Although Koh Chang may not be overrun with water sport attractions like many other Thai islands, the limited beaches and hilly terrain has allowed it to keep much of its natural charm. Lovers of the outdoors will find plenty to do in this surprisingly pristine environment, with excellent diving, trekking and day-tripping opportunities.
Some energetic holidaymakers might enjoy cycling in Koh Chang, and it is possible to hire pushbikes at various locations around the island. Be warned, however, that although the ride to Salk Phet is fairly manageable, getting between other beaches can require quite a lot of hard work. The gradients can be very steep and tough on the legs, even for the experienced mountain bikers.
Like cycling, hiking in Koh Chang is rewarding but tough due to the island’s steep terrain. Although little organised hiking is offered here, there are some trails to be found across the hills and some shorter walks leading to waterfalls. It is recommended that those who do not know the area well hire a guide or stick to the more convenient choice of walking along the endless stretch of beach at Klong Proaw.
There are two companies offering elephant trekking in Koh Chang. Those staying near Klong Prao should opt for the Chang Chutiman Tour, which is good value for money with one-hour treks from 500 baht. The route passes a waterfall, a pomelo orchard and a tropical forest, and can be fine-tuned to offer more thrills for experienced elephant riders. More on Koh Chang activities.
Many of the big resorts and most of the popular beaches offer canoeing and sea kayaking in Koh Chang, with equipment available for rent on an hourly basis. Although some rental agents offer lifejackets, it is essential to be a competent swimmer, and any loss or damage of equipment will have to be paid for.
There are plenty of spas and beauty centres to enjoy during a stay in Koh Chang. Some offer specialist treatments, but facials, steam baths and Thai massage can be found at most. Many of the large resorts have dedicated spa centres, while private facilities can be found dotted all around the island. Popular centres include Koh Chang Resort and Spa, Aana Resort and Spa, VJ Hotel and Health Spa , and Koh Chang Grand Orchid Resort and Spa.
The main scuba diving season in Koh Chang runs from October to April, with the southern and western shores offering the best display of coral, reef fish and anemones. Snorkelling is also possible for those with their own gear, while scuba tours can be arranged by agents all across the island.
Visiting the neighbouring islands of Koh Wai, Koh Yak, Koh Rang and Koh Kra is easily arranged with speedboat trips. The tours normally last all day, encompassing at least three islands, with lunch, water and snorkelling equipment included in the price.
To top it all off, Koh Chang is home to numerous beaches. The quietest can be found in the south of the island, while those on the west coast offer the best views. Hat Sai Kao (White Sand Beach) is the best set up for swimming and sunbathing, although it is usually the busiest because of this.
The next cove along is Klong Prao, which boasts a sweeping tree-lined bay and a mangrove inlet. Kai Bae offers a much quieter setting, while Klong Makok is a small private beach towards the southern shore of the island. More on Koh Chang attractions.