While Thailand has many islands, the island of Koh Chang often gets overlooked. It’s the third biggest island, after Phuket and Koh Samui, but it doesn’t have the popularity that it’s bigger counterparts get.
This may not always be the case though, as it turns out there are many things to do in Koh Chang that make it a worthy stop on anyone’s Thailand itinerary.
This true paradise is nestled in the Gulf of Thailand, just a 6-hour journey from Bangkok (yes, that’s short for Thailand), and while this gem is often overshadowed, it boasts stunning beaches, refreshing waterfalls, buzzing nightlife, and a whole host of cultural and immersive experiences waiting to be discovered.
Whether you want to hit the hot spots or discover some off-the-beaten-path activities, don’t miss out on these attractions in Koh Chang to have a truly unforgettable trip.
Things To Do In Koh Chang
1. Explore the Island’s Majestic Waterfalls
Koh Chang is well known for its untamed, jaw-dropping nature, so be no trip to Koh Chang would be complete without seeing some of the most impressive waterfalls on the island.
While the beaches are always busy with tourists looking to laze in the sun, the waterfalls are often more quiet and give you more space to soak in the relaxing ambiance of the jungle settings.
Although, the reason they are quiet may be largely due to the fact that most of the waterfalls on Koh Chang you have to pay to see.
The most famous waterfall is Khlong Phlu Waterfall, which is a large, two-tier waterfall with a refreshing pool to swim in underneath. The pool is deep enough that you can actually swim, whereas many other waterfalls are shallow and good for paddling.
The price to visit Khlong Phlu Waterfall is 200 baht, but it includes entrance to the entire National Park.
Kai Bae Waterfall is another great one to explore. It’s accessible by a 20-minute uphill hike, which isn’t too challenging but does require good footwear. Once you reach the falls, you’ll discover another towering falls with a deep pool for swimming. It’s only a 40 baht entrance fee, so hardly breaking the bank.
When visiting the waterfalls, note that the best time to see them is after the rainy season (May – September), and those visiting during the dry season should manage their expectations.
2. Go Scuba Diving (Or Snorkeling)
One of the main reasons why people visit the Gulf of Thailand is for its thriving marine life. While Koh Chang doesn’t get the same bells and whistles as islands like Koh Tao for its snorkeling and diving sites, it still has some pretty epic diving sites to explore.
For the more experienced diver, you might be interested in wreck diving the HMS Chang, the largest sunken vessel in Thailand which is surrounded by pinnacles and reefs, where you can spot a variety of marine life.
If you are interested in seeing sharks in Thailand, Koh Changs close proximity to Koh Rang National Park which is sometimes known to have whale sharks. You can also find sting rays, barracuda, turtles, moray eels and other exotic and colorful species of fish.
There are more than 20 diving sites around Koh Chang, so avid diving enthusiasts will find plenty of underwater locations to explore. The two PADI certified diving schools in Koh Chang are BB Divers and Koh Chang Divers, and it’s also possible to get your own PADI certification in Koh Chang.
If you want to see marine life but are not keen on the idea of diving, consider one of Koh Chang’s snorkeling tours instead.
3. Admire Wat Salak Phet Temple
If you’re looking for more cultural things to do in Koh Chang, then consider visiting the gorgeous Wat Salak Phet Temple, located on the South East side of the island.
This side of the island is far away from the touristy areas and has a much more local feel. The beating heart of this area, is the famous Buddhist temple known as Wat Salak Phet Temple.
What put this temple on the map is that more than 100 years ago, King Rama V visited this temple. There is a small museum next to the temple complex which tells the story of the King’s visit. It’s free to enter, though isn’t always open.
As well as its history, the temple complex is stunning and worthy of stopping by to pay your respects and to admire its beautiful architecture and design.
4. Trek Through the Jungle of Mu Koh Chang National Park
If you prefer to be a bit more active, consider embarking on an adventurous jungle trek through Mu Koh Chang National Park, located on the northern side of the island.
What sets Koh Chang apart from other islands in Thailand is that it still retains much of its rugged, untamed and wild evergreen forests and its high elevations. While I wouldn’t say Koh Chang is mountainous, it’s certainly hilly, and has the highest elevation of all islands in Thailand.
The highest peak in the park goes to Khao Salak Phet, which sits at 740 meters above sea level.
There are several hiking trails in the park, ranging from various lengths and taking you to different points in nature. You can hike to a waterfall, or through mangrove forests, or simply enjoy the ambiance of the forest.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife. The park is home to 110 bird species, as well as Indochinese lutung, which is a rare species of monkey that lives in the park. You may also find other small mammals such as wild boars, macaques and palm civets.
The park is also home to several species of common snakes found in Thailand, but the most dangerous one to look out for is the pit viper, which is bright green and likes to hide in trees.
One thing to note about getting to Mu Koh Chang National Park, is that you have to drive up a very steep and windy road. If you’re not confident on a scooter, you may want to get a taxi or songthaew.
5. Discover The Beautiful Beaches
Koh Chang is adorned with breathtaking beaches that are calling your name. From the pristine and aptly named White Sand Beach to the laid back and serene Khlong Prao Beach, or the small but bustling Kai Bae Beach, there are plenty to explore.
If you’re looking for a mixture of beautiful beaches and vibrant atmosphere, the most popular beach on the island is Lonely Beach. In the day time, the beach is relaxing and beautiful, but as the sun sets, the strip becomes a haven for nightlife, attracting party goers and backpackers from all around.
If you want to escape the crowds, head to the South of the island where you’ll find Kong Koi Beach and Bang Bao Beach, which are less frequented by tourists who prefer to stay in the bustling villages on the West coast.
For total seclusion and privacy, visit Long Beach on the South East side of the island. It’s a long scooter ride away, and often the beach disappears with high tide, but it’s the only place on the island where you’re almost guaranteed a beach to yourself (there was no one there when I went).
6. Experience An Incredible Sunset
If you love a beautiful sunset, then you’re in luck, as Thailand is home to some of the best in the world. Since most of the best beaches and touristy areas face West, there are some incredible viewpoints and places to enjoy the spectacle of sunset.
A great spot to catch the sunset is the tranquil Kai Bae Beach, or from the picturesque Kai Bae View Point which provides a panoramic vantage point for the breathtaking display of colors.
As long as you are on the west side of the island, you’ll find a spot to marvel at the magical transition from day to night.
7. Get off-the-beaten-path on the East Coast
The West Coast is full of resorts, backpackers, pristine beaches and attractions. The East Coast, not so much. That’s not a reason to not visit, though.
Driving around the East side of the island you will discover quiet, local villages with happy children playing the street and waving at you as you drive past. You’ll also find some off-the-beaten-path waterfalls, quiet and empty cafes, and a few quieter resorts.
I highly recommend you scoot down to the South East side of the island towards Long Beach. Here it’s pretty much empty and you can truly appreciate the natural beauty and serenity of the island without the throngs of tourists around you.
8. Shop ‘Till You Drop at Bang Bao Pier
If you are visiting Koh Chang from Koh Mak or Koh Kood, you may arrive at Bang Bao Pier. What immediately sticks out to you about this pier is how long it is.
The pier is largely covered with a bustling covered market, selling touristy trinkets and other souvenirs. Take a moment to walk around the shops, stop off for some fresh seafood, or simply admire the fact that these market shops have been built on stilts over the water.
Note that there is a parking fee of 10 baht to park your scooter in the car park. I parked by scooter outside the 7-Eleven, bought a drink, and then wandered around the market so I didn’t pay the fee (yes, I know it’s only 10 baht). No one said anything about it.
9. See Amazing Views from The Viewpoints
Koh Chang is not short of places to witness expansive coastal views from. Take some time out from the beaches and the partying to truly appreciate the beauty of this region.
My favorite viewpoing is Kai Bae Viewpoint, which has a 180-degree view of the west side of the island, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand.
Also on the west side of the island, a popular viewpoint is by the Shrine of Admiral Krom Luang Jumborn Khet Udomsaki. The shrine is accessible by a walk up some steps, but they are not too high. The shrine is free to visit and there is a spot where you can offer a donation to its upkeep if you want to.
Lastly, another viewpoint which is a bit more hidden, is Ao Ka Rang, located on the South side of the island.
Personally, I thought the view from here was a little too obstructed by the foliage (see photo above), but that is kind of the appeal to this side of the island – it’s very much untouched and left to its own devices.
10. Have A Thai Milk Tea at The Mount
One of my favorite spots on the island is a little cafe called The Mount, located in Khlong Prao Beach. The cafe is nestled on a high hill behind the village, and is the only establishment up there so you are surrounded by peace and quiet.
The Mount has this quirky seating area that’s like a treehouse, with cushions to sit on and low tables so the view is unobstructed.
I had a Thai Milk Tea here and it was one of the most delicious I had on the island.
If you’re looking for somewhere quirky and interesting to hang out and get a refreshment, be sure to make a stop here.
The road up to the cafe is steep, but it’s well paved and not too difficult to drive up. You can do it on a scooter, just drive slowly and carefully.
11. See The Elephants in Koh Chang
As with all destinations in Thailand, Koh Chang has its elephant “sanctuaries”, though the term sanctuary is used loosely here. Just because it’s one of the things you CAN you do in Koh Chang, doesn’t mean it’s something you SHOULD do.
There are around 6 elephant camps in Koh Chang, and they are all located close to one another in the Khlong Prao Beach area. They have about 8-10 elephants each, and offer tourists the chance to feed, bathe, and ride the elephants.
If you love elephants, there are many other places to find ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, such as Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. The camps that allow you to ride elephants and interact with them, are not considered ethical and if you care about this, you should avoid them.
There are also many horror stories about the elephants in Koh Chang. In 2013, a police raid took illegal baby elephants from one camp, and in 2015, an elephant killed a keeper and ran off with three tourists on its back. More recently, in 2023, an elephant died after it was fed the wrong food by tourists.
It just goes on and on. But, I mean, you do you. We personally don’t recommend you visit these places if you care about ethical practices.
In fact, if you pull your scooter over on the side of the main road (heading South), you will see the elephants grazing in the field. This is the one way I would recommend seeing elephants in Koh Chang. I pulled over from this spot.
12. Get Your Thrills With An ATV Safari
For those who love adventure, consider riding an ATV through the lush jungles in Koh Chang. There is no better way to experience the island’s diverse terrain than by going off-road and getting off the beaten path.
The ATV experience takes you through the rainforests, along rugged trails, and overlooking idyllic coastlines on paths that cannot be accessed by traditional vehicles.
The thrill of riding the powerful ATVs through challenging landscapes amplifies the sense of adventure, whilst also giving you a space to enjoy the connection to nature.
Check out ATV Winner, located in Khlong Prao Beach, who offer 20-minute to 90-minute ATV tours.
13. Get A Thai Massage
If you haven’t indulged in a traditional Thai massage on your Thailand trip yet, then be sure to get one while you’re in Koh Chang.
The ladies at Hatta Thai Massage and Wellness Centre in Koh Chang offer a great Thai massage service. The experience is authentic and the service is professional, and you come away feeling rejuvenated and like all your knots and aches have gone away.
Since Thai massages are great for enhancing circulation and soothing muscle aches, it’s a great activity to do when you need something more chill to do.
A lot of the top attractions on Koh Chang such as hiking or riding ATVs can take a toll on your body, so this is a great activity to do before you head home.
14. Take A Mangrove Boat Cruise from Salak Khok Fishing Village
Located on the South East side of the island is the tiny fishing village of Salak Khok. This village is unique in that the houses are built on stilts overlooking the waters, and is also a great place to stop and enjoy a seafood lunch.
Get a boat tour from the fishing village through the mangrove forests that hug the East coast of the island, and see the natural beauty of the island from a whole new perspective.
Boat tours leave from this location, starting at 8.00am and finishing at 3.50pm. The boats depart every hour, so be sure to plan ahead.
15. Scooter Around The Island
The best way to truly appreciate Koh Chang is to rent a scooter and just go for a drive. You’ll soon realize that this island is mountainous and surrounded by nature, which you can truly appreciate as you drive around its back roads.
Not only is it a great way to take in the nature, but exploring Koh Chang on a scooter is an exhilarating experience.
Manoeuvring through lush jungles and coastal roads, you never know what you might find. Discover secluded beaches and scenic viewpoints, or take spontaneous detours to discover charming local eateries and off-the-beaten-path attractions.
One thing I would say is that scooter riders, be careful. The island is known for its hilly terrain and some of the roads can be quite steep, and some turns very sharp. Take it slow and be cautious.
16. Party on Lonely Beach
As I mentioned earlier, Lonely Beach is the place to be for nightlife enthusiasts. Once a backpacker haven, it now seamlessly combines laid-back charm with an upmarket ambiance, catering to a diverse crowd of people.
After the sun goes down, the area comes alive with lively bars, featuring everything from fire shows to old-school live music, and each pub is packed with backpackers looking for a buzzing nightlife experience.
Unlike mainstream tourist hotspots, Lonely Beach strikes a balance between a lively party atmosphere and a serene getaway vibe, making it an ideal destination for those seeking both excitement and relaxation.
17. Take A Boat Over To Koh Wai
Koh Chang is a great island to base yourself for a bit of island hopping. If you want to go on a day trip to a smaller, more remote island, then consider visiting Koh Wai from Koh Chang.
With no villages, shops, or roads, this tranquil island offers a rare opportunity to disconnect and immerse oneself in unspoiled natural beauty.
The crystal-clear waters surrounding the island boast vibrant coral reefs, inviting snorkelers to explore a mesmerizing underwater world.
Koh Wai’s idyllic beaches provide an ideal setting for relaxation and rejuvenation, away from the hustle and bustle of more touristy locations you find in Koh Chang.
Koh Chang may be overshadowed, but anyone who makes the journey here are about to discover a true slice of paradise.
Loaded with hidden gems and serene nature, it has plenty of places to explore and keep your time filled, allowing you to create memories that will last a lifetime.
By venturing beyond the beaten path, you’ll discover the true essence of Thailand and be captivated by the slow-paced island life.
We hope this list of things to do help you plan some unforgettable experiences for your trip to Koh Chang and helped you plan your itinerary.