Serenely situated in the far east corner of Thailand, the islands of the Ko Chang archipelago are ideal for a relaxing beach holiday. Ko Chang is the biggest of the islands and a convenient base to explore the smaller, quieter destinations of Ko Kood, Ko Mak and Ko Wai. Between them, the islands offer a broad range of experiences with something to appeal to all types of traveller.
In this edition of our Itinerary Ideas series, we take a closer look at an island-hopping itinerary using Ko Chang as your base. Two weeks gives you plenty of time to relax and explore the Ko Chang archipelago:
- 5/6 days Ko Chang
- 2/3 days Ko Kood
- 2/3 days Ko Mak
- 2/3 days Ko Wai
Ko Chang is the third largest island in Thailand. While it is a well-established tourist destination, it doesn’t receive as many visitors as the other two largest islands, Phuket and Ko Samui. This makes Ko Chang an ideal choice for those looking for a quieter beach holiday, but not too quiet. Ko Chang also serves as the ideal base to explore the other islands in the archipelago. With its variety of inviting beaches and a well-developed tourist infrastructure, the island attracts visitors from all walks of life, from backpackers to families.
Snorkelling and diving trips can be arranged from Ko Chang with the dive site at HTMS Chang one of the most popular locations for experienced divers with whale sharks and reef sharks regularly spotted in this area.
Although the beaches of Ko Chang are the main draw, visitors can also learn about local life at the scenic fishing village of Ban Salak Khok. The village is also home to some outstanding seafood restaurants serving freshly caught fish, crabs and shrimps.
Ko Kood (also known as Ko Kut) is a serene island that offers a perfect choice for a relaxing holiday. Although smaller than Ko Chang, you will still find inviting beaches here. The island sees fewer tourists compared to Ko Chang, allowing it to maintain its peaceful and unhurried pace of life even during the high season.
Ko Kood offers a wide range of accommodation options, from simple homestays in fishing villages to luxurious resorts such as Soneva Kiri and the High Season Villa Resort. Soneva Kiri is home to one of the most romantic dining experiences in Thailand with its innovative luxury tree-pod dining service.
The charming island of Ko Mak offers a very different experience to Ko Chang. Although low-level tourism is starting to bring in money to the local economy, Ko Mak still maintains its original appeal and community way of life. The island is home to around 350 people, and its landscape is dominated by rubber trees and coconut palms, which are a hallmark of the traditional way of living.
You won’t find buzzing nightlife on Ko Mak, but you will find a laid-back island with some excellent accommodation options. This makes Ko Mak a perfect choice for those seeking solitude without cutting off completely from civilisation. While the beaches may not be as picturesque as those on other islands in the Ko Chang archipelago, the absence of mainstream development and the presence of the local community are the real appeal of Ko Mak.
Ko Wai is perfect for those who just want to relax. There isn’t much to do apart from swimming, lounging and soaking up the views. If you’re in search of modern amenities and fast internet, Ko Wai might not be the ideal destination for you. However, if you’re looking for a serene tropical island where you can unwind and enjoy swimming and snorkelling, Ko Wai could be just what you need. As part of an island-hopping itinerary, spending at least a few nights on Ko Wai is the perfect complement to a trip that includes the other islands in the Ko Chang archipelago.
While you’re island hopping in this area, take the opportunity to visit Ko Kradat. This is a private island and you do have to pay an entrance fee, but what makes Ko Kradat unusual are the herds of deer who live here. The entrance fee includes a tour of the island on a local tractor where you will get to see the deer. There are several other picturesque islands you can visit as part of a day trip including Ko Kham, Ko Ngam and Ko Rang.
Good to know
Getting to the Ko Chang islands
The Ko Chang islands are located in Thailand’s eastern Trat province. Ferry tickets to Ko Chang and the other islands can be purchased on arrival in Trat.
The nearest airport is Trat Airport on the mainland. Trat airport is owned by Bangkok Airways and they are the only airline that operates flights to and from Trat. Onward transport to the islands can be arranged on arrival or in advance via your hotel.
Buses from Bangkok to Trat are available at frequent intervals from the Ekamai Eastern Bus Terminal and take around 5-6 hours. You can also buy a combination ticket, which includes the onward ferry to Ko Chang. There is also a less frequent service from Bangkok’s Mo Chit Northern Bus Terminal.
Passengers arriving at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport can head to Level 1 and look for the signs for the Ko Chang bus service near Door 8 (adjacent to the desks for the Pattaya and Hua Hin bus service); however, there are only a limited number of departures each day.
If you are travelling with family or prefer more comfort, you can book a private transfer by car or minibus from Bangkok or other locations to your hotel on Ko Chang. The prices are per vehicle and typically cost around 5,000 Baht or more (from Bangkok), depending on the size of the vehicle and its quality. You can enquire at your hotel or check with a reputable provider like Oriental Escape.
Best time to visit
The best weather for a beach holiday on Ko Chang and the nearby islands is from mid-November to April. Peak season is December and January so you can expect to pay more for accommodation on the islands at this time. Temperatures remain warm all year averaging around 30C with March and April the hottest months.
The low season months are May to October. Although you do still see sunny days in the low season, rainfall can be torrential from July to September with August statistically the wettest month.
This article is part of our Itinerary Ideas series. These particular itineraries are for anybody, but may appeal more to repeat visitors to Thailand looking to explore different destinations on their next trip or anyone seeking meaningful travel experiences. If you’re a first-time visitor to Thailand or looking for more ideas of where to go and what to do, check out these articles too:
2-week Thailand itinerary
3-week Thailand itinerary
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