Why Koh Chang
- Amazing beaches
- Thai Food
- Fruit Shakes
- Value for money
General remarks: On our way through the city, we took public transport, which was cheap (like everything which is used by locals also) and fast. An exciting alternative if you can’t take the Skytrain, MRT or boats especially during night is as well to take one of the omnipresent Tuk Tuks (but remember to negotiate it right and consider the high amount of traffic). To navigate generally, one might buy a cheap mobile prepaid card –even in the forests on the islands we had very good signal. You get money (Baht) directly in Bangkok from ATMs and also can pay by card almost everywhere. Concerning the food – the Thai Cuisine is very good, but tends to be very spicy. This should be seriously taken into consideration. If you want to test street food as well, we were good with the advice to buy only when there was a line of people waiting (ensuring nothing was lying in the warmth for too long without cooling).
For the first nights we spend (too much) money on a hotel in Siam, to get rid of the jetlag, which actually wasn’t that bad. On the way back we took a cheaper one, which was just as good. We spend the time in the city anyway. The city of Bangkok is immense, and offers many cultural highlights. However the famous places like the Great Palace and Wat Arun were just as crowdy as they were breathtaking. However, it’s for sure worth the while, especially during sunrise / sun fall. Even though we always felt safe, the “offerings” on markets such as the famous ping pong market or china town, were nice to see, but nothing too special from my point of view. Furthermore, leaving the main street just for a bit reminded us of the less glamorous sides of a big town such as Bangkok, with quiet dirty buildings.
From Bangkok, we took a small, climatized and cheap bus to Trat, a small city near Cambodia, from where we set over to the islands after spending one great night in a room over the water. From here on, the real vacation began, with fruit shakes, great see food and coconuts, amazing landscapes, beaches and rainforests, etc. ….
The elephant island, is one the second largest island of Thailand. Even though there were quite some offerings to ride through the jungle on elephants etc. we preferred the animal friendly way of going on or own. In a great hostel just near the river (River Side Hostel) we were invited for a see-food barbecue and spend the night together with some locals, also going in some bars etc. (always driving with one of the numerous cheap “Jeep-taxis”). We spend 3 days to get to know the island, which had a good infrastructure and was especially concentrating on tourists in the west (of which at our traveling time not many were there), and had an even less crowded east. Our 2 highlights were a guided track through the jungle up on one of the highest montains (organized via facebook by a local guide, tips -> try the local food he brings, don’t forget Water (3 liters or more per person) and wear long clothes and mosquito spray!!) and another tour which we planned on our own to see the biggest waterfall of the island (and swim in it of course!).
To set over to the other islands, there were many offerings, by locals and by catamarans etc. also. Meanwhile, the second Island, Kho Mak, was even less crowded. Everybody knows everyone and is kind + happy to help – even though not everybody speaks English, they will show you a way to find somebody who can. On this island our highlight was a snorkeling tour between the reefs with thousands of fish, and even some turtles etc.. While on the beaches sandflies, nasty little things, were annoying us from time to time, there were many nice bars with great view on the beaches, were you can relax and enjoy a cocktail or smoothie. Even on the inside there were restaurants which from the outside didn’t look so well, but offered amazing food (my advice: trust the online review more than your “western” eyes)
Lastly, Kho Kood is an island for the rich and nice people of Thailand – and the countries around. However, it was not necessary to book such an expensive hotel – instead we booked a hostel with great reviews (see booking.com / google reviews) and borrowed a scooter (like on Kho Mak I never needed to show it, but I got an international driving license for Thailand which works for year or so) to get to all places on the island. Again the best tips came from speaking with the locals and skipping through the reviews online – and just after a few days, every planning ahead was unnecessary. You will clearly always find a great spot to eat, drink, sleep and talk to people. Just never forget your swimsuit nor your mosquito spray and sunscreen and you’ll be fine 😉
All in all, I’m pretty sure that we will come back one day to spend even more time in that region – maybe in Cambodia then – and that we will once more make it a spontaneous unplanned trip.