Ko Chang

Ko Chang

Infobox_Amphoe
name=Ko Chang
thai=เกาะช้าง
province=Trat
coordinates=coord|12|6|13|N|102|21|7|E|type:adm2nd_region:TH
capital=Ko Chang
area=154.8
population=5,356
population_as_of=2005
density=34.6
postal_code=23170
geocode=2307

"For Koh Chang in Ranong province, see Koh Chang (Ranong)".

Ko Chang ( _th. เกาะช้าง), also Koh Chang is the second largest island of Thailand (largest island in the Ko Chang Marine Park archipelago), located on the Thai east coast 310 km away from Bangkok near the border to Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. The name means Elephant Island. Ko Chang was named for the elephant shape of its headland, although elephants are not indigenous to the island. At present, there are 8 villages in total. It is a mountainous island and Khao Salak Phet is the highest peak of all at 744 metres. Visitors are also met with several waterfalls, splendid reefs and rainforests. The island has an area of approximately 429 square kilometers. Ko Chang was previously an unsettled island but it is now important as a harbour for ships to escape from the monsoon, and dietary or fresh water resources, especially at Ao Salak Phet or Ao Salat which is well known to pirates, Hai Lam Chinese and Vietnamese.

The island is part of the Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park. During World War II, when Thailand was occupied by the Japanese, Ko Chang was the scene of a naval battle between the reluctant Royal Thai Navy and a Vichy France squadron, in which the Thais were decisively beaten.

Until the mid-1980s the infrastructure on the island was undeveloped, but tourism has increased significantly since then. Around the year 2000, malaria was eradicated, the area became a national park (and began charging entry fees). The island now receives 655,000 visitors annually, about two thirds of them Thai. Ko Chang is one of the few places with virgin forest, but the mad rush to cash in on tourism has had a heavy toll on its virgin forests. Land prices have skyrocketed, there are also beautiful if not high end resorts now popping up all over the island.

Slogan

"With no less than 50 offshore isles, it also boasts the finest red gems, sweet Rakam fruits, indigenous dogs, the historic Ko Chang Naval engagement, the eastern-most province."

History

Prior to World War II, Ko Chang was little known by anyone. During this period, the few families there made a living growing coconuts and fruit on the mainland. In January 1941, during the Japanese occupation, the Thai Navy fought the French in a battle in the waters to the south-east of Ko Chang. It was the French who were the victors after the Thai naval ship was sunk.

Nothing else happened to Ko Chang until the first backpacker foreigners started arriving on the back of local fishing boats in the mid-1970s. In 1982, Ko Chang along with surrounding area became part of the protected Mu Chang Marine. Only very recently, in less than ten years, Ko Chang has turned itself into a major tourist destination, both for foreigners and local Thais.

This sudden tourism boom however, has been thwart with controversy concerning land encroachment etc.

Geography

Koh Chang. The topography contains high mountains and complex stone cliffs.

The island is about 30 km long and almost 14 km wide, totaling 217 km². The national marine park covers of 650 km² of which 70 % is offshore. The interior of the island is mountainous, covered by tropical rain forest. The highest elevation measuring 743m is Khao Salak Phet. There are plenty of sandy beaches on the island, dotted with hotels and resorts.

The west coast settlements of Hat Sai Khao, Hat Kai Mook and Hat Ta Nam attract most of the tourists. The village of Laem Bang Bao on the south coast is also a favored destination. There is a single road linking the west coast. The remaining roads on the west coast have a high gradient, while the topography of the east coast prohibits roads. Most buildings are wooden stilt houses. The island is mostly reached by a ferry departing from Laem Ngop near Trat.

Administration

The island forms a district ("Amphoe") in the province of Trat. It was formed on April 30 1994, when it was split off from Laem Ngop district, at first being a minor district ("King Amphoe") [cite journal|journal=Royal Gazette|volume=111|issue=42 ง|pages=24|title=ประกาศกระทรวงมหาดไทย เรื่อง แบ่งเขตท้องที่อำเภอแหลมงอบ จังหวัดตราด ตั้งเป็นกิ่งอำเภอเกาะช้าง|url=http://www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th/DATA/PDF/2537/D/042/24.PDF|date=May 26 1994|language=Thai|format=PDF] .

Following a decision of the Thai government on May 15 2007, all of the 81 minor districts were to be upgraded to full districts [cite news|url=http://www.manager.co.th/Politics/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9500000055625|publisher=Manager Online|title=แถลงผลการประชุม ครม. ประจำวันที่ 15 พ.ค. 2550|language=Thai] . With the publishing in the Royal Gazette on August 24 the upgrade became official [cite journal|journal=Royal Gazette|volume=124|issue=46 ก|pages=14–21|title=พระราชกฤษฎีกาตั้งอำเภอฆ้องชัย...และอำเภอเหล่าเสือโก้ก พ.ศ. ๒๕๕๐|url=http://www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th/DATA/PDF/2550/A/046/14.PDF|date=August 24 2007|language=Thai|format=PDF] .

The district is subdivided into two subdistricts ("tambon"), which are further subdivided into 9 villages ("muban"). There are no municipal ("thesaban") areas, and 2 Tambon administrative organizations (TAO).

Koh Chang Island consists of the following villages:
#Salakpetch
#Salakkork
#Jekbare
#Baan Danmai
#Klong Son
#Klong Praw
#Klong Nonsri

Boundary

Ko Chang is surrounded by 51 islands. To the east of the area lies Cambodia and to the west, the Thai province of Chanthaburi.

Climate

Ko Chang has three seasons, they are:

*Cool season (Nov-Feb)
*Hot season (March-May)
*Rainy season ( June-Oct

Due to its location and being an island, Ko Chang does get more than its fair share of rain, 4,000 mm. per year.

Transportation

Air

Ko Chang has no airport. The nearest airport is in Amphoe Muang Trat on the mainland. Koh Chang Air Taxi however, does offer scenic seaplane service.

Roads

There are only two main roads on Ko Chang, one on the east coast and one on the west coast. Both roads start at Ao Sapparot in the north near the ferry piers. The two main roads run the entirety of the coastlines. There are also shorter roads which branch out to Ploytalay Resort and Keereephet, Klong Neung and Klong Phu Waterfalls.

Ferry Boat

At Laem Ngob in Trat Town opposite Ko Chang there are 3 piers offering ferry service to Ko Chang.
*Located at Ao Thammachat, the ferries depart daily at Ao Sapraros pier.
*Located at Center Point Pier, ferries are hourly to Dan Kao Pier.
*Laem Ngob Pier has less frequent ferries.

Motorbike

These can be either hired or taxied out. The island is full of both motorbike rental places and motorbike-taxi drivers.

Songthaew (public passenger pick-up vehicle)

These run up and down the two main roads and can either be used as public transport or privately hired.

Long-tail Boat

Tourists enjoy hiring long-tail boats to take them to nearby islands.

Tourism

The recent success of Ko Chang as a serious tourist destination has been quite phenomenal. But it remains a lot more peaceful and less developed than islands like Samui and Phuket. It's some 5 hours from Bangkok by bus and there's no airport on the island yet so it should remain more tranquil than Samui or Phuket. Ko Chang too is one of Thailand most beautiful islands with some white sandy beaches, some half deserted. Some of the beaches are rocky in parts though so it doesn't have ideal swimming beaches like Phuket. The island is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including a good selection of birds, snakes, deer and a number of elephants. The island and its vicinity are great places for snorkeling, diving and jungle hiking.

Some critics however, worry that the Ko Chang tourism boom won’t survive as they believe that ‘gross over-development will only, over time, frighten off tourists to one of the other more unspoilt islands nearby. Investors though, claim that what they are now doing in Ko Chang is nothing on the scale of the likes of Samui.With the development of Ko Kong in Cambodia as a casino resort, it makes Ko Chang even more of an ideal place for a stop-over between the two islands.

This so called tourism boom is relative to a small base. Tourist numbers are a lot less than Samui or Phuket and approx 2/3 of the visitors are Thai.

ights

In 1982 the island together with 51 more surrounding small islands was protected as the Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park. About 85% of the island is part of the national park, mostly the rain forest in the interior of the island. Nearby coral reefs are also contained within the National Park. Notable animals in the park include the stump-tailed Macaque, the small Indian Civet, the Javan Mongoose, and 61 resident bird species. The Koh Chang Wart Frog ("Limnonectes kohchangae") was originally thought to be an endemic species, but has now been found on the mainland as well.

For any accommodation at [Koh Chang] .

Klong Plu (น้ำตกคลองพลู) - the most popular, and the only one on the west side of the island. Namtok Khlong Phlu is a large and most breathtaking waterfall on Ko Chang with water cascading down 3 tiers of the cliff to a basin, with an entrance located 3 km. from Ao Khlong Phrao.
*Klong Nonsi - on the east side of the island
*Klong Nueng - said to be the most breathtaking
*Khiri Petch - medium sized, about 3 kilometers from Salak Petch village
*Kongoi - 5 waterfalls near Bangbao
*The Thanmayom - near Thanmayom pier

Ban Salak Phet (บ้านสลักเพชร) the largest and oldest community on Ko Chang located in the southern part. The villagers’ main occupation is coastal fishery in an advantageous area sheltered from winds and storms by islands and mountains. There is an old temple in front of the village known as Wat Salak Phet built in the reign of King Rama V on his royal visit to the island. Ao Salak Phet is the largest bay on the island.

Bang Bao Fishery Village at Bang Bao Beach(หมู่บ้านประมงบางเบ้า) a village of houses on stilts built into the sea with bridges connecting them together. The villagers still live a simple way of life earning their living from coastal fishery. In the vicinity there is an abundance of cuttlefish and corals.

Ao Bai Lan (อ่าวใบลาน) located next to Hat Kai Bae and accessible by a pathway across the mountain has a scenic view of mountains along the way.

Hat Kai Bae (หาดไก่แบ้) a sloping and long stretch of beach connecting with Hat Khlong Phrao, suitable for swimming.

Hat Khlong Phrao- Laem Chaiyachet (หาดคลองพร้าว-แหลมไชยเชษฐ์) a long stretch of sloping beach connecting with Hat Kai Bae where swimming is possible. The northernmost end of Ao Khlong Phrao connects with Laem Chaiyachet with a scenic rocky cape but swimming is not possible.Laem Chaichet nestling between White Sand and Klong Prao beaches is a popular place to see the sunset and admire Klong Prao’s natural surroundings. Activities to do here include: snorkeling, kayaking and fishing.

White Sand Beach is one of the island’s longest beaches that attracts a lot of visitors. At the back or the beach are orchards of coconut trees and forests.

Activities

Hiking

Hiking on Ko Chang is popular due to the natural pristine surroundings including waterfalls, especially the routes Klong Son to Kai Bae and Kai Bae to Bang Bao.

Elephant Trekking

Elephant Trekking is possible at the Ban Kwan Chang Elephant Camp at Klong Son, it is supported by the Asian Elephant Foundation to provide a natural environment for elephants and their mahouts.

Canoeing

Canoeing through the mangrove forests is most popular.

Diving & Snorkeling

The area may not have the best diving site in Thailand but it is still worth it. There are quite a lot of courses around of various different skills. For e.g.: Hin Kuak Maa, Hin Luk Bath, Hin Rap South, Hin Run Tek, Ship Wreck.

Spa

Ko Chang has plenty of spas comprising of various forms of massage, aromatherapy, herbal scrub, and reflexology. Spa service is found at many of the top resorts and hotels.

Local Product

Besides its seafood, Trat province is also renowned for its tropical fruits during the months of April to July, they include: rambutan, durian and pineapples.

Located in Nam Chieo district is a cottage industry which produces ‘ngop’ (traditional Thai farming hat).

Nightlife & Drink

Koh Chang nightlife and bar scene is constantly developing, there are a number of nice bars and restaurants to enjoy at. Other than that Ko Chang is not, unlike some of the islands down south, famed for its nightlife.

Local Culture

Thai Buddhism is a large part of the people’s lives on Ko Chang and so there are few temples scattered around the island.

Lifestyle

Many of the island’s villagers still, until this day, adhere to the traditional Siamese way of life. Visitors are able to soak up the ambience of traditional rural coastal life at a variety of locations.

Baan Bang Bao or Bang Bao Fishery Village is unique in that every dwelling was built in the sea. There are small bridges connecting each one. Some of the abodes have been transformed into guesthouses and seafood restaurants.

Baan Khlong Son or Khlong Son Village has rubber plantations, orchards and traditional fishery. For tourists there are fishing tours, squid fishing or snorkling to view schools of fishes on Koh Mapring and Koh Chang Noi nearby.

Baan Dan Kao or Dan Kao Village has indigenous folk of Koh Chang Noi who rear the fish in floating baskets especially “Yamsawat Fish” or Blue Spotted Sea Bass which are popular among the locals who prefer to eat live fish.

Baan Dan Mai(Dan Mai Village) and Baan Khlong Non Si (Khlong Non Si Village) have orchards, coconut plantations and traditional fishery. The lychee trees grown here are the traditional breed called “Silaman 200 years”. This breed of lychee tree has the large size and it is believed to be found on Koh Chang Noi only.Baan Salak Petch or Salak Petch villagers mainly work about coastal fishery. Most houses were built in the sea like those in Bang Bao Village but it is a bigger community. Every house is connected with the wood bridge.Baan Rong Than or Rong Than Village is an area which used to be the sites, owned by most villagers, for charcoal making from mangrove wood.

Baan Jek Bae or Jek Bae villagers work about traditional fishery, rubber plantation and coconut plantation.

Events & Festivals

The Koh Chang Yutthanavi Day

The Ko Chang Yutthanavi Day is organized in late January at the Ko Chang Yutthanavi Memorial on Laem Ngop. The event commemorates the Royal Thai Navy’s fight against the French on January 17, 1941. There is an exhibition by the Royal Thai Navy and merit-making and tribute rites are performed

Local Food

Similar to the rest of Thailand, including the prices. There are many restaurants at the beach open both daytime and evening. Ko Chang’s restaurants specialize in seafood while offering their customers splendid views. The island also produces its own variety of fruity wines which include: mangosteen, pineapple and grape.

Learn

Besides diving, Thai cooking courses on Ko Chang are where wanna-be Thai cuisine chefs can learn to cook up all their favourite dishes such as tom yum kung, sweet green curry and chicken with cashew nuts.

Medical Health Care

Ko Chang now has two main medical centers, the Bangkok Koh Chang Hospital and Koh Chang Hospital. There are plenty of clinics also scattered around the island.

Retirement

More and more foreigners are living on Ko Chang, many of them retirees. A favourite spot for them are on the beaches. There are some other retirees though, who reside in quieter locations away from the tourist scene.

Media/Contact

Nationwide Television, Satellite TV, cable TV and local TV (Koh Chang Television) channels are available on Koh Chang (http://www.kohchangtv.com). International newspapers and magazines are also available in a couple bookstores at White Sand Beach, Lonely beach and Ao Khlong Phrao.

Landline telephone, satellite telephone system, mobile phones and internet connection are available on Koh Chang. And, there is a Post Office on the island.

References

External links

* [http://www.kohchang2.com Koh Chang 2 Accommodation]
* [http://www.kohchanghotels.info Koh Chang General Information]
* [http://www.amphoe.com/menu.php?mid=1&am=184&pv=15 amphoe.com]
*Wikitravel|Koh Chang
* [http://www.ekohchang.com ekohchang.com]


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