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Koh Chang - Thai side (East Coast?)

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

    Click here to learn more about Jon_Mak_Mak
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 464
    Total reviews: 5

    Hello, I've read that the west coast of Koh Chang is the touristy side and that most of the Thais stay on the east cost? I want to take my brother and sister-in-law to ko chang with my wife (all Thai) and would like to stay away from the big 4 star hotels and over priced tourist restaurants and stay with the Thais. we will have a budget of about £20 -£30 a night (per room) and need air conditioning and a safe room.

    Any recommendations on the east coast?
    Thanks,
    Antony

    #1 Posted: 8/3/2008 - 23:04

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  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    The East/south East of the island is less developed because there aren't many really sandy beaches etc...if there were the developers would have been "in-like-Flynn".
    Thais holiday all over the island but predominantly on public holidays. Some Thai friends of mine booked into long beach for the new year.....because they couldn't find an affordable place on the West side of the island that had a beach.
    THe east side therefore has a lot less facilities and it is a major journey to the main shops and night-life if that's what you want.



    Koh Chang - A Paradise Lost…


    Travelers to Thailand are often uncritical about the environment and effects tourism has, especially one the islands.

    Coming from Europe or the States the cost of living and rooms is cheap but not compared to elsewhere in Thailand. You'll love the sunsets and the white sand, you won't wonder about the sustainability of it all; the broken coral on some beaches, where the sewage is going and what happened to the mangroves, farmland or the fishing industry, or the fishing villages being turned into souvenir arcades-com-hotels....

    Koh Chang is the second largest island in Thailand. It was given an unexpected boost by the post-tsunami unpopularity of the west and now an ever increasing numbers of tourists are heading there.

    For anyone staying in Bangkok or Pattaya, Koh Chang is the most convenient "paradise island” to visit.

    So what’s wrong with this slice of “bounty” advert?

    Well... it’s badly developed, it’s overpriced and going downhill fast.

    Koh Chang was developed, resulting from Mr Thaksin’s vision of a Phuket in the East...this is not possible. The land for development was bought up by bigwig friends of the "great and good" and now anyone who wants to set up a business has to pay a premium price/rent, consequently the hotels are not great VFM. The insensitive despoiling of the island had started before the Tsunami but after this it accelerated and the flat coastal rim is now filling rapidly with resorts. Most locals never profited from any of this ...they were either bought out early or have land not sought by the developers.

    The west coast is now littered with resorts, built with no thought for the environment, conservation or island infrastructure. Restricting access to the beach for others, it can only be a matter of time before all the good sandy beaches become resort owned or dominated sea fronts.

    The resorts are badly designed and poorly finished. Little more than decorated sheds, appearance is all.

    Health and safety is not a concern - some of the pools look lethal. Slippery tiles surround the pools and submerged concrete stools await unsuspecting divers.

    The building never stops; especially in the wet season. Your room may be in the middle of a building site. It is unlikely the hotel will warn you of this, or offer a discount.

    The centre of Koh Chang is a national park, but unlike Thailand's other National Parks, apart from the odd waterfall, no-one is officially allowed inside there are guides who will take you in but that's theoretically illegal. No effort has been made to set up a system of eco-tourism on the island... “Jungle Trekking” is now increasingly offered at the travel shops; without proper regulation this will be anything but eco-friendly.

    KC’s road and it doesn't go all the way round, it's a horse-shoe affair, built originally for logging traffic, it’s barely more than single track (asphalted) but cannot cope with the traffic on the island. Parts are often washed away...most of the bridges have been washed out and replaced by drains covered over with rubble – beware of hitting these at night or on a motorbike.

    Walking around KC in a day is not an option it’s very mountainous and the roads are windy and hilly. This means the resorts can be a long way from any shops, night-life etc, the taxi service (song taew) is still very haphazard and patchy and any where you want to go is further than you want to walk, so it’s useful to hire a motorbike or car; these are about 50% to 100 % more than on the mainland. It might even be worth hiring a vehicle on the mainland and driving there (Pattaya is about a 4 ½ hour drive to the KC ferries].

    The surface on the hairpin bends has been polished by years of scrubbing tyres. DON”T rent a room near any of the steep hills as the squealing of tyres will keep you awake all night.

    The first “town” most people come to is White Sands, is the probably the largest conglomeration on the island, it’s a crowded strip of hotels, resorts, restaurants, gift shops, tailors and motley bars built between sea and mountain. Building over the last 3 years has completely filled the space between hills and shore. Developers have now started to dig away at the hills behind and are erecting buildings there - between the mudslides. One wonders how long it will be before a cliff collapses and takes a building with it.

    Arriving on foot, song taews take passengers off the ferry to the resorts. With no booking they will drop you in the middle of Whitesands, then you will have to find somewhere yourself.... this is impossible on foot and with luggage so book in advance at least for the first night. Then get some wheels, and look around the next day.

    KC has no airport, flights land on the mainland near the ferries. Get a taxi to the ferry - only a few baht. There are several ferries, the crossing takes about 45. The ferries can now be very over stretched at high season and week-ends – even thought there is a new car-park the queues can extend back up the hill for quite a way.

    For family resorts with a beach, Klong Prao Beach is OK, there are around half a dozen resorts that actually have some beach front. Paradise has new bungalows, very tightly packed, Coconut and Royal Coconut are next to that and Klong Prao resort has a long beach front and good pool beside the sea. All are constantly redeveloping to increase capacity. Prices are usually 2000 to 3500 for a double room with air and shower.

    For a more isolated place, go round to “Long Beach” on the far South East side of the island. There is less development here as there are fewer good beaches. Access is by unsealed road sections of which get washed away every rainy season, a pleasant drive with lots of good views. Accommodation is “basic to good hippy”

    Wherever you decide to stay - CHECK BEFORE YOU GO ABOUT BUILDING WORK.....ESPECIALLY IN THE WET SEASON!

    And make sure it actually has a sandy beach!

    Koh Chang is unique: it is the second largest island in Thailand, and the most recently developed. Even as you lie on the beach, an opportunity is being missed to avoid the mistakes made on the other “paradise” islands. Koh Chang still has a chance of being saved especially if people are aware of the situation before they go.

    So I would hope that some at least will think before and ask questions like...

    Where
    • does the sewerage go?
    • are the mangroves?
    • are all the fish?
    • does the fresh water come from and where does it go?
    How
    • is the coral?
    Who
    • is looking after the marine and forest nature reserves?
    • owns the land, locals or big business
    Why
    • is there no satisfactory public access to the nature reserves?
    • ?
    What
    • Is happening to the local agricultural industries?
    • do the fishermen do now?
    • is the sea water quality on my beach?


    PS - If you want up to date local info on KC, try this site: IamKohChang.com
    a good site for info on Koh Chang and sounds like an interesting place to stay too!

    #2 Posted: 9/3/2008 - 12:03

  • katieq2

    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2008
    Posts: 8
    Total reviews: 4

    I stayed on Kai Bae Beach in March. It's on the West side of the island, but it's a less busy beach than white sands. Some really nice places to stay for pretty decent prices - I loved that beach, so check it out!

    #3 Posted: 28/5/2008 - 02:48

  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Canada
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    At least 113

    Hey Antony, W

    Why don't you just go to another island, like Koh Mak? You shouldn't have any trouble finding a nice bungalow with a/c, and the island isn't serviced by 3 vehicle ferries going back and forth every hour.

    You can catch the slow boat there from Laem Ngop at around 3:00. It's a really nice 2 1/2 hour trip and you'll get there right at sunset and dinnertime.

    Mike

    #4 Posted: 29/5/2008 - 23:21

  • tezza

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

    I cruised down the east coast in February. It sure is laid back and largely unsettled. There are a few Thai oriented resorts on the long section before the turn-off to Long Beach. But yes, the beaches I saw are very third rate here, and some of the places seemed to be in the most unlikely spots with no apparent beach.

    Long Beach itself is the perfect laid back spot. The only place on the beach is the new Tree House Bungalows in a great position with the funkiest bungalows around - I have some shots in the sigline link. But at 150 and 180 high season, aircon is not a goer.
    However on the road down the SE peninsula towards Long Beach there are side tracks leading to little beaches mainly on the lovely southeast bay and some of these has signs showing bungalow places. I only had time to scope out one - looked real nice - google for Ploy Talay.
    At the risk of offending TRAVELFISH, I think it was Rough Guide which had accounts of a lot of these places - most flash packer/midrange, some expat owned.
    On the ferry across to Chang I was talking to a Brit guy and his wife heading for a place in or close to Salek Phet, the south east fishing town. They swore this place was paradise. Perhaps google or the guidebooks could find it.

    katieq2 mentions the east coast still has some laid back areas. Have a look at TRAVELFISH'S reviews of places at Bai Lan - Bai Lan Family Bungalows is real nice and has the sweetest husband and wife running it - next door is a place TRAVELFISH didn’t list last I looked called Orchid, looked half a step up with even a little pool, and the place I stayed at, Bai Lan Hut was pretty sweet. All these places best aircon bungalows would be struggling to reach 20 quid in high season.

    South of from Bai Lan is the pier town of BANG BAO, maybe 4 or 5 kms away on quite a shelterd bay. There were a couple of very classy looking resorts in this 4 or 5 km including the Dusit Princess and Nisa Cabana.
    The Bang Bao pier area gets real busy each morning as dive boats, snorkelling trips and island hopping ferries and speedboats depart. The pier itself is real nice, particularly after dark, because the first 300 meters has a good array of non-tacky shops plus quite a few seafood and other restaurants and is well lit and closed off to traffic. There are also rooms on the pier plus a walkway which leads to a midrange bungalows-on stilts-outfit in the bay called Bang Bao Sea Hut.
    400m across on the western side of the bay is a sheltered beach with 3 backpacker/flashpacker outfits including Remark Puzi. TRAVELFISH, google and the guide books should bring up more on these places. There is an ocean beach a short distance across the peninsula these places are on.

    I also agree that the islands south of Chang have what you seek. If you are interested I can give some info. on some suitable places.

    #5 Posted: 31/5/2008 - 12:22

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

    Click here to learn more about Jon_Mak_Mak
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 464
    Total reviews: 5

    Hey Antony, W

    Why don't you just go to another island, like Koh Mak? You shouldn't have any trouble finding a nice bungalow with a/c, and the island isn't serviced by 3 vehicle ferries going back and forth every hour.

    You can catch the slow boat there from Laem Ngop at around 3:00. It's a really nice 2 1/2 hour trip and you'll get there right at sunset and dinnertime.

    Mike


    Hey Mike, Good idea but it is Ko Chang I want to stay on this time. Maybe i will take a trip to Ko Mak next time.
    :)

    #6 Posted: 14/6/2008 - 05:38

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

    Click here to learn more about Jon_Mak_Mak
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2007
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 464
    Total reviews: 5

    'I cruised down the east coast in February. It sure is laid back and largely unsettled. There are a few Thai oriented resorts on the long section before the turn-off to Long Beach. But yes, the beaches I saw are very third rate here, and some of the places seemed to be in the most unlikely spots with no apparent beach.

    Long Beach itself is the perfect laid back spot. The only place on the beach is the new Tree House Bungalows in a great position with the funkiest bungalows around - I have some shots in the sigline link. But at 150 and 180 high season, aircon is not a goer.
    However on the road down the SE peninsula towards Long Beach there are side tracks leading to little beaches mainly on the lovely southeast bay and some of these has signs showing bungalow places. I only had time to scope out one - looked real nice - google for Ploy Talay.
    At the risk of offending TRAVELFISH, I think it was Rough Guide which had accounts of a lot of these places - most flash packer/midrange, some expat owned.
    On the ferry across to Chang I was talking to a Brit guy and his wife heading for a place in or close to Salek Phet, the south east fishing town. They swore this place was paradise. Perhaps google or the guidebooks could find it.

    katieq2 mentions the east coast still has some laid back areas. Have a look at TRAVELFISH'S reviews of places at Bai Lan - Bai Lan Family Bungalows is real nice and has the sweetest husband and wife running it - next door is a place TRAVELFISH didn’t list last I looked called Orchid, looked half a step up with even a little pool, and the place I stayed at, Bai Lan Hut was pretty sweet. All these places best aircon bungalows would be struggling to reach 20 quid in high season.

    South of from Bai Lan is the pier town of BANG BAO, maybe 4 or 5 kms away on quite a shelterd bay. There were a couple of very classy looking resorts in this 4 or 5 km including the Dusit Princess and Nisa Cabana.
    The Bang Bao pier area gets real busy each morning as dive boats, snorkelling trips and island hopping ferries and speedboats depart. The pier itself is real nice, particularly after dark, because the first 300 meters has a good array of non-tacky shops plus quite a few seafood and other restaurants and is well lit and closed off to traffic. There are also rooms on the pier plus a walkway which leads to a midrange bungalows-on stilts-outfit in the bay called Bang Bao Sea Hut.
    400m across on the western side of the bay is a sheltered beach with 3 backpacker/flashpacker outfits including Remark Puzi. TRAVELFISH, google and the guide books should bring up more on these places. There is an ocean beach a short distance across the peninsula these places are on.

    I also agree that the islands south of Chang have what you seek. If you are interested I can give some info. on some suitable places.'


    Hey, Thats some great stuff there! I should of pointed out that i dont care fot beaches much (unless im walking across one to get to the sea or photographing one) so thats not really important. The reason I want to go to Ko Chang is simply coz i havent been there before. Ive been to many place all over Thailand and am trying to go to some new places.

    If anyone has some great idea on things to do on Ko Chang (forget sitting on a beach all day or ina bar, Ive done that!) im more interested in Wats, waterfalls, Mountains, Veiws, and fishing ports. :)

    Your infomation is spot on and a great help.
    Thanks,
    Antony.

    #7 Posted: 14/6/2008 - 05:47

  • tezza

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

    WATS - I'm not real sure, but I don't think there are any of note on Chang
    WATERFALLS - there are at least 3 which are accessable. I've seen two, one on each coast, and was underwhelmed - as I've been for all Thai waterfalls except Erawan near Kanchanaburi. If you google the Chang commercial websites they will give you locations - I think all involve a 200baht National Park entry fee.
    MOUNTAINS - Chang has good mountains for an island, but I don't think there are any real access roads. You can trek into them (I haven't) but apparantly local knowledge is important - guided treks are available.
    VIEWS - the above treks would involve some views. Roadside elevated viewpoints include just to the north of White Sand Beach in the northwest (I've got a shot on the Chang page in the first link below) and on the side-road to Lonely Beach down the south east peninsula form the main east coast road.
    FISHING PORTS - Salek Pet in the south east is a specialised fishing port. Bang Bao in the southwest combines fishing with tourism transport and accommodation.

    #8 Posted: 14/6/2008 - 10:11

  • khunwilko

    Joined Travelfish
    27th January, 2007
    Posts: 560

    There is a fine line between laid back" and incompetent - and I think long beach fines itself on the wrong side of that line.
    the beach is prone to rubbish collecting on it, but rather than clean it up they leave notices asking the guests to do it. The service is non-existent ...if they think that ignoring customers is laid-back, then it's the most laid back place I've ever been.
    a lot of lip service is given to the environment yet they could offer no explanation of how they dispose of sewerage. Next to the restaurant hanging on a rock are an old pair of underpants in amongst the other rubbish under the building, they were still there a few days later.
    It's the kind of place that gives a lot of lip-service to the environment etc but in reality is just a shanty on the beach.

    #9 Posted: 14/6/2008 - 14:41

  • kristel

    Joined Travelfish
    30th June, 2008
    Posts: 4

    hi
    the whole of koh chang, including the normally busy white sand beach is very quiet during the rainy season, ... so lookng for peace, families head to kaibe, adventurous travellers head for lonely beach... and donot worry about quiet, you ll get plenty of that!! in high season go around bang bao or bailand for a lovely quiet spot.....

    #10 Posted: 30/6/2008 - 14:48

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