Big natural islands: Ko Chang, Ko Lanta and Ko Phangan
Ko Chang – I have been to Ko Chang 5-6 times, (most of the times it wasn’t my idea), and I must say there is something off about this island.
There are certain islands, such as Phuket, that had a great starting point – amazing beaches, beautiful scenery, etc. – these islands had seen good times until they gradually deteriorated to their current status.
Ko Chang had mediocre conditions to begin with – its best beach, White Sand Beach, is not as good as average beaches elsewhere, yet it started to deteriorate as the famous saying goes – “start as fast as you can and slowly go into a faster pace”
Ko Chang is a very simple island with no particularly good beaches, attractions or beautiful landscapes. Its development seems random and it is somewhat neglected, though its resorts charge very high prices …. On top of that, it takes 6 boring hours to drive towards (and from) this “pleasure” …
Season: the best season, (to those of you who insist on visiting there), is November – April.
- Don’t go to Ko Chang during the summer months, (July – August), when the rainfall is measured in meters ( rather than mm or cm).
- We’re talking about an average of some 1,000 mm per month!
How to get to Ko Chang: (again, if you insist), you should drive to the pier in Tamachat and take a ferry to Ko Chang, then drive on the island which takes a total of 6 boring hours for every direction. In my opinion, it’s completely unnecessary!
Click here for our detailed review of Ko Chang
Ko Phangan – Ko Phangan is one of the three eastern islands – Phangan, Samui, Tao. The rapid commercialization has not reached Ko Phangan, so it remains a relaxing island, (apart from the full-moon parties). It’s a great location for a fun holiday of sunbathing and serenity. Out of the three eastern islands, Ko Phangan has the most beautiful beaches and bays.
On its south coast you’ll find Haad Rin beach –the most crowded beach, where most backpackers and youth stay. It offers plenty of restaurants, cafés, shops, pubs, etc. This beach is crowded and noisy during the different party-times and is much calmer during other times.
On Ko Phangan you can find plenty of beaches and bays all along its coastline. and in each one of those bays, there are plenty of resorts. Most resorts are rather simple, but there are some of higher quality and even great ones. I have been to almost all of Ko Phangan’s beaches and bays and wrote about them in my detailed review on the island.
Please take into consideration, that apart from sunbathing (and parties), there is not much to do in Ko Phangan. It’s not easy to drive there and there is no particular reason to do it – so you will mostly enjoy your holiday on the beach and in the resort, where you will probably find a number of shops, simple restaurants and massages.
Season: the best season in Ko Phangan is during the months of January – March and July – August. The rest of the year can be unpleasant because of heavy rain and since during low tide, the beach becomes muddy and swimming is not an option.
How to get to Ko Phangan: getting to Ko Phangan is not so easy, especially to families with kids, as it requires a combination of flying, driving and cruising which can be time consuming – it takes almost a whole day to complete the journey in each direction, and includes carrying your luggage a few hundred meters along the piers, which doesn’t make it easier, however, it is not different than the way to other islands, (including Ko Samui where there is no direct flight). Taking a flight to Ko Samui can make the way to Ko Phangan a bit shorter but it is rather expensive.
Conclusion: Ko Phangan is certainly a great island with wonderful beaches and very pretty view and it is best suited for two types of people:
- Young – in age and spirit – who are interested in the full moon parties
- Anyone interested in a relaxing holiday of sunbathing on the beach- families, couples, etc. Ko Phangan is not the place for people who are looking for tourist attractions, action, activities, restaurants, tours, etc.
Ko Phangan’s biggest disadvantage is the long, tiring and expensive way it takes to get there, and the way back after the holiday. However, the same can be said for other islands, including Ko Samui, (unless you are taking a direct flight).
A detailed review of Ko Phangan will be posted soon.
Ko Lanta – Ko Lanta is another island in Krabi province s. It is located approximately 70 Km. from Krabi and provides a beautiful view of Ko PhiPhi, (another island in Krabi province).
On its north end, you will find Baan Saladan, where the ferry or tour bus will drop you off – at the entrance point to Ko Lanta. It was a fishermen village once and became a lively Resort Town with time. You can find here plenty of restaurants, cafés, shops, banks, markets, etc.
On the island’s north-west coast, not too far from Baan Saladan, you will find Khlong Dao beach – a three Km. beach with lots of resorts, restaurants, pubs, etc. – which is great for those of you who prefer to spend their holiday in a livelier atmosphere.
From this beach, going south, you will find all the other beaches in Ko Lanta. In fact, this is one very long beach, which is separated in different spots by cliffs. Around these cliffs, you will find resorts, bungalows, hotels, restaurants, shops, massages, etc. I can’t say all the beaches are of high quality, but if you are interested in a more relaxing holiday and nicer landscape, you can head south to Kantiang Bay area where you will find just that.
Season: like all Andaman Sea islands, the best holiday season is from November till the end of April.
How to get to Ko Lanta: you can either take a ferry from Krabi / the nearby islands or drive to Ko Lanta, but on the way you will have to take two short cruises (they are building a bridge instead of one of the cruises). You can find more information about the different ways to get to Ko Lanta on my detailed review of the island.
Conclusion:: I don’t have a particularly good or bad opinion about this island. I would say it is an average island – OK but nothing more. Everything on it is somewhat mediocre: the beaches, the resorts, (except for a selected few), the restaurants, the nightlife, the views, etc. You can find everything on Ko Lanta, but nothing special or exciting.
Ko Lanta is much better than Ko Chang but not as good as Ko Phangan. The islands are suitable for families, older people, couples who are looking for a nice quiet holiday without full-moon parties but with plenty of restaurants, massages, decent entertainment, shopping, etc. A great holiday combination can include spending time on both Ko Lanta and Ko Lipe, (the best island in Thailand in my opinion, which is located a three-hour cruise away from Ko Lanta).
Click here for our detailed review of Ko Lanta