There are an ever-increasing number of foreigners who choose to call Koh Chang home. These numbers are boosted by people who come over during the tourist high season, from roughly October to May, either to work for seasonal businesses or – for the really lucky ones – to enjoy an extended holiday.
The advantages of life on Koh Chang speak for themselves. It is a beautiful place. You can stroll on the beach, swim in the sea, go fishing and basically just enjoy the fact that you’re on an idyllic jungle island in the tropics.
Dramatic improvements in infrastructure have made life on Koh Chang a lot more convenient than it was a few years ago. You can obtain a good internet connection almost everywhere on the west coast and there is mobile phone network coverage over nearly the whole island.
There are many markets, 7-Elevens and small supermarkets so shopping isn’t much of a problem. Things are generally more expensive than on the mainland as the costs of ferry transfers are factored in to prices, but this is common for all islands.
If you need to get hold of something that you can’t find on the island then a trip to the towns of Trat or the larger Chantaburi is relatively painless since Koh Chang is so close to the mainland.
You should also remember that online shopping is an option. All kinds of things can be purchased online in Thailand, Thai Postal rates are quite cheap and the service is good as long as you make sure you have things sent by the EMS or recorded delivery service.
Another positional advantage of Koh Chang compared to the islands of southern Thailand, such as Koh Samui and Phuket, is that it lies relatively close to Bangkok. It takes only three hours to cover the 315kms of good highway between the Koh Chang ferry piers and the Thai capital, so it is easy to pop up to the big smoke for a kind of ‘holiday from your holiday’.
As you would expect from a tourist mecca, Koh Chang has a huge abundance of restaurants offering cuisine from all over the world. There is plenty to choose from in terms of bars and nightlife, certainly enough to give you lots of options as a long term resident.
While you shouldn’t expect the hedonistic extremes of some other places in Thailand, there are enough bars to interest lovers of Pattaya and enough beach parties to cater to those Koh Pha Ngan. Refer to the eating and drinking sections of the site for more details on the best bars and restaurants on the island.
Living on Koh Chang does, however, have its disadvantages. The six month “green season” sees fewer visitors and a lot of rain, although there are weeks of perfect weather as well. This is great if you like peace and quiet and not so great if you don’t.
Another factor to consider if you are thinking of living in Koh Chang, especially if you plan to work or set up a business, is the implications of the Thai visa legislation. Foreigners can get work permits but it is a far from straightforward process and it is worth reading the visas section on this site for more information.