Expat life in Koh Chang
If there was an ever an island in Thailand that is both developed and wild at the same time, it is Koh Chang.
It’s a picturesque island with a wide range of resorts, restaurants, bars and things to do while still maintaining an untouched side of nature filled with greenery, waterfalls, and stunning beaches.
Koh Chang is the ideal place to live if you’re looking for an easy-going lifestyle with some nightlife experiences, adventures, and unique activities.
Let’s dive into Koh Change and discover more.
Where to live
While Koh Chang is the t largest island in Thailand, it’s actually quite easy to get around if you have a vehicle. But,like any place, it is important to pick an area that best suits your style.
Most of the resorts and developed areas are located in the west side of Koh Chang. The east side reveals a more local and undisturbed feel with quaint beaches and fishing villages.
Here we have picked the best “towns” to live in, each offering unique experiences and their own charm.
White sand beach
White Sand is the most developed and touristic beach on Koh Chang clustered with resorts, restaurants, bars, and shops.
Stretching for about 2 kilometers, the beach is quite nice with powdery off-white sand and blue-green ocean. It is lined with beach bars and restaurants that stay open till midnight with drinks, fire shows and other entertainment.
You will find plenty of accommodation here with budget-friendly guesthouses to more mid-high end resorts.
For expats, though, it is not the ideal place to live.
Kai Bae is a more relaxed and chilled version of White Sand. It is a family-friendly area with lots of restaurants, bars, shops and even a small night market. It has several 4-star resorts with a cluster of mid-range bungalows.
This area is ideal if you are looking for a place for relaxation, work focus and some fun. There are quite a few establishments owned by expats in Kai Bae as well.
Lonely beach is go-to destination for backpackers and solo travelers as there are plenty of cheap guesthouses, hostels and bungalows here. The beach is also quite nice and a great place to chill and swim at.
Lonely beach is also the place for parties and nightlife on the island with a plethora of bars around this area. The most popular one is the Himmel Bar.
Klong Prao is a little village with a beach located on the eastern side of Koh Chang. It is a quaint area that is quite different from the western side of the island. If you are looking undeveloped, local and quiet place to live, this is it.
Here you will find a decent selection of accommodations, mostly bungalows and some resorts. There are also more budget-friendly places further inland towards the local village.
Other than a beautiful beach, Klong Prao is also home to some hiking spots and the iconic Klong Pu waterfall.
Salek Phet is one of Koh Chang’s most unique place to visitor live. Located in the south-eastern end of the island, it is a fishing village with so much to offer for sightseeing and local vibes.
Where it lacks in nightlife and modern conveniences, it does have a charm with plenty of unique things to see or do such as beaches, mangrove walks, waterfalls, hiking, and boat rides through mangroves all the way out to the bay.
It is a bit far from everything but if that is what you are looking for, a peaceful, sleepy-town living, then Salek Phet is the right place for you.
Finding accommodations in Koh Chang
Unlike Phuket or Koh Samui, finding an accommodation that is not a hotel or guesthouse isn’t as easy in Koh Chang. There are no websites or portals where you can go search and rent a place. You have to be in the know or ask the locals who will point you in the direction of landlords.
To get a more personal view, we talked to an expat who has been living in Koh Chang for a few years and asked him a few questions.
Where do you live in Koh Chang?
Jan: Kai Bae. In a one bedroom apartment with garden. It doesn’t have a name. I pay 200 USD per month.
What do you do there?
Jan: I own a restaurant at Kai Bae
Where do you think expats or digital nomads should live in Koh Chang?
Jan: Kai Bae is actually a good option
Top 5 things to do in Koh Chang
Visit beaches – the best and most beautiful beach on the island is located at the south-eastern tip. It is next to the Koh Chang Memorial.
Go hiking – you can go hiking in the national park or at the mountain in Salak Phet.
Walk on top of mangroves – the Salakphet Mangrove Walkway with its iconic red bridge walkway is a must visit.
Go island hopping – Koh Chang is a good launch point to go island hopping. There are tour operators selling packages to go to 4-5different islands nearby.
Simply explore – if you have a motorbike or car, the best thing you can do is go exploring the island. Simply drive around and who know what you will uncover.
How to get to Koh Chang
To get to Koh Chang, you have to take a ferry from Aow Thammachat port in Trat province. The ferry allows vehicles and passengers so it is very convenient to reach Koh Chang and get around the island.
If you have a vehicle, simply drive southeast from Bangkok. It is an easy 5-hour drive. You can also take a bus or van.
It is also possible to take a flight to Trat via Bangkok Airways and then take a public transport to the ferry port.