Koh Chang in the 1989 Lonely Planet Guide

lonely planet guide to Koh Chang 1989 edition

If you were travelling to this area of Thailand in the early 1990s you’d almost certainly have a copy of the Lonely Planet guide.  As that was your only source of information other than the ubiquitous guestbooks which all guesthouses had. Travellers would leave notes and tips for people following in their footsteps.  And it was here that you’d learn about the best way to get from A to B and new places to stay etc 

Back then Koh Chang wasn’t really on the tourist map. There weren’t any large resorts, no road down the west coast and only two boats a day to the island. If you were trying to get to Koh Kood or Koh Mak then it was pretty much a matter of getting a ride on a fishing boat or supply boat.

Joe Cummins, who wrote the guide used around 1,100 words to sum up everything there was to know about Koh Chang, Koh Mak & Koh Kood. 

This is the full text from the 1989 edition of the Lonely Planet guide to Thailand.  Interestingly there’s no mention of there not being any roads on the island and so walking on a trail through the jungle or finding a boat to take you were the only ways to get between beaches although that changed quickly and the first dirt roads were built in the early 1990s.  ( The photo at the top of the page is the road in Klong Prao in 1993. )


Forty-seven of the islands off Trat’s coastline belong to a national park named for Ko Chang, which is the second largest island in Thailand after Phuket. Other major islands in the park include Ko Kut and Ko Mak.

Ko Chang itself is about 70% virgin forest, with hills and cliffs reaching as high as the 744- metre Khao Jom Prasat. The island has several small bays and beaches including Ao Khlong Son, Hat Sai Khao, Hat Khlong Phrao, Ao Bang Bao and Ao Salak Phet. Near each of these beaches are small villages, eg Ban Khlong Son, Ban Bang Bao and so on.

A series of three waterfalls along the stream of Khlong Mayom in the interior of the island, Than Mayom (or Thara Mayom) Falls, can be reached via Tha Than Mayom or Ban Dan Mai on the east coast. The waterfall closest to the shore can be climbed in about 45 minutes. The view from the top is quite good and there are two inscribed stones bearing the initials of Rama VI and Rama VII nearby. The second waterfall is about 500 metres further east along Khlong Mayom and the third is about three km from the first. At the third waterfall is another inscribed stone, this one with the initials of Rama V.

On Ko Kut you’ll find beaches mostly along the west side, at Hat Taphao, Hat Khlong Chao and Hat Khlong Yai Kii. The main village on Ko Kut is Ban Khlong Hin Dam.

Ko Mak, the smallest of the three main islands, has a beach along the north-west bay and possibly others as yet undiscovered.

Places to Stay

Ko Chang

Beach huts are just starting to open up on the island and standards vary quite a bit. Some are only open during the dry season, November to May, but this may change as the island becomes more popular year round and boat service becomes more regular.

Starting at the northern tip of the island at Ao Khlong Son, the Manop, the Malee and the Manee all have basic huts for 50 to 60B a night, bath outside.

A bit further down at Hat Sai Khao is the Hat Sai Khao ‘resort’, where solid huts without bath are 100B. Further south along the same beach is the friendly Kaeo, where huts are 50B and three meals a day go for 30B.

About four km south of Hat Sai Khao, just past the headland called Laem Chaichet on Hat Khlong Phrao, is the Chaichet Resort for 60B a night.

Down along the south coast at Ao Bang Bao is the Bang Bao Beach Resort (tel 511597, 511604), 50 to 100B for average bungalows. You may also be able to rent rooms cheaply in nearby Ban Bang Bao.

For now, there’s no advertised accommodation at Ao Salak Phet, but as at Ao Bang Bao, you may be able to rent a room or house in Ban Salak Phet. Since Ko Chang is part of a national park, camping is allowed on any of the beaches.

Finally, at Than Mayom National Park on the east coast there are a few park bungalows at the usual national rates. A couple of private places, Thanmayom and Maeo, also rent huts for 60 to 100B a night.

As Ko Chang becomes more popular, additional accommodation will undoubtedly spring up elsewhere around the island.

Ko Kut

At Hat Taphao on the west coast, the aptly named First has basic huts for 50B, bath outside. If this one’s closed when you arrive, try village homes in nearby Ban Hin Dam.

Ko Mak

On the north-west bay is the rather exclusive Ko Mak Resort with rates starting at 800B including fan and bath.

Ko Kradat

The Ko Kradat has air-con bungalows for 600B. Mr. Chumpon in Bangkok (311-3668) can arrange accommodation at Ko Kradat and transport to the island in advance.

Getting There & Away

Ko Chang

Take a songthaew (7B) from Trat to Laem Ngop on the coast, then a ferry to Ko Chang. You have a choice of several different ferries, depending on the day of the week and time of day.

Two ferries leave daily for Ban Dan Mai and Tha Than Mayom on the north-east coast at 1 pm, returning to Laem Ngop at 7.30 am the following day.

The ferry to Dan Mai costs 10B and takes about 40 minutes; the one to Than Mayom is 20B and takes 50 minutes. A faster, larger boat also plies the route between Tha Than Mayom and Laem Ngop, leaving the mainland at 9 am and arriving at Tha Than Mayom 40 minutes later; it returns the following day at 4.20 pm. The fare is 30B per person.

Ferries to Ao Khlong Son leave Laem Ngop at 1 pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The fare is 20B and the trip takes about an hour. In the reverse direction, ferries from Khlong Son leave at 4 am on the same days.

There is also a daily boat between Than Mayom and Salak Kok further south along the east coast of Ko Chang for 20B per person.  Between Ao Salak Kok and Ao Salak Phet is a daily jeep service that costs 10B per person. The jeep leaves Ao Salak Kok at 4.30pm, returning from Ao Salak Phet the following day at 6 am.

Ko Kut

Two or three fishing boats a week go to Ko Kut from the pier of Tha Chaloemphon on the Trat River towards the east side of Trat town. They’ll take passengers for 50B per person. Similar boats leave slightly less frequently (six to eight times a month) from Ban Nam Chiaw, a village about halfway between Trat town and Laem Ngop. Departure frequency and times from either pier depend on the weather and the fishing season – it’s best to enquire ahead of time. The boats take around six hours to reach Ko Kut.

Coconut boats go to Ko Kut once or twice a month from a pier next to the slaughterhouse in town – same fare and trip duration as the fishing boats.

If you want to charter a boat to Ko Kut, the best place to do so is from Ban Ta Neuk near Km 68 south-east of Trat, about six km before Khlong Yai off Highway 318. A longtail boat, capable of carrying up to 10 people, can be chartered here for 1000B. Travel time is about one hour. During the rainy season these boats may suspend service.

Ko Mak

Coconut boats go to Ko Mak from the pier near the slaughterhouse in Trat town once or twice a week. The trip takes five hours and costs 50B per person.

In future, as more travellers come to this area, regular ferry services to Ko Mak, Ko Kut and Ko Kradat may develop.

Pages From the Guide

(Thanks to Zac Dalton for providing the photos from the 1989 guide.)




Koh Chang Island Guide For Independent Travellers