This is a quick overview of the state of Koh Chang, the second largest island in Thailand.  Since the Tsunami devestated parts of Thailand's West Coast (id est Phuket) in 2004, there has been an ever increasing number of western tourists heading for this island. 

 Approaching Ko Chang

Ko Chang at present is pretty close to most people's idea of a tropical paradise: a lush, mountainous interior is surrounded by turquoise-blue water, with lots of coconut palms and white sand in between.  You only need a beautiful virgin being sacrificed to a volcano and the beating of jungle drums in the night and it would be just like a Hollywood movie set!  The island has a relaxed, unpoiled atmosphere and so far lacks the seediness and high-rise developments which characterise Pattaya and Patong.  However, the tourist industry here is in full swing and if development continues at it's current pace, the days before Ko Chang becomes just like Phuket or Ko Samui are numbered. 

Apearances can be deceptive, though. The largest most crowded and noisiest town, Whitesands is built along a narrow strip of land between the mountains and sea, the development there has got so dense that they are now digging back into the hillside behind the place. That landslips have taken place is clearly visible; it can only be hoped that this form of expansion is carried out with the necessary safety precautions to avoid a landslip onto a hotel or other tourist amenity.,

Below what looks like a landslip is visible on the left side of the carpark opposite the ferry port 

 Landslip - ferry  

Klong Prao beach August 2005

Ask the hotel directly if there is building work going on.........

Whitesands - Koh chang

Whitesands - Oct 2007 

Health and safety are concerns to be aware of- some of the pool designs look positively lethal. If you're coming from Europe or the States you'll find that the cost of living and rooms is cheap but not compared to elsewhere in Thailand. You'll love the sunsets and the white sand, you won't wonder where all the sewage is going and what happened to the mangroves or the fishing industry that gets smaller catches every year, or the fishing villages being turned into souvenir arcades-and-hotels.

The centre of Ko Chang is a national park, but unlike all of Thailand's other National Parks, apart from the odd waterfall, no-one is allowed inside. You can get a guide who will take you in but strictly speaking that's against the law. Unfortunately, there isn't a good system of trails in the park as you might find in some other National Parks in Thailand

Nam Tok Khlong PluNam Tok Nang Yom

There is only one road around KC and it doesn't go all the way round, it's a horse-shoe affair. A 10km section at the southern end of the island is yet to be completed.  Work on this stretch stopped a coiple of years ago and no-one knows when it will re-commence, if ever. The main road is narrow from kai Bae south to Bangbao but elsewhere is perfectly adequate - although it can get busy during Thai holidays.  Public transport is limited to pick-up truck taxis that ply the west coast from the ferry piers down to Bangbao.  For convenience, you might like to consider hiring a motorbike or car.  The traffic is not as chaotic as in bigger cities, but KC is mountainous and the roads are very windy and hilly, so take care, especially if you aren't an experienced driver/motorbike rider.  Many people die or are injured on the roads here every year, if you do rent a bike take extra care at night when most accidents occur.

There is no airport on KC itself, if you go by plane you'll land at Trat airport which is on the mainland and a 20 minute drive to 'Koh Chang Ferry'  pier. Get a taxi to the ferry - only a few baht. Or take the airport minibus to any resort on Koh Chang - a more comfortable and covenient way to get to your hotel with the minium of hassle. Ferries run every 30-45 minutes from 6.30am  - around 7.30pm. The crossing time is 30 minutes.  ( Centrepoint also provide ferry servies but less reliable,with hourly sailings and higher charges for foot passengers. ) There are several ferries across, the crossing takes 45 to 90 min, depending on which ferry you take.

Where to stay? - Klong Prao Beach is probably as good as it gets, there are about 4 resorts there actually with beach frontage, The Paradise is all nicely built new bungalows, Coconut and Royal Coconut are next to that and Klong Prao resort has a long beach front and good pool beside the sea.    The southern end of the beach is home to a cluster of lusry resorts Panviaman, Amari, Dewa, Tropicana &  Barali. Hat Sai Khao (White Sand Beach) is the most developed, so if you want to be near the largest concentration of shops and restaurants, stay here.  Kai Bae is smaller and less developed, but still features plenty of places to stay and eat.  Hat Tha Nam(Lonely Beach) has a buzzing bar/nightlife scene and is a haven for backpackers.  The main attraction of Bang Bao is a seemingly endless, ramshackle, pier with stacks of seafood restaurants, shops and dive operators.  Probablynotaplaceto stay along time but good for aday trip - the seafood restaurants are all pretty good. The East Coast is much quieter, but looks back across to the mainland and lacks the dramatic sunsets over the sea of the West Coast.  However if you head way down to the south east you'll be rewarded with some of the best views on the island across Salakkok Bay & Salakphet Bay.  If you find Ko Chang doesn't offer the seclusion you were hoping for, neigbouring smaller islands such as Ko Mak and Ko Kood are still less developed.

 Don’t be kidded that so long as the hotel claims to be by the sea that it has a beach! (v. Ramayana!!) Remember that during high season (Nov to April) prices rise dramatically and you may find many of the beachfront resorts fully booked.  

Another excellent source of information on all things "Koh Chang" can be found on THIS LINK.