Bang Bao at a Glance
400bt rooms to 5,000bt+
Bang Bao at an Island Pace
Bang Bao used to be a classic Thai fishing village with life centred around a narrow pier of traditional wooden stilt houses and boats moored up ready for sea. On land, more houses, some with their own small jetties, were dotted around the beautiful large bay, local shops clustered along the little soi leading from the main road down to the pier and a school and temple sat on the mountain side.
Nowadays, much of that has changed as tourism has replaced fishing as the principal source of income and the village has established itself as the island’s main point of departure for the myriad of competing trips exploring the archipelago, both above and below water.
The stilt houses have been converted into the odd homestay, a few dive shops, a handful of large seafood restaurants but, in the main, into a plethora of almost identical shops, rammed to the gunwales with souvenirs. Small offshoot structures have been added with guesthouses or private dwellings and around the bay itself, there are resorts, bungalows and a large condo development.
The pier itself has been extended to accommodate the numerous dive, speed and snorkel boats, with them tied up two or three deep along the now concrete jetty, which sports a new lighthouse at its far end. At the start and end of each day, as the tourists set out and return, the narrow cramped walkway leading up to the boats is the busiest place on the island.
Nonetheless, outside of rush hour, there is lots to explore and sitting out over the water for lunch or dinner is still a great holiday experience. Whilst this is not a beach area, that is another couple of kilometres further south at Bang Bao Beach Koh Chang or back to Lonely Beach to the north, there is good accommodation from budget to boutique around the bay and on the pier.
The atmosphere is peaceful and laid back, with a few boats still fishing and unloading their catches and locals living their lives in amongst the hustle and bustle as they have always done. There are also some quite wonderful views thrown in for good measure.
Bang Bao – Around The Bay
Heading south from Bailan Beach, the road snakes and curves around the coastline, skirting through the forest past the odd building, with DARA, a private rehabilitation centre, sitting at the top of the last hill, before you drop down into the outer reaches of Bang Bao itself. Shortly afterwards, on the corner with Asia Backpackers, with its bungalows laid out on the hill above, a small road leads towards the sea. This takes you to the north side of the bay, where bungalows, resorts and homestays are spread out, all with great views across the water.
The narrow soi passes the track down to Remark Puzi Bungalows, which you can also access from near the pier and then a heavily gated entrance to Nature Zone Eden Village, a private development that never properly began. After a few more twists and turns, it reaches Cliff View Resort, bungalows in tiers up the hill and Cliff Cottages next door, with Nirvana Resort and its Tantra Restaurant at the end, on the sea.
The northern shore of the bay and its headland is very narrow at this point and Cliff Cottages, its restaurant and some of its bungalows actually look down over the rocky inlet behind, with Nirvana Resort also having its own cliff-edge walk and viewing deck, so you can watch the sunset from this side.
The road goes straight through Nirvana Resort and out the other side and becoming more of a track, curves past Homestay Bungalows before climbing up to Bhuvarin Resort and Resolution Resort, both of which have their buildings spilling down the steep slopes towards the water. At the very end, you can drop down to Khao Nok Homestay with its restaurant, bungalows and wooden jetties and beyond them, it is possible to venture down a tiny track to the shrine at the end.
This is dedicated to Admiral Chumphon Khet Udomsak, the founder of the Thai Navy and is one of several on the island, the others being outside of White Sand Beach and in the very far southern corner after Long Beach. All commemorate the loss of lives suffered during WWII, when the French Navy clashed with the Thai fleet off this coast, sinking three of its ships, the so called Battle of Koh Chang.
Bang Bao – On The Pier
Back on the main road, the route continues past the track up to Jungle Experience and the motel, Alysia Springs and a few metres further, opposite the school, an innocuous turning down to the sea marks the start of Bang Bao proper. A little cheap restaurant used by the songthaew drivers sits at the top and various local shops and food stalls line each side.
Sunny Inn is tucked down a small plaza on the right with Divingscool on the corner and Seascape and BB Bungalows, long stay rooms and bungalows, on the other side. At the bottom, the street opens out into a car park on either side, with the ubiquitous 7-11 at the beginning of the pier.
Bang Bao Boats to Koh Wai, Koh Mak and Koh Kood, has its ticket booth here, see Koh Chang Island Hopping for more details with BB Divers opposite, the first of its two shops in the area. A small alley squeezes between the buildings leading to Remark Puzi Bungalows.
Walking down the pier, passing a wooden jetty on the left leading to the very good local clinic, souvenir shops and ticket booths line both sides whilst walkways branch off to the homestays of Baan Fuang Faa and Flower House, and the guesthouse, El Greco/Good View, which also has a Greek restaurant and lounge bar.
Across the way are the seafood restaurants of Ruan Thai, Chow Lay, Nok Noi and Lom Talay. Very popular with Thais and tourists alike, they offer vast menus of dishes such as seabass steamed in lime, soft shell crab with black pepper or raw prawns with chili dip and a table by the water is rather special. Just after them, Peace Moon, bespoke handmade jewellery is next door to another stilted wooden jetty leading to Barracuda, a cosy bar/restaurant over the water, with the newly renovated Bangbao Paradise Homestay alongside.
Diving wise, BB Divers has their main office in this section with Scuba Dawgs opposite Chow Lay. Sea Hunter, fishing and snorkelling, is at the far end. Buddha View, a popular chill-out restaurant with simple rooms, is accessed down a small side alley and is about half way along.
At the end, as the pier begins to open out, another offshoot walkway leads past the simple guesthouse of Ocean Blue before reaching La Madrague, a tiny boutique guesthouse on the corner and further round, Koh Chang Sea Hut, individual designer huts off walkways over the sea.
After this, the pier becomes purely functional with the boats tied one against each other, tours, dives and local fisherman having prime spot at the start and towards the end, fishing boats from the offshore fleets, in port to fill up with freshwater and diesel.
Many of these are squid boats which use light to attract the catch and can be seen at night from the different beaches, their powerful high watt bulbs, seemingly equidistant from one another, creating an impression of a distant shoreline as they bob away on the horizon.
After the turning down to the pier, the road starts out for the end of the island passing the temple, cheap bungalows at Hippy Huts and then running directly behind the vast condo development of Tranquility Bay, which dominates the southern side of the bay.
From here, it is just a short way to Hat Sai Noi, a tiny strip of sand which is home to some chill-out beach bars and beyond this, another kilometre or so to Bang Bao Beach Koh Chang, the beach for those staying at Bang Bao and the last area on this west coast.