ith no less than 50 offshore isles, Koh Chang boasts the finest red gems, sweet Rakam fruits, indigenous dogs, the historic Koh Chang Naval engagement, and is the eastern-most province in Thailand.Ko Chang (Elephant Island) is Thailand’s second largest island and the primary destination for those visiting Ko Chang Marine National Park, which includes dozens of unspoiled islands. Located in Trat Province, about 300 kilometers east of Bangkok and not far from the Cambodian border, Ko Chang is 70% covered by unspoiled rainforest and the island’s permanent residents are only gradually becoming more involved in tourism as development has increased in the past decade. Now serviced by an airport just 15 minutes from the ferry terminal in Trat, Ko Chang is more easily accessible than ever before. Drawn to Ko Chang’s pristine beaches and sparkling water, more well-to-do Thai and international travelers have been discovering Ko Chang and numerous luxury spas and resorts have sprung up to cater to them. Nonetheless, the island is still a dream destination for budget travelers and families, with a wide variety of affordable accommodation options and numerous gorgeous and tranquil beaches surrounded by crystal clear water. In addition to natural beauty, the island is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including native birds, snakes, deer, and even a number of elephants. As for activities, Ko Chang and the nearby islands that make up the national park are great for snorkeling, diving, camping, and jungle hiking. The majority of tourists stay at Hat Sai Khao, Hat Kai Muk, Hat Ta Nam, and Laem Bang Bao, all of which are linked by a single road running down the west coast. Access to the island is via Bangkok Airways service to Trat or buses that connect to shuttle service to the ferry docks at Laem Ngop near Trat.Once the quiet refuge of backpackers in the know, Koh Chang (Elephant Island) has grown in popularity as a tourist destination since 2000, when the Thai government hoped to develop the island as the next Phuket. Fortunately, as Koh Chang is nearly as large as Phuket, a decade of development that has seen the construction of an airport in Trat and numerous hotels and restaurants has done little to sully its appeal as an island of spectacular natural beauty. Koh Chang, the largest island in the Koh Chang Marine National Park, is a beach lover and nature enthusiasts dream come true. While recent development has led to the opening of some nightlife on the island, The primary attractions on the island are the beaches, waterfalls, and neighboring islands. However, several fishing villages, a number of naval battle sights, and some opportunities for diving and snorkeling make Ko Chang both an interesting and relaxing place to visit.(Credit: tourismthailand.org)
5,400 (estimated, 2010)
WHAT TO WEAR
Koh Chang has a tropical climate influenced by monsoons. Hot season is from March to May, rainy season is from June to October and the cooler months are from November to February. Average temperatures stay 30C throughout the year. DRESS CODE: casual and beach attire, light cotton clothing, comfortable shoes, sandals: hat, sunglasses and a good sunscreen are essentials. When visiting temples it is advisable to dress modestly and wear shirts with sleeves. Some classy venues such as restaurants require a smart casual attire.
Koh Chang has a limited variety of shopping: local markets and shops and shops in the hotels.
NO SMOKING, PLEASE
In Thailand smoking is forbidden in all temples, public transport, airports (they may have designated smoking areas), train and bus stations, indoor public places including office buildings, hospitals, restaurants, shops.
Tip is discretionary and up to you, of course gratuities for a good service are appreciated.