Photo: Time for a dip at Kai Bae.

Ko Chang is so big, we’ve split it up into areas, select one of the below for detailed accommodation and food listings in that area. Sights and general overviews for Ko Chang as a whole can be found via the icons above. Don’t know where to start? Read an overview of Ko Chang’s different areas.

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Eat and meet

For a relatively small beach, Kai Bai has quite the selection of quality restaurants and bars to choose from. Several standouts are worth mentioning, but even the "average" tourist-oriented spots sell big portions of decent Thai food.

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Starting with Thai, Kai Bae has the usual array of barbecue seafood joints -- but they’re quite a bit better than what you’ll find on most islands. The pick of the bunch is Friend Seafood, which serves massive plates of barbecued fresh fish, prawns, squid, corn, veggies, chicken and more in a nightly swirl of lime, chillies, charcoal and laughing sun-worshippers. The local family who runs it is a well-oiled machine of grillers, runners, servers and bussers. Large portions and prices between 150 and 300 baht might scare off solo travellers, though Friend also whips up excellent single Thai dishes like scallops stir-fried in chilli and basil and seafood fried rice. Another quality barbecue spot is Ploy Talay, where the owner joins local musicians for casual live performances on most nights. If you’re seeking a similar experience, but on the beach and with fire dancing shows, head to Porn’s Restaurant.

For a more "local-style" setting, Took Katai Kai Moon does irresistible rotisserie chicken to go with fiery Isaan salads and well-done standard Thai dishes in a no-frills set-up. For what’s purported to be the best 40 baht noodle soup on Ko Chang, head to the nameless shop down the small track opposite Kai Bae’s southernmost 7-eleven. Resort workers from as far afield as Haad Sai Khao come here on their lunch breaks to indulge in the pig’s blood tempered broth with rice noodles. On the road leading out of Kai Bae to the south, My Kitchen is another excellent Thai restaurant that isn’t scared to sell real, spicy, authentic Thai cuisine to the masses.

A handful of exceptional coffee shops and bakeries are found in Kai Bae, but Papa’s Deli is the one that deserves mention above all others. Run by a German expat, the baguettes, rye, almond croissants and chocolate fudge (to die for) are all prepared daily. Priced reasonably from 100 to 200 baht, the generously sized baguette sandwiches come with several choices of imported cheeses and meats to go with real Dijon mustard. Service can be painfully slow during busy hours, but it’s worth the wait. Directly across the street, Mocchachino also serves excellent coffee and very good sandwiches, baked goods, wine, hand-made cocktails and smoothies. Toward the south of the main road, Lanna Cafe is Ko Chang’s only fully dedicated tearoom, serving an extensive variety of regular and herbal teas from around the world.

Kai Bae also delivers several well-done international cuisines. While Italian-owned Ziva does fantastic pasta and pizza, Mexican-owned Bario Bonita serves what is hands-down the best real Mexican we’ve discovered in three years of living in Thailand. Other spots worth mentioning include Marina Restaurant for its German beer selection and hefty steaks, sausages and burgers, Mak Mak Restaurant for its Italian gelato and solid Western-Thai menu, Samurai Sushi and Prince of Malabar Indian.

While the main drag through Kai Bae’s northern section has a smattering of neon pink girlie bars and a "Pirate Bar" that caters chiefly to Russians, a few plush nightspots are found towards the centre of town. The standout is Filou, a German-run cocktail bar that makes excellent hand-made creative drinks and has a slick atmosphere, though the black lights might be a bit much for some. They also do quality bar grub like burgers and fish and chips.

Also worth a stop is Mojito Bar, where the namesake drinks go for just 80 baht early in the evening. For something that doesn’t entail thumping tunes and dark lights, long-running Wine Gallery serves a thoughtful selection of imported wine and beer on a casual roadside veranda.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Kai Bae? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

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