UPDATED for 2019-20 Season
At a Glance – Bang Bao Village
- 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: Nirvana, Resolution, Bhuvarin
Appartments: Tranquillity Bay
Motel Rooms/Guesthouses: Alysia Springs, Sunny Inn, Buddha View, Chilli House, Bang Bao Paradise
Bungalows; Cliff Cottages, Cliff View
Backpacker:Coconut Garden, Hippy Huts, Rasta Beach
- Ruan Thai, Fish, Chow Lay, Buddha View, El Greco, Baracuda
Coffee Shop: Bang Bao Delight, Arabica Cafe
- Bars: El Greco, Buddha View, Rasta View
At an Island Pace – Bang Bao Village
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 – Bang Bao Village
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 Coconut Garden, with its bungalows up 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 a car parking area, which you can also access from near the pier and then the heavily gated entrance to the uncompleted Aquarius Wellness Resort and Spa – you may also have noticed the billboard back on the main road. Straddling all the way along the cliff on this coast, it’s the largest project to hit Koh Chang for many a year, with scheduled opening in 2021/22, principally aimed at the booming market for affluent Chinese. The Hong Kong investors are also developing the offshore island of Koh Man Nai, which sits off the Koh Chang viewpoint between Kai Bae Beach and Lonely Beach.
After a few more twists and turns, the back road reaches Cliff View Resort, bungalows in tiers up the slope and next door, Cliff Cottages, a mixture of backpacker and a/c rooms along the front and the hill above. Beyond them, the 2/3 star Nirvana Resort sits at the end.
The northern shore of the bay and its headland is very narrow at this point and Cliff Cottages’ restaurant and some of its bungalows actually look down over the rocky inlet behind, a terrific spot for snorkeling. Nirvana Resort too has its own cliff-edge walk and sunset viewing-deck on this side.
The road goes straight through Nirvana Resort and out the other side, curving 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 naval shrine at the end.
This shrine 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.
On The Pier – Bang Bao Village
Back on the main road, after passing the motel, Alysia Springs, with a popular little restaurant, the local school and temple on the opposite side, the route reaches the turning down to Bang Bao Pier itself. Another cheap diner used by the songthaew taxi drivers sits on the corner, whilst various other local shops, motorbike rentals and food stalls line each side as you head down towards the sea.
Towards the end of the street, Sunny Inn is tucked down a small plaza on the right with Koh Chang Divers at the entrance and Seascape and BB Bungalows, long stay rooms and bungalows, across the way. Both Scuba Dawgs and Scuba Academy also have their dive offices here.
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 and Arabica Cafe are on the left.
Bang Bao Boats, long term boat services 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 street squeezes between the buildings leading to car parking for the boat companies.
Walking down the pier, passing a wooden jetty on the left leading to the very good local clinic, souvenir shops and ticket booths run from one to another, with Tee Fishing, a very well stocked outlet for the enthusiasts and Peace Moon, bespoke handmade jewellery, tucked in amongst them. Walkways branch off to the homestays of Bang Bao Sea House, the guesthouse, El Greco, which also has a Greek restaurant and lounge bar and Chill House.
Across the way are the seafood restaurants of Ruan Thai, Chow Lay and Fish. 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.
Continuing down the pier, a second Peace Moon lies before the stilted wooden jetty leading to Barracuda, a cosy bar/restaurant over the water, with the cute Bangbao Paradise Homestay alongside.
Next up, BB Divers has their main office, with Dutchman Fishing Tour and Homestay, also at Ao Salad in Koh Kood, at the end of another little ramp opposite. Bang Bao Delight, the coffee shop and bakery sits a few doors further down and Buddha View, a very popular chill-out restaurant with simple rooms, is accessed down a small side alley immediately afterwards.
At the end, as the pier begins to open out, another offshoot walkway leads past the simple guesthouse of Ocean Blue before reaching Koh Chang Sea Hut, now just a solitary building after the government removal of its illegal individual designer huts.
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.
Around The Bay, Southern Side – Bang Bao Village
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. Rasta View and its huts at Rasta Beach, both reggae inspired establishments, are found along the way.
It is now just a short way to Hat Sai Noi, a tiny strip of sand which is home to some chill-out beach bars, restaurants and the odd room. Beyond this, another kilometre or so brings you out at Bang Bao Beach Klong Goi, the last area on this west coast.