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Koh Chang Holidays
As you set sail from the mainland across the glittering sea, Koh Chang (Elephant Island), covered in thick forest and with a vivid, sweeping skyline, rises up to meet you. At 40 km long and 16 km wide, it is Thailand’s second biggest island after Phuket and is one of 52 mostly uninhabited islands of varying sizes that form the Koh Chang National Park, an archipelago that stretches right towards the Cambodian border.
Koh Chang’s teeming wildlife, rustic appeal and wonderful beaches have long attracted travellers but it remained a little-known paradise for many years. With a few locals, even fewer backpackers and little or no development, its rugged mountains and verdant jungle were seemingly left behind in the rush for tourism that gripped the rest of Thailand. However, over the last few years, Koh Chang has become a fully-fledged travel destination, attracting everyone from backpackers to weekending Bangkokians to international package tourists, with facilities and accommodation to match, especially along the west coast.
Yet, in spite of these massive changes, Koh Chang still retains its laid-back charm and, because of the island’s size, each area (or beach) has its own atmosphere, so that all visitors should find somewhere to suit their needs and tastes. The east and southeast of the island have much less development than the western coast.
Here, the villages are still reminiscent of Koh Chang before the surge in tourism and can feel quite remote.
Koh Changs’ interior is also largely untouched, a rugged, largely inaccessible virgin rainforest filled with waterfalls, jungle tracks and a colourful noisy population of tropical birds and forest beasties, such as wild pig, Javan mongoose, silvered langur and snakes such as the king cobra. You may not see any of these creatures but monkeys abound; whole troops come down to the road to be fed by the tourists.
The waters of the Koh Chang National Park offer some great opportunities for diving and snorkelling. Reefs of hard and soft corals, including massive, columnar and stagshorn, are found at depths of 5 m to 25 m and support the full range of tropical fish, from blue-tipped rays, moray eels and trigger fish, to grouper and batfish. Turtles, whale sharks and dolphins are frequently spotted. Of the other islands, Koh Kood, Koh Mak and Koh Wai are the best-known and most visited.