Ko Chang is located around 330 km southeast of Bangkok and 80 km west of the Cambodia border crossing at Had Lek. Two car ferries make the six-km trip to Ko Chang from the mainland in Laem Ngop, south of Trat town. Speedboats and slowboats also run south from Ko Chang to Ko Wai, Ko Mak and Ko Kut, but only in high season.
At time of writing, only Bangkok Airways flies between Bangkok, via Suvarnabhumi Airport, and Trat Airport—and it’s not cheap. After arriving to Trat you’ll be put on a minibus for the 20-kilometre ride to the car ferry pier.
Ekkamai (Eastern) Terminal: Buses running direct to the Ko Chang ferry piers in Laem Ngop depart at 07:45 and 09:00 for 240 baht—these do fill up beforehand on occasion.
If you miss them, take any Trat-bound bus departing hourly from 09:00 to 23:00, bearing in mind that you’ll probably have to spend a night in Trat if you depart Ekkamai later than 14:00. Buses return to Ekkamai from Trat throughout the day from 07:00 to 23:00. The trip takes five to six hours.
Bus ticket vendors at Ekkamai will also sell you ferry tickets automatically if you tell them you’re going to Ko Chang. From Laem Ngop, the government “Laem Ngop Express” buses mentioned above return to Ekkamai at 14:00 and 16:00—try to use the Ao Sapparot / Ao Thammachat ferry for a better chance of catching them.
Morchit (Northern) Terminal: Buses depart for Trat only at 07:30, 11:00, 18:00 and 22:00 for 240 baht, with minibuses departing more frequently until around 18:00. Buses return from Trat to Morchit at 07:30, 09:30, 14:30 and 16:00.
Suvarnabhumi Airport: The Burapha bus company connects Bangkok’s main international air hub to Ko Chang directly, with regular buses and minibuses departing from Floor 1 at the airport at 07:50 (large bus), 11:00 and 14:00 for 600 baht. From Ko Chang these leave for the airport at 07:00, 14:00 (large bus) and 17:00, and pick up is possible at your resort on Ko Chang.
Khao San Road: A tourist bus starts with pick up on your resort in the morning and takes you all the way to Khao San for 600 baht.
Departing from early morning until around 18:00, blue songthaews charge a rather pricey 80 baht per person to shuttle travellers between Trat bus station and the ferry piers. These always wait for buses arriving from Bangkok and in a blink the driver will squeeze you into the back of the roofed pick-up for the breezy 40-minute ride to the pier.
In Laem Ngop the songthaews usually drop passengers at a travel office, where you can buy a ferry ticket if need be (they do not cost more here) and then jump in another songhtaew for the ride to the pier.
To/from other destinations
At Trat bus station you’ll find several other options for onward travel by bus, including Chanthaburi, Rayong, Nakhon Ratchasima and the Cambodia border crossing at Had Lek.
Alternately you could book an all-in tourist minibus direct from Ko Chang to Pattaya, Ban Phe (Ko Samet piers), Had Lek, Sihanoukville or Siem Reap.
To/from the mainland
Ko Chang’s two car ferries depart from a pair of piers in Laem Ngop district every 45 minutes from 06:00 to 19:00 for 80 baht, plus an additional 80 to 100 baht to bring a car. These return in the same timeframe from Ko Chang’s north coast.
The Ferry Koh Chang company using Ao Thammachat Pier on the mainland and Ao Sapparot Pier on the island is the larger and more popular of the two—try the Centerpoint Ferry if you’re bringing a car to Ko Chang at a busy time. At all piers you’ll find travel offices, motorbike rental and songthaews ready to shuttle you to your resort on Chang or Trat bus station on the mainland.
To/from other islands
In high season from November to May, a few boats do the Ko Chang-Ko Wai-Ko Maak-Ko Kut run daily, mostly launching from Bang Bao Pier but also with one boat departing from Kai Bae. Tickets can be booked through any travel agent.
From Bang Bao, a slow boat departs at 09:00 and reaches Ko Wai at 09:45 for 300 baht, and Ko Maak at 10:45 for 400 baht. This boat returns from Maak at 12:00 and picks up on Wai at 12:45 before arriving back to Chang an hour later.
The Bangbao Speedboat departs Ko Chang at 09:30 and 12:00, reaching Ko Maak an hour later for 600 baht and Ko Kut two hours later for 900 baht. From Ko Kut these boats return to Maak and Chang at 09:00 and 12:00.
Departing from Kai Bae and convenient if you’re coming from there, Khlong Prao or Haad Sai Khao, the Kai Bae Hut Speedboat leaves at 09:00 and costs the same as the Bangbao Speedobat to Ko Wai, Ko Maak or Ko Kut. It returns to Kai Bae from Kut at 11:00, stopping at Maak at 11:45 and Wai at 12:15.
Many of the public boats from Ko Chang can also drop passengers at Ko Rayang, an islet beside Ko Maak with one resort.
In low season you’ll have to return to Laem Ngop and transfer to a Ko Maak- or Ko Kut-bound ferry departing from the mainland.
Private transfers between Ko Chang and Bangkok or the Had Lek border crossing are popular for travellers looking to save time in exchange for spending more cash. Search "Ko Chang transfer" and you'll find a bunch of websites offering minibus transfers from Bangkok for around 5,000 baht -- that's for the whole van, not per person. Expect to pay a bit less if taking a regular taxi.
White songthaews ply Ko Chang’s west coast from the ferry piers to Khlong Kloi and charge 100 baht per person for short trips or up to 300 baht for longer journeys. These prices assume you’re willing to wait around for more passengers to jump in; expect to pay a maximum of 1,500 baht to even the most distant corners of the island if you want to make it a private trip. For shorter stretches, like Haad Sai Khao to Khlong Son, a private trip costs around 300 baht. Yes, Ko Chang boasts some of the best-paid songthaew drivers in Thailand.
Motorbikes can be rented in every beach and village throughout Ko Chang for around 150 to 200 baht per day, and bigger bikes are available in Haad Sai Khao and Khlong Prao.
Mountain bikes and other types of bicycles are available for 100 to 200 baht per day at a few roadside shops on the main road through Chai Chet and Khlong Prao. We noticed good-quality bikes in various styles at a shop across the car park from Marin Coffee in Chai Chet's Coco Plaza.
Use extreme caution when cycling, motorbiking or driving on Ko Chang. With hairpin turns and grades switching in a snap from nearly flat to freak-out-inducing steep there is little room for mistake. Add to that the droves of travellers who are inexperienced on motorbikes plus numerous pick-up trucks whizzing around corners and no shortage of Thais and foreigners who drive like maniacs, and Ko Chang’s roads are darn hazardous. That goes for pedestrians too; always carry a torch if you'll be walking after dark.
One turn between Kai Bae and Lonely Beach deserves a special warning. Coming from Kai Bae (north), vehicles are supposed to stop and wait for traffic heading uphill from Lonely Beach (south). Many drivers ignore this, creating a really dangerous situation for those coming up the steep inside lane from the south. If coming from the south, approach slowly and look uphill, around the corner, to check for traffic. If vehicles are wheeling downhill, slow down and let them clear through before you enter the turn. When the road uphill is clear, head up through the turn roughly in the centre of the road, where the grade is not so extreme. It’s easy to lose control on the super-steep inside lane—accidents happen here frequently.
Other places to use extra caution include the steep turns between Khlong Son and Haad Sai Khao, and behind Khlong Kloi on the way to Grand Lagoona Beach. In both spots we’ve seen multiple accidents, not surprising considering how so many Thais and foreigners drive like total maniacs on Ko Chang.