay at a Beautiful Koh Chang Resort
I had the pleasure of staying at Mercure Hideaway. On first arrival, it wasn’t that impressive. I was disappointed that I chose a hotel chain. However, the longer I stayed the more I enjoyed it. It’s tucked away in the Southwestern corner of Koh Chang and it has its own private beach, beach bar, pool, gym and scooters to rent. The stretch of shops and restaurants close to Mercure are also some of the best on the island!
9. Watch the Sunset from a Unique Viewpoint
Koh Chang is bursting with magical places to watch the sunset. Bang Bao is one of the best places to get that sunset shot. Although it has lost a little of its charm due to over-commercialisation, it’s still a cool place to hang out. Walk to the lighthouse at the end of the pier for a great view. Another fantastic spot is Lonely Beach. Enjoy a beer at one of the beachside bars and take in the colours of a famous Koh Chang sunset.
10. Explore Koh Chang on Scooters
What’s an island adventure without scooters? Having your own transport on the island is an absolute must! Some roads can be quite winding and steep in Koh Chong. So scooters offer a great way to navigate the roads. You certainly won’t be the only tourists hooning down the hills on scooters too! It’s the transport of choice for most travelers alongside old army jeep trucks (but more on that later!)
11. Have Pizza and Wine at the Secluded Lisca Beach
Nestled in the southwestern corner of Koh Chang near the Mercure Koh Chang Hideaway is this gorgeous little pizza restaurant called Lisca Beach run by an Italian and Thai couple. The restaurant has candlelit tables on the beach and serves delicious pizzas, Thai cuisine and a great selection of wines. It’s the perfect place to go for dinner if you’re staying at the Mercure or any of the nearby resorts, hotels and beach bungalows.
12. Party at the Bars and Clubs of Lonely Beach
Lonely Beach is the go-to party destination on Koh Chang. Backpackers flock here from all corners of the island to party the night away at the restaurants, cocktail bars and nightclubs. There is something happening every night on Lonely Beach including happy hours, live music, free buckets of beer, live DJ sets and seasonal parties. Best bars include Ting Tong, Siam Hut and the Treehouse.
13. Trek up Khao Laem in Salak Phet
For the more active and adventurous travelers, a trek up the 650 metre Khao Laem mountain in Salak Phet is one of the best things to do in Koh Chang. The trek itself takes about 3 hours but it’s well worth it when you get to see the breathtaking 360 degree views from the top of the island. Once you’ve reached the top you have the option of climbing up a further 94 metres to the actual highest peak, Salak Phet at 744 metres.
14. Chase the Waterfalls of Koh Chang
There are seven main waterfalls to explore in Koh Chang. However, for most people seeing one or two would be enough to get their waterfall fix. The most popular is Klong Plu due to its large size, swimming pools and easy access. At the end of the inland valley behind Kai Bae beach on the west coast there is another waterfall worth a visit. The other five waterfalls are at Klong Jao Leuam, Klong Nonsi, Than Mayom, Klong Neung and Kiripetch.
15. Walk the Red Bridge – Salakphet Mangrove Walkway
One of the best spots on the island for a walk is the Salakphet Mangrove Walkway. This red walkway bridge was built for visitors back in 2006 so they could experience a previously inaccessible part of the island. The walkway weaves around beautiful mangroves for 500 metres until it reaches a stunning bay. Picture a 360 degree ‘sea of green’ with views across the mangroves to the hills in the distance. It’s a phenomenal place!
16. Try the Street Food of White Sand Beach Night Market
In the middle of White Sand Beach is a 100-metre long stretch of roadside which has been transformed into a night market. Every night stalls are put up by vendors selling everything from meat skewers to mango sticky rice and an assortment of other Thai delicacies. Prices are pretty cheap too. Sticky rice with meat skewers and a side of corn on the cob is less than 100 baht. Even better, fruit shakes are around 40 baht!
17. Rent a Kayak and Paddle around the Sea
Getting your hands on a kayak or canoe in Koh Chang is no problem at all. There are plenty of places to rent a kayak. More than likely you’ll be able to use one from your beach bungalow, hotel or resort. Rental usually costs around 100 baht per hour or 500 baht for a full day. The best places to explore are the small islands off the Klong Prao and Kai Bae beaches. You can also kayak an estuary inland with the chance of seeing elephants!
18. Chill in a Beach Bungalow or Guesthouse of Koh Chang
Koh Chang not only has luxury resorts but also some awesome guest houses and beach bungalows. Imagine staying at the Mangrove Hideaway Koh Chang which overlooks the beautiful Ao Salak Phet bay. Or stay in a cosy traditional Thai thatched bungalow at Little Eden Bungalows right up the road from Lonely Beach. The accommodation options are endless in Koh Chang and with a bit of research you’ll find your dream spot.
19. Hang out at Magic Garden with a Meal and Drinks
Another great place to stay in Koh Chang is The Magic Garden. The crown jewel of the resort is the restaurant which offers some seriously delicious dishes from traditional Thai to international cuisine. The Magic Garden Bar keeps patrons drinking until the early hours of the morning. It’s a great place to hang out with other backpackers, play a game of pool and waste away an afternoon or evening.
20. Catch a few Fresh Fish on a Charter
Fishing is one of the best things to do in Koh Chang as the seas are fertile with fish. Grouper, Red Snapper, King Mackerel, Barracuda and Longtail Tuna can all be caught off the shores of Koh Chang. Book your own private fishing charter with the team at Rodjanaphan. It’s guaranteed you will have a great time out on the ocean. You can also ask for fishing to be included on your snorkelling trip on a smaller boat.
21. Relax at the Beautiful Kong Kloi Beach
Just before the main road turn-off to Bang Bao Fishing Village lies Koh Chang’s southernmost beach: Klong Kloi Beach. This once untouched gem of a beach has become more popular in recent years – now surrounded by resorts, restaurants and bars. Nonetheless, this stretch of beach is definitely worth a day trip. The nearby Hat Sai Noi beach is another chilled out hippie destination worth a visit too!
22. Learn to Dive at Koh Chang’s Best Dive Sites
Diving is one of those bucket list things to do in Koh Chang! The island has a surprising number of decent wrecks to explore as well as rock pinnacles, reefs and marine life. Most dive sites are located in the Koh Rang National Park and trips leave from Bang Bao Pier. If you’re staying close to the Fishing Village then why not compliment your holiday with a unique diving experience. You won’t regret it!
23. Cruise on Quad Bikes with ATV Monster Adventure
There is only one company you need to call when it comes to quad biking in Koh Chang and that’s ATV Monster Adventure. With notoriously fun guides and amazing places to explore, quad biking is a great way to see that there is more to Koh Chang than just beaches. Cruise through inland streams, visit secret waterfalls and swing ropes, and enjoy the serenity of the island’s nature.
24. Unwind and Enjoy the Views at Rasta View
Rasta View has arguably the best view in Koh Chang. Kitted out with rastafarian colours and murals to Bob Marley, the bar blasts out classic reggae tunes and offers great food and drinks. The chilled deck setting has views out over Bang Bao Pier and is the perfect place to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand. Disclaimer: there is a fair bit of ‘green’ floating around if you know what I mean!
25. Hoon around Koh Chang in a Tan Army Jeep
Let’s face it: we’ve all wanted to cruise around an island paradise in an open-air jeep with the wind rushing through our hair, right? Well, if you want to fulfil that fantasy, then in Koh Chang you can do it! Talk to Tan and his wife Nancy at Tan Jeep Rental who will sort you out with an epic jeep for your time on the island. Their car yard is situated at Klong Son and is easily visible on the way to your hotel.