Getting away to Koh Chang by nurseRon

– editors note.  Thanks to nurseRon for his 1st reader submission!

As I’m a bit long winded and lack a proper editor, this comprehensive piece will be presented in finger food sized chunks! If you like quiet (Betty Ford clinic kinda quiet), beautiful, semi-untamed tropical Islands with beaches and outstanding seafood, top notch accommodations at very reasonable rates, read on……

I’m  on my 5th trip to Koh Chang and continue to find it a relaxing and entertaining adventure each time.  I go because the city wears me down after a week or so. As I get older the constant bombardment of stimuli, filth and scumbags lurking around Bangkok taxes my senses so, that I need a holiday from my holiday!  If you thrive on high energy and enjoy the never ending supply of ambient noise and pollution on offer in Bangers,  this will most likely bore you to tears!   That said lets figure out how to get off the Monger district and onto my favorite little retreat…

Quick note regarding talent on Koh Chang, they  have NO go-gos, one proper Disco/dance club that closes @2 (kinda like  Funky Villa in format/style?) and only beer-bars and restaurants! So pickings are very slim in the low season and I’ve always imported my own BKK sand and never found myself in regret!  For you “A” gamers, if you hunt long and hard you can find a 6 to 8 hiding here and there but don’t be surprised by the effort needed.  If you’re lazy and don’t want to pack anything  other than swim trunks, sandals and wife beaters, bring your own gems  and if something presents you can test your pmmp daddy magic on keeping  everyone on task? Cheers!!!

Transportation:

Here’s the deal,  you need to get from where you are (BKK or Patts) to a room on the  Island?  First you go to Trat, then to the ferry, 30 min-ish ride across the channel and to the Island ferry harbour, then you need to get to  your room.

Koh Chang is about 4-5 hours by mini bus (300-450 baht) via Victory monument and 5-7ish hours by bus (250 baht) via Ekkamai Bus station.  If you’re in Patts you need to figure it out better than I did? Or you can taxi it for god knows how much or drive a private car?

The  mini’s are faster and if pre-arranged, you can get transport across the ferry and to the Hotel/Resorts door step at a significant convenience.  You may want to pre-arrange for door step drop off @ about  100 to 150 baht extra, because once you’re at the mainland ferry you will need  to pay toll (80 baht one way, 120ish with return if purchased at same  time) After the ferry you  will be at the Islands’ Harbor and must now negotiate passage to your  accommodations with a song tow driver.(80 to ??? baht) You bypass all  this bullshit and extra fees if you simply make it included in your deal  with minibus dude, this option is not available if you take a regular  bus.  I would recommend the mini’s if you’ve pre-booked your  accommodations but if you’re open ended on duration and where to stay, the  mini’s can be a miserable option. Especially if you’re a normal to large  size Westerner and don’t like surprises!  These guys are but a slight up grade from moto-taxi jocks and they will try to screw you if given the chance.   On my last trip I sought transport from Patts (thinking it would break up the ride and may be a little cheaper?) Not the case!   Unless you carry a reputable minibus company’s’ business card and can directly arrange passage it may be more expensive than from BKK? I could not find any online refs. or info regarding minibus companies out of Patts for less than 650 baht.  I eventually found a middle man willing to broker transport for 2, directly to my resort all tolls and fees for 550 per person = 1100 baht.  Finding out later that this should have cost no more than 300 plus 100 for door to door service! I wasn’t too torn up over it!

Accommodations:

Where  to stay?   First go online (Google Earth Satellite) or get a good hi res. copy of a map of Koh Chang. http://www.kohchang2.com/ (lots of good info here but the map sucks) Next  figure out if you want to pre-book or just wander around?  Low season is  great for hunting down budget rooms (300 to 700 baht/night) but if you  like to stay at a proper beach side resort you may be better off booking  online since at the door quotes are silly, even during low season!??  I  like, and have used Agoda.com for years!   an example; I always call the hotel/resort directly once I’ve narrowed my search on Agoda.  20% of the time they will offer me a  better cash deal than the online quote. 80%, as was this case, I was staring at an  1125 baht per night quote online as I’m speaking with the Hotels  reservations staff who’s just informed me those rooms are full and only  the 2400 baht per night room were available.  Needless to say I clicked  “confirm” and now have a <$200 AMEX billing for  a solid 3 star beach front room, cold buffet breakfast included, for 5 nights at the  Klong Praobeach resort!

The  ferry is on the Northern most tip of the Island. You can go South East and follow the coast down but this is the VERY VERY quiet side of the Island and is better to be explored later on a rented moto than making  this your starting point.

Go to the Western side first since this will give you a better feel for what’s on offer…If you’re into having a nightlife option stay in the White Sands beach (North and South) area.  This is the most developed area and the first stop after cresting the hill climb from the ferry. Aside from  having the only real dance club, you will enjoy most 24hr services as  you would in BKK (7-11, good restaurants open later, ATMs’, most of the  Islands talent, and street/foot path lighting)  The beach here is nice  but can get a little crowded & touristy during the day?  All and  all this is a safe bet if you want a room on, or very near the beach and  don’t want to be out of touch with the rest of the world.

I like the next beach down from Whites Sands, Klong Prao, it’s way quieter and private during the day and the beaches and water are fantastic!  I stayed at the Northern end this time at the Klong Prao resort.  Nice place, get a sea side/view or Villa instead of a basic room. Killer pool, great beach and no old dead coral beyond the break to cut  you up on, as is the case further south @the Tropicana, VJ health spa  and Amari Emerald  cove!  I like this area due to it being kinda in the middle of the Western side. If you rent a moto (200 to 300 baht/day)  from this  location your about halfway from any point on the Island, and since the  road was washed out years ago on the southern tip the northern route is  the only way to the Eastern side…

Next area is  Kai Bae.  I’ve never stayed here but have walked around it’s rocky coast and had many wonderful meals.  I’m into being on the beach and this area is surrounded by cliffs and shallow rocking coastline that is better suited for moorings and water craft launches.  They have a number of upscale very private looking bungalow/suites. I’ve asked and the prices were 2k and up.  I want a beach and the option to sink a few drinks while toes in sand for 2k a night, sorry.  But swanky and cool, perhaps if your working a Thong Lo
good girl that ain’t going anywhere near the water/sun/sand/fun, this would be a good choice? But why bring her to an Island??? Anyway this area also has a couple of 7-11’s and  is a little more developed than Klong Prao, so if you need stuff after  dark this would be your last chance if you’re heading further south.

After Kai Bae the next major area is Lonely beach. This is a diverse mix of High end and back packer ville all within a few kilometers of winding coast.  You can find some quirky little sand side huts and bungalows  from <400 to 1500 baht, all the way to big ass gated 5 star gigs at  NYC prices…This area also has some cool little bars and friendly  people all the time.  Better to check it out during the day and make note of interesting places/people you want to follow up on later that eve. I have not stayed here before but if you were not committed to a room else where, I would consider spending a night or two.

Next and nearly the last stop before roads end is Bang Bao Bay.  I love this area, it’s got a cool little fishing village on the Cape that I always go visit and have lunch.  Continue along the road East,(passing  the Marina village and pier) just before the road turns North, look to  your right (East) and you’ll see a 15-20 meter rickety bamboo/ply/scrap  wood bridge over a small creek!  Go across and hang out at the little beach side bar! Order some outstanding Thai sea food, have a drink, massage or go for a swim!  I’ve done all and this place is what it’s  all about for me!  (BTW if you’re a man, ride your moto across the bridge, if not walk it, or you  continue riding up the paved road and turn off at your first right onto the  dirt and follow it back to the coast!)  If you walk down the beach a bit (East) there are a bunch of newly built places to stay. Some are kinda quirky looking stucco dome things, normal Bungalow/huts, and a few very nice looking traditional Thai style Wooden houses that may be private homes?  Continue East and the beach ends at a harbour. This is an upscale very private resort that does not allow non guests to wander around so don’t waste your time here since almost all other areas on the Island will welcome you as a visitor!

Enjoy!

46 thoughts on “Getting away to Koh Chang by nurseRon

  1. This actually sounds like a place I want to go. It’s not like I spend much time in lower Suk anyway.

    However, I need to see if they can pick me up in a helicopter on the roof of the Mango and land on the Island, as traveling on public transport for all those hours is a deal-breaker. 🙁

  2. As I get older the constant bombardment of stimuli, filth and scumbags lurking around Bangkok taxes my senses so, that I need a holiday from my holiday!

    Don’t worry… Penfold’s moved back to England now, so you can just stay in Bangers next visit.

  3. Limo price from BKK/Pats to Trat? RE helicopter hire. What’s the deal in Thailand.
    The ABC hotel in AC does a 100 dollar helicopter trip from Manila to AC.

  4. Koh Chang is the wettest part of Thailand (apart from Nana). I love the island but not this time of year. 900mm/month in June compared to 260 in Phuket.

    @Daywalker, not quite a helicopter but Bangkok Airways fly to Trat, 1 hour flight for about 2k baht each way. The airport is very near to the ferry.

  5. @ DW; some of the Ekkamia buses (and mini’s, if not full) will allow passengers to board and exit during transport? I’ve been told that some don’t but so far it’s been a crap shoot? So YES, it has taken ME upto 7 hours! On one trip back, I boarded a pirate that as it turned out, was not allowed to enter the Ekkamai station and tried to dump us off in Bang Na? Needless to say he refunded 200 baht and we taxi’d it home….
    @ poodle; always looked into flying but never did? Have you? The airport is actually about an hour ride to the ferry (as I’m told)? Since the ferry can be one of the bottle necks, and the bus’s being so cheep, I’ve just always opted not?
    I’m with you on the rain, this trip was in May and the last couple days plans had to be arranged around morning/noon rain. I’ve been there once in Sep/Oct and it pissed rain. Will need to include a note regarding the weather conditions on part 2!

  6. Ive always wanted to hit Samet & The Chang, but like Daywalker says, the cunting about with various modes of public transport puts me right off. I stupidly put myself through the traumatic ordeal of flying to Surat Thani, then ferrying it over to Samui once. Christ that was shit, especially when you have been out drinking whisky with hookers until gone 8am the same day.

    That was the deciding factor which led me to the uninspiring choice of booking up to take LittleMissVertigo to Phuket in November, ahead of Chang, Samet, or any of the other islands, as its just easy. That said, theres still the taxi to the airport, and then you have to pick your arsehole at Suvarnabhumi for an hour plus before your plan boards, then getting spanked 600 odd baht for a 15 minute cab ride from Phuket airport to your hotel

  7. Okay, maybe I lied a little with “very” near. It’s 20 to 30 minutes from the airport to the nearest ferry. There are 2 car ferries going from two different ports. I’ve never flown but driven past the airport many times. I frequent Koh Chang because I’m a man endowed with a rusty pickup.

    Bottleneck? Ferries are every 30 minutes. If you’re a foot passenger it’s never a problem. Sometime you have to queue with a car (cars are bigger than people).

    @Penfold, they sell beer Leo on the ferry for a very reasonable price. It makes the 30 minute ride bearable.

  8. @YP; I’ve yet to go Samet but radical Ron has gone many times and he says it’s quite painless via 5:00 am mini out of Victory monument? But I’ve heard Samet doesn’t compare to Chang? On the 2nd half post I’ll talk about the cool shit I like to do on Chang so maybe it’ll make the trip appear more tolerable? Perhaps a Mango party road trip is in order? Dear spoke of a party bus she would take back to Rattanaburi for Songkran. Sounded like they had a good ride out to the boons…The Island is lovely in Nov.???

  9. @poodle; Ahhh! you’ve hit it then? BTW how much is the fare for a vehicle? On my next trip I was hoping to bate in a mate who lives in BKK who’s also endowed with a vehicle. All and all, that’s the way to do it! As everyone has pointed out, the hassle of getting to your room on paradise is the prohibitive variable?
    Bottleneck? Maybe I’m just unlucky but I have never had less than an hours wait for the ferry, either way??? But what’s most noteworthy here is to keep in mind the last ferry of the day leaves at 7:00pm!

  10. @ NurseRon: Very Informative, thanks. I havent been to Koh Chang. I should! I’ve been to Samet, Samui, Phangan, Lanta & the Similans. Koh lanta was really nice, but I think its been developed alot since then. Took all different kinds of transportation going south. I have access to a vehicle in Thailand but I dont want one. So I also think the mini bus is the way to go.

  11. I’ve done Chang three times and Samed perhaps a dozen.

    To say that Samed doesn’t compare to Chang is a bit misleading.

    I’d say they’re quite similar, with Chang being slightly nicer and with a bit more to do. But — airplanes aside — the trip to Chang is 6 hours while getting to Samed takes half that time (bus & ferry). The difference between the two isn’t enough for me to spend an extra three hours on the bus each way, so Samed wins on time & distance — especially since I tend to go for a quick three-day weekend when I go.

    If you’re only plan was to suntan and frolic in the waves, then you’d go to Samed and save the pain of the extra travel.

    Because I can walk to Ekkamai station from my home, the regular bus (rot tua) is my best choice for getting out of town and heading Southeast, regardless of which of the two island I’m heading towards.

  12. @ WW, that’s good to know! As I said, I was told Samet is much smaller with limited choices for hotels/resorts and availability, the beaches are trashy and the touts are way worse than Chang? But I’m with you on the extra 3 hours! I hate the bus, big or small! Somebody should do a little piece on Samet?
    @ cam, Rolln, poodle, thanks for the feedback! this is exactly why I bothered to write this shit down, I miss a certain authors informative works.

  13. @nR, Can’t remember exactly but it’s not much, maybe 150 baht for the driver and car, then normal price per extra passenger.

  14. @DW; was watching one the Discover/History/TLC channels on Rio, and they have traffic way, way way worse than BKK. The program was on a student Heli pilot and the booming market there for helicopter transport services. Apparently that’s the only way for any executive to get around town? Has anyone else noticed the number of helio pads atop most every new condo building in Suk? How exactly do YOU normally get to DWHQ from Suvarnabhumi? I thought you always jumped a company chopper?

  15. DO NOT RENT AND RIDE A MOTOCYCLE ON KOH CHANG – there is a 90% chance you will regret it. Do the smart thing and rent a car. 800-1,000 Baht a day. Well worth it.

    If you prefer more modern transportation – 45 minute flight from Sue Wanna Boom, costs around 2,000 Baht each way. Then shuttle bus from airport to your hotel – around 300 each way. Done.

  16. NR – It’s a 20 min drive in a Limo (1500) to DWHQ from Suwan… suvar. survana… the aiiport

    Anymore than 30 mins and I’d have to relocate.

  17. @DW; does that include a personal assistant for all those post travel tasks that need addressing before arrival to HQ?
    @RDD; WOW! DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER 90% TIPS FOR US, say in the markets?

  18. Went to Koh Chang over Christmas. Was great, but scary. Eastern Europeans everywhere. They need to be educated. Anyone over 100kg should not wear Lycra to the beach. Especially g-strings. Goes equally for the men and women.

  19. You almost certainly will crash your bike if you rent one on Koh Chang…

    It’s called a “Koh Chang Tattoo” – go for it, if you value scars.

  20. I guess that renting a motorbike and not having a crash depends on how good or bad a rider you are. I have rented there with no problems.

  21. the vast majority of commenters on this blog have been living in bkk for how long? and youve never even got your arses to Samet?

  22. Off topic question to you expert. Heard of an alcohol ban in place this weekend already, tell me please my source was wrong ! Thanks

  23. I wish your source was wrong.

    There will be no alcohol between 6pm Saturday til 11.59 (12) pm Sunday.

    Which would be a great opportunity to try out all those non-alcoholic cocktails you’ve always wanted to try in the past but never had an excuse?!

    Maybe the Mango could do a special offer… ‘buy 15 coca-colas’ and get a free shot after midnight?

    One thing is for sure, there will be a lot less girls getting barfined that rely on the booze to make themselves better looking!

  24. yeah, would be interesting to see the real effects of all these dry holidays? Perhaps all the skeptics of Thailand’s pursuit for a democratic process are right, just not for the reasons they originally thought? But we have some rather silly alcohol laws as well…

  25. In the unlikely event of me wanting to leave Bkk this August is there anywhere anyone can suggest that might be fun and not wet or should I just stick to soi 4 to soi 33? What about Mai Sot? Or somewhere in Isarn?

  26. Oh, you just *know* the shizzle’s gonna start hitting the fan after next weekend, once the election is decided.

    I look forward to drawn out protests, more threats of violence, and gaggle’s of tourists booking Bali and Vietnam as destinations for another of those “extended low season” political snafus.

  27. @ RDD; I hear you! just finished part 1 of Andrew Marshall’s piece and if half of what he’s found is true there is going to be some serious shit going down in Bangers? You looking to exile soi 4 anytime soon?

  28. @nurseRON : not at all, in fact I see these situations far more as opportunities, than calamities.

    Lastly, regarding Koh Chang and vehicular transportation:

    On that YouTube video, at the 4:39 mark, that section on the side of the road with all of the shrines — each shrine marks a death that on the road, in that particular spot.

    Automobile – FTW.

  29. Duck, agreed, two wheeled motorized vehicles can be more dangerous than cars. No argument here, but riding on Koh Chang isn’t any different than riding anywhere else? Actually, if you do ride (I have since I was a toddler) Koh Chang is a much safer place because a riders biggest threat is not the road, it’s the danger of being hit by other motorists! I’ve found the lack of traffic to make for many very enjoyable rides…So sorry, but your talking out of your ass now if that’s your point? I’ll elaborate more clearly in part 2…cheers!!!

  30. I’ve been known to ride a bike or two in my past……

    I’d rather shit in my own pants and sit in it, than ride a bike in Thailand. (Thailand for me being Sukhumvit)

    It’s not that I’m not confident, it’s the others on the road. I’d feel like I have a target on my back and all the cars are out to hit me.

    Saying that, I did have a high speed wreck when ssB and I rode to Monaco.
    – Got into a speed wobble at break neck speeds. Not pretty.

  31. No argument there, nurseRon, regarding the enjoyment of riding a bike, though I would consider KC to be more risky than elsewhere, just based on the fact that nearly *EVERY* local will tell you about their own bike wipeout, and nearly every tourist I ever spoke to confirmed wiping out (it’s usually on the hill portions, or usually in the rain) – more so than anywhere else I’ve been.

    Basically, just my 2 cents – my only point is that 4 wheels are more stable than 2 😉 (plus having a trunk to lock things into is a definite plus as well).

    I’m looking forward to more of your writing – I’ve greatly enjoyed reading Part 1. Keep it coming!

  32. @DW; you should post that video, I had the decency to laugh on the inside, but seeing your pain was humorously satisfying in a “Jack ass, hit em-in the balls” kinda way?
    sorry mate…
    @RDD; got your point but will have to stand with my original assessment? As DW said, it’s the other guys that pose the real threat.
    Admittedly, I’ve never had access to a car so I can’t offer an opinion other than you can’t go to many of the places I’ve found wandering about, but as you said, a trunk can be a nice advantage over the under-seat bullshit little lock up you get with a moto?

  33. Tell you what, nR, if our schedules ever align next time we’re both in KC, I’ll rent the car, and we can go exploring on 4 wheels 😉

  34. @DW; Ohhh, yeah! your scale speed was what 150mph? Tank slapping on a pocket rocket is pretty funny stuff brother, especially with so and so pissing them selves with laughter in the fore ground! 🙂
    @RDD; sounds good, but only if it rains, is after dark or we’ve been drinking? Although if your talking a proper 4X4, I ventured out to a place called “Zen” on the farthest tip of the South East coast (past Long Beach) and we made it there and back (me and my girl) but that road was fucking knarly. A 4X would have been wonderful!

  35. Oh yes, my good pal ssB doubled over in pain laughing at the flow of blood oozing from my leg. Not to mention my bike that was smashed to bits.

    I was going to write up the Monaco F1 trip report but couldn’t find the Thai connection. pmmp has his rules!

  36. Yo, word up, homeboy, nurseRon! Big fan here. Great stuff. Keep ’em coming. Just wanted to get your thoughts on the LB situation in KC, on the DL. If you don’t mind sharing mo’ of your wisdom. Would love to go there, do it island style, kick back in my banana hammock, but a bit worried here that I would have to bring me some LB double LT saddle-action from Bangers, and with the long drive in the minibus, too many potential problems, and the bahtage adds up quick-like. Plus, if I have a crap attack, I’d have to have the driver pull over too many times, so would need to drink up, diaper up, and get pilled to the gills. Probably would extend the trip a few hours if I have to hit the head too many times, and piss off the other passengers. Victory Monument, you say? May do it one weekend, just to slow my roll.

    Cheers!!!

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