Koh Chang wasn’t an island we originally intended to visit, but because all of the islands further south were being battered by a tropical storm we went in search of the sun. There isn’t heaps to do here, but it’s perfect to recuperate for a few days and was especially lovely for us as our first proper beach destination of our trip.
For backpackers, *the* place to stay on Koh Chang is Lonely Beach. It’s quite a small area but it has loads of cheap bungalows, some shops, a few good restaurants and a handful of bars which are probably the liveliest on the island, so it does the job. The beach here is amazing too; definitely the clearest, cleanest turquoise ocean I have ever seen. I thought I’d be too much of a wimp to swim in the sea in Thailand but there was no getting me out of this water every day!
There are a few quieter beaches which we never made it to, but I never found Lonely Beach to be overcrowded. We attempted to ride a moped further afield to White Sands Beach one day, but scarpered pretty quickly when we got surrounded by monkeys down a quiet road! I’m pretty sure all the monkeys on Koh Chang are harmless and so used to humans, but this was our first encounter with them so we sh*t ourselves… after a few days on the island though we saw them everywhere and they’re actually pretty cute (from a distance).
Due to it being Christmas and the busiest time on the island, we ended up having to move accommodation a few times. We still had no trouble turning up and trying to find a place to stay though, which I’d always recommend as you can scope the place out first. The best place we stayed was called Day and Night – concrete bungalows with decent bathroom facilities, a fan and a TV for 500 Baht a night (about £11). Our first night on the island though we stayed in Sunshine Bungalows, which was without a doubt the worst place we’ve stayed on the whole trip. We were hasty booking a night there because it was dirt cheap, okay at first glance, and we were searching around in the blistering midday heat with our backpacks on. Come nighttime though our room was overrun by mutant-sized cockroaches and mosquitoes – the problem with the bungalow was that the bathroom roof was disconnected, and there were big gaps underneath both doors so everything got in. We happened to find out earlier in the evening that the island is home to a large number of king cobras, so I was way too tense to sleep and stayed up on snake watch until 7am.
There isn’t an abundance of nightlife options on Lonely Beach but this means that the few bars are always pretty busy. Himmel is the most popular, it’s a big bar/club that plays really poppy music (Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran etc)… not my usual choice but in Thailand I’m just grateful for anything that isn’t EDM. The best bars are Shanti and Banana Leaf, both reggae bars (they’re all over the place in Asia) and Banana Leaf has live music every night. My favourite thing about the nightlife here though is that every night of our stay one of the bars offered a free BBQ (!!!) which I’m sure is a regular occurrence. The best one is at Shanti – they let you have as much as you want and they know how to cook a chicken leg!
Like I said, there’s not loads of things to do or sights to see on Koh Chang but that’s what the cities are for – there was plenty here to keep us happy and the island itself is so beautiful that it’s definitely worth a visit!