Koh Chang



About 140 mi/225 km southeast of Bangkok, Koh Chang is Thailand's second-largest island, after Phuket.

Koh Chang is a peaceful, laid-back beach destination and a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Thailand's big cities. Time seems to slow down as soon as you arrive there. Local merchants sell their handmade crafts, from hand-carved bowls to jewelry woven right on the spot. Long white-sand beaches, dotted with resorts, offer mountain views and lapping waves.

The Koh Chang National Marine Park surrounds most of Koh Chang, which means "Elephant Island" in Thai. (Koh means "island" and is pronounced ko, as in "cola.")

Tourism development is changing the coastline, and fish farms are encroaching on the mangroves. Most hotels congregate on the western side, along Koh Chang's sandy beaches. The eastern side has fewer resorts, but all the ferry piers are there.

Two fishing villages attract growing numbers of tourists, and an airport in Trat (Koh Chang is a 30-minute ferry crossing from there) is spurring more arrivals now that the Thai government has determined that Koh Chang will become the Phuket of eastern Thailand. To the chagrin of backpackers and locals, who are increasingly priced out of the market, this usually means replacing thatched-roof huts to make way for large resorts.

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