Only 360 kilometres from Bangkok, Koh Chang is an island paradise with pristine forests and rich marine life. The largest of 47 islands off the coast of Trat province, its seeming inaccessibility means that the island has been largely overlooked by visitors, making it a true island get- away. However, an excellent road from Bangkok and a new flight to Trat airport, have meant that the destination is now starting to get the attention that it deserves.
Largely untouched, Koh Chang is an unsophisticated island which remains unaffected by the modern world. The original inhabitants of Koh Chang (Khon Kard) still live traditionally, surviving mainly from an income of fishing, supplemented by growing fruit and rubber. There are still fishing communities on the island where rain or shine the fisherman take the boats out. At night you can see the lights on the horizon from the fishing boats catching squid.
Mountainous Koh Chang has an undisturbed interior of dense tropical rain forest, home to many species including macaque monkeys, barking deer and wild pig. Trekkers can also expect to see more than 70 species of birds. Koh Chang and the islands in this chain were awarded Marine National Park status in 1982 to ensure that this pristine environment is preserved.
More than 70 percent of the mountainous island is still covered by rainforest, and there are many secluded beaches, complete with that vital tropical isle trinity of white sand, palm trees, and warm blue water, where you can really get away from it all and leave your troubles on the mainland.
Wealthy with greenery, wildlife, and marine creatures, its most scenic beaches are located along its western flank. Moving from north to south, the beaches are generally more secluded, less crowded and pricey, with the aforementioned Diamond Sand towards the northern tip, and Hat Khlong Phrao and Hat Kai Bae, in the middle. Further south is a lively backpacker's enclave at Lonely Beach, or Hat Tha Nam, where you can stay in a tree house.
Koh Chang has always been a favourite get-away for Thai people. Lush and mountainous, this quiet island, full of natural treasures is a jewel just waiting to be discovered.
Many of the bungalow operations around Hat Sai Khao and Hat Kai Bae have kayaks, boogie boards and mountain bikes for rent. Booking a day trip, or an overnighter, to nearby islands is another attractive option.
Whilst exploring the jungle is a possibility, the less energetic who simply want to relax on the beach won't be disappointed! The whole of the western side of the island has beautiful white sand beaches.
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