If you’re looking for a beautiful island to visit in Thailand, but need something that won’t break the bank, I’d have to recommend Koh Chang. Here’s a guide for exploring Koh Chang on a budget. Think $150 for a week!
Book a hostel on the island using Agoda. Several hostels are around 300 baht a night. Keep track of where you book the hostel, as you don’t want to get a cheap hostel and then pay a fortune on taxi costs (unless you use hitchhiking).
To get to the island, take the BTS Skytrain to Ekkamai Bus station and book the Government Bus 999 (leaving at 7:45 or 9:45 AM) for 250 baht. The ride takes about 5 hours. Then jump on the ferry (leaving every hour) for 80 baht. Once you get to the island, get one of the tuk tuk taxis for 50-150 baht (depending on the location of your guesthouse).
Don’t rent a scooter on the island. They are overpriced, so is the gas, and there are too many scams. Either use the taxis, or better yet, try hitchhiking. The two times I stuck out my thumb, I got a ride within two minutes.
Return to Bangkok on the same route. You can always buy your return ticket when you’re headed down (and I believe you get half off on the return trip for the ferry if you do so) if you know exactly what day you plan to return. It’s also a good idea since the bus can get full, especially at the end of the weekend, after holidays or before bad weather.
As with any location in Thailand (and all of SE Asia for that matter), your cheapest options for food are always street food. Some good prices to expect (and aim for) are 40-50 baht for pad Thai, fried rice, papaya salad or a Thai omelet. You’ll have to pay 50-100% more if you eat at a restaurant, even a Thai restaurant. My recommendation would be a Thai omelet or 4 pork sticks for breakfast (40 baht), papaya salad for lunch (40 baht) and pad Thai or fried rice for dinner (40 baht). Get your bottles of water from 7-eleven (13 baht a liter). If you’re traveling to Koh Chang on a budget, consider skipping the alcohol. After all, this really isn’t a party island (except Lonely Beach).
For activities, other than spending time on the beach, you can hike to a waterfall. The popular ones will charge you 200 baht, but there’s another which most locals don’t even know about. It’s at the south end of Kai Bae Beach. Just walk down the street to the right of the 7-Eleven (the last one at the south end of the beach), take the left fork, and then the first right. From there you can follow the signs another 20 minutes to reach the waterfall. It’s secluded and peaceful, and chances are you won’t meet another person on the trail.
Another activity I’d really recommend is a bout tour. If you book from Bang Bao pier where the boats leave from, you can get the ticket for 650, plus the 200 baht fee for the national park. So 850 baht total, which includes lunch and snacks.
If you want to go for a week, you’ll have the following expenses.
- Hostels for 7 nights using Agoda – 300 baht a night
- Try Couchsurfing to find a host for free, or use Workaway to find a job in a hostel
- Total – 2,100 baht
- Bus to Koh Chang (Trat) with return – 500 baht
- Ferry with return – 120 baht
- Taxis on the island – 300 baht
- Hitchhike the rest
- Total – 920 baht
- Breakfast – 30-40 baht
- Lunch – 40-50 baht
- Dinner (splurge) – 80-100 baht
- Drinks – 50 baht
- Total for 7 days – 1680 baht
- Boat tour – 950 baht
- Total – 950 baht
Grand Total for 7 Days – 5,650 baht
At the current exchange rate on XE.com, that’s $160. If you find a Couchsurfing or Workaway host, get the bare minimum costs for food, skip the boat tour and only hitchhike on the island, you can drop that down to under 2,000 baht! Never let it be said that money stopped you from traveling. Of course, first you have to get to Thailand, but even that can be cheap with Skyscanner.
- Transportation – Find the best flights to Thailand on Skyscanner. Read my tips on how to find the cheapest flights.
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If you’re traveling with more than one person, I’d recommend using Airbnb. Some locations can be fantastic.
You can also find opportunities to volunteer on Koh Chang via Workaway.