often called the Elephant Island because its shape on the map looks
like an elephant head, lies 320Km south from Bangkok. It is, after
Phuket, the second largest island of Thailand and is 40Km long and
up to 15Km wide and lies off the coast from Trat.
In 1982 Ko Chang, together with 40 other smaller islands off the
coast from Thailand covering a total area of 650Km2 were designated
as the "Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park". In this park
the hills and mountains formed from granite rise up to a height
of 740m above sea level and are thickly covered with untouched rain
forests that are home to multitude of wild life including monkeys,
wild pigs, red deers and snakes (including pythons and king cobras)
together with over 60 diffrent species of tropical birds. The white
fine sandy beaches of the coastlines of the island are lined by
plantations of palm trees and mangrove woods and numerous small
picturesque waterfalls temptingly offer an invitation to swim or
bath in their clean fresh water.
Until comparatively recently these island were practically unknown
to the average tourists. During the 80s Ko Chang was discovered
by a few adventurous backpackers. At the time simple bamboo huts
were generally the only accommodation that was available and the
unspoilt beaches were only accessible by boat. Simple pathways were
the only routes from one settlement to another and only a very few
of these (the ones that had their own generator) had electricity.
All this changed quickly after 1996 when a cable was laid from the
mainland to bring electricity to the island and the tourist industry
began to develop.
Since then more and more luxury resorts
and bungalows have been erected and a tarred road built to the
southerly points of the island and 2 car ferries running at 30 min.
intervals in high season provide transport to and from mainland
cars and pedestrians. In April 2003 an airport in Trat was opened
to which Bangkok Airways have 2-3 flights daily. Nowadays the island
has six banks, over 50 ATM's and money changing offices, Supermarkets
(9 Seven Eleven) which are open 24hrs a day, plenty of beer bars,
Karaokes and Disco's, live music restaurants
and also European restaurants. Some of the large hotel chains such
as Amari have now stardet to invest in, build on the island.
The price of accommodation
varies greatly. One can still find a room for the night as little
as 150 Baht - but a room can also cost up to 20000 Baht.
In spite of all the development that has taken place the island
of Ko Chang, thanks to its natural beauty and idyllic landscape,
has managed to retain its charm and attraction to the present day.