Dan Mai village on the Koh Chang east coast is found about 8km down from the second of the island’s ferry piers, Centrepoint.
Home to the tax office, the local land registry, the head police station, hospital and fire station, Dan Mai is the administrative capital of Koh Chang.
As this east coast of the island slowly develops, it is also now home to a few places to stay, as well as plenty of local island life, a gently tiered waterfall and Chinese temple.
Northern End of Dan Mai and The Waterfall
Heading down the coast from the ferries, you arrive on the outskirts of Dan Mai when you pass the entrance to the brand new resort Crown View Beachfront, with the tiny hostel, 2L Hostel opposite. Just around the next corner, the bightly coloured bungalows of Siriporn Resort sit down by the sea. This section also includes Fuengfah Hotel, cheap Thai style accommodation, a very good somtam restaurant with its chickens roasting on the spit at the front and another restaurant perched up on the hill at the back.
A further steep hill takes you past some train carriages whose purpose we have yet to decipher and then dropping down the other side, you arrive in Dan Mai itself.
The back road on the left, decorated with Chinese lanterns, turns down to the ocean, whilst the road proper arrives at the main local hospital, with the Koh Chang electricity centre opposite.
Just behind the tiny fishing tackle shop, Elysian Pearl, a handful of modern villas, restaurant and pool, barely opened before the arrest and deportation to the States of its Swedish owner on alleged multi-million dollar fraud charges. Watch this space as to what happens next but it seems the resort is not now allowed to open pending the trial and investigation. Other local cheap Thai restaurants sit on the opposite side of the road.
Around one more bend with a decent noodle stand on the corner, you reach the clearly signed turning for the waterfall, Klong Nonsi. There’s a small and very popular somtam cafe, just a few tables really, perched up on the slope at its start.
Klong Nonsi Waterfall
For the waterfall, follow this street inland to the parking at the end – you pop 10bt in the pot – and then on foot, it’s a gentle 10 to 15 minute stroll through the orchards until you reach the river itself. On the opposite bank, you’ll find some useful steps to get you going on your ascent upriver but after those, there will be a fair bit of clambering up the banks of each tier if you want make 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
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 Dan Mai 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.
Seafood and Resort
Dan Mai Seafood is also located along the shore. 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 can be very good and that 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, now almost finished after many years of land ownership and planning problems.
Continue on and you emerge back on the main road right back before the hospital, that spot with the Chinese Lanterns as described above.
By the Sea at the Southern End
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 Dan Mai 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 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, run by Seaview Resort from Kai Bae, is down by the sea and it too has a good seafood diner on stilts out over the water.
Nearby, you can’t miss the three imposing private villas, Wave A, B and C, all available for holiday lets and two of them also up for sale. Uncle Chalerm’s Bungalows, another Thai operation, just about completes the Dan Mai Tour but look out too for the sign on the right to Home. Turn in and you’ll find yourself on one of those unknown Koh Chang inland roads which go on and on into the forest. At the end of this one, you emerge at the indicated Home (once of White Sand Beach), a few rooms to stay, camping and complete peace and quiet.