Looking for a complete Koh Chang review covering hotels, restaurants and activities? We got you covered in our Koh Chang revisited post! We sought new adventures on Koh Chang in December to celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary and enjoy some great beach time together. Our focus on this trip was to discover the best activities on Koh Chang for us, including snorkeling, swimming, eating, hiking and exploring both on and off the beaten path. We set aside 10 days for the trip from our home in Bangkok and enjoyed every minute of it!
We were so impressed travelling to Koh Chang a couple of years ago and have long awaited to chance to return to see more of this lovely Thai island. Since we are now traveling very often, we decided that this was the perfect time, despite high season pricing and possible crowds. Once we arrived, we discovered that neither of these potential problems was going to affect our trip to any major degree. Koh Chang was just as great the second time around and in fact, had gotten better in many ways. Let’s delve into the details of our latest trip with our 2019 Koh Chang review.
We set out from Bangkok in our little Toyota, driving the usual route to the Eastern Seaboard including Route 344. We left late on a Friday, since we had to work earlier in the day, so we spent the first night in Chantaburi at Pimdara Hotel, which is most of the way to the ferry in Trat. Pimdara was lovely, with a nice modern room and a quiet location when we arrived. The facility was new and the staff welcoming. We spent some time working in the room before having a meal of vegetarian Isaan food at the small restaurant next door called นัวยกครก (Nua Yok Krok). The staff made us very welcome and challenged themselves to accommodate our vegetarian diet using true Isaan recipes. The food was awesome and the total cost was around 250 baht ($7.50) for us both. We went back to our room exhausted from a long day traveling and working. This is where Pimdara went downhill fast!
It turns out that the hotel had guests (probably 10 in the single room from our estimate) next door who wanted to talk, sing and rearrange furniture until about 2AM. Furthermore, the hotel had a literal chicken farm next door with dozens of the noisy birds that seemed to wake up from a quiet day once the sun went down. We had to deal with constant rooster crowing right outside our room all night. They stopped when the sun came up… We had booked the room far in advance and requested their quietest room. We were given the worst location for noise in the building. So, we have no choice but to give Pimdara a scolding for this terrible service. The bed has also hard as a rock and the floor turned out to be more comfortable, despite being tile. In this case, Pimdara was an epic fail for us! Too bad, since it is a lovely property and has lots of potential… The cost of the room was an inexpensive $29 with breakfast.
The next morning, we dragged ourselves to the car without sleep and continued onwards to Koh Chang. We have been in this zombie state many times, since we travel often and have seen it all when it comes to sleep deprivation factors! No worries for us… We arrived at the Koh Chang ferry and only had a few cars ahead of us. Better still, the boat arrived immediately and we were onboard in 10 minutes and underway.
The large island of Koh Chang lay in front of us promising a world of adventure for the next week and change. We were so excited! It cost us about $2 per person for the ferry and an additional $4 for the car. $8 all in to get us to Koh Chang seemed a pretty good value. The boat was fast and we soon pulled off the boat onto the island headed for our first destination: Klong Prao Beach.
Our first stop was Emerald Cove Koh Chang, which is a 5 star resort. On our previous trip to Koh Chang, the cost of this resort was 8000 to 12,000 baht or about $240 to $360 dollars per night! This is well beyond our usual budget! This trip, the hotel obviously lowered its prices considerably to be more competitive, and we were able to book a Deluxe Ocean Facing room for $108 per night! We feared that this price drop must indicate some unsavory issue at the hotel, but it turned out that Emerald Cove won the award as the very best accommodations of our trip. Our room was comfortable and huge. The resort was incredibly well-managed. The food was spectacular. The location was idyllic. The beachfront was perfect for swimming and extremely picturesque. Best of all, we were right on the same beach we had grown to love so much on our last trip and could therefore take advantage of the awesome beachfront restaurants each night for a super low cost. Our meals cost us less than 900 baht ($27) each night, including a bottle of wine and included an amazing fire show at Family Restaurant (The best fire show we had ever seen! Awesome job guys!!!) We loved our stay at Emerald Cove and highly recommend it at virtually any price. For what we paid, it was superb and we thank the staff for taking such good care of us. We will certainly be back! 10 out of 10 score!
Our next stop was Kai Bae Beach and our favorite resort from our last trip: Seaview Resort and Spa. We had such fun there last trip and hoped this time would be even better! We booked a beachfront seaview room at a cost of $122 a night or approximately 3700 baht. Unfortunately, the service quality of Seaview had diminished considerably, as we soon found out… We arrived early and had to wait for our room. No big deal, as it was our choice to get there at 12. However, waiting until 2 seemed to be punitive, rather than necessary, since the resort was almost empty and eventually they showed us about 6 empty rooms in total… We were eventually shown to our room, which had twin beds, a poor view and smelled terrible. We said no way, since we booked a “clean room, with a large bed and the best beach view”. They took us to see 2 more rooms, which were even more horrific. They had large beds, but a poor view and smelled even worse.
This is where things got interesting… Seaview showed us the booking sheet, which came from an “agent” on Agoda. The booking form clearly said to give us twin beds, and mentioned nothing of our other special requests. What is the point of Agoda allowing you to book the room of your choice and make requests if some middleman is just going to purposefully ignore these requests? We are currently investigating the matter with Agoda, since we always book through them and are concerned for your travels as well as ours… We are your travel guardians and Agoda will answer for such nonsense! (Agoda never clarified the issue and did everything in their power to simply ignore us, despite our requests for an explanation. We are NOT happy with them and are revising the service we currently use for booking accommodations due to this bad experience and seeming dishonesty.)
Seaview is still an amazing property. However, it was not as clean as it was last time we stayed. On the positive side, they are very eco-friendly, with solar energy and a sustainable hydroponic garden for the kitchen. Breakfast is very good and the property provides the perfect place for some serious hiking, due to its placement on a steep hill. On the downside, the staff was lacking in numbers and did not really have a hospitable attitude. The tram which carries guest up and down the hill was continually out of service and many guests were obviously distressed, having to wait 30 minutes for a ride by golf cart, which was also a break-neck experience! One German guy was screaming how he was missing an important event at the top of the resort by waiting so long (30 minutes +). He looked really pissed!
We wanted to book a trip on the hotel boat to a local island, but were told we were the only 2 people, so we would have to pay for the entire boat (2000 baht or about $60) in order to go… They said it would be only a short trip (5 minutes or so), so the cost seemed ridiculously high. Instead, we hired the captain from a nearby resort and he took us on the highlight of our entire trip: an incredible journey to Koh Mun Nok and Koh Yuak for snorkeling. This guy charged us 800 baht or $24 dollars and was a perfect gentleman and host. He made sure to bring us everywhere and was super cool to hang out with all day. He was in no rush and kept us adventuring for hours. It was a priceless experience and Koh Yuak is highly recommended for anyone with Robinsom Crusoe dreams! Go and you will see why!!! For this Sea View also lose points, but we have a new friend and now we know who to call for boat services on Klong Prao Beach!
All in all, Seaview Resort is no longer our favorite in Koh Chang, but we are far from dismissing it as a good place to stay. It just did not live up to its past performance as a welcoming, or even clean, hotel… However, once our room was sorted and cleaned, we enjoyed it and could not complain much.
TIP: If staying at Seaview, really, really lock your terrace door because monkeys will come into your room and cause havoc. They are crafty and can be aggressive, so be warned! They stole stuff from our room, but fortunately nothing of value.
Now, it was time for us to go seriously off the beaten path. Our third destination would take us far away to the Southeast side of the island, which is an area seldom seen by foreigners. We booked our stay at Parama Resort in Salak Phet Bay, where our Superior Room cost us 4600 baht or about $139 per night, making it the most expensive of our trip. Getting to the resort was quite a drive, but gave us a chance to explore the east side of Koh Chang and thoroughly understand that our dining and activity options would be greatly limited due to a complete lack of development on this side of the island. The quiet suited us just fine!
The room at Parama had a very low ceiling at about 6 feet tall, while Adam is 6’3”. He was hitting his head, so we asked to see any other available room. The guy at check in took us to see a depressingly dark room (really dark!) where Adam now hit his legs (hard-leaving a bruise) on the furniture, since he could not see a thing! Why the guy did not turn on the lights is beyond our understanding. We stuck with the room we had and Adam just had to duck his head constantly for the 2 days we were there. Not a great time… Worse still, we later found out that there were other really nice rooms available, but these were not shown to us, since the check in guy was just so completely inhospitable… Some people are not meant to work in certain industries and this guy was one of those people who really had no business working at an expensive resort. On the plus side, we soon discovered 2 great women employed at Parama who made the entire experience much better! Thank you to them!!!
The resort features a lovely property and is built out onto the bay, but without an actual beach. The resort has secured the right to use a “beach” across the bay, which can be accessed by boat (provided for free from the resort). This “beach” is prominently featured in the resort advertising and was a main reason why we chose this place to stay. It looked so remote and lonely…in a great way! The reality of it was far from the picture in their ads! It was deserted sure, but also filthy. There were mountains of garbage piled up and the water was basically unswimmable and certainly unsnorkelable. Our most sincere and good-natured recommendation to Parama would be to either clean up this embarrassing ecological disaster or stop bringing guests here before someone (probably a child) gets really hurt. It is a real mess and left us scratching our heads why they were so enthusiastic to promote it…Yikes!
On the positive side of the coin, Parama gave us the perfect location to explore some attractions on the quiet west side of Koh Chang, including Long Beach and the small beach at the naval memorial. Long Beach was beautiful and was lively with several people around enjoying this pristine stretch of white sand. The restaurant overlooking the beach was open, although no accommodations were available, with all bungalows in thorough disrepair. Better was the small beach at the navy memorial site, further south. Here we snorkeled and had an ok time of it. In better visibility conditions, this is probably a great place to snorkel and is also super Instagram-friendly with its interesting beachfront. We definitely recommend coming to this tiny beach for an authentic off-the-beaten-path adventure!
Restaurant service at Parama was friendly (thanks to the 2 aforementioned ladies) and the food was good. We also had the entire resort to ourselves the first day and used the opportunity to take over their pool for a photo shoot. This is a rare treat at any resort! Would we recommend Parama? Not sure… It is nice, but costly and had some things that we did not like… You can give it a try and see for yourself. 😃😥
Our final stop on Koh Chang was back around to the west side of Koh Chang at Chai Chet point. We booked a Deluxe Beach room at Chai Chet Resort at the cost of $93, making this the least expensive accommodation of our trip. Our room was ready for us early and we checked in without difficulty. The room was right on the beachfront, with a nice view. It was smallish, but well maintained, clean and comfortable, except for the rock-hard bed. This is a common problem in Thailand, with many resorts choosing horrifically hard latex mattresses. We survived it ok!
Chai Chet was a mix of good and bad, as is typically the case, but presented well for the cost and we enjoyed it very much. The breakfast was one of the worst we had on virtually any trip ever. EVER. Really, they could do much better. However, the location of the resort was awesome, considering we wanted to film at Chai Chet point at sunset. The resort was close to all attractions in Klong Prao and White Sand Beaches. The grounds were beautiful and the Gulf of Thailand off the dock provided surprisingly amazing snorkeling with tons of fish and corals! We also snorkeled through the underwater canyons of Chai Chet Point and were equally blown away at the sea life there (considering it was right off the beach). The resort provided good value and we will consider it for trips in the future for sure.
We wanted to mention Ciao Restaurant, which resides near the southern end of White Sand Beach. We had the best meal of our trip there and enjoyed perfect service and atmosphere. The cost was also the most expensive, but at around $50, with wine, it was terrific. We highly recommend Ciao, which has been a Koh Chang fixture since 2009. They do it right!
We had a longer wait to take the ferry off the island, since it was the end of a public holiday weekend. The trip would be a long one, so we decided to stay over in Klaeng at Centara Q Resort for 1 night before heading back to Bangkok. We will cover this stay as an addendum in our post detailing Klaeng.
Koh Chang was great on this trip, despite being high season. Prices were fair and the crowds everywhere were small to nonexistent. We had a blast and took lots of pictures and footage for our YouTube channel. We certainly recommend Koh Chang as a great alternative to the south of Thailand if you love islands and beach life. You can stay here for a long time without getting bored, as there is just the right amount of development now to ensure an active and satisfying trip without the development ruining everything like it has done in so many beautiful places on our planet. Adam is still having fantasies about living here, but it is unrealistic for our business activities. Lol. Safe travels and hope to meet you soon in Thailand!
More Koh Chang Reviews
Check out our full YouTube Playlist covering Koh Chang.
You can also read about our first trip traveling to Koh Chang.
Thanks for sharing this amazing trip with us. If you come to Thailand, consider Koh Chang as a great island getaway.