Getting to Koh Chang
Once you have safely landed in Thailand, collected your bags and cleared immigration, you can concentrate on the next leg of your journey – getting to Koh Chang Island. Reaching Koh Chang from Bangkok is reasonably easy and straight forward whether you opt for the cheapest option, which is often either a minivan or bus, or if you prefer to travel faster and in a little more comfort you can hop on another plane to Trat from Bangkok instead. Koh Chang island is in Trat province, which is approx 350 Km from the Thai capital. You may prefer to book a flight from Bangkok to Trat if you are short on time and don’t mind paying 3000 baht for a one way ticket. It’s just a 1 hour flight – no sooner has the plane taken off, you’ll find yourself landing on the runway again. Most visitors, however, do tend to book a joint ticket to the island from Bangkok, or other surrounding destinations. A joint ticket is a pre-paid ticket consisting of your bus/minivan ticket and your ferry ticket over to the island. It’s a fairly easy and efficient system to follow and although it may seem a little muddled at times to new comers, it’s actually well organised chaos by the Thai’s (in a good way) and does normally run smoothly. Book a joint ticket in advance and it’ll cost you just 400 baht to reach the island from Bangkok.
Bus & Minivan Transfers
Getting to Koh Chang by bus or minivan from Bangkok is the most economical way to get to Laem Ngop Pier (where you board the ferry for Koh Chang) You can take a 1st class bus #999 from the Eastern (Ekamai) Bus Terminal in Bangkok direct to Laem Ngop piers. The bus fare is roughly 275 THB one-way (520 THB return) and takes just over five hours to reach the pier. Departures from Ekamai are at 07:45 & 09:45 hrs, and return at 14:00 hrs. Subject to seat availability, this bus can also be boarded at Chanthaburi and at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
There is also a bus service #392 , starting from the airport bus terminal (make sure to take the free shuttle from the main airport to the airport bus terminal) at 07:30 hrs and returns from Koh Chang at 12:30 hrs.
Hoppa Minivan Service (Outward journey)
There is also the option to pay for the hotel to hotel Hoppa Minivan Service. Getting to Koh Chang this way is probably one of the easiest options as they literally transfer you from door to door. This service can be booked to pick you up from your hotel in the main central tourist areas at Silom, Sathorn, Khao San Rd, Pratunam, Sukhumvit and Suvarnabhumi Airport hotels on the day of your choice. Prices are approx 900 THB (one way) per person to all beaches on Koh Chang, with your ferry ticket included. Pick-up can be anywhere between 08.00 hrs – 10.30 hrs, depending on your hotel location.
Hoppa Minivan Service (Return journey)
Return trips, with the same company, are offered at approx 800 THB per person with your ferry ticket included, (if booked with the outward journey) to any central Bangkok hotels. If you wish to go direct to an airport in Bangkok instead, the price will be either a little higher or lower depending which airport you wish to travel to. All Hoppa Minivan services have a morning departure, leaving from Bang Bao Beach (the far end of Koh Chang) at 08.00 hrs and working its way down the island to the ferry at 09.30 hrs. There is also an afternoon service, 13.00 hrs from Bang Bao Beach with the ferry at 14.30 hrs. In total the trip takes about 5-6 hours.
Alternatively, there are 1st Class (approx. 5 hrs, around 250 THB) and 2nd Class big bus services from both the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) and Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) direct to Trat province, and frequent songthaew services from Trat to Laem Ngop pier (approx. 30 minutes, 50 THB per person).
Travelling via Bangkok from other regions
If you happen to be travelling by bus from southern Thailand, the #511 air-con bus can be used to connect directly between Bangkok’s Southern (Sai Tai Mai) and Eastern (Ekamai) bus terminals. Getting to Koh Chang from pretty much any direction, including cross-borders, is pretty straight forward and easy, easpecially when you plan ahead and book all your travel ticket in advance. If, however, you do find yourself just turning up at the departure point without a pre-paid ticket, you can sometimes pay for your ticket on the day, direct to the driver or travel company. We wouldn’t suggest doing this though as many buses fill up well in advance and you could end up waiting around hours for the next available seat.
There are direct minibus services to Laem Ngop Pier from Pattaya, Ban Phe (gateway to Koh Samet), and Bangkok’s Khao San Road and Victory monument (in front of the Payathai hospital). They, however, are less comfortable and spacious than public buses, and you may be charged significantly more by travel agencies selling tickets to these, as often with any tourist-oriented transportation in Thailand. It may also be possible to proceed directly to Laem Ngop by minibus or songthaew from the Hat Lek / Koh Kong border crossing with southern Cambodia, depending on the time of year, time of day, etc – enquire locally. Price around 120 THB (one way) from the border to Trat bus station.
Getting to Koh Chang will always involve a ferry journey. Being an island with no airport, there is no way you can avoid a short ferry crossing in order to reach your destination. Fortunately, getting to Koh Chang is also quick and easy. Most of the Koh Chang ferries operate from Laem Ngop, which has three piers . The Laem Ngop (Tha Khrom Luang or Tha Laern Ngop) pier is approximately 700 metres west of Laem Ngop. The Centrepoint (Tha Centre Point) pier is located about 3.5 km north-west of Laem Ngop. These piers serve both vehicle and passenger ferries. Koh Chang vehicle ferry pier is located in Thammachat Bay (Ao Thammachat), around 15 km west of Laem Ngop.
All piers on Koh Chang are situated on the eastern side of the island. The major piers are the two Dan Kao piers, Tha Dan Kao and Tha Ferry Dan Kao, which handle the majority of the daily traffic. To take a boat from Laem Ngop to Dan Kao pier take around 45 minutes. The car ferry from Laem Ngop take around 1 hour and arrives at the Tha Ferry Dan Kao pier, situated 400 metres southeast of the Tha Dan Kao pier.
The various different car, bus and minivan companies use different piers when dropping off their customers. For most visiting the island, it doesn’t concern them too much where they get dropped off as long as it is at a pier where they can catch a connecting ferry to the island. Once you are on the other side, there are lots of options available get around koh chang. The ferry service is very frequent so you shouldn’t ever need to wait longer than 1 hour before the next service arrives. Services from all piers start at approx 06.00 hrs every day and continue until 19.30 hrs. Ferry tickets can be purchased at the piers and cost approx 200-300 baht per person. It normally works out a lot cheaper if you buy a joint travel ticket in advance, plus if you happen to be running late you don’t have to worry about reaching the ticket office at the pier before it closes.
There are no direct flights onto Koh Chang island itself, but there is an airport in Trat, which is only 20 Km from the pier where you’ll need to get the ferry to Koh Chang. The journey from Trat Airport to the pier takes about 30 minutes. Without a doubt, getting to Koh Chang by plane is certainly the quickest option and with 3 daily flights provided by Bangkok Airways, it’s an ideal, fuss free way to travel from the Thai capital and you can purchase cheap tickets when you book ahead. One way tickets cost approx 3000 baht per person. Bangkok Airways are the only airline that operates from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport) to Trat Airport.
From Trat Airport, there are shared minibuses to and from Koh Chang island, door to door services costing just 450 – 500 THB per person with your ferry ticket included. The price changes according to your destination beach on the island. Return tickets are priced the same and collection is organised specifically for your flight times, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll miss your flight as the service is run very officially. Compare flight prices from Bangkok and many other destinations within Asia, to Trat.