Just about everyone visiting Thailand for the first time makes their way to the island of Phuket. Phuket is (in)famous for its nightlife, markets, and stunning beaches. In Phuket, you also have the opportunity to do a bit of island hopping, so that you get to see some of the more isolated islands. It has everything you need, which is why many people don’t venture elsewhere. When they do, it is to Samui, which is almost as popular.
But I’m here to make the case for visiting Koh Chang, an island in Eastern Thailand. Koh Chang is not nearly as well-known as Phuket and Samui. It is not as developed, either. However, it is a very attractive destination for a number of reasons.
You can find tickets from Chiang Mai to Koh Chang easily, so getting there is no trouble. Want to know why? Here are 10 compelling reasons.
1. It is not overrun by tourists
When you are looking for the most exciting nightlife, a place like Phuket is great. The party never stops because there are always tons of tourists keeping it going. However, the constant throngs of tourists get exhausting very quickly. In every direction you look, you’ll find people from around the world. Which also means that much of the island life is geared towards tourists. You get a very strange version of Thailand, which looks like nothing more than an amalgamation of what tourists seem to want from it.
Koh Chang is still relatively niche. You won’t find the same throngs of tourists. You, therefore, get a break from the crowds as well as from the hawkers taking advantage of those crowds. Your experience of Thai people is more authentic, and your time there a lot less frustrating.
2. The scenery is exciting
Are you expecting to find nothing but beaches? You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that Koh Chang has some exciting scenery that makes for fun hikes through the most beautiful parts of nature. It is home to a lot of jungle, and you can do amazing hikes that span a number of idyllic days.
Furthermore, it is close to Koh Wai, known as one of the most beautiful small islands in Thailand. Here you’ll find gorgeous beaches along with forests and vegetation. There are no roads, as it is small enough to traverse on foot.
3. Go diving
Finally, if you’re worried that you’ll get bored on Koh Chang, your fears are unfounded. Aside from lying on the beaches and trekking through the jungle, there is plenty more to do. You’ll find some good nightlife here as well, but it’s not what Koh Chang is about. Rather, the best experiences in Koh Chang are natural.
It’s no surprise that Koh Chang is perfect for diving. You don’t need any previous experience and can get certification while there. Diving in Koh Chang is incredible because of the crystal clear water. As soon as you break the surface of the water, you’ll see schools of tropical fish, and as you go further down, you’ll see so much more.
Like the rest of Thailand, Koh Chang is home to a number of exquisite beaches. With their mixture of fine, pure white sand and crystal-clear sky-blue water, they feel like nothing less than paradise on Earth. For those who love swimming in the ocean, these beaches offer reasonably calm tides and water unspoiled by the pollution of major cities.
5. Luxury Accommodation
Thailand is known for offering four or five-star hotels at very reasonable rates and Koh Chang is no exception. The accommodation is a bit more rustic and unassuming than that of mainland Thailand but it remains top class, nonetheless, and far quieter than what you might find in Phuket or Bangkok.
6. Perfect for Families
Other parts of Thailand can be a bit too rowdy and racy for families with young children so the quieter, more serene and family-friendly Koh Chang is perfect for families. It’s especially great if you’re looking for a retreat away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and is an especially great way for kids to get away from their screen and in touch with nature. Both the hotels and the island itself offer plenty of activities that make the most of the island’s natural charms.
7. Perfect for day trips
You don’t have to stay over on the island or have your whole vacation there as it’s also ideal for day trips. If you’re looking to enjoy the nightlife and the more boisterous atmosphere of Phuket but want to get away from it all for the day, Koh Chang is ideal for a short trip too as it is so easy to get to.
8. It’s easy to get to
Like all the islands in Thailand, it’s utterly painless to get to and from Koh Chang. Plenty of transport is available from any of the major hotels to get you to one of the regular ferries that will transport you, in style and comfort, from one island to the next. It matters little whether you’re spending your whole vacation there or are just a day visitor, the fact that this little slice of paradise is such an easy trip makes it all the more appealing.
Animal lovers will find plenty of exotic creatures to see, both on land and in the sea. The island is unspoiled by too much human development so it’s easy enough to find these amazing creatures, at home in their natural habitat. Between the sandy beaches, dense jungle and clear ocean, the island has three diverse habitats to check out.
10. It’s cheap
Thailand’s currency, the Bart, is generally weaker than most currencies, especially those from the developed world. What this means is that you could have a nicer vacation in Koh Chang and the rest of Thailand than in most places on Earth for but a fraction of the price. Why spend an untold fortune on mediocre accommodation in a merely adequate location when you can have the best of luxury, relaxation and excitement for a much more modest sum?
Koh Chang is truly a magnificent island. It is not the party haven that you’ll find in Phuket, but its natural wonders will sate your explorer spirit.