Koh Chang is the second biggest island in Thailand (after Phuket) but does not have a transport infrastructure fitting its relative popularity. This, however, may be a good thing if you’re tired of honking traffic and constant 747s overhead.
Koh Chang does not have an airport and those wanting to fly here must catch a domestic service to Trat and catch a taxi to the nearby port at Laem Ngop. Flights to Trat Airport are expensive and so this route is not very popular, with most people opting to take the bus instead.
However, Bangkok Airways flies from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Trat. The one hour trip is around 3,000 baht (one way), but there are decent discounts for those that book well in advance.
Getting to Koh Chang by bus is relatively straightforward with services leaving direct from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport’s own bus station to Trat, from where a taxi or songthaew (30 minutes, 50 baht per person) can be caught to the piers. But there are direct buses from the Bangkok’s eastern Ekamai Bus Station to the Laem Ngop piers leaving at 07:45 and 09:45 daily (returning at 14:00 and 16:00). This same bus can also be caught from Chanthaburi or Suvarnabhumi Airport if there are any seats left.
There are also first class buses leaving from Ekamai and Bangkok’s northern Mo Chit Bus Terminal to Trat (five hours, 275 baht). Trat is also the place to head for connections to Pattaya, Ban Phe (for Koh Samet) and the Hat Lek border with Cambodia, although ever more direct minibuses are servicing these destinations direct from Laem Ngop pier so ask around when in the area.
Ferries to Koh Chang run several times a day from three different piers in Laem Ngop; Tha Khrom Luang (or Tha Laern Ngop) is around 700m west of Laem Ngop, Centrepoint Pier is around four kilometres northwest of Laem Ngop and Thammachat Bay (for the car ferry) is roughly 15kms west of Laem Ngop. From Trat town centre visitors can catch shared taxi songthaews from the municipal market to the pier where there are ticket booths. The boat takes 45 minutes or one hour for the vehicle service.
Once on the island, getting around Koh Chang involves renting motorbikes or hailing overpriced songthaews. Accessing the remote southern resorts can be more expensive, and care should be taken if driving oneself. The west coast road is steep and windy and not advisable for novice riders. Motorbikes can be rented all around the island for around 250 baht per day, but point out and scratches or dents before driving off as unsuspecting tourists are sometimes stung for ‘damage’ spotted when they drop off the bike. More on transport to Koh Chang.