I love islands, so even though I am an avid promoter of Philippine beaches, I still manage to land in a lot of islands in Asia. Having been to a lot of beach destinations around the region just lets me compare the ones we have here and theirs. The latest destination was Koh Chang, a side trip weekend during a business trip to Thailand.
It has been almost 6 months since I last visited Thailand, and being there almost every month before, I told myself I should visit a beach while there. I was choosing between Samui and Koh Chang. I ended up with the latter, given my limited budget. Going to Koh Chang can be done conveniently by bus. The journey on a first class bus from Bangkok Ekemai Station is 5 hours, with a stop for around 15 minutes. The ride was so comfortable and the government bus I took even served snacks (think airplane). I dozed off for most of the trip so the next thing I knew, I was in Trang, the province where the Koh Chang Marine National Park is situated. A 45-minute ferry from Laem Noeb took me to the Centerpoint pier in Koh Chang.
I took a songkathew (like a jeep) going to White Sand Beach, where my resort, Koh Chang Kacha was located. White Sand Beach is the busiest part of the island, so I thought it was best to stay there, given that it was low season. It wasn't crowded, and there were a handful of restaurants and shops around. Koh Chang Kacha Resort was nice and typical. I got a bungalow since I didn't want to stay in a hotel type building. It was cheaper too and had more of the island charm. Their pool was great, and I think the resort is the best in White Sand Beach.
I arrived late in the afternoon, so I wasn't able to explore much. So the next day, I decided to rent a jeep, since I still had trauma for motorcycles. I knew I had to see the island, so I practically spent the entire day riding across the coastal roads, seeking other beaches and natural attractions.
This is Klong Phrong Beach, the next beach to White Sand. It is being developed rapidly as more luxurious resorts are being put up in the area. Koh Chang was once known to be a backpackers paradise, but now, the Thai government is making it an upscale island destination similar to Samui.
The highlight of my day was the visit to Klong Plu Waterfalls. Upon entering the gate, I was worried to see cemented paths and shops around (reminiscent of Camiguin's springs). I got a sigh of relief though when the cemented path ended, and a jungle trek was in sight. The trek to the falls was great at 500m. You can hear the gush of the water as you go near. Seeing the waterfalls after a long day was the most welcoming thing. Everything was kept natural. No developments. There were just ropes for people to hold onto when crossing the river. The water was clear and refreshing. It was a great place to relax and just pass the day by.
I wasn't as satisfied with the beaches of Koh Chang, and there wasn't as many as Phuket and Krabi. There also weren't many things to do. I wasn't able to go island hopping though, so I can't complain that much. The view of the islands seemed very inviting but I had no time. The coastal roads go up and down, since Koh Chang is mountainous, thus making it difficult to drive a manual jeep. I headed back to a new resort next to Kacha, the Banpu Koh Chang Resort, since there wasn't any availability anymore in Kacha (reservations got mixed up). I just lay on their sun benches at the beachfront and waited for the sunset. Oh, I also had my favorite banana pancake.
All in all, Koh Chang is not as perfect as I hoped it would be. I still think Koh Samet and Krabi are the best beaches in Thailand. I still have to visit Koh Samui and Phangan though - my last two destinations in Thailand. After that, then, I have to head to the lesser known islands. I still enjoyed Koh Chang, but staying there made me miss the beaches of the Philippines so much.