Dec 08 2011

December getaways: From Bangkok to Ko Chang

Published by at 8:33 pm under East coast islands

Ko Chang lays to the southeast of Bangkok an easy five hours by bus. Lazy beaches belt this (very) mountainous island in the Gulf of Thailand, while inland waterfalls, craggy headlands and pleasant hiking await the city weary. Christmas in Bangkok might be exciting, but sundowners with your toes in the sand and some crabs grilling on a barbecue are where it’s at.

This is how the Baby Jesus wanted Christmas to be.

This is how baby Jesus wanted Christmas to be.

What to do over Christmas in Ko Chang? Eat, swim, drink, nap. Repeat.

Ko Chang, like all of Thailand, is in its peak season at Christmas and New Year’s. While Christmas isn’t officially celebrated by the Kingdom, New Year’s is and Thais are off work and ready to have a good time. December and January in the gulf is just about perfect: little rain, high blue skies and lots of sunshine.

Ocean! Sand! No Fruitcake!

Ocean! Sand! No fruitcake!

The western coast of Ko Chang is the place to head for lazy days on the beach. Three main beach areas have developed in the last 15 years. White Sands (called Haad Sai Khao in Thai) is the most developed and offers the flashest accommodation. It’s located closest to the ferry terminal and has shops, bars, nightclubs and is a bit like Kuta in Bali or Phuket (but much more relaxed than either). Kai Bae and Khlong Prao have a nice mixture of affordable rooms, quirky shops, and good international food. Lonely Beach has a definite laidback air complete with beachside beer bars, plenty of Bob Marley, and cheap backpacker digs.

A word on Ko Chang for eaters: unlike some of its southern sisters, Ko Chang still has great food.

A Christmas Eve Feast on Ko Chang!

A Christmas Eve feast on Ko Chang.

Getting to Ko Chang from Bangkok is a snap — you can even leave directly from the airport if you want to skip the city all together. Direct buses leave from Ekkamai Bus Terminal in Bangkok and head straight for Laem Ngob Pier where you can connect to the ferry. Otherwise, take a bus to Trat and a songthaew to Laem Ngob Pier (50 baht). The ferries run from 07:00-17:00 daily. On the island side, it’s a shared songthaew (50-100 baht) to your beach.

Better than fruit cake, Christmas carols, and your crazy family? Yes. Winning.

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