Ko Chang – The (Almost) Unspoilt Thai Experience

by - 8:38:00 PM

Think of a trip to a Thai Island and chances are the first image that comes to mind will be something of beach paradise that has escaped the tests of time, sporting nothing more than palm trees, white sands and the occasional free-range monkey. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of Brits every year take a 15 hour flight half way around the world only to come back slightly let down, having found that their presumptions weren't exactly on the money. 

The thing is, they aren't to be blamed for making their mistakes as Thai Islands are for the most part still marketed as picture postcard paradise retreats where anyone lucky enough to get there will practically have the whole place to themselves. In reality however, they arrive to find what is essentially a purpose-built holiday community populated by 99% foreigners with bumped up prices and crowded beaches – largely the same experience that could have had with a summer in Newquay. 

So, does this mean that Thai Islands should be written-off in favour of Crylla Cottages Cornwall from now until eternity? Of course not – it just means a case of targeting the right Thai Islands while the opportunity remains. 

Ko Lanta, Ko Samui, Ko Phi Phi and so on are all fine if you’re looking for a party and something of a home from home, but one of the last remaining places to enjoy the very best of all worlds if Ko Chang – or Elephant Island. Ko Chang can be reached from the heart of Bangkok in around six hours or so by any number of organised tour operators – all for a price too low to even be worth asking. You’ll usually find that Ko Chang is only offered as an island of choice by the tour operators when the monsoon rains are hitting the Western Islands, so you might have to mention it yourself – they tend to make much more money sending you to the tourist traps. 

As soon as you step off the ferry you’ll notice something very distinct about Ko Chang – the island is in the very early stages of mass-tourism development across most of its shores, though efforts are still in the remedial stages. What this translates to is somewhere that has all the comfort, conveniences, amenities, safety and general plus-points of a purpose built resort, though without the high-rise blocks and the tourist masses themselves. 

Take White Sand Beach for example – this is a resort to the North West of the island which has a few shack-style hotels right on the beach, a luxury resort or two, a few bars, restaurants, a bank, a 7-11 and so on. However, it also has largely deserted roads, quiet beaches and that kind of paradise postcard tranquillity and seclusion you simply won’t find anywhere else. 

Hire a scooter for about £4 per day and take a trip to any of the island’s stunning waterfalls or elephant sanctuaries and you’ll still find it difficult to ever come across an area you’d consider to be busy. The restaurants are staffed by locals, tables and chairs are often plastic garden furniture and there isn’t a Western fast food joint in sight. 

Top this off with prices monumentally lower than its tourist-swamped neighbours to the West and you have to wonder how much longer Ko Chang can possibly retain its current charm.

I’d say not long at all…

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