History of Koh Chang

Understanding the history of Koh Chang and how it became to be the popular tourist destination we have all grown to love today.

In the early 20th century the province of Trat was regained by King Rama from the French in exchange for the then Thai governed Siem Reap, Sri Sophon and Prataborg. This triumph is still celebrated to this day and the 23rd March is known as independence day to it’s locals. Chang island around this time was little known and the few families that inhabited the island would take to the mainland to grow coconuts and fruit as way of providing for there families.

Between 1940 and 1941 during the indochina war, Koh Chang history would change for good with the French Navy’s attempts to recapture Trat. On 17 January 1941 the French-Thai battle took place on the waters around the island of Koh Chang. The Thai navy were successful in driving the French out of Thai waters but not without cost. A significant number of Thai nationals lost there lives as they fought for there country.

The sunken ships during this time provide excellent wreck diving to this day. As a mark of respect for those that sadly died during the “Koh Chang Naval Battle,” the Thai navy holds a ceremony on 17 January each year.

In the mid 1970’s local fishing boats sailed Koh Chang’s first backpackers to it’s shores in search of the untouched sands and forestation that formed the island. A few years later in 1982 Koh Chang and it’s surrounding area was granted national park status under the name of Mu Koh Chang National Marine Park. In 2001, the then Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, visited the island to find out what it was about Koh Chang that everyone loved so much. After exploring the place, the Prime Minister was so in awe of the islands natural beauty that he decided he would do everything he could to develop Koh Chang into a destination where the wealthy and rich could holiday.

Targeting tourists from all around the globe, Koh Chang soon became a holiday destination for everyone to visit. Today the once traditional bamboo huts that lined the beaches of Koh Chang are being replaced with luxury, high end resorts and hotels, and continues to grow at a steady pace.