My name is Floris Hermans and welcome to my guide on the best things to do in Koh Chang. This stunning Thai island is located only 350 km east of Bangkok and is one of the most underrated islands in all of Thailand.
The island is equipped with all modern conveniences such as high-speed fibre Internet, modern health clinics, supermarkets and many fantastic restaurants. Although, you don’t come to Koh Chang for its facilities. The wild nature is what draws you in and leaves you wanting more.
Seventy percent of the island is untouched rainforest with steep mountains, waterfalls and a great diversity of wildlife. Then you have beautiful beaches and sea which makes this island a paradise.
Mu Koh Chang National Park ensures that the jungle and ocean stay protected. So you won’t find any jet ski’s and banana boats in Koh Chang. Instead, you can go on scuba diving and snorkelling adventures and explore the ocean with a kayak or a stand-up paddle board.
What Inspired me to Move to Koh Chang
Travel has always been a big part of my life. In 2006 I set off on an overland journey with my girlfriend Marieke in a Mercedes Unimog from the Netherlands to Namibia and back. We drove 70,000 kms through different countries and worked in Tanzania and Malawi on the way.
We loved this journey and particularly enjoyed working in hospitality in Africa. Back in the Netherlands, we returned to our jobs – myself as a web designer and Marieke as a social worker in forensic psychiatry. We started saving money again for our next trip.
In May 2011, we took a flight to Singapore. The plan was to make an overland trip with our Toyota Land Cruiser (which we shipped from the Netherlands to Malaysia) through Southeast Asia. Our goal was to start our own tourism business as we travelled through this epic region of the world.
If not, we would drive from Southeast Asia back to the Netherlands. After six months of travel through Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia – we found ourselves on Koh Chang and we went for a little walk. We found Oasis on this walk and it was love at first sight.
The former owners were looking to sell this business. After a further six months of living at Oasis, gaining information, doing our own investigating and negotiating – we bought Oasis in May 2012. We never looked back from this moment onwards. What a place Koh Chang turned out to be!
It took a few months to sink in that we were actually going to live on this beautiful island. I’ll never forget this feeling and until today I still realise how lucky we are. Sometimes I go to the beach, jump in the ocean and turn around and look at the island – realising we made the right choice.
Favourite Place in Koh Chang: East Side of the Island
Koh Chang is such an easy-going and relaxing place. I love having the opportunity to be on the beach or in the jungle on a daily basis. Every now and then we enjoy a party and life is great. This island has everything!
Personally, I really love the east side of the island. It’s still quiet and there are many places that would be considered “hidden gems”. The eastern regions are big enough to feel remote which makes it an excellent place to explore and take unique photos. I always enjoy my visits out there.
11 Best Things To Do in Koh Chang
There is a rugged spirit and beauty to this Thai island. As soon as you step foot on Koh Chang you are immersed in steep, jungle-covered peaks and endless stretches of sandy beaches. Below you will find my top recommendations for first-time visitors to this island paradise.
1. Rent a Scooter and Explore the Island
Before you do anything on Koh Chang it’s important to sort out transportation. The best way to explore the island is to hire a scooter for your entire duration. This way you will be able to move around the island – from beach to beach and bar to bar – in a carefree and convenient manner.
2. Visit the Many Stunning Beaches of Koh Chang
Like all Thai islands, the beaches of Koh Chang are one of the main highlights. Jump on your scooter and go exploring! Some of the best beaches include: Lonely Beach, White Sand Beach, Pearl Beach, Klong Prao Beach, Kai Bae Beach, Klong Kloi Beach and Salakkok Beach.
3. Enjoy the Vibrant Nightlife of Koh Chang
Not only does Koh Chang have fantastic beaches but it’s also got awesome nightlife. From quiet beach bars, to booming sports bars and full on night clubs – there is something for everyone to enjoy. Lonely Beach is the most famous party zone on the island.
4. Go on a Private Boat Trip for the Day
One of the best things to do in Koh Chang is to hire a private boat and get out on the water for a day of fun. You can head down to the Bang Bao Pier where your private boat tour awaits. Enjoy a day of snorkelling, fishing, swimming in the sea, visiting beaches and having lunch on the boat.
5. Visit the Surrounding Islands: Koh Kood & Koh Mak
Koh Chang is the most popular island in Trat but there are a few surrounding islands that are well worth visiting too. Koh Kood and Koh Mak are the two other must-visit islands. The beaches in Koh Kood are pristine and untouched, while the landscape of Koh Mak is wild and rugged.
6. Hike through the Lush Jungle of Koh Chang
The interior jungle of Koh Chang is just as worthy of a visit as the beaches are. There are plenty of hikes and treks you can do – either with guides or venturing off by yourself. Along the way you will encounter many beautiful waterfalls, lush jungle landscapes and if you’re lucky some wildlife species.
7. Try the Amazing Seafood Restaurants on the Island
Thai food is always delicious and Koh Chang is no exception to this rule. The seafood restaurants here are amazing and serve fresh fish on a daily basis. I recommend exploring the many little towns and areas on the island to find a seafood restaurant that you like the best. You won’t be disappointed!
8. Learn How to Cook Thai Food at a Cooking Class
Koh Chang offers a number of fantastic cooking schools where you can learn how to cook traditional Thai cuisine in a relaxed environment. This is a great activity if you need a day’s rest from the sun. I can recommend Blue Lagoon Cooking School and Napalai Thai Cooking School.
9. Practice your Photography in Beautiful Nature
Koh Chang is one of the best natural environments to practice your photography skills. The rugged landscapes, beaches, interior rainforest and lush mountain peaks are a photographer’s dream. Of course, there are the friendly and fun locals too who are always happy to be photographed.
10. Kayak around the Smaller Islands of Koh Chang
Kayaking is a great way to explore some of the smaller islands around Koh Chang. Many resorts have kayaks which you can hire or you can go on a guided kayaking tour. If you are staying in the Klong Prao or Kai Bae areas then there are six small islands offshore which you can explore by kayak.
11. Do some Stand-Up Paddleboarding off Lonely Beach
Lonely Beach is a backpacker haven that offers beautiful white sandy shores with warm waters to go swimming. It’s a great little spot to hang out with other travellers and go stand-up paddleboarding around the area. Not a bad way to refresh yourself after a night of partying in Koh Chang!
Amazing People, Culture and Food of Koh Chang
There are many locals living on the island. It’s a great mix of people from all over Thailand. Mostly you will find people that are adventurous and who want to build a life somewhere on an island. Over the years, we have made many friends, especially with people living here long-term.
Food is a big part of everyday life in Koh Chang. There is a great selection of restaurants with exciting new places opening up every year. The nightlife is also fantastic on Koh Chang, especially at places like Lonely Beach. Some of my favourite restaurants, bars and accommodation are:
- Blue Lagoon Restaurant (Klong Prao)
- Oasis Restaurant (our own place in Lonely Beach)
- Joy Cottage (Lonely Beach)
- Buddha View Restaurant (Bang Bao)
- Cabana (Kai Bae)
- Mordi E Fuggi Italian Restaurant (Kai Bae)
- Alaturka Turkish Restaurant (White Sands Beach)
- Warapura Resort Restaurant (Lonely Beach)
- The Spa (East Koh Chang)
What you Need to Know Before you Go
Koh Chang is big. So be prepared to go on some adventures and explore this vast island. Make sure you can drive a scooter. This is the best way to explore. Also bring your trekking shoes and get ready for some adventures.
If you love photography (like I do), this island will offer you endless opportunities to take some great photos. Bring your camera gear and start shooting. Thanks for reading my guide on the best things to do in Koh Chang. I hope to see you on this Thai island paradise one day soon!