If you’re searching for some of the best scuba diving in Thailand, somewhere that’s a little more off the radar, than scuba diving in Koh Chang might just be the smartest splash you ever make.
With stunning coral reefs and epic wreck dives, this mountainous; rainforest adorned island (Thailand’s third largest), also boasts gentle currents, mountain trekking and laid back bohemian vibes.
However, to get the best diving in Koh Chang is easier said than done. The island has a range of variable dive centres, a fixed dive season, fluctuating diving prices and even getting there can be tricky.
Did you know there are two islands known as Koh Chang? We’ll be discussing the larger one, located in northeast Thailand close to Cambodia.
So let’s dive into this epic guide that reviews Koh Chang Diving Schools, it’s top dive sites, other island activities and everything else you need to know!
What makes Koh Chang Diving so incredible? We could describe how Koh Chang is part of the larger Muh Koh Chang National Park; which entails rugged landscapes, crystal clear waters, abundant marine life…
…But you’re better than that. Bolder. Smarter. We see this – we knows it. So instead, allows us to describe the best diving in Koh Chang, by citing our top five dive sites there.
Comprised of 12 uninhabited islands, the special protection granted to Koh Rang ensures that the coral reef here is in superb condition.
Frequented by Pelagics like Great Barracuda, Tuna and Cobia, Koh Rang is also home to a number of stunning rocky pinnacles that shelter countless reef fish.
Taking just an hour to reach from Koh Chang via boat, this National Marne Park boasts several great dive sites, such as the fabled:
Lying 30 meters (100ft) beneath the water’s surface, the HTMS Chang is a whopping 117 meters (384ft) long, making it the largest shipwreck in Thailand!
After 50 years of service in the Thai Navy, it was deliberately sunk in 2012 to create an artificial reef.
It’s cabins, briefing rooms and a main holding area are home to species like octopus, batfish, barracuda, squid, groupers and other quirky critters.
During high season it’s also frequented by Whale Sharks!
Known to locals as Hinn Labb, this rocky dive site is just 5km away from Koh Chang and a variety of hard and soft coral can be found here.
There are three distinct dive sites that offer a range of coral composition, including beautiful Staghorn Corals, Whip Corals and Soft Yellow Corals.
As for larger species – the varied dive sites around Hin Raab South are great for spotting Turtles, Stingrays, Giant Barracuda, Parrotfish and Triggerfish!
Hin Luk Bath is a rocky pinnacle that drops down to 20m and is a refuge for large schools of colourful fish including parrotfish, angelfish and damsels.
Surrounding the pinnacle are a variety of boulders which have created an assortment of ridges and canyons which make ideal hiding spots for other critters like Moray Eels and Christmas Tree Worms.
These also serve as excellent swim throughs for more adventurous divers. On occasion, Dolphins have been sighted here to!
Only a short distance away from Hin Raab South, is a 100ft long (30m), Thai Coastal Patrol Gunship, which was sunk in 2013 to give Koh Chang it’s second artificial reef.
Now blown apart and broken in half, it lies slightly on one side, the crows nest having detached and come to rest on the sea bottom.
Because it lies just 16m / 52 feet beneath the water’s surface, the T11 Wreck is a perfect shipwreck for first time wreck divers, meaning it’s frequently used for wreck and navigation courses.
You’ll find dozens of Diving Schools on Koh Chang, each with their own diving style, equipment and prices. Divers pay attention – which one is right for you will depend on your budget, diving experience and personal preferences.
Also note that many of the best dive schools have their own accommodation as either resorts or hostels. Generally speaking, this accommodation is offered at a discount or for free to diving students!
In our opinion, if your diving school offers accommodation – take it! Besides the considerably reduced price, it’s more likely you’ll meet your fellow diving squad mates here, making the entire trip a more social and enriching experience.
Use the table below to get a breakdown of the average prices for the most common diving courses and packages on Koh Chang.
|Single Dive||Snorkel Trip||Open Water||Advanced Open Water||Rescue Diver||Master Diver|
|All Time Cheapest Price(Scuba Dawgs)||$33 |
|Average Price at most Diving Schools (e.g. BB Divers, Koh Chang Divers).||$49 |
|All Time Highest Price (Dolphin Divers)||$57 |
|Start at: $1324
It’s possible to dive in Koh Chang all year round. That said, let’s take a closer look at what you can expect at different times of the year:
Just like you have to get travel insurance to cover medical bills and accidents whilst abroad, you must also get scuba diving insurance in order to be covered for any accidents that occur on a dive.
There’s several reputable scuba diving insurance companies offering different packages – some include travel insurance as part of their main deal or an optional add on. You’ll find that some diving insurance companies offer other cool perks to – like coverage for damaged scuba gear, lost days of diving due to weather or illness, trip cancellation etc.
But which perks you get, what add ons are included and how much you pay for all this varies between the different scuba diving insurance companies and the various packages offered by each!
If you want to find out more, you can check out this epic page on the best diving insurance where we break down, compare and review the very best scuba diving insurance companies of all time so you don’t have to.
How the kraken does one get to Koh Chang!? Because Koh Chang island is seperated from the mainland of Thailand and posses no train tracks, getting there via train is not an option.
However, there are several options, which you can use. These are:
The closest airport to Koh Chang is Trat Airport, which is located on Thailand’s West Facing Shores, some 60km away from the Cambodian border.
With three daily flights between Bangkok to Koh Chang, flying there has never been easier.
For most other areas in Southeast Asia you’ll have to fly to Bangkok first as it’s one of the few locations from which direct flights to Trat are possible.
Once you touch down in Trat, you still need to get off the mainland and onto Koh Chang Island. Thus, the last part of your journey will be made via ferry.
After disembarking Trat airport, it’s possible to hop on a minibus and get a direct transfer (ferry fare included) to your accommodation on Koh Chang. The best company to do this with are Bangkok Airways.
The ferry and flight times and designed to coincide with eachother, meaning the last flight from Bangkok to Koh Chang, will arrive in time for you to catch the last ferry!
If you’re heading to Koh Chang from Bangkok, then the cheapest way to get there is via bus.
There are several options, but the most popular is catching the #999 bus from Ekamai (Eastern) Bus Terminal to the two ferry piers at Laem Ngop, where you can proceed to catch the ferry to Koh Chang. Tickets cost 260 THB each for one way.
Departure times are 07:45 and 09:45 everyday and the journey takes 5 – 6 hours, depending on traffic. For later busses check out the #9908 from Ekamai Bus Terminal and Northern Bus Terminal.
Buses from Bangkok are rarely full, so outside peak season and Thai holidays there’s no need to book in advance.
However, if you do wish to book in advance and can navigate your way around a mainly Thai language website, you can book tickets online at: https://ticket.transport.co.th/ or http://www.pns-allthai.com/
Although there is no night bus to Laem Ngop (location of piers with ferries to Koh Chang), there is a Cherdchai bus from Ekkamai which leaves at 23:30 and arrives at Trat bus station for around 05:00.
From there you can get a Songthaew to the piers and then only have to wait 30 minutes for the first boat. This is an even cheaper option than going via bus in the day, as you save a night’s worth of accommodation.
There are two ferry terminals on the mainland and Laem Ngop – both take vehicles and passengers to Koh Chang, but are used by different ferry companies.
Ao Thammachat pier is used by Ferry Koh Chang, which sail between the hours of 06:30 and 19:00 and run every 45 minutes. It’s 80 THB for passengers and 120 THB for cars one way.
With the shortest crossing time and the most sailings, it’s considered the best of the two ferry piers.
Centerpoint Pier, used by Centerpoint Company allows cars on free of charge and for passengers it’s 80 THB again. It also runs between 06:30 and 19:00 and arrives at Dan Kao pier on Koh Chang.
However, this pier is not as close as Ao Sapporot pier to the west coast resorts. Due to this and longer crossing times, Centerpoint Ferry is a less prefer le option although some of the cheaper minibus services use it as they get discounted tickets.
For those who want to snorkel around Koh Chang, you have two options:
Option 1: Snorkel Trip – The best snorkelling to be had is actually around the smaller islands south of Koh Chang. They take about an hour and a half to reach by boat from Koh Chang and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see lots of fish and quite possibly some turtles.
For full day snorkel trips, you get picked up at your resort between 08:00 – 08:30 and taken by pick up truck to Bangbao. The boat departs around 09:30.
You’ll visit a number of dive sites around Koh Rang whilst being served lunch, before heading to Koh Wai. The tour concludes at 17:00 by which point you’ll be back at Bangbao and then shuttled back to your resort.
Half day trips are also possible and best done by speedboat. Because they usually skip the islands near Koh Rang and instead visit Koh Klum, Koh Wai and Koy Laoya, they are a better bet for escaping large crowds!
There are a number of snorkel trip tours but for the best prices and highest quality service we recommend going with Scuba Dawgs.
Option 2: Solo Snorkel –
Rather than going on a boat trip, you could do some snorkelling off the beaches of Koh Chang free from crowds and money spending.
One important thing to bare in mind however, is that these beaches are mostly sand with very few rocks and even less coral. This means that you won’t see loads of fish…not without a little guidance that is ;).
Ok, here we go. There best three and most secretive snorkelling locations on Koh Chang are:
Over 70% of Koh Chang is virgin rainforest. Trekking is the best way to truly discover Koh Chang’s wild side. You can take easy half day treks to small waterfalls in the rainforest…
… or embark upon much tougher full day adventures like scaling two of Koh Changs peaks at 644m and 730m (with stunning island views) or going across the interior.
Due to a lack of signs and hard to distinguish paths through the forest, you’ll need a trekking guide, who can help you plan the best possible trek for you.
Forget Bangbao fishing village. Nowadays it’s so heavily commercialised, it’s lost every trace of authenticity.
If legit Thai fishing village is what you want, make the effort to visit Salakphet at the far southeast of the island. The easiest way to get here is scooter.
Wandering along the jetty of Salakphet you can see a more authentic way of life as locals go about making and fixing traps, drying fish and sorting crabs, the soft slurps of tethered boats carrying across the gentle wind.
Nearby, Salakphet restaurant has amazing views from the deck as well as delicious food.
Whether you want to go by motorbike, scooter or bicycle, Koh Chang is 217 km of adventure just waiting to be explored.
Roads vary from paved tarmac to dirt track. It’s easy to rent a scooter in Koh Chang – no license is necessary.
In total there are seven waterfalls in Koh Chang – Klong Plu is by far the biggest, most popular and frequently visited.
It cascades 600 meters over sun-soaked cliffs. You can wander through the stream and find clear pools to soak in…or even scale the cliffs and make an epic jump! (Check the water depth first though!)
The other six waterfalls worth visiting are Kai Bae, Klong Jao Leuam, Klong Nonsi, Than Mayom, Klong Neung and Kiripetch.
White Sand Beach is the local hotspot for nightlife needs, with popular names like Oodie’s Place and Sabay Bar offering a laid back vibe.
For those in search of a more debaucherous night, Little Pataya is a small cluster of bars and a renowned party destination – complete with wonky pool, strong spirits and bar girls.
It’s both incredibly easy and immensely rewarding to rent a kayak and paddle alongside Koh Chang’s deserted beaches and mangrove forests as you witness the gorgeous archipelago views.
And there you have it Diving Squad: Koh Chang! A mesmerisingly stunning Thai island, surrounded by pristine waters that harbour epic and unique dive sites.
If you’re looking to scuba off the beaten rock whilst soaking up some seriously laid back bohemian vibes – look no further. Koh Chang is for you.