Koh Chang: Things to do at Thailand’s Elephant Island

Lonely Beach during sunset. Photo via TripAdvisor/Global Nomad

Envision a stunning location where you can have an unforgettable vacation surrounded by crystal-clear waters, rich greenery, and brilliant wildlife. Welcome to Koh Chang, the Elephant Island of Thailand! One of the largest in the Gulf of Thailand, this charming elephant-shaped island offers a variety of enjoyable activities for all, from adventure seekers to those who love unwinding on the shore. Let’s explore all that Koh Chang has to offer!

Here are the top 5 things to do at Koh Chang:

1) Admire the underwater world (scuba diving and snorkelling)

Undoubtedly, the best activity to do while in Koh Chang is exploring the depths of the ocean. When diving or snorkelling in Koh Chang, you will be captivated by the vibrant and diverse marine life, as you encounter colourful staghorn coral reefs, lively fish, and even the occasional sea turtle or reef shark.

Boat trips are one of the most popular activities for visiting tourists, as there are many other islands in Koh Chang’s archipelago. There are numerous businesses to pick from, and they all provide a variety of tours, the majority of which being snorkelling excursions to Koh Chang’s neighbouring islands. The ‘four (or five) island’ snorkelling excursion is the one that is most frequently promoted.

Snorkelling, Koh Chang
A snorkeller admiring the abundance of marine life. Photo via TripAdvisor/Jenny Z

Koh Chang is a popular diving location, which can be credited to the novice-friendly diving spots in Koh Chang Marine Park along with dive schools on the island. Dive centres offer diving trips, snorkelling, free diving, and PADI courses for beginners or experienced divers. Diving can be enjoyed throughout the year; however, for the best visibility and calm waters, it is advisable to visit from November to May. Koh Chang’s lack of strong currents and the availability of shallow waters make it particularly attractive for beginners and those looking to update their diving skills. A few popular dive sites include Hin Luk Bat, Hin Rap, HTMS Chang Wreck, and Koh Wai.

Scuba Diving, Koh Chang, Thailand, HTMS Chang Wreck
A diver at the HTMS Chang wreck. Photo via TripAdvisor/Pattaya Divers

2) Visit the beautiful beaches (beach activities and sunsets)

Koh Chang is a rather large island with its diverse range of beaches, each having a distinct vibe, and are known to be relatively garbage-free. Whilst the Klong Prao, White Sand, and Lonely Beaches are some of the most popular spots, make sure to conduct your own research to choose the beach that best caters to your preferences. Indulge in your favourite beach activities, from sunbathing and swimming in crystal-clear waters to building sandcastles or attending beach parties and bars – the choice is yours. However, one activity is a must in Koh Chang, and that is experiencing a beach sunset. Grab a drink with friends or sit on the white sand beach in solitude while the sun dips below the horizon. The enchanting sunsets are not to be missed during your time on the island.

Klong Prao Beach, Koh Chang, Beach, Thailand
Klong Prao Beach. Photo via Facebook/Koh Chang Paradise Resort & Spa
White sand beach, Koh Chang, Sunset
Sunset over White Sand Beach. Photo via Facebook/KC Grande Resort Koh Chang

3) Embark on jungle adventures (trekking and chasing waterfalls)

Many are drawn to Koh Chang for its stunning beaches and aquatic life; however, embarking on treks and exploring waterfalls also make for excellent activities on the island.

Trekking independently on the island can be challenging, as there are no easily navigable trails. Therefore, most visitors opt for a guide who is not only familiar with the various routes, but can also point out wildlife that might otherwise go unnoticed. The primary trekking routes can be found in the Klong Son Valley, Klong Prao Beach, Khao Laem mountain, and Salakphet area.

Koh Chang, Hiking, Viewpoint, Man overlooking view
A man at a beautiful viewpoint of the island. Photo via TripAdvisor/Pisit S

Numerous beautiful waterfalls can be found on Koh Chang, with Klong Plu on the west coast being the most frequented by tourists. Its popularity can be attributed to three key aspects: its appealing accessibility, sizable pools perfect for swimming, and how it maintains water almost year-round. Other waterfalls that are worth visiting are: Kai Bae, Klong Chao Lueam, Klong Nonsi, Than Mayom, Klong Neung, and Kiripetch. The optimal period for visiting the waterfalls is from October to late December – this is when they are in full flow. During the dry season, which usually begins in February, smaller waterfalls tend to diminish significantly or even dry up completely.

Klong Pu Waterfall, Koh Chang, Thailand
Klong Pu Waterfall. Photo via TripAdvisor/Elena M

4) Explore the island’s fishing villages

When in Koh Chang, make sure to visit its captivating fishing villages – Bang Bao and Salak Khok, both of which are special in their own ways.

Bang Bao Pier and Fishing Village is a scenic spot featuring a charming lighthouse, surrounded by a myriad of colorful fishing and tourist boats. You can find gifts and souvenirs while walking along the pier. Though some call it a tourist trap, many enjoy exploring the charming village. With tasty food options like spicy seafood salads and the peaceful lighthouse, Bang Bao Pier and Fishing Village is a pleasant mix of pretty views, culture, and relaxation.

bang bao pier, fishing village, sunset, koh chang
Bang Bao Pier and Fishing Village during sunset. Photo via Instagram @florisgone

Salak Khok Fishing Village, in the southeast part of Koh Chang, offers great experiences and views of the calm Salak Khok Bay. The village showcases Koh Chang’s past and local culture before tourism became popular on the island. Visitors can enjoy delicious seafood at the famous Sala Khok Seafood Restaurant and explore wooden walkways near the fishermen’s homes. This unique experience gives you a chance to see an untouched, beautiful area.

Salak Khok Fishing Village, Koh Chang, Thailand
Salak Khok Fishing Village. Photo via TripAdvisor/quiksi

5) Go on exciting kayaking trips

Those seeking adventure should definitely try sea kayaking around the island, which promises captivating views and experiences. Many resorts in Koh Chang offer sit-on-top Feelfree kayaks for rent, with options for half-day or full-day rentals. Six adjacent islands, including the best snorkelling place at Koh Yuak, are easily accessible from the Klong Prao or Kai Bae areas. Meanwhile, from Bang Bao, kayakers can explore Bangbao Bay, Wai Chek Beach, and the large island of Koh Klum. For those hesitant about venturing independently, guided kayak tours are an excellent alternative. S.E.A. Kayaking, a reputable company, provides various options, including beginner sessions, day paddles, and multi-day exhibitions.

Kayak, Koh Chang, Kayaking, Sunset, Beautiful
A kayaker enjoying sunset in Koh Chang. Photo via Facebook/Lilly Zoya Sphink

Koh Chang is a magnificent location with activities for all kinds of visitors. Whether you’re looking for adventure, leisure, or cultural immersion, the elephant island offers something truly special for everyone. Be sure to add these activities to your itinerary, and create wonderful memories when exploring the diverse beauty of Koh Chang. Safe travels!

Do you want to go for more island-hopping? Koh Samui is another beautiful destination to add to your list!

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Jamey Lao

Jamey is a versatile content writer covering leisure, lifestyle, sustainability, and business. With an educational background at the University of British Columbia, he enjoys immersing himself in new areas and experiences.