The Koh Chang Taxi or songthaew
If you do not rent a motorcycle or car, a share taxis or songthaews, (two rows in translation), are the means of getting about Koh Chang. Their pricing seems complex at first, but it makes sense if thought of as moving from zone to zone. The taxi price per person assumes two people minimum using the taxi or that it is already carrying passengers when hailed. If the taxi is actually empty when stopped or if you are the only passenger, the charge may double, but this is at the discretion of the driver. The price after 11.00pm goes up by 50bt across the board and if you are trying to get somewhere distant such as Bang Bao Beach (Klong Kloi), then the taxi price may escalate even further.
The taxis from the piers operate under a different pricing system and will only leave with a minimum of 12 people, whose fares, added up, make the total required by the driver for departure. If the passengers aboard do not make 12, the driver waits for the next boat. It is possible to leave immediately by paying more per person, thereby meeting the total required, but this needs the agreement of all of the passengers and the taxi driver will not negotiate on the sum needed.
Taxi Prices from the piers (Leaving only when full – 12 persons minimum)
White Sand Beach – 50bt
Pearl Beach – 50bt/60bt
Chai Chet – 60bt
Klong Prao Beach – 60bt-70bt
Kai Bae – 80bt
Lonely Beach – 100bt
Bailan Beach – 100bt
Bang Bao – 120bt
Bang Bao Beach (Klong Kloi) – 150bt
Taxi Prices between the beaches
Between White Sand Beach, Pearl Beach, Chai Chet, Klong Prao Beach, Kai Bae – 50bt per person
White Sand Beach, Pearl Beach, Chai Chet, Klong Prao Beach to/from Lonely Beach, Bailan Beach – 100bt per person
White Sand Beach, Pearl Beach, Chai Chet, Klong Prao Beach
to/from Bang Bao, Bang Bao Beach (Klong Kloi) – 150bt per person
Kai Bae to/from Lonely Beach – 50bt per person
Kai Bae to/from Bailan Beach – 70bt per person
Kai Bae to/from Bang Bao, Bang Bao Beach (Klong Kloi) – 100bt – 130bt per person
Lonely Beach to/from Bailan Beach – 50bt per person
Lonely Beach to/from Bang Bao, Bang Bao Beach (Klong Kloi) – 70bt to 100bt per person
Bailan Beach to/from Bang Bao, Bang Bao Beach (Klong Kloi) – 50bt to 70bt per person
Bang Bao to/from Bang Bao Beach (Klong Kloi) – 30bt to 50bt per person
Koh Chang Taxi – East Coast
Taxis run down the East Coast 3 times a day, leaving at 9.00am, 11.00am and 15.00 from Ao Thammachat pier and Centrepoint pier shortly afterwards. They turn at Chang Noi Kitchen past Salak Phet School and continue to Salak Phet Seafood. Return taxis leave from there at 10.00am, 12.00pm and 16.00. Price per person is 100bt, with the ‘full’ system not applying from the boats. They do not go to Salak Khok, Chek Bae or Long Beach. Taxis to those areas will be in the 1,000bt to 2,000bt range as private charters, though Long Beach Resort (the former Treehouse) will meet the 9.00am, 11.00am and 15.00 taxis at the Chek Bae junction if you phone ahead (Joe at 087 979 4572/086 014 1382).
Motorbike Rental, Car Hire and Bicycles
Renting a motorcycle is the best way to see the island and there are dozens of outlets in every area offering automatic 100-125cc scooters, powerful enough for Koh Chang’s road and suitable for two people. Daily rental (24 hours) is from 150bt to 300bt depending on the model and area, with discounts given for weekly and monthly deals. Generally, the owners are fair, but the apparent saving on longer deals is sometimes clawed back by payments for previously unnoticed damage, when the bike is returned. A contract is signed on rental and some form of ID, be it passport, driver’s licence or their copies, is taken.
The bikes will come with helmets, wearable by law, though it is law that is normally flouted. That said, there are now frequent police checks, with the fine at 200bt for both passengers if you are not wearing one. Keep the receipt in case you are stopped again on the same day.
The motorbikes use gasohol at 50bt a litre, which is sold in recycled bottles outside every other shop and there are gas stations in Klong Prao Beach and Klong Son, where the price is cheaper.
Riding a motorbike anywhere in the world is dangerous and Koh Chang is no exception, with inexperienced drivers especially on a steep learning curve. Accidents are very frequent, with deaths, unfortunately, quite common. The two mountains between Klong Son and White Sand Beach and Kai Bae and Lonely Beach have some very difficult ascents, descents, curves and hairpins, with the rainy season or brief showers in the dry season particularly treacherous, as the hills become impossibly slippery. Much of the driving on the island is very poor with little adherence to generally accepted traffic laws, poor lighting at night, and driving after drinking. Sensible advice from experienced island bike riders is stick to the laws you know to be right, keep your speed down and be very aware and cautious of other road users at all times. That way, you are minimising the risks and there should be no problems.
Hiring a car is another option with saloon, jeeps and pick-ups all available, rates from 1,300bt for the jeep to 1,500bt for an automatic or 4WD pick up. This is a good choice for exploring the island on a day trip, bearing in mind that Lonely Beach to Salak Phet is a near 100km there and back, a long way for two-up on a motorbike. Travel agents also do sightseeing day tours with a driver for 2,000bt to 2,500bt or you could charter a songthaew for about the same amount.
Bicycles can be rented in all the major areas at 100bt to 150bt per day, but they are only for local pottering as island wide jaunts are somewhat precluded by the scale of the two mountains at White Sand Beach and Lonely Beach. If you can get a bike to the east side, it is flat and great for coasting around, with all of Chek Bae, Salak Khok and Salak Phet easily accessible. The two beaches at Long Beach or Hat Wai Chek, however, are probably off limits for this form of transport, given the state of the roads and their steep hills.