Ko Chang is an island paradise with jungle-covered mountains, sparkling blue bays, vibrant coral reefs, and cascading waterfalls. It’s the second-largest island in Thailand so there is a lot of space to move around and get away from the crowds that flock here.
Like much of Thailand, the island has seen a rise in tourism over the last few years and, while it’s still a relative “secret” to most tourists, more and more people visit each year.
Because of this, you’ll find plenty of luxury accommodation options intermingled with affordable budget options. There’s something for every budget here.
Fortunately, prices on the island are much cheaper compared to other popular islands like Ko Phi Phi. And its relative size and location mean that even when the island is busy, it doesn’t feel that busy.
Despite its recent increase in tourism, Ko Chang still offers a lot of peace and quiet.
This travel guide to Ko Chang can help you save money and make the most of your time in this stunning tropical paradise!
Table of Contents
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Ko Chang
1. Go diving
2. Learn Muay Thai
3. Eat at the White Sand Beach Night Market
4. Escape to other islands
5. Take a cooking class
Other Things to See and Do in Ko Chang
1. See the waterfalls
There are seven main waterfalls to visit on Ko Chang, the most popular being Klong Plu. It is easily accessible and has a large swimming area. Kai Bae, Klong Jao Leuam, Than Mayom, and Klong Nonsi are other noteworthy waterfalls. For Than Mayom and Klong Plu, you’ll have to pay the national park entrance fee, which is 200 THB. Keep in mind that the park is closed from June 1-August 31.
2. Have fun on Hat Sai Khao Beach (White Sand Beach)
White Sand Beach is where most of the resorts and high-end accommodations are, as well as the expensive restaurants. It’s definitely the most developed part of Ko Chang, but you can’t deny that it’s a really beautiful beach. The town itself is lively and full of shops, restaurants, and nightlife, including nightly live music at Oodie’s Place. If your aim is to avoid the touristy areas, this isn’t the place for you. If you just want to have fun and meet people, come here.
3. Visit the Bang Bao floating village
Ko Chang has a floating village at Bang Bao pier (it’s a bunch of buildings on stilts over the water). It’s here where many of the snorkeling and diving tours depart. The village hasn’t retained much of its original fishing village charm — it’s now essentially a souvenir shopping hub for tourists. Many of the buildings have been turned into restaurants, shops, or guesthouses, although a few locals do still fish here. But if you’re coming here anyway, look around and take some photos. While it’s touristy, it’s nevertheless very beautiful, especially the views from the lighthouse at the end of the pier.
4. Hike Salak Phet
Ko Chang is big and heavily forested, with quite a few mountains. If you just want to explore the scenic landscapes, there are a few official hiking trails (and a few unofficial ones, though I recommend getting a local guide to go with you). Salek Phet is the highest mountain on the island, and offers incredible panoramic views from the top, though it can be difficult to get to. Ask your hostel about tours or if they have suggestions on the best route to the top.
5. Go snorkeling
If you’re not interested in diving, snorkeling is another way to enjoy Ko Chang’s underwater playground. The coral reefs here are full of fish and it’s easy to find snorkeling tours all over the island. You can find half-day tours starting around 600 THB while full-day tours are 1,200-1,500 THB. Day tours usually include a full lunch on the boat as well.
6. See the Mu Ko Chang National Park Viewpoint
The Mu Ko Chang National Park Viewpoint offers a clear view overlooking Ko Chang’s forests, the surrounding ocean, and the islands off in the distance. It’s easy to get to — the route from the main road is well marked. Plus, it’s free! Keep an eye out for wildlife here — there are 100 bird species as well as all kinds of animals (including boars and macaques). There’s a nice beach nearby with food kiosks and swings hanging from palm trees, and other hiking trails will take you to waterfalls and mountains. I recommend going to the viewpoint at sunset.
7. Take a sailing trip
If you want to splash out, there are a few companies around Ko Chang that offer a leisurely catamaran day trip around the island to enjoy the sun, swimming, snorkeling, and sometimes even fishing. It’s a nice way to spend your day simply hanging out and soaking up the weather. Sea Adventures is a great company to tour with, offering a full barbecue lunch as well as snorkeling and fishing equipment. Tours start around 1,950 THB.
8. Check out the Treetop Adventure Park
One of the best ways to see Ko Chang’s tropical rainforest up close is by visiting the Treetop Adventure Park. You can explore the forest canopy with swinging bridges, rope walks, Tarzan swings, slides, and a zip line. It’s probably not a place to visit if you’re afraid of heights, but the guides are excellent and well trained, and the bird’s-eye views are amazing. If you’re traveling with children, they will love this place. Tickets are 700-1,000 THB for a two-hour visit.
9. Kayak to Koh Suwan and Koh Rom islands
If you’re spending time on the south end of Klong Prao beach or Kai Bae beach, you’ll notice some islands off the coast. Koh Suwan and Koh Rom are the closest islands, and in a kayak, you can paddle there in about 20-30 minutes. They’re a whole lot quieter than Ko Chang, so pull up your kayak, go for a swim, and enjoy the peace and quiet. If your hostel or hostel doesn’t rent kayaks, you can find rentals on the south end of Klong Prao for about 300 THB for a half-day and 500 THB for a full day. Some places also have stand-up paddleboards.
10. Hang out at Lonely Beach
Many backpackers end up at Lonely Beach, where most of the guesthouses, bars, clubs, and parties are. You’ll find cheap accommodation, decent shops, and a relatively nice beach here. This place is where you come to recharge after weeks/months of backpacking. Hang out on the beach by day, party at night!
11. Go jungle trekking
If you feel like doing more than just one hike, there are several tour companies offering half-day or full-day trekking tours on the island. While you can hike by yourself, it’s much better to go with an experienced guide once you get deeper into the jungle. You’ll get to see the many gorgeous waterfalls, vibrant green trees, rare reptiles, and more. Just make sure to bring lots of water! Half-day tours start at 700 baht and full-day tours start at 1,200-1,500 baht.
For more information on other cities and islands in Thailand, check out the guides below:
Ko Chang Travel Costs
Hostel prices – Ko Chang has a small selection of hostels, all located in the Lonely Beach section of the island. Luckily, they’re affordable and most are comfortable. Prices don’t vary too much by season. Beds in a 8-10-bed dorm start from 150-255 THB per night, but if you want a nicer dorm with air conditioning, expect to pay 300-500 THB per night.
Private hostel rooms start from 500-795 THB, though Pajamas Hotel offers deluxe private rooms with private terraces for 1,600 THB per night. Standard amenities include free Wi-Fi and most hostels have free breakfast.
Camping is available on the island for around 60 THB per person for a basic plot without electricity. You can rent tents for around 150 THB per night for a two-person tent.
Budget hotel prices – A basic budget room without air conditioning costs around 475-550 THB per night while simple bungalows cost 500-700 THB per night. Nicer rooms with air conditioning start around 765-850 THB. All hotel rooms have private bathrooms and most (even basic rooms) have private balconies or terraces. Free Wi-Fi is standard, and many hotels have a swimming pool and bar/restaurant on-site.
Private rooms on Airbnb start at 550 THB per night while entire homes/apartments start at 900 THB per night (but average closer to 3,000 THB per night if you don’t book in advance).
Food – Thai cuisine has a wide and flavorful selection of spicy salads, creamy curries, soups, and stir-fries, incorporating elements from nearby countries such as Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Common spices and fresh herbs include garlic, basil, galangal, cilantro, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, shrimp paste, and fish sauce. Rice and noodles are both central to Thai cuisine, while chicken, pork, fish, and seafood are the most common meats.
Popular Thai dishes include tom yum goong (hot and sour soup with shrimp), massaman curry, pad thai (a stir-fried noodle dish), som tam (spicy papaya salad), kao phad (fried rice), khao man gai (rice with boiled chicken), and satay (grilled meat on skewers, served with a peanut dipping sauce).
As Ko Chang is an island, there’s a lot of fish and seafood in the dishes here. If you stay away from the big resort areas and mostly stick to street vendors, you’ll not only eat delicious Thai food, but it’ll also be very cheap.
Kebabs cost as little as 10 THB each, while a plate of rice and curry costs around 60-80 THB. At a casual sit-down Thai eatery, expect to pay 70-120 THB for a dish like stir fry, curry, or fried rice. Seafood dishes start at 150-250 THB.
Western food is more expensive, as is any restaurant with an English menu, with even curries costing 190-220 at places geared towards tourists. Pasta dishes are 180-300 THB, a pizza is 230-360 THB, and a burger is 120-220 THB.
When it comes to drinking, going to bars can become pricey. The cheapest beers cost about 60-80 THB each, a glass of wine is 130 THB, and cocktails cost 120-150 THB. You can save money by buying beers from convenience stores, where they are usually half the price of what you’ll pay at the bar.
For non-alcoholic drinks, a cappuccino is 65-90 THB, fruit juices or smoothies are 60-80 THB, and soda is 25 THB.
Some suggested places to eat are Friend Seafood just north of Took Kata, or Apple, which serves better-than-average Thai and Italian dishes. For some fresh and delicious Thai food, check out Kati Culinary (in Klong Prao). Service is slow because everything is made from scratch, but the food here is incredible. For a fancier cafe experience, check out Fig Café, which serves great coffee and breakfast snacks like pancakes and croissants.
A week of basic staples like rice, veggies, and some meat or fish costs around 1,275 THB, though self-catering facilities for preparing your own food are rare here.
Backpacking Ko Chang Suggested Budgets
On a backpacking budget of 1,050 THB per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, eat plenty of street food, take songthaew rides, enjoy beers from the convenience store, and do mostly free activities like swimming and hiking.
On a mid-range budget of 2,125 THB per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb or private hostel room, drink more, eat out at a few sit-down restaurants, travel around the island more, and do more paid activities like kayaking or Muay Thai lessons.
On a “luxury” budget of 5,100 THB per day, you can stay in a hotel or bungalow, eat anywhere you want, drink more, hire a driver to get around, and do more expensive activities like diving or sailing. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in THB.
Ko Chang Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Thailand is an inexpensive country, and it is hard to overspend here. However, there are a few things that will blow your budget if you aren’t careful (such as alcohol and tours). If you’re on a really tight budget (or just want to cut costs), here’s how to save money in Ko Chang:
- Go local – The easiest way to save money in Ko Chang is to simply live like a local. Take songthaews, eat street food, drink local beer. Keep it simple to keep it affordable.
- Eat street food – You’ll find the best Thai food on the street, costing a fraction of what you pay at a restaurant. Stick to street food if you’re going to eat out.
- Take advantage of happy hour – Ko Chang’s many happy hours have half-priced drinks and 2-for-1 specials, usually from 4pm-6pm. If you want to drink at the bar, this is the time to do it.
- Buy beer at convenience stores – Buying beer at Thailand’s ubiquitous 7-Elevens and drinking outside will save you quite a bit on your bar tab. Beer from 7-Eleven costs half the price compared to beer from the bar.
- Don’t book any tours before you arrive – Want to take a cooking class? Go zip-lining? Trek in the jungle? Dive? Wait until you get into Thailand to book anything. Travel agencies are located all over the tourist areas, looking to sell their tours. You’re able to purchase these tours online before you arrive, but you’ll pay a lot more!
- Stay with a local – Couchsurfing connects you with locals who can give you a free place to stay and share their insider tips and advice with you. It’s the best way to save money on accommodation and pick up insider tips.
- Use a water bottle with a purifier – It isn’t safe to drink the tap water here, and although buying bottled water is cheap, it does add up. Instead, pick up a LifeStraw, which have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe (it’s good for the environment too!)
- Stick to Lonely Beach – Lonely Beach is where most backpackers hang out, and you’ll find the cheapest dining and accommodation options here. It’s not as developed as the resort areas!
Where to Stay in Ko Chang
Looking for budget-friendly accommodation? Here are some of my favorite places to stay in Ko Chang.
How to Get Around Ko Chang
Songthaew – There are no metered taxis on Ko Chang, and the only public transportation available are the songthaews (converted pick-up trucks that act as shared taxis). Fares are usually listed inside the songthaew, and most drivers are good about charging you the proper prices (you’ll sometimes get a shady driver, but it’s rare). Rates from the Ao Sapporot or Centrepoint ferry pier to your accommodation will be between 50-150 THB.
You should be able to get anywhere on the island for 200 THB, usually less. Kai Bae to Lonely Beach is 50 THB, and White Sand Beach to Lonely Beach is 100 THB. Klong Prao to Bang Bao is 150 THB.
Motorbike/Scooter – Renting a motorbike or scooter is a popular way to get around Ko Chang, but you should feel comfortable driving one before you rent. Accidents are common on the island, especially when roads become slippery right after a rainstorm. However, scooters and motorbikes do offer greater flexibility and cheaper rates than songthaews. You can rent a motorbike or scooter for about 250-400 THB per day, though the price tends to decrease the longer you book.
Car Rentals – Car rentals are only necessary if you want to do lots of day-tripping or maximize your time on Ko Chang. For example, driving from Salak Phet to Lonely Beach is a 31-mile (50-kilometer) journey one-way, which isn’t very comfortable on a two-person scooter. Rentals start around 1,300 THB per day for a smaller vehicle, while a pick-up truck or jeep starts at about 1,900 THB.
When to Go to Ko Chang
Ko Chang’s “cool” season is from November to the end of February, and this is when the island is busiest. Each day has plenty of sunshine and blue skies. The average daily temperature hovers between 27-30°C (80-85°F). So, it’s not exactly “cool” but it’s not scorching hot either. If you don’t mind the crowds, this is a good time to visit.
The hottest days occur between March and April, when temperatures soar above 33°C (91°F). The humidity is also high during this time. A lot of Thais choose to vacation during these months, so the island will still be very busy — especially during Songkran, Thailand’s water festival (which occurs in April).
The rainy season happens from the end of May until the end of October. Ko Chang is much quieter during these months, and prices are also a lot lower. Rainy season doesn’t mean there’s a constant downpour, however. Most likely you’ll experience rain each day for a brief amount of time. If you want to just hang out and relax, this is a good time to visit.
How to Stay Safe in Ko Chang
Ko Chang is a safe place to backpack and travel — even if you’re traveling solo and even as a solo female traveler. Violent attacks against tourists here are uncommon.
Petty theft (including bag snatching) can occur, however, so always keep your eye on your belongings, especially in the more crowded areas. Don’t leave any valuables unattended on the beach either.
Solo female travelers should feel safe here, though the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).
The people who tend to get in trouble are usually involved with drugs or sex tourism. Avoid those and you should be fine.
For tips on specific scams to be aware of, read this post on common travel scams to avoid.
Remember to always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.
If you experience an emergency, dial 191 for assistance.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. The widget below can help you pick the right policy for your trip:
Ko Chang Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Agoda – Other than Hostelworld, Agoda is the best hotel accommodation site for Asia.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do group tours, go with Intrepid. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get exclusive discounts with them too!
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
Ko Chang Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
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Ko Chang Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more tips for your trip? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Thailand travel and continue planning your trip: