Sunset in Koh Chang
One of the sunset in Koh Chang.
Koh Chang is Thailand’s second largest island, and the biggest in Eastern Thailand. With about 5,000 permanent residents the island is not heavily populated, but tourism (and development) has increased dramatically over the last few years.
Koh Chang is one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands with long white sandy beaches, most half deserted. The island is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including a good selection of birds, snakes, deer, and a number of elephants. The island and its vicinity are great places for snorkeling, diving and jungle hiking. The “discovery” of the island as a tourist destination since 2000 has brought on a large amount of rapid development, and while still far quieter than places like Phuket or Koh Samui, it’s probably better to go now than later. Regarding services and activities specifically aimed at tourists prices have reached such a level that the islanders are pricing themselves out of the market when compared to the other islands.
History of Koh Chang
Prior to World War II, Koh Chang was little known by anyone. During this period, the few families there made a living growing coconuts and fruit on the mainland. In January 1941, during the Japanese occupation, the Thai Navy fought the French in a battle in the waters to the southeast of Koh Chang.
Nothing else happened to Koh Chang until the first backpacker foreigners started arriving on the back of local fishing boats in the mid-1970s. In 1982, Koh Chang along with surrounding area became part of the protected Mu Koh Chang National Marine Park. Only very recently, in less than ten years, Koh Chang has turned itself into a major tourist destination, both for foreigners and local Thais.
This sudden tourism boom however, has been fraught with controversy concerning land encroachment etc. The government is trying to “develop” it from a backpackers’ paradise to a top-level destination, and construction work is going on throughout the island, with basic huts torn down to make way for fancy resorts.
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