Koh Chang; low-level development, steep mountains protect a natural island
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 the guest and hotel – and we take no commission. See our GUARANTEE list on this page, then contact hotels via the e-mail box on each hotel page.
We also sell DISCOUNT HOTEL VOUCHERS for some hotels – the very cheapest rooms available – but they are limited.
In the 1980s Bangkok students and foreign backpackers discovered the isolated beaches of Koh Chang. At the time there were only a few specks of habitation on the island; a small local community at the top end facing the mainland and two fishing villages in the deep south. People moved about by boat, and there were only a few tracks rather than real roads on the island. Most islands in the Gulf of Thailand were being invaded by land-hungry farmers at the time, intent of turning natural forest into rubber plantation. But Koh Chang's mountains were generally too steep for agriculture, and only small portions of its forest came under the axe.
Geography, in effect, kept Koh Chang in a relatively natural, undeveloped state. It's something that, in today's age of mass tourism, enhances its value enormously. The backdrop to every beach is a steep mountain clothed in lush, natural rainforest – a rarity in Thai beach destinations. In its competition for sunlight that forest also lunges far out over the sand, providing delightfully attractive beach scenery and lots of natural shade.
The little flat land on the island is precious. The only significant patch of it on the west side, behind Klong Prao Beach, is only now growing to become the island's major urban centre, fuelled entirely by tourism. This is just one of three small, tourism-generated commercial and urban areas on the island, with the biggest being behind Sai Khao Beach in the northwest, and beyond at Klong Son. Outside the resort hotels, these represent the only real 'development' on Koh Chang.
The south end of the island below central Kai Bae Beach has no urban development save the original fishing villages built on stilts over the water.
Compared to the many other Thai islands that have become beach destinations, Koh Chang is certainly among the least developed and most natural. Most competitors for this title are smaller islands like Koh Kood, or several tiny ones off off the Andaman coast, like Koh Phayam, Koh Ngai and ultra remote Koh Bulon in the Trang Islands.