Staying on Koh Chang
So after what was probably the longest land based journey I have ever undertaken in one hot (I have had longer flights to Australia). I finally arrived on the island of Koh Chang, One of the last undeveloped islands in the gulf of Thailand.
My body was aching and my mind was a mess, why didn’t I pre arrange some comfortable accommodation so I could head straight there and have nice warm shower, and a long well deserved sleep?
As soon as I got off the ferry I was bombarded by folk offering me somewhere to stay. This was the last thing I needed after 20hrs of travelling; I hate people in my face the best of times, and certainly not then. But in my predicament of not having pre arranged somewhere to stay, I had no choice but to engage in a battle of haggling over price for some basic room somewhere.
Haggling was a battle I wasn’t go to win in that state of mind, so I took the tactic of being slightly interested in 2 rooms, and let them battle it out with each other whilst I stood and watched. I ended up with a basic room, with cable TV and a Fan for 350thb a night. Not bad, and the best thing it was only 25mins from the ferry terminal (I use terminal in the loosest sense).
As soon as I got to my room, I paid for 3 days up front, and headed straight up stairs to crash out. I jumped through a nice cold shower and headed straight to bed. I slept from 7pm through to 7am in the morning.
Koh Chang is billed as an under developed island, but in fact there are a few resorts and hotels here. However there is only one main perimeter road and this doesn’t even go the whole way round the Island. Pretty rubbish if you live at one end and need to get to the other side, instead of a short trip you end up going the whole way around the Island. But this lack of major development is the Islands charm so no point moaning about it.
There is, as mentioned no major tourist infrastructure here, and the main past time seems to be either spa style retreats, where you go for a completely relaxing break. Diving, now diving is huge here, most resorts sell it, and there are several good dive schools. I had a few years back done my open water diving course in Dominica and thought whilst I’m here I will get back into it.
Koh Chang has captured the dive market for the north of the gulf as the water here is much clearer than other places such as Ryong, Hua Hin or Pattaya. It is also relatively cheap here compared to my previous experience in the Caribbean. For around 2,000thb you get a whole day out on the boat, including a morning dive and afternoon dive. I met some great people out on my trip. My Dive master John, had come to Thailand to complete his dive master’s on Koh Chang and then ended up staying to supervise dive party’s. He doesn’t earn masses of money, but enough to live here relatively comfortably and he does what he loves every day. Another possible avenue to me maybe one day staying here long term. Although getting my dive master is not cheap.
The island itself doesn’t boast a huge nightlife, but does have enough independently owned bars and restaurants, as well as plenty of hotel bars to keep you entertained. I found it to be the right level of night time fun.
Another great thing about staying on Koh Chang is the scenery, the island is stunning and you can find some absolutely amazing vistas and views. It is quite a mountainous island and if you are prepared to go off and explore on your own you will find some truly breathtaking sights. You are best hiring a scooter to get around, after all this is the second largest island in the gulf and even on scooter can take 2hrs to get from one side to the other.
I ended up staying on Koh Chang for 2 months, I chilled out on the beach a lot, dived a little (wish I could have dived more but it gets expensive after a while), I also spent a lot of time finding friendly Thai’s to practice my new found Language skills on. Not sure what they made of me? Maybe they were pleased I had made the effort, or maybe they thought I was useless at speaking Thai, either way it helped me and I think my vocabulary expanded a lot.
Koh Chang is about the same cost wise is Chiang Mai to live and there are a few long term expats here, but nowhere near the numbers found In Chiang Mai. It is what I imagine the southern Islands of Phuket and Koh Samui would have been like 15-20years ago. If this is what you are looking for from your trip to Thailand then Koh Chang offers that dream.