Koh Chang, or Elephant Island, is a true backpacker’s paradise. It’s relatively off the tourist trail (for Thailand that is) and out of sight/out of mind in the far east of the gulf. Flights are few and far between, not too mention costly. Here are a few of the better options for traveling to this glorious oasis.
Budget Transportation Options
Privately Operated Bus: Cherdchai Tours runs a bus service to and from Trat, which is the mainland province you’ll go to for the Koh Chang ferry. I couldn’t find an active phone number or email online during my trip planning but never fear they are alive and well! Duration is advertised at 5 hours but takes closer to 6. Tickets can be bought in Bangkok at the Ekamai Bus Terminal, located at the bottom of the stairs on the street corner when you get off at Ekamai Station from the Sukhumvit BTS Skytrain route. The actual street intersection is Ekamai and Sukhumvit, no searching for a hidden Soi (side street). When you walk up to the bus station their booth is inside to the left. Here’s a summary of most of the buses in and out of the station!
All info online suggested I was looking at $20 one way ticket from Bangkok to Trat, then a bit more to get on the ferry to Koh Chang. However I was pleasantly surprised to secure tickets for 236 baht each way and was able to buy ferry tickets for 62 baht each way (cheaper buying them in advance rather than at the ferry pier in Trat). All in for the bus and ferry one way I was at just under $9 per person, not bad at all!
Not sure there’s a real need to buy in advance, according to the lady at the ticket counter. However if you want to take the first/last run of the day it’s always a wise decision.
Government Bus #999: This is another option, however it only runs the route to Koh Chang a few times a day. The advantage of Cherdchai Tours is they run routes as late at 23:30, perfect if you want to catch an overnight bus to the island and not waste a day in transit. The bus arrives in Trat at around 5am with a mini bus waiting to shuttle you to Counterpoint ferry. There is another ferry pier as well but this is the primary one and also the first to open in the early hours of the morning.
Hire a Private Car/Van: We didn’t look into this too hard and I am sure we could have negotiated the price a bit, but the one guy I spoke to told me 3500 baht to hire a car, regardless of the number of passengers. It only would cut the transit time down by an hour or so and for the money just didn’t seem worth it to me. If you go this route you can easily arrange with just about any tour company in Bangkok.
Destination Guide, GoPro Vlog, and more on the oasis of Koh Chang coming soon!