I’m coming to the end of my trip/holiday now having spent four days on Ko Chang on the Andaman coast ( not to be confused with its more famous namesake in the east)
Getting there: Ranong has an airport but you can get buses to Ranong from Bangkok or Phuket. It is sometimes possible to get overnight buses which help you to catch an afternoon boat, saving the overnight in Ranong.
Long boats serve the island, twice a day and it is approximately a two and a half hour journey and very enjoyable also.
Ranong harbour itself is full of activity, commerce and associated rubbish. Turn a kind eye on this and it is not long before a heavenly visage of islands, sun and sea fill the eye and the mind, soothing our senses and our spirit.
Ko Chang is a beautiful island, small and lush. There are beautiful beaches, some intact jungles and a relaxed, sleepy vibe that make this a very mellow holiday destination.
It is also free of any large developments. There are no hotels. People stay in little huts made of bamboo or wood, sometimes with concrete foundations. Most of the resorts have restaurants/bars attached serving very good Thai food. Most are located along the bay that features Ao Yai ( long beach)
It is also relatively inexpensive for the quality of experience.
Here is where I stayed; crocodile rock resort, located at the end Ao Yai beach and bay. (Cost: 500baht per night which is about 12 Euro).
A lovely kuti located right on the edge of the ocean with what felt like my own private beach in front of me. (Hamock and all !) Staff were friendly and genuine and food was great.
I spent my time hiking, jogging, swimming, reading and reflecting.
This is Ao Kai To, where some intact jungle survives.
I had a good day long hike between getting there and the hike itself, with plenty of rests for reading, relaxing, swimming and a nice lunch on Ao Kai To beach which opens out majestically at the end of the forest trail. It’s not so easy to get to it however. You have to walk to the north of the island, pass the resort called mamas villas, cross the beach and scramble over the rocks where a small sign welcomes you to a nature reserve. The opening ascent is steep and uninviting but it quickly levels out into a pleasant and relatively easy to follow trail.
Jogging was nice in the early morning but even before the heat arrived the humidity discouraged strenous exercise. Most of my running was on the narrow concrete paths and dirt trails that serve as roads here. They are too small for cars and only serve motorbikes.
Much of the island is given over to fruit and rubber plantations and most of my running was through these or along the beach.
Swimming in the gentle, warm waters of the bay was very enjoyable and refreshing also, especially in the hot afternoons although I did get sunburnt on one of my longer afternoon swims.
But I’m told, the true beach snobs go to the nearby Ko Phayam which has whiter sand. Hence more development also. Here was beautiful enough for me !
I met some nice folks here too. Tez was a Mongolian new yorker who I had met in Ranong, where I stayed a night before going to the island. He had learned some Mongolian throat singing and allowed me to record a little.
He introduced me to a few more travellers on the island as well and we had some good conversations.
It is a great place for reading and reflecting also and allowed me the chance to gather myself together at the end of my trip and think about the coming year.
But I would like to make clear this is not a party island. It is quiet and tranquil. I did go to a few bars and the music wasn’t great. Alot of dated raggae and bars were mostly quiet. Indeed electricity was sporadic and not always available. So if you want to party – go elsewhere !
My advice is bring a book and sink into the tranquility of the place. I had a great book but “sin sceal eile” ( thats another story!)
You can hear the sea sing, enjoy long walks on quiet beaches, eat well and live easy.
I totally recommend it. It is a paradise, reminding us of our home in nature.
Alan is a Travel Director with Trafalgar Tours based in Ireland.