UPDATED for 2018-19 Season
Home to the tax office, the local land registry, the head police station, hospital and fire station, the area is the administrative capital of Koh Chang, so it’s not going to feature too heavily on any tourist maps of the island. Yet in making time to explore it, you will find plenty of local island life including a great waterfall, a Chinese temple, a few places to stay and some local restaurants.
Northern End and The Waterfall – Dan Mai
Heading down the east coast road, you first pass Fuengfah Hotel, with a very good somtam restaurant next door, before dropping down a steep hill into the start of the village. A small back road on the left, decorated with Chinese lanterns, turns down to the sea, whilst the road proper arrives at the main local hospital, with the Koh Chang electricity centre opposite.
Look out too for the new development, Elysian Pearl, a handful of modern villas, restaurant and pool, which is taking shape up behind the tiny fishing tackle shop. A very decent local and popular diner sits across the road.
Around one more bend, you reach the clearly signed turning for the waterfall, Klong Nonsi, with a small and very popular somtam cafe, just a few tables really, perched up on the slope at its start.
Follow this street to the end to park up – just put your 10bt in the pot – and from there, it’s about 10 to 15 minutes through the orchards until you reach the river. On the opposite bank, you’ll find some useful steps to get you going and then you can climb up the tiers towards the top.
It’s not a waterfall to set the pulse racing, but there is a lovely calm to the area, and depending on the time of the year, you might be able to have a swim in one of the plunge pools.
By the Sea at the Northern End – Dan Mai
After visiting the waterfall, head back to the main road and a few hundred metres further on, a small left turning opposite the police station, takes you further down into the village. You pass the main school on your right, now made of concrete after the old wooden structure burnt down a few years back and next to it, the local temple.
At the crossroads immediately afterwards, head off to your left where the narrow little street takes you past the backs of the houses fronting onto the sea. Along here, the Chinese temple is an obvious place to pull over, and inside you’ll find some fascinating faded black and white photos of the local community up on the walls, as well as lots of kitsch little deities in front of the shrine. Outside, the new pier gives some great views along the coastline.
Dan Mai Seafood is also located along here. It’s much less of a tourist spot than the seafood restaurants in Bang Bao on the west coast, probably because no one knows it’s here but the food is very good and the little sala at the end of the walkway, makes a charming spot for lunch.
Past the restaurant, you’ll find a small very good value Thai resort with its own coffee shop, Baan Chid Talay and a western villa development of 4 to 5 houses, never finished due to land ownership and planning problems. Continue on and you emerge back on the main road before the hospital, as described above.
By the Sea at the Southern End – Dan Mai
Back at the central crossroads by the temple, next head straight towards the sea, past the fishing boats in the inlet until you reach the old fish sauce factory. Koh Chang used to produce its own bottled brand, by all accounts a good one too, but as is so often the case, the larger nationwide producers ultimately crushed any competitors and so production ceased. The battered old buildings, with their creaky floorboards open to the waves beneath, are all that remains. The chedi, however, continues to bestow its blessings on the fishermen.
Returning to that little crossroads once more, you can leave the village by going past the bottom of the temple over the bridge. The street goes in a loop back to the main road but you can make some detours to explore the undeveloped areas by the sea, and there are houses dotted here and there under the trees.
Leaving Town – Dan Mai
Back on that main road, the main administrative buildings sit back behind the sports field and you can also find another entrance to the waterfall. There are more little local restaurants too lining each side and for those wanting to pitch a tent, you’ll find a camping ground at Tippayarat. Good View Resort is down by the sea, a recently renovated resort which is now run by Seaview from Kai Bae.
Nearby, you can’t miss the three imposing private villas, Wave A, B and C, of which two of them are available for holiday rents. Uncle Chalerm’s Bungalows, another Thai operation, completes the Dan Mai Tour.