While many restaurants charge 100 baht or more for the privilege of having an English menu, you will find plenty of cheaper street-style food along with real-deal Thai cuisine and lots of international culinary traditions on Ko Chang.
On the west coast, bustling Haad Sai Khao is known for nightlife while the more spread-out Khlong Prao area hosts some of the island’s best Thai eateries. Further south, Kai Bae boasts Ko Chang’s most varied dining options along with several cocktail bars.
The food choices become less interesting in Lonely Beach, but this is the heart of the backpacker party scene. In the far southwest, Bang Bao holds its own with some good food and reggae-inspired nightlife. If you visit Salak Phet or elsewhere on the east coast, don’t miss the seafood.
People come from all over Ko Chang’s west coast to hit the night market that pops up along the main drag through central Haad Sai Khao. Though tables for eating on site are minimal, it’s a fun place to graze on kebabs, roti, mango sticky rice, grilled seafood and wok-sizzled Thai dishes like pad see ew and krapao. More daring tongues might seek out stalls attracting Thai patrons to the fiery nam prik (chilli pastes), som tam and other potent dishes out of Isaan (Northeast Thailand). If it’s too hot, cool your tongue at a mobile cocktail truck.
Standing out among Thai restaurants is Nong Bua#, a long-running barbecue spot with a second location down in Khlong Prao. Those who are down with the steamy streetside atmosphere can browse the fresh seafood selection or tuck into classic Chinese-Thai street dishes like khao na ped (roasted duck with rice). Our som tam banged with a precise balance of spicy (fresh chillies), sour (fresh lime juice), salty (fermented fish sauce) and crispy (shredded green papaya and raw Asian eggplants). We’ve heard that the family of Trat natives behind Nong Bua sources their seafood daily from mainland fishing centres, and they have a great reputation among Thais. Though we haven’t tried it yet, Boogie Chicken# also runs a popular Thai grill right next to Nong Bua.
On the beach you’ll find several large restaurants and most are mediocre, but we did have a tasty pad chaa talay (seafood stir-fried with fresh peppercorn, finger root and chillies) at Beach Tango#. It’s a top-notch sundowner spot dressed up in fairy lights strung between coconut trees, with experienced bartenders and an enthusiastic Thai owner running the show. It’s a crowd pleaser for dinner thanks to an eclectic range of dishes such as lamb burgers, falafels, pastas, steaks and pizzas to go with many Thai options and giant platters of grilled seafood.
Another spot that satisfies a range of tastes is 15 Palms#, conveniently located between the main drag and the beach. Along the sand you’ll find beanbag seats set out for sunset, while a billiards table, sofas and full bar offering a solid list of imported beers and wines entice you inside. You can also grab a Lavazza coffee with a full English fry up, large Western-style salad, ribeye steak or a quality burger. In a similar vein but with more of an eccentric ambiance, nearby Thor’s Place is another beachfront bar/restaurant worth keeping in mind.
While food choices are a lot more limited up on the far northern stretch of Haad Sai Khao, Rock Sand and Maylamean both bring sunset-view dining and a good range of Thai dishes.
Located at the old Koh Chang Hut Hotel, the easily missed Invito al Cibo is a good bet for a romantic Italian dinner with a sea view. If you prefer northern European fare, The Bavarian is a long-running German restaurant attached to Top Resort, and in this area you’ll also find Dutch, Austrian and Scandinavian restaurants. Haad Sai Khao has at least one Indian restaurant, but the food we tried wasn’t as good as Empire’s down in Kai Bae.
For a night on the town we’d start at Oodie’s#, a mainstay bar on the inland side of the road near KC Grande where local musicians play rock, blues and reggae on a near-nightly basis—don’t be afraid to introduce yourself if you play an instrument. While nearby Sabay Bar# usually hosts the same house band playing classic rock standards every night, it can be fun for a dance or a spot of relaxation on the beachfront cushions. Serving cocktails like “the flaming Lamborghini”, bartenders don’t mess around.
Anchored towards the northern end of the beach, another segment of Haad Sai Khao’s nightlife focuses on backpackers looking to drink big bottles of Thai beer while chatting up other travellers, feet buried in the sand. We think Chang Bar is the place to be around sunset.
Just south of where things get seedy at a cluster of “beer bars” along the main drag in southern Haad Sai Khao, a trio of expat haunts can hit the spot for Western food and imported beer. First up is Buffalo Bill’s, an American wild west-themed bar where you can take repeated rides on the mechanical bull. Further south sits Paddy’s Palms, an Irish pub where you can sip Guinness and indulge in a Sunday roast with all of the fixings. While Paddy’s pulls in the Anglophones, the neighbouring White Elephant is popular with Scandinavians.
15 Palms Central Haad Sai Khao; T: (039) 551 095; Mo–Su: 08:00–24:00.
Beach Tango Central Haad Sai Khao (at Sang Arun Resort); T: (095) 969 1935; Mo–Su: 07:00–23:30.
Kai Mun (Boogie Chicken) Central Haad Sai Khao (just south of Alina Grande Hotel); Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Nong Bua Seafood Next to Boogie Chicken with second location in Khlong Prao; T: (039) 551 595; Mo–Su: 07:00–22:00.
Oodie’s Place Central Haad Sai Khao (near KC Grande Resort); Mo–Su: 16:00–01:00.
Sabay Bar Central Haad Sai Khao (near Cookies Resort); Mo–Su: 10:30–00:30.
As the main Thai township on Ko Chang’s west coast, it’s no surprise that Khlong Prao hosts several terrific Thai restaurants. Starting at Haad Khaimook and running south through Chai Chet, Khlong Prao village and Khlong Prao Bay’s southern reaches, this section covers seven kilometres of the west coast and its accompanying main road. The area is more sparsely developed than Haad Sai Khao and Kai Bae, so it pays to venture beyond the immediate vicinity of your resort.
Nestled along the pebble shore in Haad Khaimook, Saffron on the Sea # is widely considered one of Ko Chang’s top destinations for refined, creative Thai cuisine. Dishes include delicately fried snapper with sam rod (“three flavours”) sauce and yum tua phlu, a wing bean salad carefully spiced with fresh lemongrass and roasted chillies. The cocktails are reputed to be top notch as well, and the deck strung with fairy lights… Bring your sweetheart.
Moving south along the main drag through Chai Chet, Annie P # serves up juicy burgers, cheesesteaks and other American comfort food, while Vone’s does artisanal English pies and sausages served with delicious breakfasts. Vone’s is associated with Moley’s, which offers the same menu in its guesthouse lounge overlooking the Khlong Prao estuary. If you’re after a cheap Thai meal, Coco Plaza and VJ Plaza both have you covered with several open-fronted shops with available dishes pictured on walls and most likely an eager cook ready to get to work.
Continuing south along the main drag you’ll find Crust #, a long-running bakery serving fresh coffee, breakfast plates, birthday cakes and great sandwiches on bagels, baguettes, croissants and hearty wheat bread. Though we prefer Papa Bakery down in Kai Bae by a sliver, Crust does an excellent job of satisfying dough cravings at its open-air roofed eatery across from Wat Bang Bao. If you’re staying in southern Khlong Prao, Mochachino, located across the road from Kati Culinary, is a better place to pull out your laptop as you sip on fresh coffee and nibble on a cinnamon roll or simple sandwich.
Staying on the main drag but moving to Thai food, Jae Eaw is considered a must-eat for Thai tourists—and for good reason. Run by a family with generations of fishing experience in Trat, the kitchen churns out family-size portions of seafood in dishes designed for Thai tastes. Our suan hoy kata (oyster omelet) and yum talay ob maprao on (a salad of young coconut stalks, seafood and herbs) both had serious flavour and we left stuffed for just over 300 baht—there must have been two-dozen oysters in that delicious omelet—and we mean delicious with a capital D. Staffers who served us were patient and chefs can tone down the heat on request.
Another mainstay in Khlong Prao’s Thai food scene is Kati Culinary, a restaurant that also runs cooking classes beside the main road in southern Khlong Prao. It reminded us of a really good Thai restaurant that you’d find in, say, Melbourne or Boston, with the whole package designed for Westerner comfort but also with Thai chefs who take flavour very seriously. Both the tom yum kung with young coconut and the gaeng kati ("red curry" on the English menu) came in large portions and precise blends of spices. This kitchen takes freshness seriously, making it all happen from scratch. Most mains go for around 150 baht and our server was notably attentive.
For a cheaper meal, Bam and Tom and Chumnan # are two of the many solid options on the main road for cheap rotisserie chicken, boldly flavoured Isaan salads and a full menu of Thai dishes starting below 100 baht. This pair sits next to each other and looks almost identical—flip a coin?
For dining in more attractive surrounds, Blue Lagoon’s # tables and floor cushions stretch over decks and salas in a serene spot beside an estuary. Also running a cooking school and offering a wide range of accommodation, this is a great place to relax with a fresh coffee or beer before moving on to a carefully spiced bowl of massaman curry or khao soi.
Apart from the girlie bars found along the main drag in Haad Khaimook and Chai Chet, Khlong Prao is a quiet area with little in the way of nightlife. If you’re staying at KP Huts or elsewhere on the southern beachhead, Monkey Bar is one little shack that’s worth a stop for the cocktails and occasional live music. You could also go meet some of the expats and travellers who frequent British-run Sapparot Bar # on the south bank of the central Khlong Prao estuary.
The main road through Khlong Prao hosts a couple of small night markets—with our favourite located just north of Wat Bang Bao—that sell noodle soups, pad Thai, barbecued meats, Isaan food, kebabs, fresh fruit and other cheap bites. Those looking to prepare their own meals will find fruit and vegetable shops along the main drag in Khlong Prao village. Two of Ko Chang’s largest grocery stores, Tesco Lotus and Big C, are also found on the main road in Haad Khaimook.
Annie P American Diner Chai Chet on main road, 300 m south of Pajamas Hostel; Mo–Su: 09:00–18:00.
Blue Lagoon Southern Khlong Prao on the estuary; T: (089) 515 4617; .
Chumnan Central Khlong Prao on main road; Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Crust Bakery Central Khlong Prao (across from Wat Bang Bao); Mo–Su: 06:00–18:00.
Jae Eaw Central Khlong Prao on main road; T: (081) 982 3954; Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Kati Culinary Southern Khlong Prao on main road; T: (081) 903 0408; Mo–Su: 11:00–15:00 & 18:00–22:00.
Saffron on the Sea Haad Khaimook; T: (039) 551 253, (081) 871 4179; Mo–Su: 08:00–22:00.
Sapparot Bar Central Khlong Prao on the estuary; T: (082) 070 8523; .
Though it covers a much smaller area than Haad Sai Khao and Khlong Prao, Kai Bae punches above its weight when it comes to food and nightlife.
On the Thai food front, Porn’s # treehouse-style restaurant serves authentic Thai dishes like gaeng pa (fiery “jungle” curry) and kung ob wun sen (prawns baked in a pot with herbs and rice noodles) along with a full seafood menu and some Western bites. The long-running, family-owned business, which also has bungalows available, draws diners for the tasty food, sunset views and seafront decks, from all around the island.
Moving to the tightly packed main drag where a wide variety of food is found within an area easily covered on foot, a handful of vendors serve fried chicken, som tam, kebabs, roti and fresh fruit. You’ll also find a string of affordable Thai eateries, and one pizza joint, doing business beneath on an open-sided pavilion just off the main drag on the way to Nang Nual Resort.
A little further north, Took Kata Kai Moon # is a large, no-frills spot serving affordable Isaan and Eastern-style salads like nam tok with pork liver and som tam with blue crab. These are usually tasty, though some inconsistency should be expected. While the barbecued chicken is always great, the signage in Thai above the grill says pla pao and we’re partial to these whole salted fishes stuffed with lemongrass and slowly spun over a charcoal grill until cooked. Order it with cold beer, sticky rice, spicy dipping sauces and plenty of fresh greens, and go to town.
Just north of Took Kata on the way out of Kai Bae, Friend Seafood # is another popular Thai spot serving big plates of seafood in a nightly swirl of chillies, charcoal and travellers from around the globe. Large portions and prices in the 150 to 300 baht range might scare off solo travellers, though the family-run kitchen also whips up single-portion dishes like seafood fried rice and scallops stir-fried with chillies and basil for around 120 baht. After telling a server that we could handle “Thai spicy,” Friend once served us a bowl of tom yum stacked with around 30 bird’s eye chillies. Years later we’re still crying.
With plenty of seating on a large roadside veranda and an air-conditioned space, German-run Papa # churns out satisfying baguettes, rye and wheat breads, rolls and croissants among other pastries and blocks of fudge that are not easy to resist. We’re addicted to the baguette sandwiches made with choice of imported cheeses and meats—grab a few for the road and you’ve got an instant picnic.
Satisfying a Mexican food craving is usually impossible in Southeast Asia, but not on Ko Chang thanks to Barrio Bonito #. With a Mexican chef in the kitchen and an enthusiastic Frenchwoman running things smoothly out front, the stylish open-fronted restaurant will start you with a top-shelf margarita before pouring your Spanish rioja or Argentinian malbec paired with a made-from-scratch burrito, enchilada or more refined entrees. Served with house-made pico de gallo among three other sauces, the food is excellent.
Other international cuisines available in Kai Bae include Italian, Russian, Greek, Turkish, Swedish, French and Belgian—the latter noteworthy for the all-you-can-eat mussels, eggs benedict, imported beers and sandwiches along with a range of European dishes available at Chez David #. At the centre of the village, Emperor of India # has served us flavourful rogan josh and baigan bartha, even if portions are on the small side for the prices. Do be patient if the dining room is full; the do-it-all husband-and-wife team will get your food out eventually.
Those with a nose for a good vintage should check out the Wine Gallery # with its shelves filled with wines and spirits imported from France, Spain, Italy and South America. The cafe also serves fresh Arabica and Mediterranean bites, making it an ideal place for a slow chat, if you’re okay with spending a minimum of 100 baht on any item. Also offering a sophisticated ambiance is Salt, a bistro serving lamb burgers, ribs and a full range of cocktails to a long bar and sleek lounge with billiards table and sea views. Salt hosts the Ko Chang chilli cook off held annually in early December.
Sticking with cocktails, Filou # and Mojito Lounge # are both worth a stop for a livelier scene set to hip-hop, funk, electronic and downtempo beats on the main drag. A bit further south, Jonas Jonasson # is a personal favourite of this writer thanks to the upbeat yet laid-back Thai bartender and fun regulars who don’t only come from Scandinavia. If you need to catch up on sports, beer and grub from a British perspective, head to Morgan’s two-floor bar at the centre of Kai Bae.
Barrio Bonito Kai Bae village; Mo–Su: 17:00–20:30.
Chez David Kai Bae village (next to Chang Park Resort); T: (095) 707 0063; Mo–Su: 08:00–23:00 .
Emperor of India Kai Bae village; Mo–Su: 12:30–22:30.
Filou Cocktail Lounge Kai Bae village; T: (091) 592 4221; Mo–Su: 17:00–02:00.
Friend Seafood Northern Kai Bae on main road; T: (084) 863 1221; Mo–Su: 17:00–22:30.
Jonas Jonasson Kai Bae village; T: (080) 827 6898; Mo–Su: 10:00–24:00.
Koh Chang Wine Gallery Kai Bae village; T: (081) 668 7035; Mo–Su: 09:00–23:00.
Mojito Lounge Kai Bae village; T: (086) 150 8666; Mo–Su: 17:00–02:00.
Papa Bakery & Deli Kai Bae village; T: (087) 941 6511; Mo–Su: 08:00–19:00.
Porn’s Restaurant Southern Haad Kai Bae; T: (099) 713 7454; Mo–Su: 09:30–22:00.
Took Kata Kai Moon Kai Bae village; T: (089) 601 1398; .
The food at Lonely Beach does not match that of Kai Bae or Khlong Prao, but you certainly won’t starve, and nearby Bailan hosts a few really solid eateries. If you’re a young backpacker looking to party, Lonely Beach is your place.
Lonely Beach itself, as opposed to the nearby Lonely Beach village, has only a few simple beach bars to go with the resort restaurants—Nature Beach boasts a sunset outlook if you can deal with the bland Thai food. Instead we’d head to Warapura Resort’s stylish restaurant for cocktails, pizza, barbecued ribeye and Thai food served along the rocky coast just south of Lonely Beach’s sand.
Heading to the main drag, The Kitchen # dishes out cheap and flavourful Thai dishes to a gaggle of patrons in its open-sided pavilion every night. Here we enjoyed an unusual dish, pad pla muk kai khem, consisting of squid tossed in a super-hot wok with roasted garlic, chillies and salty preserved eggs. The pad Thai and stir-fried morning glory are also good if you’re not feeling adventurous. Don’t miss The Kitchen’s “bar” featuring a few bottles of cheap rum poured into fresh-blended mango and whole green coconuts.
Lonely Beach lacks a cafe and bakery that stacks up to Papa in Kai Bae, for example. The Sleepy Owl # serves fresh coffee along with decent pizza and pasta in a modern air-con space, though we’d pass on their Thai food. Down the main nightlife lane, Cafe del Sunshine # is a better place to enjoy a slow meal in a setting that’s conducive to chatting up other travellers. We came across good focaccia and muffins at the Cake Rice Bakery, where you’ll also find coffee and sandwiches. This little shop sits next to 7 Day, a minimart chain (there are two) found only in Lonely Beach that’s actually better than that other number 7-themed convenience store.
Those who are committed to avoiding the cake and candy bars should check out Aire, a cafe that also runs yoga sessions just beyond the south end of Lonely Beach. After your vinyasa you could tuck into a tofu-based vegan quiche or dragon fruit smoothie bowl.
A popular choice out of the restaurants that try to do it all for the nighttime crowd, Magic Garden # serves decent Thai food and excellent burgers to a popular bar and thatched pavilions lit to a dim red glow after dark. Across from that, we’ve heard good things about BB World of Tapas # and its imported beer selection—part of the BB Divers complex towards the south end of the main drag. There’s also Carpe Diem # serving casual French cuisine on a narrow lane in the village. If you could go for a pizza prepared from scratch, go see Marco.
Down in Bailan village, the Happy Turtle # is a mainstay serving delicious Thai dishes in a two-floor wooden shack. Expert multi-taskers brew fresh coffee using various methods before running Thai cooking classes and later drawing many of Bailan’s interesting expats for the food and cosy bar atmosphere after dark. Just down the road sits the Happy Turtle’s friend, The Lucky Gecko, a popular Austrian-run cafe with cooks who also do great breakfasts at the associated resort, Lucky Gecko Garden. Also worth a mention for a quality morning meal or after-dinner drink is Harley Moon Hideaway, a small South African-run resort at the centre of Bailan village.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tamarin # cooks up very good Thai food, bacon cheeseburgers and even sizzling fajitas as part of a small Mexican menu. If you prefer to dine on Bailan’s rocky shore, Lantalay Seafood and its cheaper neighbour, No Name Seafood #, will both serve you a barbecued squid with chilli sauce or family-size bowl of tom yum kung by the sea.
For something cheaper, Lek Kitchen in the heart of the village served us a powerfully spiced plate of krapao muu for 60 baht. Though we kept it cheap and simple, Lek’s full menu of Thai dishes includes lesser-known options, like kung chae nam plaa (raw prawns with fish sauce and spices) and pad prik khing (a boldly flavoured dry red curry with long beans and seafood). Every item is listed with a phonetic transliteration to Roman script, making Lek a worthy stop if you’re trying to learn more about Thai food. A full page of vegetarian dishes are available too.
In the end, though, many of the drunken punters end up satisfied by the burgers, kebabs, fries and pizza pumped out of a bright red-and-white stand at the mouth of the nightlife strip in Lonely Beach village. It opens for lunch before getting busy—be patient—for the late-night party crowd.
When it comes to nightlife, Lonely Beach is Ko Chang’s version of Bangkok’s Khao San Road or Ko Pha Ngan’s Haad Rin—expect a youthful, free-flowing party scene. At the far southern end of Lonely Beach itself, Siam Hut throws ear-splitting dance parties, and nightclubs like Ting Tong and Himmel follow suit along a narrow lane in the village. The music ranges from live reggae bands to DJs playing house, hip-hop and techno. Multiple shots of cheap liquor are poured into the popular buckets and “party favours” are sold pretty openly—don’t leave drinks unattended and always stay in control.
Having survived our days of getting wrecked on buckets, we now prefer the lower-key live music at Stone Free #, a bar devoted to blues, reggae and classic rock in the heart of Lonely Beach village. At the far southern end of Lonely Beach’s main drag, Margaritaville # is a lively Swedish-run bar that serves good cocktails and tunes from the likes of Michael Jackson and, of course, Jimmy Buffett. The bar often fills up around 22:00, but it’s worth stopping in earlier for a gorgonzola-cheese burger or Swedish meatballs.
With most of the village asleep by 23:00, Bailan is no Lonely Beach when it comes to nightlife. A bit earlier in the night, talented singers and guitarists draw small crowds to Tarzan Island’s spacious Thai restaurant. Otherwise you’ll usually find a few expats and travellers hanging at the Happy Turtle or Lucky Gecko.
Finally, if you’re looking to hang with Thai reggae-heads but want to avoid the bars, check out Easy House on the hillside road leading up to Oasis’ treehouse restaurant—do climb up there for sunset too.
BB World of Tapas Lonely Beach village on main road; T: (089) 504 0453 , (039) 611 690; .
Cafe del Sunshine Soi Tianchai 1, Lonely Beach village; T: (085) 677 3993; .
Carpe Diem Lonely Beach village; T: (097) 183 2515; .
Dang Seafood Lonely Beach village on main road; T: (089) 098 9299; Mo–Su: 08:00–22:00.
Happy Turtle Bailan village on main road; T: (089) 252 9287; Mo–Su: 08:00–24:00.
Lantalay Seafood Centre of Ao Bailan on the coast; .
Magic Garden Lonely Beach village on main road; T: (039) 558 027; Mo–Su: 09:00–24:00.
Margaritaville South end of Lonely Beach on main road; Mo–Su: 17:00–01:00.
No Name Seafood Central Ao Bailan (near Elephant Bay Resort); Mo–Su: 08:00–22:00.
Sleepy Owl Cafe Lonely Beach village on main road; T: (088) 525 5575; Mo–Su: 08:00–22:00.
Stone Free Lonely Beach village; T: (096) 496 0373; .
Tamarin Bailan village on main road; T: (090) 091 9452; Mo–Su: 08:00–13:00 & 17:00–21:00.
The Kitchen Lonely Beach village on main road; T: (061) 610 5321; Mo–Su: 09:00–22:00.
Along Bang Bao’s long pier you’ll find several restaurants affording commanding views of the bay, and often fish swimming below your feet. Long-standing Thai spots like Chow Lay, Nok Noi and Ruan Thai serve fresh seafood dishes at prices starting above 200 baht. Expensive, yes, but these restaurants are run by families that have been fishing around here for generations, and the view is tough to beat.
For a good Thai budget option, head to terra firma and tuck into a 50-baht plate of krapao or intensely flavoured muu manao (pork with lime and chilli sauce) at U Khao U Nam #. Headed by a soft-spoken father and a mother well schooled in the everyday Thai kitchen, the family owners are nuts about soccer, showing every game on a flatscreen and draping the open-sided dining area in banners of FCB Barcelona and Buriram United, among many more. Expect to find half of Bang Bao’s villagers watching here if you’re around for a big event, like the World Cup or any game involving the Thai national team.
The culinary highlight of Bang Bao might not be Thai food but Greek, hand-made and served to candlelit tables at El Greco # on the pier. With views to the Khlong Kloi side of the bay, their mouth-watering menu includes gemista (roasted meat-stuffed tomatoes) and mousaka (a Greek cousin of lasagna) along with the better-known gyros and salads. Mains go for 150 baht and up, but the food and atmosphere really come together for a special dine.
Also on the pier, Buddha View # would be our choice for a sundowner venue, while Bang Bao Delight is your place for fresh coffee, free WiFi and pastries.
Over on Khlong Kloi Beach we had a great seafood stir-fry with roasted garlic and green chillies at Bamboo Hut #, which also advertises cooking classes led by the seasoned Thai chef. A short walk off the beach in the adjacent village, we had good luck with the last piece of gai yang (grilled chicken) at Big Mama #, owned by a big-boned chef with sharp taste buds. If you crave real Isaan flavour, tell her you’ve been to her home province, Chaiyaphum, and she won’t hold back on dishes like som tam buu pla raa and nam tok muu. Don’t forget the sticky rice and cold beer to ease the pain of those fresh chillies.
Set just north of Khlong Kloi Beach on little Haad Sai Noi, another spot we like is I Do I Do # thanks to its relaxing beachfront pavilion and good mix of Thai and Western food, including pizza and vegetarian options. The duck curry we ordered didn’t blow us away, but on a second visit we had a plate of pad chaa that exploded with the flavours of chilli, garlic, finger root, peppercorn and fresh seafood. This is also a fun place to just hang out and have a beer, smoothie or fresh coffee while soaking in the sea view and reggae tunes.
While Bang Bao remains a sleepy place with very little nightlife, Djambe House at Indie Beach Bungalows near Khlong Kloi throws weekly reggae parties—don’t be afraid to bring a hand drum. Otherwise there’s Mr Tee Rasta Bar set right on the beach; Rasta View Bar # with its bay-view deck; Freedom Bar with its motorcycle signage painted red, yellow and green; and Hippy Hut Bar with its art gallery and Bob Marley flags on the way back to Bang Bao. Another bar is called How High, which may give you some idea of what goes on around here. Almost all of these spots rent out a few cheap rooms as well.
Bamboo Hut Restaurant Haad Khlong Kloi; T: (087) 278 1810; Mo–Su: 09:30–21:30.
Bang Bao Delight Bang Bao Pier; T: (091) 724 2413; Mo–Su: 08:00–18:00.
Big Mama Khlong Kloi village; .
Buddha View Restaurant Bang Bao pier; T: (039) 558 157; .
El Greco Bang Bao Pier; T: (086) 843 8417; Mo–Su: 09:00–22:00.
Hippy Hut Bang Bao (on the way to Khlong Kloi); T: (087) 742 4718; .
I Do I Do Haad Sai Noi (between Bang Bao and Khlong Kloi); T: (061) 359 9464; .
Rasta View Bang Bao (on the way to Khlong Kloi); T: (098) 279 3588; .
U Khao U Nam Bang Bao on main road; T: (093) 563 6556 , (086) 842 4805; Mo–Su: 08:00–22:00.
Fresh seafood is the name of the game in Salak Phet and the nearby villages of Chek Bae, Salak Khok and Dan Mai. The seafood restaurants on Ko Chang’s east coast are often considered destinations in their own right among Thai tourists. Salak Phet Seafood # tried to monopolise the market with at least ten signs beginning all the way up in Khlong Son. But it’s not just hype—the whole fish, squid and crab are fresh and professionally prepared, and the huge deck set on stilts above the bay is one of those places we didn’t want to leave. Prices are high however; pop next door to the smaller Sang Arun Seafood to save a little cash.
Fishers founded every east-coast village on Ko Chang and they all host at least one seafood restaurant that natives are proud of. Though we haven’t tried them all, you’re all but guaranteed to find fresh, Trat-style seafood served for Thai tastes on sea-view decks at Salak Khok Seafood #, Dan Mai Seafood # and Rommai Seafood # in Chek Bae. You’ll also find a few cheap street-food carts around the village temples selling grilled meats, fried bananas and khanom krok: delicious mini coconut custard pancakes.
Standing in the heart of Salak Phet fishing village, Baan Yemaya # has what is arguably the area’s most relaxing dining area and the food is great to boot. Grab a seat in the interior lounge or out on the terrace draped in greenery to look out over the bay as you enjoy the massaman, which is rightfully famous among long stayers. Wine, beer and fresh coffee join vegetarian options to make this a favourite of groups of travellers who have met in Salak Phet. Though we haven’t tried it, Thai/Swedish-run Fisherman’s Hut # looked to be another promising option for eats in the heart of Salak Phet village.
Just north of Salak Khok, The Spa Koh Chang Resort’s river-view restaurant serves some of Ko Chang’s healthiest food. Along with fresh-squeezed juice, including wheatgrass, you can enjoy a full spread of vegan raw foods or a soul-nurturing plate of fresh zucchini with pesto made from ingredients grown on site. Expect steep prices and limited meat options.
The east coast offers virtually zero nightlife, but you could have a few beers and chat up other travellers at the little seafront bars found at Garden of Joy Resort # in Dan Kao, and Journey’s End in Chek Bae. We’ve also heard good things about Garden of Joy’s pricey Thai/Western dishes like barbecued spare ribs and sea bass with mango salad paired with a small wine selection.
Baan Yemaya Baan Salak Phet; T: (081) 922 8487 , (039) 553 043; .
Dan Mai Seafood Baan Dan Mai; T: (092) 252 6310; Mo–Su: 07:00–22:00.
Fisherman’s Hut Baan Salak Phet; T: (081) 932 4783; Mo–Su: 08:00–21:00.
Garden of Joy Dan Kao on the main road; T: (092) 925 4230; .
Rommai Seafood Chek Bae on the coast; T: (089) 939 2424; Mo–Su: 10:00–22:00.
Salak Khok Seafood Baan Salak Khok; T: (087) 614 0959; Mo–Su: 09:00–20:00.
Salak Phet Seafood West Ao Salak Phet; T: (081) 429 9983 , (081) 782 9245; Mo–Su: 08:00–20:00.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.