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Ko Chang

Getting there and away

Air

Located some 20 kilometres north of Laem Ngop pier, Trat Airport is serviced only by Bangkok Airways -- www.bangkokair.com -- which runs flights from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport and back at least two times daily.

    Bus

    Two "Express 99" first-class buses run directly from Bangkok's Ekkamai (Eastern) bus terminal to the Ao Thammachat ferry pier in Laem Ngop every morning, departing at 7:45 and 9:45, costing 275 baht and taking around five hours. The bus returns to Ekkamai from Laem Ngop only once per day, at 14:00.

    Buses also run direct from the Suvarnabhumi Airport Transport Centre to Ao Thammachat pier at 6:30, 10:00, 11:30, 13:00, 16:00 and 18:00, costing 400 baht. These return to Suvarnabhumi at 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 11:30, 12:30 and 16:00. You can simply walk up to these buses in the Ao Thammachat parking lot and buy a ticket.

    In Khlong Son on Ko Chang, the so-called "Bus Station" offers another service direct to Suvarnabhumi Airport. Minibuses depart from the island itself at 7:00 and 17:00, and a minibus connects to a large first-class bus in Laem Ngop, departing Ko Chang at 13:00. All of these cost 400 baht, and hotel pick-up services are offered for 50 to 100 baht, depending on where you're staying.

    If you miss the "Laem Ngop express" from Bangkok, first-class buses depart from Ekkamai Station for Trat every hour from 5:00 to 23:30, costing 265 baht. They run in the opposite direction every hour from 7:00 to 23:00 -- see the Trat transport section for more info.

    First class buses also depart from Bangkok's Morchit (Northern) terminal for Trat every two to three hours from 7:30 to 23:30, returning roughly every two to three hours from 9:00 to 22:30.

    All Trat-bound buses from either Ekkamai or Morchit will stop at Chanthaburi en route. Trat can also be reached directly by first-class bus from Pattaya, Nakhon Ratchasima, Rayong and Ban Phe (Ko Samet).

    A number of minibuses also run to/from Trat, Ao Thammachat and Ko Chang itself. From Bangkok, these depart from Victory Monument every hour from 6:00 to 18:00, costing 270 baht to Trat or 300 baht to Ao Thammachat and taking under five hours. They return to Bangkok during the same hours. Other minibuses run to/from Morchit (Northern) bus station and Khao San Road in Bangkok. If wanting pick-up from your guesthouse on Ko Chang, expect to pay an extra 30 to 100 baht.

    Ao Thammachat pier and/or Trat can also be reached directly by minibus from Pattaya (departures in the morning and afternoon), Ban Phe / Ko Samet (departing at 9:30 and 11:30), Had Lek (southern Thai-Cambodian border) and even as far afield as Siem Reap in Cambodia.

    Trat to Laem Ngop
    If you arrive at Trat Bus Station in time to catch the ferry, you'll be whisked onto a blue songthaew that will take you the remaining 20 kilometres to either Ao Thammachat or Dan Kao pier in Laem Ngop. The normal cost for the songthaew is 50 baht per person, though drivers will ask for more if there aren't many passengers at the time. A songthaew can be chartered for 300 baht.

    Note that you're best off telling the driver you want the ferry that departs from Ao Thammachat (Koh Chang ferry) rather than the one from Dan Kao (Centrepoint ferry), as it's easier to reach the Koh Chang ferry at Ao Sapparot on Ko Chang than it is the Centrepoint ferry, which departs from a separate pier a few kilometres further east.

    Some songthaew drivers have unfortunately teamed up with local travel agents in a mild scam that earns them mild commissions by charging travellers more than the face value of ferry tickets, often without them even knowing it. The songthaews take travellers to a travel office that's not close to either of the piers, where travellers are (more or less) forced to buy tickets for whichever ferry that particular agent wants to put them on -- for 40 baht more than face value. The travellers are then put back on the songthaew and driven to whichever pier they've purchased a ticket for, all the while not being told which ferry they're taking or given a choice.

    If this is the case, and the travel office is selling tickets to the Centrepoint ferry (it will say the name on the ticket), we recommend buying a one-way ticket rather than a return. You could potentially save a little money by not purchasing a ticket from the travel agent at all, and instead wait to buy it directly from the ticket booth once the songthaew reaches whichever pier it ends up at. This, of course, won't make the travel agent happy, and it could cause a conflict with the songthaew driver who obviously gets a commission from the agent.

      Boat

      Both the Koh Chang ferry from Ao Thammachat pier and Centrepoint ferry from Dan Kao pier depart every hour from 6:00 to 19:00, returning in the same timeframe from Ko Chang. The Koh Chang ferry costs 80 baht one-way or 120 baht roundtrip. Centrepoint ferry runs 70 baht one-way or 100 roundtrip -- if you don't have to shell out a 40 baht commission to a local travel agent. Tickets can be purchased directly from booths at either of the piers, both on the mainland and on Ko Chang. It's a pleasant 30-minute cruise to the island.

      When you reach Ko Chang, white songthaews will be waiting to take you to any west coast destination. If you request it, they'll do their best to drop you as close to your chosen accommodation as possible. Expect to pay 50 baht if going to Haad Sai Khao, Khlong Prao or Kai Bae, or 100 baht if heading down to Lonely Beach, Ao Bailan or Ao Bang Bao. Songthaews for Salak Phet depart only at 10:00 and 15:00, costing 100 baht. Note that many places to stay in Salak Phet and the east coast offer their own pick-up services.

      When you're ready to return to the mainland, keep in mind that only certain songthaews run to the ferry piers. These have signs that say "To the Ferry" propped up in the windshields, and they cruise through all of the main west coast centres every 30 minutes or so.

      Ko Wai, Ko Maak and Ko Kut
      Boats for Ko Wai, Ko Maak and Ko Kut depart from Bang Bao pier at Ko Chang's far southwestern point, and Kai Bae Hut pier in Kai Bae. These stop running during the worst of the rainy season from July to September. At this time, Ko Wai closes completely while Ko Maak and Ko Kut can only be reached from the mainland -- see their respective transport sections for more info.

      For the rest of the year, one large "slow boat" departs daily from Bang Bao for both Ko Wai and Ko Maak at 9:00. A one-way ticket to Ko Wai costs 300 baht, and the trip takes about 45 minutes. Ko Maak costs 400 baht, taking 1.5 hours.

      From Bang Bao, speedboats depart for Ko Wai, Ko Maak and Ko Kut at 9:00, 9:30 and 12:00. Ko Wai costs 400 baht and takes just 15 minutes. Ko Maak costs 600 baht and takes 40 minutes, and Ko Kut costs 900 baht and takes over an hour. One daily speedboat also departs for Ko Wai, Ko Maak and Ko Kut from Kai Bae Hut at 9:00 (prices the same as above).

        Getting Around

        White songthaews regularly roll up and down the west side of the island and are by far the easiest way to get around, but they're a bit overpriced. Expect to pay 50 baht per person if going to the next beach (Kai Bae to Lonely Beach, for example). Longer rides can fetch anywhere from 100 to 200 baht per person. You can try to negotiate the price with the drivers before you hop in but they often drive a hard bargain.

        Motorbikes are readily available for rent practically everywhere on the island, and Ko Chang is a great place for some two-wheel adventures -- but only if you're an experienced rider as the road is treacherous in places. Take it slow on the windy hills that connect the beaches, and in the bustling stretches through places like Haad Sai Khao and Lonely Beach. Motorbikes on Ko Chang start at 200 baht per day, while cars and jeeps fetch between 1,400 and 2,000 baht. Note that motorbike rentals are available at Centrepoint pier on Ko Chang, but not at Ao Sapparot (Koh Chang Ferry) pier.

        If you prefer to take it slower, many resorts rent out mountain bikes for around 100 baht per day, and kayaks for around 80 baht per hour or 400 baht per day.


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