If you need some ideas about how to spend your time when you aren’t sunbathing or lazing in the pool, then here’s a quick rundown of the main activities, trips and tours that are available for visitors to the island.
Koh Chang is starting to become a popular dive destination. This is mainly due to the newbie friendly dive sites in the Koh Chang Marine Park, and the selection of well-run dive schools on the island.
The diving runs all year round, but for good visibility and calm waters, the best time to visit is between November and May. With the lack of strong currents and shallow waters, Koh Chang is becoming popular with beginners learning to dive or refreshing their skills.
The Marine Park provides a diverse range of diving, from coral pinnacles to shallow sloping reefs. There is also the recently sunk Royal Thai navy ship HTMS Chang, this sunken ship has become a home for a range of marine life, including barracuda, eel, and the odd sea turtle. From December – February, Whale Sharks can also be seen. But you’ll need some luck to see one as sightings aren’t guaranteed
BB Divers are the largest outfit on the island and are located in Lonely Beach, White Sand, and Bang Bao. They offer a variety of programs for beginners to the advanced. Another top choice is Scuba Dawgs, they are usually busy and offer some very competitive prices. Scuba Dawgs have shops in Kai Bae, Lonely Beach, and Bang Bao.
Elephant Trekking & Camps
Elephant camps are currently a controversial subject due to the treatment, or lack of, of elephants in some of the camps in Thailand. But there is no hiding from the fact that elephants and the camps are one of Thailand’s top tourist attractions. Our advice would be to read up on each camp before you arrive and check other visitors reviews, before making your choice.
There are currently 6 elephant camps on ‘Elephant Island’, these camps provide the chance to join them for a swim, feed them and, of course, take a ride on the elephants. The most popular and apparently humane elephant camp is Ban Kwan Chang, supported by the Asian Elephant Foundation, the camp is located in Klong Son which is away from the resorts, but in our opinion worth making the journey. Here you will witness the elephants in their natural quiet environment, surrounded by jungle and fruit farms.
All the camps charge a standard price of 800 Baht for an hour trek and 1,300 Baht for a 2-hour trek, this also includes bathing the elephants in the river. Prices include transfer to and from the hotel, plus fruit and drinks.
If you want to see young elephants having fun, then the calves from Meechai Elephant Camp in Kai Bae can often be seen on the beach or playing in the sea near KB Hut & KB Resort.
There are 46 other islands in the Koh Chang archipelago, so you can understand why boat trips out of Koh Chang is one of the most popular activities for visiting tourists. There is a wide range of companies to choose from, each offering an array of tours. The majority of them are snorkelling trips while visiting the surrounding islands of Koh Chang. Other companies focus on fishing and kayaking tours.
The most common trip advertised is the ‘five island’ snorkelling tour. The boats depart from Bang Bao or Kai Bae beach on the west coast of Koh Chang, and head into the Marine Park, towards Koh Rong, Koh Wai, and small islands which are home to a wide variety of reef fish.
The boat trips are for a whole day or half day, the price will include transfers from your accommodation and lunch. The tours are conducted on speed boats or large wooden boats. Prices start at around 600 Baht for a day trip by wooden boat; 900 Baht by speedboat and up to around 1,300 Baht for one of the more ‘Western’ sightseeing / snorkelling trips. It’s possible to hire a wooden boat for a private boat trip for around 4,000 Baht or a speedboat for 7,000 Baht upwards. Life jackets are provided on all boats.
Mr. Khai Tours and Attipol Tour are the two most popular locally owned tour companies on the island, both offer a full range of tours and activities. Contact Kai Bae Hut for prices and information on renting a speedboat , with captain, for a day trip.
Thai Cooking Classes
If you’re looking to escape the weather for the day, a popular option is to visit a Thai cooking school, join a class and learn the basics of Thai cooking.
There are a few cooking schools on the island, each offering similar kind of classes. You will learn to prepare and cook 4-5 meals, learning new skills and techniques as you go. The main dishes you’ll probably end up learning to cook is a starter, noodles, Thai curry and dessert, and the best bit…you get to eat whatever you cook.
The price of the courses are from around 1,000 – 1,500 Baht per person, which will include a pick up from your resort. The most popular Thai cooking school is Blue Lagoon, located at the southern end of Klong Prao. Established 13 years ago, Blue Lagoon has made a name for itself on Koh Chang as the, go to place to learn Thai cooking. Classes are thoroughly taught from start to finish, where you will learn about the different Thai spices and ingredients before you even get to lift a knife.
Classes run once a day, starting at 11.00 am and finishing around 4.00 pm, with a maximum of 8 people per class.
Another, equally good and very popular Thai cooking school worth checking out is Kati Culinary, also based in Klong Prao.
Trekking on Koh Chang has become more and more popular in the last few years. This is mainly down to a few small companies starting to get more organised by arranging tours across different parts of the island.
It is not easy to trek independently on the island, so most visitors choose to go with a guide who will not only know all the different routes but also point out wildlife the untrained eye may not spot. The main routes are around the Klong Son Valley and Klong Prao beach, Kai Bae area. There is also the cross-island trail connecting Klong Plu waterfall with Than Mayom waterfall.
If you’re feeling overly energetic, then there are also routes scaling up the two highest peaks on Koh Chang. Salak Phet (744m) and Khao Jom Prasad (630m), the latter rewarding you with views over the White Sand beach.
The guides offer half day or full day treks, with transfers, food, water and most importantly mosquito repellent included in the price. Three of the most popular trekking companies on Koh Chang are Tan Trekking, Koh Chang Jungle Trekking, and Jungle Fever Trekking. All come with great reviews and glowing reports.
Thanks to Koh Chang’s mountainous terrain and 70% of the island covered in rainforest, there is a plethora of breathtaking waterfalls. There are eight noteworthy waterfalls on the island, some being more easily reachable than others. Below are three popular waterfalls on Koh Chang, with a brief description on each. There are others – Kai Bae waterfall, in particular, is worth seeking out. And if you do a jungle trek you’ll see numerous small, unnamed waterfalls hidden in the interior of the island.
Klong Plu – Due to it being the easiest accessible waterfall on the west coast, Klong Plu waterfall is the most popular on the island. Located towards the northern end of Klong Prao, a 15-minute walk through the jungle will lead to this impressive waterfall. Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds. You’ll need to pay 200 Baht ( Adults ) & 100 Baht ( Children) entry fee as the waterfall is within the National Park boundaries.
Than Mayom – Located a few km’s south of Dan Mai on the east coast of the island. Than Mayom waterfall consists of four levels, but unless you are on a guided trek you won’t see the 4th tier, which also happens to be the most dramatic. This waterfall is a good choice for families with kids, to visit. It’s very popular with Thais as two Kings visited the waterfall well over 100 years ago and carved their names into the rocks.
Klong Neung – This is the tallest waterfall on the island, unfortunately, it’s also the trickiest to get to, due to its remote location. If you decide to make the trek to Klong Neung, you’ll be rewarded with some amazing scenery, you’ll also probably be the only one there too. Access is by walking up the riverbed for around 1Km from a now defunct parking area at the end of an inland road.
Spas & Massages
After a days jungle trekking, why not treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage? Koh Chang, like the rest of Thailand is home to dozens of places to receive a Thai massage. From beds on the beach to large spas, all offering the usual head, neck, and full body massage, plus a whole array of other therapy’s and treatments.
As there are a lot of businesses offering Thai massage, naturally some are better than others. If you find a place you like the look of, try and find some reviews online, or even better ask around locally for recommendations. It can be a bit hit and miss.
Two of the most popular places on the island are Bodiwork and Sima massage. Bodiwork Spa is based in Klong Prao and they also have a shop in Kai Bae. They offer Thai massage for around 400 Baht per person, lasting 1 hour and 30 minutes. If you’re wanting to learn Thai massage, Bodiwork run a 10-hour course, costing 5,000 Baht.
Sima massage can be found just past Kati Culinary school in central Klong Prao Beach. A very welcoming shop highly recommended across the island with a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff. Sima massage offers a full range of treatments and massage.
Kayak Chang offers some great day trips and 3 – 10 day sea kayaking adventures. Plus they run BCU certified training courses yearly. If you’re looking for a unique experience and seeing islands that other visitors won’t get to, then check them out.
For the more adventurous, you’ll also find a couple of places , in Chai Chet and Klong Prao village, where you can take an ATV tour inland.
And in Bailan, a good day out for families with teenagers is the Treetop Adventure Park. They have a couple of routes through the trees, comprising rope bridges, ziplines, ladders etc.
For a more sedate hour or two, try Koh Chang Archery, located roadside at the south end of the village. Try your hand with a re-curve bow. It’s an activity that anyone from young kids to pensioners can participate in and enjoy.