Photo: Jungle takes back quick.


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There are laid-back islands, and then there’s Ko Chang Noi. The northernmost island in Thailand’s section of the Andaman Sea faces straight towards Burma, its dark-sand beaches backed by simple bungalows, cashew orchards and jungle amid a formidable interior. For those who don’t mind roughing it in exchange for serious relaxation, this is a special place.

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Unlike Eastern Thailand’s far more popular Ko Chang, Ranong province’s “Little Elephant Island” remains well off the mainstream tourism radar. The “resorts” lack hot water and TVs, switching on generators for only a few hours in the evenings. A Spanish traveller who retreats here every year for months explained: “At first it just seems uncomfortable, but after a while, when the nature really starts to sink in, you notice little things that you would never notice on a short stay.”

Winding island laneways. Photo taken in or around Ko Chang Noi, Thailand by David Luekens.

Winding island laneways. Photo: David Luekens

He’s one of many middle-aged and older Europeans who return each year, often to the very same bungalows, to relish the sort of atmosphere that existed on islands like Ko Samui back in the 1970s and ‘80s. They come mainly for the cheap huts and community spirit rather than the beaches, which lack the sparkle of many Thai islands but are fine for a dip and great for sunsets. Many spend their days writing, painting, strumming a guitar or reading in a hammock.

Most of the islanders’ income comes from agriculture and fishing rather than the tourism that disappears when a notably intense monsoon billows through from May to October. Land is passed down over generations, and it’s common for the owner of one resort to be cousins with the owner of another one down the beach. Bungalows fill up around Western New Year, when organised soccer matches and live bands overtake a central stretch ... Travelfish members only (Around 800 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Ko Chang Noi.
 Read up on where to eat on Ko Chang Noi.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Ko Chang Noi.
 Read up on how to get to Ko Chang Noi, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Ko Chang Noi? Please read this.
 Buy a SIM card for Thailand—pick it up at the airport when you arrive.
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