Ko Chang

Ko Chang

Elephant Island

Ko Chang’s profile cuts the clouds at sunset and mist yawns off its peaks at dawn. This 213-square-kilometre “Elephant Island” anchors a 52-island archipelago in the far eastern corner of Thailand near Cambodia. Explore beyond Chang’s brash first impression and you’ll likely find a paradise that suits you.

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Ko Chang first caught on with backpackers in the 1980s and you’ll still bump into old timers who once slept in hammocks on Lonely Beach or pitched tents in the coconut groves behind Khlong Prao. First arriving in the ‘90s, Russian package tourists checked into Haad Sai Khao (White Sand Beach), and they remain alongside independent-travelling Europeans, Scandinavians and Anglophones, plus quite a few Thai tourists who swoop in on weekends. Ko Chang has sizeable permanent communities of expats, Khmers and Thais, including native islanders but also many from Isaan (Northeast Thailand).

Raise a lantern on Haad Sai Khao. : David Luekens.
Raise a lantern on Haad Sai Khao. Photo: David Luekens

The 1990s and 2000s saw much of the west coast covered in big-block resorts and drab row houses that now hide the sea view in many places. But this is not the most easily accessible of Thailand’s big-name islands, and development has not reached the scale found on many parts of Phuket and Samui. Ko Chang’s overall feel is closer to that of Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Lanta—touristy and tacky in places but with no airport, plenty of jungle and scope for exploration and seclusion.

Some travellers return often, having found their particular haven in the bays, bars, spas, estuaries, waterfalls, bungalows, beach resorts, yoga mats, fishing villages, dive sites, homestays, hippie retreats and back lanes to ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 2,600 words.)

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