Koh Samui and Koh Chang
Located in the Gulf of Thailand, both Koh Samui and Koh Chang are islands of quiet, powdery white sand beaches, deserted little coves, balmy, crystal clear waters and a lush green hinterland of coconut plantations and rice paddies.
Only a one hour flight from Bangkok, Koh Samui is an ideal beach resort to combine with a Bangkok city break. Virtually unknown a decade ago, it now rivals Phuket as Thailand’s most popular island beach resort. Chaweng Beach, the main resort on the island boasts bargain shopping with lively markets and charming boutiques, a great selection of restaurants and lively nightlife.
There isn’t a huge choice of cultural sightseeing opportunities but if you do feel like a break from lounging on the beach under a hot sky, then a visit to the famous Big Buddha monument is an interesting distraction. Located close to Bophut Beach, this religious icon boasts stunning views from the upper level around the base of the large Buddha.
There are also a number of exciting cruises and excursions available. Many of these trips take in the smaller surrounding islands as well as Angthong Marine Park and incorporate snorkelling, diving and kayaking. In addition, there are many picturesque waterfalls on Koh Samui, providing excellent photo opportunities and a relaxing place for a refreshing dip.
One of Thailand’s hidden treasures, Koh Chang is the largest of 52 islands in Koh Chang National Marine Park, and is acclaimed for its pristine rainforests and stunning marine life. Only a 45-minute flight from Bangkok to Trat airport, it is then a short transfer by boat to Koh Chang. Lush, green and mountainous, Koh Chang is a perfect hideaway for nature lovers. The dense tropical rainforest interior is home to macaque monkeys, barking deer and wild pig, as well as over 70 species of birdlife. Explore this pristine rainforest, take a day trip to the marine park and other surrounding islands, lounge on the soft white sand beaches, trek on elephant back through the virgin jungle or discover the underwater world of the marine park with a snorkelling or diving adventure.
We recommend a visit to Bang Bao, a traditional fishing village, which provides a fascinating insight into the island's local fishing community. The village buildings are perched on wooden stilts above the water and many of the local fishing vessels are anchored nearby. Spend time discovering the charming village restaurants, stalls and cafes.