Diving Koh Chang

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Koh Chang, Thailand

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Country: Thailand  Area: Thailand

Water Temp: 28 - 32°C (82 - 90°F)

Visibility: 2 - 30m (7 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 3 - 28m (10 - 92 ft)

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Koh Chang, albeit one of the lesser known Thai islands is also one of the largest and most easily accessible from Thailands capital city and travel hub, Bangkok.

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The island of Chang has so much to offer from the quiet fishing village of Bang Bao in the far southerly tip to the raging nonstop party known as Lonely Beach, there’s soething for everyone. Even the families who want some socializing but less of a booze fuelled atmosphere the area surrounding White Sand Beach, although crowded has become an increasingly family orientated destination.

The diving in the area is superb offering impressive visibility year round, sending expeditions to Koh Kood and Koh Muk multiple times a day. Koh Chang also boasts a range of non-diving related activities around the jungles and surrounding beaches, although keep in mind that many activities change seasonally so check with your guesthouse or travel agent for what is currently in operation.

Although Chang is the Thai word for Elephant, and paying to ride these magnificent beasts is tempting we urge you to do your research into the cruelty and controlled situations many large mammals are put under in training and through ‘work hours’ throughout Asia, if you don’t know it’s a real rescue sanctuary then just say no.

Marine Conservation

For diving in any of the islands around Koh Chang, including Muk and Kood, the best time to visit is during the dry season between November and April. March, April and May are the hottest months and May to October sees the most rain. Although the diving can be good during monsoon, if you want to experience Koh Chang at its best, visit in the dry season with water temperature ranges from 28°C  (82°F) to 30°C (86°F).

So Inviting! Credit

Climate

There is little to no conservation efforts in place aside for the standard Dive School beach combs and scuba clean-ups, but this is not a major issue as the island is fairly quiet and waste is at a minimum.

Sea Clam, Ko Chang, Credit

 
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The Diving

Many of the Dive Centers are located in Bang Bao although booking offices can be found anywhere that is fairly populated, feel free to contact one of our Dive Report recommended dive centers on the above tab to find out more to the minute information.

To test the waters before booking a dive you may be interested to know that off the southern peak beach in the area you can find some of the East Coasts best shore snorkelling spots.

The dive sites are shallow and calm, perfect for children, beginners or those wanting relaxed dives. Depths range from 5m (16ft) to 14m (46ft). The majority of the diving is at sites around the island or neighbouring islands and consists of reefs that in the main have grown in and around boulder formations. Many of the reefs are excellent snorkelling spots too.

Diving, Koh Chang, Credit

Koh Raet - is the perfect example of the easy yet delightful diving Koh Kood has to offer. Located to the west of the island between Koh Rat and Koh Kood, Koh Raet is a sheltered site offering a shallow relaxed reef dive at the north and a deeper, 14m (46ft), boulder formed dive at the southern end. The north is a great snorkelling destination too.  Juvenile Harlequin Sweetlips can be found hiding in the staghorn coral and Humphead Parrot Fish can be spotted here too. Look out for stingrays, morays, catfish, goat fish and razor fish and maybe some Whip Rays in the sand.

Hin Bang Bao (Hin Loy) - is the dive not to miss. It’s an open ocean pinnacle and therefore a hectic fish fuelled experience. The pinnacle protrudes out of the water, underwater the formation has big caves and swim-throughs too. Groupers, sweetlips, fusiliers, parrotfish make their home here. The reef is rich in varieties of both hard and soft coral.

Koh Chang underwater, Credit

Lak Uan Reef - lies in the bay of the same name and is popular with batfish. Black and White-tip sharks can be seen as well as other hunters like grouper, rainbow runners and jackfish. The eagle eyed might spot stonefish or scorpion fish too. Hin Yedhi and Ao Tum are also popular with the batfish, turtles and sharks.

Klong Hin Reef - is often locally referred to as Anemone Bay,  apart from the numerous clownfish and their anemones, big boulders offer shelter to parrotfish, groupers and the usual colourful suspects.Finding Nemo is super easy here,  If you are lucky, you might even see a turtle too.  Saddle-back colonies can be found at Koh Maisi too. This is a small island offering a rock and boulder dive where you will find stonefish, eels, stingray, nudibranch and much more.

Christmas Tree Worms, Credit

Relaxed shore dives can be found from Ao Kalang and Bang Bao and Ao Yai. Ao Yai has both a reef and pinnacle dive. The pinnacle has some excellent soft coral where you can see the pacific blue pipefish as well as numerous saddledback anemonefish.

Trips to Koh Rang National Park and the wreck dive are quite possible. Koh Rang National Park is deeper, ranging from 10m (33ft) to 30m (99ft). Koh Rang Pinnacle and Hin Kuak Ma or Three Finger Rock are the dives to do. Koh Rang Pinnacle looks like a cathedral packed with fish. Look out for barracuda, groupers, triggerfish, and batfish and maybe even a turtle too.  Go to Three Finger Rock for the chance to see a Bamboo Shark and maybe a turtle too. Koh Yak, Koh Laun, Koh Tong Lang and Koh Kra are small islands ringed by shallow reef which you enjoy diving around.

Diving the HTMS Chang Wreck, Credit

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How to Get there

Koh Chang is a four to five hour bus ride plus an hour long car ferry ride from Bangkok. Bangkok Airways offers hour flight to Trat two to three times a day that can shorten your trip with a 30 minute bus ride to the main pier to the islands.

You can also take a speedboat to the island. The speedboats aren’t always the most comfortable in choppy weather and larger ferries only take an hour to make the crossing. The last ferry leaves in the late afternoon, if you arrive too late you will need to stay overnight on the mainland.

Dive Boats at Koh Chang, Credit

 

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Where to Eat & Drink

Koh Chang has a split reputation, some say it’s a party island and some for total relaxation, this is because it is so large one can visit for a week and have a completely different experience from another.

Hmm Looks Delicious! Credit

Be aware if you are taking a fully relaxing holiday South in Bang Bao, although there are restaurants and small bars the entire area closes down by 10pm so don’t expect to eat late the drink until sunrise.
If you are thinking of fine dining and a glass of Rose’ then maybe White Sands is the area for you, seafood restaurants and Mexican themed bars dot themselves along the picturesque beach offering a range of choices and family friendly options.

Now who wants to get drunk? Now remember to take it easy on the silly juice before you go diving as mixing diving with alcohol can have serious consequences even resulting in death, but if you’re taking a few days on land then head to Lonely Beach. Not exactly a range of music and options, but each small super loud club is packed wall to wall with sweaty bodies, I am confident you’ll find a spot or a state of mind to have a good time.

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Other Activities

Koh Chang boasts a range of non-diving related activities around the jungles and surrounding beaches, from jungle trekking, zip-lining and rock climbing to beach tennis volleyball and paddle boarding, you’re bound to find something.

Keep in mind that many activities change seasonally so check with your guesthouse or travel agent for what is currently in operation.

Mountainside of Koh Chang, Credit

Although Chang is the Thai word for Elephant, and paying to ride these magnificent beasts is tempting we urge you to do your research into the cruelty and controlled situations many large mammals are put under in training and through ‘work hours’ throughout Asia, if you don’t know it’s a real rescue sanctuary then just say no. More info below!

Family Friendly

The conditions and topography make this a superb place for kids to dive. There’s plenty of snorkelling too.  While there are no particular family orientated attractions, the waterfalls are fun.With no loud clubs, the entire family are sure to sleep well too.

Getting a good message, Credit

Elephant Trekking & Abuse

Please do not support Elephant torture and abuse by riding Elephants (or supporting Elephant performance) in Asia;

In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive to humans.
Asian Elephant spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them. 
Any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to get them to where they are
Please do not support Elephant torture and make your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry.
  • In Thai culture, the Phajaan or ‘the crush', is the torture method elephants undergo to become a part of the tourism industry. Essentially this involves cruel physical and mental abuse over long periods of time to make the Elephants submissive - starting as a calf
  • Asian Elephant's spines cannot support the weight of people. Carrying people on their backs all day often leads to permanent spinal injuries.
  • There is responsible Elephant tourism in Thailand - a good rule to remember is that if a tourist outfit offers anything other than getting to spend time with elephants, it is not friendly to them.
  • Remember; any outfit that offers riding, circuses or paintings means they have undergone horrific abuse in order to train the Elephants

Elephant trekking, Koh Chang, Credit

You can help these magnificent animals by making your travel companions aware of what lies behind this industry. The main problem is a lack of awareness - most people have no idea! 

Dive Report is committed to raising awareness to the abuse suffered by Elephants used in the tourist industry. If you want to know more you can find out more hereherehere and here. Also see a PETA documentary video here.

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Tips!

The traffic on Koh Chang can be a bit here and there, with little or no road marking and winding roads it’s recommended to take a taxi long distances down main highways instead of attempting to walk it.

50-100 TBH open back Taxis roam the roads passing you almost every five minutes, jump in and enjoy the ride.

The Sea, Credit

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