Guide to Koh Chang
– A guide to the areas of Koh Chang
Despite the island’s 217 km2, very few areas are populated, as 75% of the island is covered by unspoiled and protected rainforest.
Koh Chang’s tourism has increased dramatically over the last several years, and the time with backpackers who could find completely deserted beaches is almost over.
BUT strangely, most charter tourists choose to stay on White Sand Beach, which is why it’s still possible to find many beautiful and much less touristy areas.
A tropical paradise that offers white sandy beaches with powder sand, turquoise blue water, beautiful waterfalls, coral reefs, mangrove forest, a diverse wildlife.
In addition, Koh Chang’s is located in an island group of no less than 50 islands, several of which are very little visited by tourists and easy to reach.
Moving away from White Sand Beach, you can still experience traditional fishing life in the small villages of Dan Mai, Salak Khok and Salak Phet on the south east coast. And with a short stroll from some of the western beaches, you will find the most beautiful fruit plantations with pomelo, bananas and rubber trees.
Scuba diving and snorkelling are definitely the top spot here, but also trekking to some of the many beautiful waterfalls is interesting.
Scooters can be rented all over the island, and besides that a scooter provides a good and flexible opportunity to get around, it’s also the cheapest transport to the attractions.
If you are not into Scooter driving, you can hop on one of the many small open “taxis”, called songthaew, which are constantly driving around the island.
REMEMBER Riding elephants, or participating in other wildlife entertainment, is NOT an attraction or entertainment (at least not for the animals) – it’s animal cruelty, so don’t support it!
Guide to Koh Chang
– what the different areas have to offer
If you decide to go to Koh Chang, here’s a guide to the various beaches, what they offer and where to stay.
White Sand Beach
White Sand Beach is Koh Chang’s absolute favorite beach and shopping area for charter tourists.
Here you’ll find hundreds of places to stay, countless many shops, cheerful go-go bars, and every month more new hotels emerge.
If you love sunsets, then you should definitely, from one of the many beach bars, experience the sunset from White Sand Beach.
The Northern end of White Sand Beach
The 2km northern area of White Sand Beach is the most touristy of all of Koh Chang.
The hotels are located side by side along the beach and on the main street – which runs parallel to the beach.
The main street along White Sand Beach is Koh Chang’s largest shopping area. Here you will find everything from restaurants, souvenir shops and clothing stores, to tailors, tattoos and tour shops (as far as you can see).
At the northernmost end of the beach, where all the charter hotels eventually stops, a small oasis suddenly appears – a super charming relic from the good old backpackers days.
A small hidden gem
Small bungalows built along the mountain side, in all kinds of colors and several places with small balconies.
The atmosphere here leads you back to the days without sun beds and pools – peace and tranquility reigns here with today’s backpackers, lying in hammocks with a book and a cold Singha beer.
Until the afternoon, the water is so shallow that you can walk around the restaurant, which is located on the water’s edge and separates the beach into 2.
As the water rises, you have to walk through the restaurant to get on the other side with the last bite of the beach.
Funny enough, it’s almost as if an invisible line has been drawn in the sand between this Pippi Longstocking area and the charter hotels. It seems that the tourists in the big hotels stay on “their half” and the backpackers on theirs.
If you want to stay really cheap, then this is the place for you – but it’s probably also very primitive – and booking is done directly from the beach.
However, it should be said that if you travel with children, you can’t stay in this Pippi area for safety reasons.
The Southern part of White Sand Beach
The southern part of White Sand Beach is somewhat less visited than the northern one, but not without reason – the beach here is not very good.
If you prefer to spend the day in a sun bed with a good book and a cocktail rather than swimming, then this part of White Sand Beach is a really good choice.
The main street along the southern part of White Sand Beach also differs from the northern in that the road begins to move uphill and away from the beach.
The main street on this part of the beach offers more bars of various kinds and restaurants as well as cheap accommodation than shopping.
→ Check out where to stay at White Sand Beach (affiliate link)
Kai Bae Beach
A nice area south of White Sand Beach, which is far more relaxed and of a slightly higher standard.
The beach (though not as good as the north) and the town, is ideal for families, the slightly mature backpackers who prefer either a small resort or a bungalow, rather than large charter hotels.
Charter hotels are also found here, but are certainly not the majority.
Kai Bae Beach has a smaller but really cozy shopping area that is far more “laid back” than anywhere else on Koh Chang and the shops are of slightly higher standards.
Here you won’t find much party and fuss, but many good restaurants and bars.
→ Where to stay in Kai Bae Beach (affiliate link)
Moving further south, you reach Lonely Beach.
Once a quiet and unspoilt gem that only a few backpackers had found. Today, it looks a bit different and almost comparable to Koh Phangan’s Haadrin (where the well-known Full Moon Parties take place).
However, the area still “smells” of the good old backpacker time, where spending more money on food and drink is more important than sleeping.
Very atmospheric with many small and quite basic (some would call them primitive) bungalows spread around reggae bars (Bob Marley ruled big on the island), tattoo shops and cheap restaurants….
Most of these small and very cheap bungalows are not located on the beach itself and are often without a bath / toilet, windows and anything but a bed with blanket and mosquito nets.
On the beach itself there are resorts that offer bungalows of a better standard with shower / WC, more space, Wi-Fi and maybe even TV – and the price is still affordable.
The beach is not long, but with fine sand and water and a nice atmosphere.
Always great atmosphere at Lonely Beach
If you stay here, you must expect some parties on the beach in the evening and often with DJ’s and live music … you do not run out of bars in this area.
About 10 minutes’ walk south of the main street from Lonely Beach, you reach Bailan.
A small laid-back barefoot area with very simple but nice bungalows.
If you dream of getting away from parties at Lonely Beach, you will find plenty of peace and quiet at Bailan, but still with the opportunity for a night out, without having to return to Lonely Beach.
→ Where to stay in Lonely Beach (affiliate link)
Bangbao – Klong Kloi Beach
Bangbao is located on the southern coast of Koh Chang, and is probably the place on the island you come closest to the traditional Thai island atmosphere.
Here you will find “Thailand time” and everything is 100% laid back.
The beach is not quite big, but nice and far from overcrowded. Small simple bungalows are scattered around, some more simple than others.
Here you will find a fine selection of restaurants (and the food actually tastes of Thai food) and bars, all of which are far more relaxed than on both White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach.
Sitting here (almost by yourself) at a small beach bar with Bob Marley in the background and a drink while watching the sunsets is simply a pleasure on Klong Kloi Beach.
If you enjoy a cozy evening with drinks after a meal – then buy it before you go home – after approx. 10pm everything is as good as closed.
If you want to party and have fun, don’t stay at Klong Kloi beach.
The closest to town at Klong Kloi is Bangbao, a small pier from which boats to the surrounding islands – such as Koh Mak and Koh Kood – depart.
Bang Bao Pier
Bangbao pier is located approx. 30 minutes walk from Klong Kloi beach and the small shops are located on a waterfront bridge.
Almost all shops sell the usual Thai stuff, but prices are close to horrible expensive compared to other places.
The only reason to go to Bang Bao Pier should only be to take a boat away from Koh Chang, to eat at one of the many delicious fish restaurants or cafes, or to use an ATM cash machine.
The fish restaurants are located side by side on the bridge and all offer the same dishes. Just pick the one you think looks best!
→ Where to stay in Bang Bao området (affiliate link)
Other areas of Koh Chang
There are several smaller areas on Koh Chang, but most of them are so small and have so little to offer overnight guests that most people only choose to visit them on day trips.
The islands around Koh Chang
From Koh Chang, you can go by boat to Koh Kood and Koh Mak as well as some other small islands.
Both islands are small paradise islands which are still not overrun by tourists. The islands are definitely worth a visit.
Travel Tips for Koh Chang
- If you have any questions about Koh Chang (or anything else about Thailand), feel free to post them in our Travel Forum on Facebook
- Best search engines to search flights are on Momondo and Skyscanner (affiliate links) – even when it comes to domestic tickets. Both are among the world’s best search engines.
- The best hotel search engines are Hotels.com, Booking.com og Agoda.com (affiliate links)
- You can arrange tours yourself or you can use Get Your Guide or Viator (affiliate links).
- With Lonely Planet (affiliate link) you get one of the world’s best travel guides with lots of info and maps. When you buy 2 books you get a 3rd for free.
When you see (affiliate links) in our articles, it means that if you book tours and / or hotels through our recommended links, we earn a little bit in commission – thank you for your support.
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This article was updated on March 17, 2020.