Sunday, November 30, 2014

Backpacking Ko Chang (Trat, Thailand)

Daily Budget (except tours): $11

Ko Chang is an island in the Province of Trat, Thailand sitting on the Central west of the country on the border to Cambodia; Hence a good stop for those going to or from Cambodia.

There are packaged transfers available from travel companies in Silhanoukville, Cambodia costing around $27. These are not direct though, meaning one transport vehicle dropping you all the way to Koh Chang; Buying this will mean doing the same transfers as  if doing it yourself, except that the driver of the next vehicle will be on the lookout for you if you’ve taken this package.

Meanwhile, It will be best to get a ticket only to the Koh Chang border for $9. Alternatively, you may take your own transport to the Bus Terminal and wait for the same bus to Trat in this bus station. Get ticket only to Koh Kong for $5. (While your ticket is supposed to get you off in the bus station in Koh Chang, this is the same bus that will drop other passengers to Trat. Don’t get off from Koh Kong though, even if they call so, and wait until the next kilometer to the border. Whole trip from Silhanoukville to Border shall be 4 to 5 hours, with one stop after 1.5-2 hours.  From the border, there is a Van going to Trat Bus Station (120THB<4$) and then a Song Thaew from Bus Station to Laem Ngop (50B<$1.50); Then a ferry from Leam Ngop to Ko Chang, 80THB<$3.00, and a finally a Shared Taxi (Song Thaew pick up car) ranging from 60-150THB depending on where in the island you will be dropped.

Trat Bus Terminal

There are several beach destinations in Koh Chang to choose from, though White beach is certainly not within the boundaries of budget travelers. It may be a challenge looking for accommodation below 600THB a night, except for some inner island guesthouses that are quite a walk from the highway. It can also get very dark walking towards these guesthouses as night.

Lonely beach is what budget travelers will most likely fall onto. There are rooms for 250B but for the same price, you can have a bungalows for P250/night at Siam Hut (high season; low season price seems 150B), beachfront, with pool, and around 300m away thru the highway is the village where you can find the parties and cheap food 40B up. There is a hostel in the village but rate is the same as the room and bungalow mentioned, and not necessarily better. You may also consider the beach past bang bao port at the far end of the island (right where the road almost ends) where you can find the same rate of accommodation/bungalows, and a nice (comparative with the other) beach.

Siam Hut, Lonely Beach, Ko Chang, Trat, Thailand

beachfront of Siam Hut, Lonely Beach, Ko Chang, Trat, Thailand

food stalls in the village street in Lonely Beach, Ko Chang, Thailand

menu in food stalls in the village street in Lonely Beach, Ko Chang, Thailand

Farther away, I even found a resort that offered 150THB room, but don’t have access to a beach.

You may also coordinate with the Park Administration as they have camping facilities right next to the office. However, tourist bars and restaurants are not on this side of the island, so access to these services may be very limited.

Camping site in Koh Chang, Trat, Thailand

From the island, you can rent a motorbike for 150-200B/day to go around the island and the other beaches. Gasoline in the island is 40B and may go up at night when gas pumps are closed. The roads can get very steep, so extra caution when driving.

From the island, you may take trips to the other neighboring islands such as Koh Wai, Maak, Thong Lang, Long, and Rang

From Pier 1 in Koh Chang, you can get direct van to Pattaya and Bangkok for just P250. Be sure to get to the ferry at around 3pm, even though they’d advice that last trip is at 5pm.

Anywhere in the island, you may flag the passing shared songthaews (ask around where to wait for the shared one, rather than paying taxi service).

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