Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Koh Chang

A stretch of long white sandy beach dotted with coconut tree orchards is a common sight on Ko Chang the largest and busiest island in Trat and the second largest island in the country after Phuket.

Covering an area of 429 square kilometers, Ko Chang, boasts several amazing natural wonders that blend magnificently with the traditional way of life such as 70 percent undisturbed island rainforest, steep hills, cliffs, waterfalls, and notable wildlife, fine beaches, coral reefs and an abundance of marine life. In addition, numerous fruit orchards dot the island.

Most of the scenic beaches and bays are on the west side spreading from the north to the south they include Ao Khlong Son , Hat Sai Khao , Hat Khlong Phrao and Hat Kai Bae. A road cuts through the western shore almost reaching Hat Kai Bae where there is a nature trail passing through Ao Bai Lan and Ao Kruat and meandering through wet forestland to Ban Bang Bao, a fishing community on the foot of the hill in the south.

To the east are Ao Sapparot, where a ferry landing is situated and Ao Salak Khok. In addition, along the eastern shoreline is a road cutting through to Ao Salak Phet, a community with a boat pier to the south of the island. Coral ranges worth visiting are at Ao Khlong Son near Ko Chang Noi and around islands south of Ko Chang.

In addition to sea-based attractions Ko Chang has numerous inland attractions including several waterfalls with reasonable access. They are the Khlong Phlu waterfall, 3 kilometers from Ao Khlong Phrao and a further 20 minutes on foot; Khlong Nonsi waterfall, a 4-kilometre walk from park headquarters; and Khiriphet and Khlong Nung falls, which are about 3 kilometers from Ban Salak Phet.
As well as the obvious activities Ko Chang offers many other attractions including waterfalls, temples, the National Park and Museum or the beautiful scenic lookout points, which are all worth a visit. Divers will find fascinating diving areas off of the shores of Ko Chang and the surrounding islands. Besides the many coral reefs, sunken warships, a reminder of times past, can be visited in the Salak Phet Bay.

The Ko Chang National Park occupies an area of 650 square kilometers and is comprised of 47 islets, which spread from Laem Ngob to Klong Yai Districts. . The most popular islands includes Ko Chang, Ko Klum, Ko Ngam, Ko Lao Ya and Ko Rung where natural wonders await travelers. The most popular season for traveling to the National Park is from November to March. The park headquarters are divided into 4 units namely Tha Than Mayom, Ban Khlong Son, Tha Khlong Plu and Ban Salak which provide useful tourist information. At any one of the headquarters, an entry fee of 200baht is collected.

For transportation to Ko Chang, please refer to the traveling to Ko Chang section.

Wat Bang Bao is on the roadside, next to the turn-off to Ban Bang Bao.

Wat Khlong Prao is located in Baan Khlong Prao, also right off the main road.

Wat Khlong Son is approximately 500 metres from the intersection in Ban Khlong Son, in the direction of the bay.

At the top of the hill after Sapparot Bay towards Ban Khlong Son there is a Chinese temple.

Wat Khlong Nonsi is situated just before the Dan-May Pier in Baan Khlong Nonsi. Turn towards the sea at the intersection on the main road. Proper clothes should be worn during temple visits.

Ko Chang Naval Battle Area

This area is located to the south of Ko Chang close to Salak Petch Bay. It is the area where the battle between the Thai and French Naval forces was fought over the eastern border conflict. The Thai Navy holds an annual event to commemorate the combat victory and make merit for the dead naval forces on 17 January.

Namtok Than Mayom

A 3-tiered medium-sized waterfall located behind the parks office. There is a trail situated 500 meters from a durian orchard that leads to the site where King Rama V and VI had visited and signed their royal names on the highest cliff of the cascade.

Namtok Kiri Phet

Located to the south of Ko Chang, approximately 3 kilometers from Ban Salak Petch.

Namtok Khlong Nonsi

This is a little waterfall in the northeast zone of the island. The path to the area lies 3 kilometers from Baan Daan Mai or 3 kilometers from the national park office.

Namtok Khlong Nueng

This is a small 120 meter high waterfall situated in a remote area from Salak Petch Community near Salak Petch Waterfall is an ideal place for relaxation.

Ban Salak Petch and Ban Rong Than

These are the largest fishing villages on the island and are ideal venues for visitors wishing to experience or observe their lifestyle. Bungalows and food shops are available.

Bang Bao Fishing Village

Another ideal spot to learn more about the lifestyle of fishermen where residents build up their houses with poles pitched into the sea and the community is linked together via a bridge that reaches every house. In addition, Bang Bao is one of the zones rich in corals.

Hat Sai Khao (White Sand Beach)

One of the longest beaches on Ko Chang, this beach provides the most magnificent seascape. The beach, which is 2 kilometers long, is dotted with reasonably priced bungalows and resorts. Embracing the beach to the rear are orchards of coconut trees and forests.

Khlong Son Bay

Rich in coral lines, the bay is located on the western coast of Ko Chang where Klong Son Community is situated.

Namtok Khlong Plu

A large 3-tiered waterfall situated 3 kilometers or a walking distance of approximately 20 minutes away from Khlong Prao Bay that is a rewarding experience.

Tri Petch Waterfall

This single level waterfall is situated 3 kilometers from Salak Petch Community along an orchard of rubber trees.

Hat Khlong Phrao and Laem Chat Chet

Laem Chai Chet is along the sea adjacent to Kai Bae Beach, which is rather steep but offers possibilities for swimming. Standard bungalows with facilities are available. The northernmost area of Klong Phrao Beach is adjacent to Chai Chet Bay and Beach where visitors can take in the beautiful landscape while enjoying the superb relaxation and tranquil retreat.

Kai Bae Beach

This beach is close to Khlong Phrao Beach and is similar to Khlong Phrao in that the beach is steep but safe for swimming with quite a few inexpensively priced bungalows in the area.

Ao Bai Lan

This small bay with its long sandy beach where visitors can enjoy the spectacular view in serene ambience is situated close to Kai Bae beach.

Hat Khlong Kloi

This shady beach with coconut trees located next to Bang Bao Village is a perfect place for relaxation.

Activities in Ko Chang

The main thing to do when in Ko Chang is to relax. Other than that, there are numerous activities for visitors such as fishing, snorkeling and visiting nearby islands. In addition, many resorts rent out kayaks and arrange jungle treks as well as provide all day boat tours to the nearby islands. Moreover, scooters can be rented in most places, which make the island easier to explore independently, however the driver should have some two-wheel experience as the roads have a tendency to fade away to nothing more than tracks.

Furthermore, there are diving schools at all of the 4 largest beaches on the west coast, where tours can be booked or various diving licenses can be obtained and sailing-tours can also be booked in many resorts and travel agencies.

Accommodations on Ko Chang

There are many resorts and bungalows on Ko Chang thus visitors purchasing boat/ferry tickets from any of the piers should inform the staff of the desired beach and resort accommodations reserved to prevent misunderstandings on the destination. Facilities on Ko Chang include mainly bungalow-type accommodations on most beaches which generally rent out bicycles and boats. Budget and high-end accommodations are also available with prices ranging from 100 baht (bungalow) to 6,500 baht for superior/deluxe rooms in boutique hotels and internationally accredited resorts.

Best time to visit Ko Chang and other islands

The season is from October to May as from mid May to mid October most of the resorts are closed, but visitors will still be able to find a few open, as some of the owners actually live there and are open all year round.

Dining delights in Ko Chang

Ko Chang is still virtually an untouched gastronomic paradise as the islanders have made a living fishing in the beautiful blue seas for centuries. There are plenty of seafood restaurants dotted around the island and with the recent addition of a number of resorts, visitors can now enjoy a wide range of local and international cuisines.
As the island only has a single road and most restaurants are located on the road or in resort compounds, they are easy to find. It just takes a little looking around to find a place that suits your fancy. Reservations are not normally required but if you want to dine further up the scale it is best to book in advance.

Getting to Ko Chang

A 5 hours bus trip from the Eastern Bus Terminal will take visitors to the Trat Bus Terminal (departures between 06.00 a.m. until 12.00 p.m.). From there continue by song taew transport to Laem Ngop, which is 17 kilometers from town, or the ferry landings at Ao Thammachat and Ko Chang Centre Point where services are operated all day.

Passenger boats usually leave from Laem Ngop to Ao Sapparot on Ko Chang every hour from 8.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m. The trip takes 45 minutes and the fare is 50 baht per person. Visitors can continue to Hat Sai Khao, Hat Khlong Phrao and Hat Kai Bae by local bus which charges 30 baht per person. The schedules and fares are subject to change without notice due to climate condition.

Ferry Services

Ferries depart either from Ao Thammachat or Ko Chang Center Point Landings between 7.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. with a traveling time of 30 minutes. Private vehicles can be loaded onto the ferry. Please note that vehicles used on the island should be the 4-wheel drive types as road conditions are bumpy and there are steep slopes to be negotiated. From the landing on Ko Chang are song taew services to various points. Fares should be settled beforehand.

Naval Battle Monument Pier (Krom Luang Pier)

Wooden boats depart every hour from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. The passenger fare for a round trip costs approximately 100 baht.

Center Point Pier

Ferries leave hourly from 6.00 a.m. until 7.00p.m.

Rates for round trip:

4-wheel vehicles, 60 baht/passenger
6-wheel vehicles, 250 baht, no charge for driver and one passenger
10-wheel vehicles, 500 baht, no charge for driver and one passenger

Ao Thammachat Pier

Ferries leave every hour from 6.30 a.m. to 7.15 p.m.

Rates for round trip:

4-wheel vehicle, 60 baht/passenger, no charge for driver
6-wheel vehicle, 500 baht, no charge for driver but 60 baht fee is applied for any passenger
10-wheel vehicle, 1,000 baht, no charge for driver and one passenger

Ko Chang Ferry

Ferries depart every 45 minutes from 6.30 a.m. until 7.15 p.m.

Rates for round trip:

4-wheel vehicle 150 baht, no charge for driver, but a fee of 60 baht/passenger is applied
6-wheel vehicle, 500 baht, no charge for driver but 60 baht fee is applied for any passenger
10-wheel vehicle, 1,000 baht, no charge for driver and one passenger

For visitors planning to stay at Ko Wai there is a ferry service from Laem Ngob to Ko Wai at around 3:00 p.m. with a fare of 120 baht/person/one way.

For visitors planning to stay at Ko Kham there is a ferry service from Laem Ngob to Ko Kham at around 3:00 p.m. with a fare of 170 baht/person/one way.

For visitors planning to stay at Ko Mak there is a ferry service from Laem Ngob to Ko Mak at around 3:00 p.m. with a fare of 150 baht/person/one way.

Facilities on Ko Chang include mainly bungalow-type accommodations on most beaches and rental services for bicycles and boats.

Several smaller isles south of Ko Chang include Ko Wai, Ko Lao Ya and Ko Kradat. Noted for both deep-water and shallow-water corals are the Ko Kra group and Ko Rang which are to the west of Ko Mak.

Travel to other Islands

Most visitors come to Amphoe Laem Ngob where there are 2 piers namely Laem Ngob and Ko Chang Centre Point, offering daily boat services to islands such as Ko Mak, Ko Wai, and Ko Kham. Tourist spots in Ko Chang and other groups of islands.

No comments: