A little rain each monsoon day, but Koh Chang offers sunshine & cool weather

The best possible beach hotel deals in Koh Chang come from direct bookings:

We display hotels that guarantee, in writing, to discount the lowest rates found on-line for guests who book direct. This cuts out middlemen, saves money for both guest and hotel. See our GUARANTEE list on this page, then contact the hotel via the e-mail box on the hotel page.
We also sell DISCOUNT HOTEL VOUCHERS for some hotels – the very cheapest rooms available – but they are limited.

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It’s the fear of rain, not real rain, that keeps visitors away from Thai beaches during the monsoon season. And that’s lucky for the few who do venture to Koh Chang during the rainy months of the year. They find the island exceptionally quiet and tranquil, with few people on the beaches or in hotels and restaurants – and the weather is mostly dry.
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Those familiar with Koh Chang’s climate at this time of year know to expect just an hour or two of rain each day, with the great majority of the time perfect for getting out and about and enjoying oneself. The days are most often cloudy, creating a cool and pleasant atmosphere. Interestingly, temperatures on Thai beaches are generally two degrees Celsius lower in the summer months – read monsoon – than during the high season winter months. Heavy cloud cover is the main reason.
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Diehard beach lovers who come to Koh Changjust to lie in the sun and luxuriate in the calm, clear waters that typify the high season might not like the very different atmosphere that the monsoon brings. But many, including this writer/photographer, do. Fewer people is a big boon, but so are the cooler days and less heat after midday that makes walking more pleasurable. There’s a fresh, cool clarity in the air that makes it easier to remain outdoors longer. Plus there’s the beauty of the lush green environment that envelopes everything.

In contrast, high season afternoons often get hot, dusty and sweaty, sending visitors unaccustomed to the heat running for shade or air-conditioning.
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But of course it does rain sometimes, most often in the afternoons, and commonly for just an hour or less each time. Following the path of the Southwest Monsoon, storms sweep in across the ocean towards Koh Chang. With most of the major tourist beaches and resorts facing west, the approaching black clouds are easy to spot, allowing time to seek cover before the rain arrives.

Note that this website has several pages about the weather and seasons in different parts of the country, plus other info pages. Some of these might prove interesting:

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Sun, cloud & rain; a typical monsoon day on Koh Chang

What’s a typical day on Koh Chang like during the monsoon season? It varies greatly, of course (and that’s part of the charm), though by far the most ‘normal’ day runs something like this. You may wake up to a sunny morning, though the sun is dodging in and out of the clouds that billow constantly over the mountaintops of Koh Chang’s rugged, central spine. The ground outside is wet from last evening’s storm. By late morning the sun has risen high enough over the mountain-hugging clouds to shine a bit more brightly. But it doesn’t last for long. By midday the cloud cover is growing thicker across sky and horizon.
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Due the deep shadow, the early afternoon hours that would become the hottest time of day during the cloudless high season now remain pleasantly cool. Island visitors can generally spend most of the day till mid-afternoon dry, and move about the island as they please. But beware from here on. Scan the ocean horizon for those towering thunder heads. Watch for dark shadows sliding across the heavens towards the island. This, the latter part of the afternoon is so often storm time.
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Another surprising phenomenon occurs from time to time during the monsoon months – resorts guests can wake up to the most beautiful weather of the year. When the winds die down and the clouds disappear Koh Chang is bathed in vivid light and colours below an amazing blue sky. The rains have scrubbed the air clean and doused down the mountains, forests and countryside. Everything looks sparklingly fresh, green and colourful.

These delightful blue-sky breaks in the monsoon can last from a couple of days to, occasionally, two weeks. Some of the heat does return, though.
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For photography, these monsoon breaks provide the most spectacular, scenic conditions of the year. Photos taken in such clear light, with vivid colours that seem to jump out at the viewer, often look like they have been ‘photoshopped’ to enhance the colours and clarity. For this photographer, these delightful breaks in the monsoon are the best time to be in Thailand, and particularly on an island like Koh Chang with its diverse backgrounds between mountain, rainforest, sand and sea.
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Catch a bargain – Koh Chang’s best prices of the year

It’s the bargain time of year on Koh Chang. There are simply so many empty rooms – the majority of those on the island – that hotels drop their prices and make all kinds of special offers to attract guests. And it’s not limited to hotel rooms, for restaurants also create specials and post them out in front to try to catch some of the few passers-by. Other businesses do likewise, be it dive companies or tour services. Everyone is so hungry for customers that dropping prices or adding free extras is the norm at the rainy time of year.
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Things are so quiet on this semi-remote island that until a few years ago the majority of resorts here closed up for the entire monsoon season, their staff heading home for five months. These days the majority remain open year round, fighting for every guest they can bring in. Only some of the smaller bungalow resorts still close for the season.
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There’s a small upsurge in visitor traffic in April-May, typically the period when the first monsoon storms arrive to break the heat. This is the island’s ‘Thai season’, when a cavalcade of cars brings families and groups onto the island from Bangkok. The reason? Thai children are on their long annual break between the school years. The local Thais also have an expectation that they will get prices somewhat cheaper than foreign tourists, and the Thai Season is indeed the time when prices begin to drop.
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If booking online be sure to check each hotel’s own website, not just the booking services. Hotels regularly add valuable extras to their own special offers to make their deals more appealing than those offered through the big booking services, to which the hotels have to pay hefty commissions. And, for the same reason, check the hotels’ offerings through this website. Direct bookings via True Beachfront cost the hotels no commission. Visitors who bypass the booking services and book directly are the hotel’s best customers, and are often rewarded with discounts, room upgrades or other free extras.
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Koh Chang’s beaches when the monsoon wind & waves arrive

Indeed, most beaches on Koh Chang are not as beautiful or as much fun during the monsoon season as they are in the calm, high season months. Monsoon winds push waves up the beaches, though they’re rather small since they can only build across the narrow, shallow Gulf of Thailand. Waves also pile flotsam high up the sands. The water gets stirred up, so the ideal clear, calm conditions that attract visitors in the high season are gone. The one beach activity that is better in the cool, cloudy weather is walking, or beach combing; heat won’t chase you off the sands.
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The narrow, poorly-developed beaches on Koh Chang’s east coast remain in the lee, and enjoy calm conditions through the monsoon months, as do the resorts in the island’s large, south-eastern bay of Ao Salak Phet.
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Along the west coast, however, the waves are far from constant, and some days you’ll wake to find the water dead calm and the winds gone, with or without the cloud cover.
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For some regular monsoon visitors, this is the time of year for the ultimate chill out and relaxation. The cool, pleasant weather, quieter resort and beaches make relaxing all the more natural. The massage ladies are almost always available. The hotel and restaurant staff have more time to stop and chat with guests. And when it does rain, they use the time for reading and other easy-go activities indoors.
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Nature’s spectacular displays of thunder, lightning & heavenly formations

For those who love the grand spectacles of nature – huge thunder storms and sky-wide electrical displays – Koh Chang puts on a grand pageant starting each May.
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The daily spectacle churns into life in the heat of early afternoon as fluffy, white cumulous clouds glide above the ocean, looking for friends. Gradually they suck together, rise and rumble into huge towers. By late afternoon the horizon in front of Koh Chang’s west coast resorts may be stacked with up to a dozen of these churning behemoths; quite a spectacle in itself. Some, inevitably, come rolling in towards the island.
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Soon the flashing begins, silently at first, as a storm looms towards the beaches. The inner grumble of lighting develops into a booming roar and the storm pushes out a threatening front of roiling black cloud as violent winds hit the shore. Coconut palms flex like grass stalks and everything not tied down takes off in flight – the potentially dangerous part of the storm. Hotel guests have had plenty of warning to get inside; the lucky ones in a beachfront restaurant watching the spectacle from behind a solid sheet of glass.
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Flashes of lightning can blind for an instant, before the mind-numbing crack of thunder shakes buildings. Rain buckets out of the heavens, pushed horizontally by strong winds, finding its way into everything without a strong seal. Then, as fast as it came, the storm passes, leaving the landscape drenched and cleansed. For those who love the power of nature up close and personal, this is a great time to be in Koh Chang.
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After May-June the electrical storms become sparse on the horizon, and the evening rains are generally brought by squalls that sweep in more quietly from the ocean.
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It’s the green season, and Koh Chang’s forests are lush

Koh Chang is lucky to have large tracts of original rainforest, a happy situation resulting from the steep mountain that runs down the centre of the island. All flat land throughout Thailand has already seen its forests cut and cleared, first for rice fields, then for plantations of rubber and palm oil. Here it’s the same. Only the steep mountain slopes have survived uncut.
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The monsoonal climate causes these forest to spend six months in a kind of hibernation when nothing new grows, and foliage slowly dries and falls. Come the first rains, however, and the forests go into a frenzied reverse. Greenery sprouts and bursts into every patch of sunlight. Forest canopies and understories thicken with the abundant growth, and the entire countryside turns lush green with hardly a patch of earth remaining exposed. This is the time of year visitors can appreciate the forests at their best.
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Koh Chang’s waterfalls once again become real waterfalls after months of parched trickling. With the island suffering a complete lack of prepared forest trails, the tracks to the waterfalls become the best way to get right into a forest.
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The elephant ‘trekking’ services at the back of Klong Prao beach are also more pleasant at this time of year, in the cooler weather. Now the great pachyderms can wander through thicker greenery that looks more like real forest. Part of the elephant rides pass through rubber plantations, with the rest just skirting the edge of the real forest. If the elephants were to push into the real rainforests higher up the slopes any passengers on their backs would soon be scraped right off in the thick tangle of branches and vines.

Some people argue that tourists should not ride elephants, that it is cruel or degrading for these great, gentle beasts. Degrading, I agree, but not reason enough to stop giving them your money. Read why you should ride an elephant while in Thailand, and how it helps them more than it hurts.
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Rent a car and drive Chantaburi; the province of tropical fruit

Touring by private car is a great way to go in Thailand’s rainy season. Rent a vehicle and drive yourself; it’s fun, easy, safe and the roads are generally good. We’ve suggested similar for other beach destinations at this time of year. But Koh Chang has a delicious attraction nearby that famous places like Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Samui can only dream of and salivate over – a vast bowl of tropical fruit.

Chantaburi, one of the provinces adjacent to Koh Chang, is Thailand’s most prolific tropical fruit centre, producing a huge portion of the country’s harvest of durian, rambutan, mango and other delicious produce. Trat province, of which Koh Chang is part, is also part of this most famous fruit region.
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A car is also useful right on Koh Chang, for this is a big island, and getting around to see it all is one activity that many visitors like. One way to combine the two – touring both Koh Chang and the mainland fruit plantations, villages and towns – is to rent your vehicle in Bangkok and make a grand, two-way tour. Driving time from Bangkok to the Koh Chang ferry is about five hours. Expanded this to a couple of days with overnight stops in either of the provincial capitals of Chantaburi or Trat, and you have the beginnings of a very different Thai holiday. At this time of year basic, but clean and comfortable, hotel rooms are easily found in the two towns, without advance bookings, while resorts on the island are hungry for walk-in customers.

See more about transport and the pleasant road trip between Koh Chang and Bangkok.
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Finding fruit plantations is as easy as turning off the highway onto any side road. Big fruit markets are also found in several spots along the main highway, while smaller roadside stalls are scattered all through these two provinces. Large buying and packing sheds with huge mounds of durian are also seen along the way, with a much of their produce destined for flights to Singapore and Hong Kong.
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The major fruit season begins in May, just about the time when virtually all foreign tourists disappear. It then rolls on through the following months, with different fruits coming and going till about September, when little remains but rambutan and durians, the latter of which are again becoming expensive.
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by John Everingham