There are always those cities or places around the world where you instantly feel a connection and linger thoughts always remain. For me, one of those places is Koh Chang, Thailand.
Koh Chang means Elephant Island, and it is located 5 hours East of Bangkok. Koh Chang is a very popular weekend getaway for its beaches and proximity. But that isn’t why I fell in love with the Island. I only spent about 2 hours on the beach out of the cumulative 2 weeks I spent there. So why was this place so Special to me?
- I did not stay on the beach. I stayed in the Jungle.
- I did not burn my pale skin in the sun. I stayed covered under the tree canopys and jungle huts.
- I didn’t relax and read a book. I rode elephants, went kayaking in the Mangroves, and ziplined through the tree tops.
- I didn’t only spend a weekend for myself. I volunteered at the Koh Chang Animal Project run by Lisa McAlonie. I helped with animal surgeries and animal nursing.
Koh Chang has so much more to offer than a cheap beach weekend getaway. It has adventure, it has relaxation, it has peace. The beaches are highly commercialized, and way overcrowded for my liking. The interior of the island, surrounded by forest, tranquility sets in. You can escape the hectic city lifestyle, and completely let go. You can finally stop. You can stop, think, reflect, and truly appreciate where you are and why you’re so damn lucky.
To Get There:
- Bus: Bangkok Eastern (Ekamai) Terminal – Laem Ngop.
- Cost: 268 Baht.
- Duration: 4.5 Hours
- Ferry: Ao Thammachat Pier (Mainland) to Koh Chang Center Point Pier (Koh Chang)
- Cost: 50 Baht
- Duration: 30 Minutes
- Name: Jungle Way Restaurant & Bungalows
- Address:14 Moo 3 | Klong Son Village, Koh Chang (Take the road beside the 7-11 3km)
- Cost: Per bungalow per Night- 60 Baht
- Description: Stream-side bamboo huts with an open air Thai-style restaurant in the midst of the rain forest. Two level central building with hammocks on upper level and covered in cushions. Huts are plain with mattress, and mosquito net, and have shared bathroom and shower facilities.
- Greatest Attribute: The owners. They are exceptionally kind and always chatting with you. They play guitars and sing along. The only sounds are the breeze rustling the leaves and elephants in the background.
Island Attractions and Activities that I enjoyed:
- Elephants: Ban Kwan Chang Elephant Camp
- Waterfalls: Chao Leum, Klong Prao, Than Mayom, Klong Neung, Klong Jow Laem, Kai Bae, Klong Nonsi, Klong Plu,
- Volunteering: Koh Chang Animal Project, Pony Project
- Sights: Thai fishing village of Klong Son
- Watersports: Salakkok Kayak Station for trips in Mangroves (30 Baht), Parasailing (1000 Baht)
- Dry Activities: Treetop Adventure Park (1000 Baht), Birdwatching, Welu Wetlands Mangrove Walk, Mountain Hiking to Highest Point on Island for Scenic Lookout.
- Temples: Wat Bangbao, Wat Klong Son
Getting Around the Island:
- Rent a motorbike for the day. Or if you’re like me and seem to crash everything motorized, bring a friend who will drive you around all day while you take scenic photos at the back.
- The highways are in good condition, but the off roads are a bumpy way.
- The hills are steep, and with two people on the bike – you may have to get some extra exercise, jump off the bike, and race it to the top. Me, the runner, generally won this race. The gas in the tank is tilted while on the hill so the engine shuts down due it thinking there is no gas….highly amusing as I run UP the hill and my friend Geoff (my driver) rolls backwards!
So if you’re like me, and do not enjoy spending your days on the beach burning your skin no matter HOW much sunscreen you wear – Head to the interior of Koh Chang, and partake in the plethora of non-beach related activities the island has to offer.
When you leave, you’ll have a big smile on your face and many many fond memories.