Koh Chang, the green elephant island in the far northeastern part of the Gulf of Thailand, is the third largest island in Thailand. As I did not want to rent a scooter and drive around the island myself I decided to book a day trip to see what the island has to offer.Next morning at around 9 o’clock a songthaew taxi came to pick me up from the hotel and we headed towards the northern part of the island. At White Sand Beach we picked up a young Swedish couple and then we were ready to set off on our excursion around Koh Chang. How convenient that we were just a small group of 3 people, I had expected the car to be full.
Leaving White Sand Beach the road makes a sharp curve and climbs steep up the mountain. It was a tough job sitting sideways on the bench in the back of the pickup truck and trying to hold onto the rail firmly. I was so afraid of the car breaking down and rolling backwards off the narrow road. However, there was no need to worry, the car was just about good enough to make it up.After less than a kilometre into our drive, somewhat halfway up the mountain road we made our first stop at a view point right above White Sand Beach to take in the views over the village, coastline and mountains in the south.Heading towards the east coast of Koh Chang we next stopped to take peak at the Chinese Buddhist temple of Chao Po Koh Chang. The Temple was a beautiful splash of bright colours with elephants standing at the entrance.Continuing our drive, we passed a couple of ferry terminals that function as the main points of entry to Koh Chang from the mainland. Koh Chang is a relatively large island, 30 km long from north to south, and covered by mountains and rainforest inland with no roads. The east coast of Koh Chang is fairly flat so it was nice just to chill out in the back of the car taking in sceneries as we drove along the coastal road passing secluded beaches as well as coconut and banana plantations.Our next stop was at Salak Kok Bay in the southeastern corner of the island. Here the coastal fishing villages still maintain their traditional lifestyle, culture and traditions. The area is covered by the largest mangrove forest on Koh Chang and we took the opportunity to go on an easy walk through the dense forest along a rundown concrete pathway at the same time enjoying some true peace and quiet amongst all the green around us.A short ride from Salak Kok Bay we stopped at the Temple of Wat Salak Phet which is a popular place among Buddhist people. This decorative temple is surrounded by a giant snake, and a holy Buddha statue stands in the main hall.We continued southbound to Salak Phet Bay where we took a short break to stretch our legs taking in some stunning views over the bay surrounded by mountains. The small villages here, Baan Rong Than, Baan Salak Phet and Baan Chek Bae, are mostly built on stilts and are inhabited by fishermen, rubber and coconut farmers.The coastal road does not stretch all around the island as there is a short section on the very southern part of the island where the landowner did not allow any roads to be built. So this basically means that you cannot drive literally around the island. And since the inland of the island is covered by mountains and jungle with no roads it meant that we had to return to the west coast along the same route, so it was a lot of driving again.After a 1-hour drive we made it back to the west coast of Koh Chang and stopped for lunch at a small restaurant in Klong Prao village. Then we continued to Klong Plu waterfall 3 km inland from Klong Prao village. We paid a national park entrance fee of 200 baht and hiked 2 km through the jungle up to the waterfall. The walk in the scorching heat was very sweaty and seemed to last forever. As it was the end of the dry season there was just a tiny bit of water coming down the waterfall, but enough water to form a small natural pool where there were people taking a dip to cool down. We were supposed to visit other waterfalls on our day trip too, but as it was dry season this was the only one with water.On our way down to the main road we stopped at an elephant station where we would have had a chance to feed elephants for a fee. None of us got excited about the idea since we all knew how badly elephants are tortured and mistreated at elephant camps and stations. So we just asked our driver to take us to our next destination.Driving southbound along the west coast we then stopped at Kai Bae viewpoint with amazing views over the sea and 4 small islands right off the coast, Koh Man Nai, Koh Man Nork, Koh Pli and Koh Yuak.The final destination of our day trip was the former fishing village of Bang Bao which has been built over water around a long and narrow pier. Back in the good old days the main source of income for local people here was fishing but recently tourism has completely taken over. Earlier during the week I had already spent a day exploring Bang Bao so now I just took an easy walk around and enjoyed a refreshing fruit smoothie at a cafe.From Bang Bao it was 20-minute drive to my hotel. We had a great day and got to explore lots of places. Feeling a bit weary back at the hotel I took a quick power nap and then went out for a little evening stroll and dinner.
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