At a Glance
- Likely to meet: Tourists, divers, daytrippers, some backpackers, travellers
- The Beach: None, up the road at Bang Bao Beach (Klong Goi)
- Accommodation: Homestay, boutique resorts, bit of backpacker
From 300bt fan rooms up to 6,500bt for 2 room cottage
- Resorts: Resolution, Bhuvarin
- Appartments: Tranquillity Bay
- Motel Rooms/Guesthouses: Alysia Springs, Chilli House, Bang Bao Paradise
- Bungalows: Cliff Cottages, Cliff View, Coconut Garden
- Backpacker: Hippy Huts Glamping Bell Tents, Rasta View Bungalows
- Restaurants: Seafood on the pier, some local cheap eats, some fusion
- Ruan Thai, Chow Lay, Nongyim Seafood
- Coffee Shop: Bang Bao Delight, Viewtalay (end of pier)
- Nightlife: Sunset style, all very low key
- Bars: Rasta View, Reggae Hill (between Bailan and Bang Bao)
- Other: Dive Shops, Snorkeling Boats, Fishing Trips, Shopping, Minimarts, Pharmacy, ATMs, Post Office, Ticket agents
- Highlights: The pier, the seafood, boat trips and diving, shopping
- Lowlights: Lack of immediate beach, daytrippers on the pier
At an Island Pace – Bang Bao
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 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 (Klong Goi) 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.
Around The Bay, Northern Side
Heading south from Bailan Beach, the road snakes and curves around the coastline, skirting through the forest past the odd staff building and the newly constructed Reggae Hill, a bar and restaurant from the owner of the now shut Easy House in Lonely Beach. DARA (currently closed), a private rehabilitation centre, sits at the top of the last hill, before you drop down into the outer reaches of Bang Bao itself.
Here, on your left, the new buildings are the initial construction phase for the Aquarius project, which is a ne development of hotel, villas, shopping and restaurant mall. Principally aimed at the booming market for affluent Chinese, it will straddle all the way along the cliff on this coast and is the largest project to hit Koh Chang for many a year. That said, Covid has played its hand and we can’t see it opening much before 24/25. The Hong Kong investors are also potentially developing the offshore island of Koh Man Nai, which you can see from the Koh Chang viewpoint between Kai Bae Beach and Lonely Beach.
Shortly after the building works, Coconut Garden, with its bungalows up on the hill above, sits on the bend, whilst the small lane to the left leads you up past some private houses to Hippy Huts Glamping Belltents. Opposite Coconut Garden, a small road takes you in a roundabout way to the north side of the bay, where you’ll find a selection of bungalows, resorts and homestays spread out along the hillside and water’s edge.
The narrow street first passes the track down to a car park, which you can also access from near the pier and then the gated entrance up to the cliffside area of Aquarius, the hotel section. Indeed, the villas will ultimately link from the hotel here back over the hillside to the mall area you passed on the way in. It’s one big old site.
After a few more twists and turns, the back road reaches Cliff View Resort, bungalows in tiers up the slope, with an Italian restaurant out front. Next door, Cliff Cottages, now under the wing of BB Divers, is a combination of single storey a/c rooms facing the sea and bungalows up on the hill. They also offer glamping tents, which overlook the little cove beneath, a great spot for snorkeling.
The abandoned Nirvana Resort – no word yet if it will ever reopen – sits at the other end of this cove and it too has/had its own cliff-edge walk and sunset viewing-deck on this side.
The road goes straight through Nirvana Resort and out the other side. After passing an imposing Italian development of pool and houses high up on the rock, you reaching Homestay Bungalows and then up the hill around the corner, Bhuvarin Resort and Resolution Resort. Both of these have their accommodation and pools tiered down the steep slopes towards the water.
At the very end of the road, you can drop down to Khao Nok Homestay with its restaurant, bungalows and wooden jetties. Beyond them, it is possible to venture down a tiny track to the naval shrine at the end.
This shrine is dedicated to Admiral Chumphon Khet Udomsak, the founder of the Thai Navy. It’s 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 in the so-called Battle of Koh Chang.
On The Pier
Back on the main road, the ageing Alysia Springs sits opposite a good, cheap restaurant by the bridge, where the inland track takes you up to Teak Hill Pool Villas. The actual turning down to Bang Bao Pier itself is on the right, with the local school and temple on the other side.
Various local shops, motorbike rentals and cheap diners line each side as you head down towards the sea, with a couple of small plazas at the far end. Sunny Inn is tucked away at the back of one of these, with Koh Chang Divers and Scuba Academy at the entrance. Seascape and BB Bungalows, long stay rooms and bungalows, are across the way, whilst the old Scuba Dawgs shop has now been folded into BB Divers.
At the bottom, where the ubiquitous 7-11 dominates the beginning of the pier, the street opens out into a car park on the right hand side, with Bang Bao Post Office at the rear. A taxi rank is on the left.
Bang Bao Boats, long term island hopping services to Koh Wai, Koh Mak and Koh Kood, has its ticket booth here. A small street, with a coffee shop at its start, squeezes between the buildings to that car park mentioned above.
Restaurants and Accommodation
Walking down the pier, after passing a wooden jetty on the left to the very good local clinic, it’s then a mixture of souvenir shops and ticket booths, together with the odd cheap diner – everything cheek by jowl with one another. Look out for Tee Fishing, a very well stocked outlet for the enthusiasts and Peace Moon (currently closed), bespoke handmade jewellery and leather goods. Walkways branch off the main drag to the homestays of Televille, Koi Sea House, Good View, White House and Chilli House.
Across the way from them, you can join the throng at the seafood restaurants of Ruan Thai and Chow Lay. 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 chilli dip. A table by the water for a long lazy lunch is still a special holiday memory.
Continuing down the pier, another much smaller seafood diner, Nongyim is opposite the stilted wooden jetty leading to Barracuda (currently closed), a cosy bar/restaurant over the water, with the cute Bangbao Paradise Homestay alongside.
Next up, BB Divers has their main office, with Bang Bao Delight, the coffee shop and bakery, a few doors further down. Buddha View, the popular chill-out restaurant and guesthouse, has closed down.
The End of the Pier
At the end, an offshoot walkway leads past the simple guesthouse of Ocean Blue before reaching the last remnants of the abandoned Koh Chang Sea Hut, now just a solitary building after the government removal of its illegal individual designer huts.
With Viewtalay Cafe in a prime location on the left, the pier now opens out to become purely functional with the snorkeling and fishing boats tied one against each other. Down at the far end, the diving boats make their home near the lighthouse, with other fishing boats from the offshore fleets joining them to fill up with freshwater and diesel.
Around The Bay, Southern Side – Bang Bao
After the turning down to the pier, the road starts out for the end of the island passing the temple and then running directly behind the vast condo development of Tranquility Bay, which dominates the southern side of the bay. Cheap bungalows at Neeno and the reggae inspired Rasta View bookend the condo block.
Rasta View also has a selection of huts and a minimart a few metres further on, neighboured by the street entrance to the houses for rent at Secret Garden. The Park Rangers Station for this end of the island is on the other side.
It is now just a short way to Hat Sai Noi, a tiny strip of sand which is home to a handful of chill-out beach restaurants and bars – Ido Ido, Maya and Djembe – as well as small resorts including Beachbox and Indie. Beyond them, another kilometre or so brings you out at Bang Bao Beach Klong Goi, the last area on this west coast.
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 22 for 22/23 Season
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