I have spent about a week on Koh Chang and wanted to share some tips about traveling, eating & accommodation on the island.
Koh chang is in the gulf of Thailand & about 4-6 hours from Bangkok. There are mini buses (faster) but smaller & VIP buses (bigger & more comfortable but slower)
This little report is by no means comprehensive & based solely on my experiences over the week.
Beaches are all along the west side of the island. “taxis” which are really song thews roam the road on the coast & you can get from town to town fairly easily. cost from the ferry landing to any beach north of lonely beach is 100 baht. Further south is 120 Baht. getting around will cost 50 Baht, but less if you have more than a few people & good bargaining skills.
White sand beach has the “nicest” white sandy beaches, it also has the most upmarket & package resorts. Anyone on a budget will not find a bungalow on the beach here. The village of white sands is the largest of all the towns, with trendy shops, restaurants & bars.
I never made it to Klong Phrao, mostly because I was told that the beach is quite a ways from the main road & if you don’t have a moto bike, getting there is quite the hike.
Kai bai is a lovely beach, white sand, small village atmosphere, with a few upmarket hotels & nice sandy beach. Waterfront accommodation is likely going to be out of any backpacker budget.
Lonely beach is the backpacker budget area. There is one sandy beach at the very north part of town, otherwise the waterfront is quite rocky. (which is why it is affordable). The only sandy beach is occupied by 2 resorts Siam beach & siam hut. Siam beach is much more up market ( although they do have some pretty cheap bungalows left over from before they remodeled) and it sits at the northern most tip of the sandy beach. The bungalows are up a steep hill (500 meters) so if you don’t mind a hike they seem to be a good deal. Siam hut bungalows are a group of grotty bungalows in the middle of a trash heap, very cheap, and it is a total Backpacker scene. Tatted & dreadlocked Gen X’ers are in abundance here. The travelers I met who stayed there, moved out pretty quickly after finding a plethora of rats & cockroaches. But, hey, they are cheap….
When I first arrived I had a pre-booked room at Whitehouse at Bailan bay and while it was expensive I thought I would treat myself. Not what I expected. it was dirty, run down, far away from town, and so I checked out the very next day. Bai lan is an area south of Lonely beach & north of Bang bao. There is not much here. Too far to walk into town, so unless you have a moto bike or want to spend 24 hours at your guest house you will spend a lot of time waiting for “taxis”.
I finally settled into paradise cottages and I was really happy here. The bungalows are modern, super clean & the common area has plenty of hammocks. The food was better than average guest house fare.
If you have the money wayapura resort (next to paradise cottages) seemed like a good value. Ocean front cottages are bout 90USD and looked really nice. They have the added bonus of a pool.
A couple of days I went north to Kai bay beach in search of some sand. The beach is lovely, and high end resorts speckle the beach. I found one such resort, the chill, a ridiculously priced place,but with lovely pool & nice chaises on the beach. So i pretended I belonged there, grabbed a beach towel, staked my claim on a chaise lounge & used the pool & swam in the ocean. The trick is acting like you belong.
Food: The food in lonely beach is pretty damn good, I have a tough time deciding where to eat & have yet to have a bad meal. a foodie could be quite happy here.
Internet: not a lot of free Wifi. Joy cottage at the north end of town is a great traveler hangout with free WiFi & decent food. Owned by a really friendly family with nice pets: puppy, 2 cats, rabbit & …. a mouse.
Wrap up: Koh Chang is a lovely island, about 6 hours from Bangkok, friendly locals, accom to fit all budgets, very laid back & a great place to relax. I could have easily spent another week here.