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Koh Chang, Koh Maak, and other questions...

  • husker16

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2010
    Posts: 13

    Me and my girlfriend are headed to Thailand at the end of November for about three and a half weeks. We want an island with white sand beaches and crystal clear water but also to be able to experience trekking in the jungle. From what I've read on here, Koh Chang (for the jungle and partly for the beaches) and Koh Maak (for the beaches) are great for what I want and they are near each other which is a plus because we don't want to have much travel expenses. So would this be an ok trip to satisfy our wants? If so, has anyone stayed at Jungle Way? Was it a good experience? What are some of the best accommodations for 500 or less baht? Also, when seeing a rate for a bungalow, does it refer to each person or just the hut itself? Is it recommended to get any shot?

    #1 Posted: 29/9/2010 - 12:56

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  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1306
    Total reviews: 61

    I reckon Ko Chang has what you want - I don't know Jungle Way but for a combination of nice beach and budget joints in your range check the area of White Sand Beach around the Rock Sand Resort's mini peninsula in the north - Rocksand itself had some cheaper rooms and there were 500 beachside and 300 behind at adjacent places like Layalamean, Independent Bo, Star Beach, Little Chang Bungalows and Pens last November.
    Lonely Beach aint too shabby as a beach and Siam Hut which is the nearest budget joint to the actual beach had some bungalows in your range.
    Long Beach is pretty nice and the new Tree House there fits your budget - but Long Beach IS pretty isolated.

    I don't think Mak has the nicest beaches in the area - but the southern beach Ao Kao is not shabby at all and the nicest positioned cheapy there, Island Hut, is pretty appealing.

    I personally think the northern beach at Ko Wai is nicer and Ko Wai Paradise is a true cheapy. Good Feeling also has a few huts overlooking that beach and more on a very nice stretch of coast just around the corner. Nothing wrong with Ao Yai Ma bungalows in the far south-east either.

    Ko Kut also has nice beaches but a lot of the accommodation is a bit over your limmit.

    Bungalow rates usually stay the same single or double unless breakfast is included, which is the exception rather than the rule in Thailand. Sometimes you can screw a cheaper rate as a single on the basis of less wear and tear, water use etc. Then again, many joints make more dough out of meals and drinks and would prefer doubles to singles.

    I have never had shots etc for Thailand in over a dozen trips.

    #2 Posted: 29/9/2010 - 19:17

  • husker16

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2010
    Posts: 13

    Awesome, thanks! Exactly what I was looking for. So pretty much, if we choose Koh Maak, we won't be disappointed, but Koh Wai is slightly better? Would you happen to know how much better are the southern islands like Phi Phi, Pha Ngan, etc. than Chang and Maak? In other words, are they worth the extra travel costs and time to check out or will Chang suffice? Sorry for so many questions, but last one. In your over a dozen trips have you gotten sick because of the food or anything?

    #3 Posted: 29/9/2010 - 21:16

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2405
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    We spent a week on Ko Maak in late December 2009, and while we very much enjoyed our time there, didn't think the beaches or the water were the islands strong points. Plus, even though they spray the sand once a week or so, there were real problems with biting sand flys. We got munched.

    The up side about Maak is that you can fully explore it and really get to know it in less than a week, and there are good activities like snorkeling/scuba too. But the island is relatively small, so there won't be the variety that you will find on Ko Chang. If you do wind up on Maak, Island Hut, as recommended above by tezza, is an excellent choice.

    We used to make regular trips to Ko Chang, before the big development hit. It is tough to go back when you remember how it was in the good old days. But that section of White Sand Beach tezza mentions is in my memory consistently the best beach I've ever visited and just far enough off the road to keep it more or less the way it was before the concrete hit the sand. Cheers.

    #4 Posted: 29/9/2010 - 21:55

  • husker16

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2010
    Posts: 13

    Thanks exacto! I guess maybe our best bet would be to go to Koh Chang first and see how well we like it. Trek the jungles for a few days and check out the beaches. Maybe check out the smaller islands around there like Koh Kut. If it doesn't meet our needs, then just take a boat to Koh Pha Ngan to experience "paradise" beach life.

    #5 Posted: 30/9/2010 - 10:56

  • Dutchgirl

    Joined Travelfish
    20th December, 2009
    Location Netherlands
    Posts: 52
    Total reviews: 7

    If you like to get to know Koh Chang a little better, check out the site: www.iamkohchang.com
    I liked the site better than the guesthouse: Baan Rim Nam Guesthouse at Klong Prao. It's a very nice place, and Ian is a great guy, but our room was very basic for the price. We stayed one night at Blue Lagoon and we liked that klong and the food better (cute hut next to the klong).
    Klong Prao is a nice beach, quiet, but not deserted, very narrow at high tide, but then you can sit at Tiger Hut for a Singha or a Pad Thai.

    Is it possible to go from Koh Chang to Koh Pha Ngan by boat? I think you have to go through Bangkok.

    #6 Posted: 1/10/2010 - 04:34

  • Tennouji

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd September, 2007
    Location Japan
    Posts: 110
    Total reviews: 20

    Last year, I stayed at Suchanaree on Mak and really liked the place. I think I paid 550. The food was great. Exacto is right about the sandflies: everyone got badly bitten when I was there. Suchanaree clean the area outside of their place, but that whole side of the island is pretty disgraceful trash-wise. I ate and swan at Island Hut. Seemed nice.

    #7 Posted: 1/10/2010 - 12:48

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1234
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    Just for a beach I'd have to agree that Ko Wai is nicer than Ko Maak . Found the Ko Maak beach fine for laying about and reading but there were a lot of rocks off shore the entire length of the beach. That said, Ko Maak doesn't feel that isolated and we thought the food was great.

    Ko wai on the other hand didn't have the best food but felt more isolated, also had a more relaxed backpacker vibe at Paradise, didn't find anything like that on Ko Maak.

    Ko Chang is not really an island get away any more, it's a little too big and developed to feel that way, but it is still plenty beautiful. The beaches on the southwest had a more isolated feel, and the dock to head to the southern islands is closer. We personally loved Long Beach - it is the real lonely beach - actually stayed at Zion as it was right on the water and more relaxed than Tree House, but went to Tree house plenty for the nice view. If you don't mind being isolated its a great beach, my favorite on the island, but it will be a trip to get into the interior to do some jungle trekking.

    #8 Posted: 1/10/2010 - 13:14

  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1306
    Total reviews: 61

    "Would you happen to know how much better are the southern islands like Phi Phi, Pha Ngan, etc. than Chang and Maak?"
    Well this is such a personal call, but IMHO the southern islands are no better than the eastern Gulf. I reckon the Chang area will do the job real well.

    In many trips I've never been sick - a few times I've had minor cases of the runs. I put this down to a change of diet, not spoiled food.

    #9 Posted: 5/10/2010 - 14:00

  • JessandScott

    Joined Travelfish
    7th December, 2008
    Posts: 34

    Hi Husker

    We stayed on Koh Mak in March 2009 and loved it... we didn't have a problem with bugs/insects at all (I can't remember seeing a single one). We did however find that walking to a nearby island was near impossible due to the number of sea urchins! The beaches are indeed beautiful, and it is very low key... cool places to chill out, lots of nice food places (a place on the inner track of the islands is delicious and sooo cheap, Ah Pong (spelling?) has good/great food and Big Easy fantastic food...

    It's a small island so has a cool community feel... while we were there we went with half the island to watch a football/soccer match at a BBQ place, which was pretty awesome...

    We didn't swim much but did lots of eating, drinking, exploring and lazing around :) The sand in front of the good resorts is spotless (I know Big Easy have someone clean the sand every morning around sunrise, and none seemed to wash up on the more secluded beach that Ah Pong is located on) but there is rubbish washed up in front of some of the resorts. We checked out pretty much every place on the island after a few days at the cheaper - and fantastic - Ah Pong as we had some cash to burn at the end of our trip and wanted to stay somewhere really nice. Big Easy was for us the stand out and we're so glad we stayed there for the end of the trip. I believe that a bunch of new places have been built since then too...

    We didn't get shots or get sick anywhere, but if you're worried about it there are plenty of chemists that sell anti-diarrhoea and electrolyte stuff...

    #10 Posted: 9/10/2010 - 11:26

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  • JessandScott

    Joined Travelfish
    7th December, 2008
    Posts: 34

    I forgot to add - we stayed at Ban Rim Naam on Koh Chang and loved it - so peaceful!

    #11 Posted: 9/10/2010 - 11:27

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    Most of KC is a National Park - unfortunately there is NO provision for public access.

    That means that ALL trips into the park are illegal and of course made without proper consideration for any effects or damage to the environment.

    Many resorts are now being built which ENCROACH on the National Park again they are ILLEGALLY built.
    so if you want to take part in this kind of activity KC is the place for you!

    #12 Posted: 13/10/2010 - 22:49

  • misha

    Joined Travelfish
    14th October, 2010
    Posts: 1

    Ko Chang was a nice experience for us , last march; we preferred to stay on kai bae beach , and the resort we were staying at was K beach resot, a nice bungalow 1150B including beakfast. we spent a day snorkeling and went to ko wai too : nice beach emerald waters. very quiet . You can have a look at my blog and travelogue, with photos on http://lescarnetsdmisha.over-blog you an have it translated into english

    #13 Posted: 14/10/2010 - 23:47

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    another symptom of the overdevelopment of the island manifested itself in a tragedy the other day as a mudslide destroyed some holiday bungalows killing one person and seriously injuring another.

    As the landscape is increasingly encroached and scared by illegal or "semi-legal" building projects the problems of erosion and mudslides becomes greater.

    #14 Posted: 15/10/2010 - 00:02

  • husker16

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2010
    Posts: 13

    khunwilko, not meaning to sound rude but are you pretty much trying to tell me to not go to Koh Chang? So any jungle trekking whatsoever is illegal on Koh Chang?

    #15 Posted: 18/10/2010 - 23:26

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2089
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    husker, khunwilko is presenting an alternative, moral view about visiting Koh Chang.

    Koh Chang is a developed island which offers beaches, trekking, etc (putting aside any issues of what controls were or were not in place during development). In all honesty, I don't know a lot about these issues (maybe I should!), and it's good that people like khunwilko help educate us even though there is a more constructive, helpful way of going about it.

    There are thousands of people that go to Koh Chang each year to visit the beaches, to trek, do elephant trips, etc and as far as I know, none end up in jail for trekking! I guess the onus is on you to research this aspect a bit more if you are concerned. Perhaps khunwilko could expand on his views and thoughts on this to promote discussion in a separate thread.

    #16 Posted: 19/10/2010 - 02:58

  • husker16

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2010
    Posts: 13

    I've done a lot of research on Koh Chang and I didn't find anything about illegal trekking. khunwilko do you know anything about Jungle Way? Is there set up illegal? That's where I was looking into staying when I first arrive.

    #17 Posted: 19/10/2010 - 12:30

  • tezza

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2006
    Posts: 1306
    Total reviews: 61

    Guy who runs iamkochang website can organise trekking.
    Lots of things in Thailand are technically illegal - including a lot of bungalows we all stay in. Doesn't worry me, but I'm a typical great-great-grandson of convicts.

    #18 Posted: 20/10/2010 - 15:21

  • josegancho

    Joined Travelfish
    7th December, 2010
    Posts: 1
    Total reviews: 2

    I visited Siam Hut just yesterday. Pleasant place with bad staff!

    My money was stolen in front of other customers and 6 of my colleagues. I left my wallet on the counter to deliver drinks to my table. After ordering another round I found my wallet missing. I asked the girl behind the counter and she immediately gave my wallet to me. BUT!!!!! All of my money was gone. It totaled 3500 Baht. This is not a lot of money to some; but, it is to me. When I asked her who returned the wallet, she got very defensive and looked rather angry/guilty. She made up a story about a White guy returning it. (lies!). As I left she tried to yell at me and make me feel bad about loosing my money to which I let her have a verbal beating back. I called the police and made a report and immediately left the island. Now I have heard more about this manager and her ways. Many people have had there money stolen there. One man who was brave enough to confront her more got his hand chopped up with a butcher knife.

    I have been going there for 10 years and never had an issues like this, no matter the resort I stayed in. I just want others to know.

    #19 Posted: 7/12/2010 - 14:01

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    It took you 10 years to get your rude awakening.
    A couple of months ago - you could well have been one who said..."i've been going for nearly 10 years and ever had a problem."
    Some people get it on their fist visit.

    Customer service is non-extant in Thailand - you won't realise until you have a problem and then you find out that they don't give a monkey's once they've got your money - by fair means or foul.

    #20 Posted: 7/12/2010 - 16:51

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