_Our Correspondent back from Bangkok
Bangkok : Koh Chang, an island in Trat Province, is Thailand's second largest island and the biggest in eastern Thailand. It means Elephant Is-land, named for the elephant shape of its headland.
Though yet to be popular with Bangladeshi travellers, tou-rist arrivals to the island have increased over the last few years and are sure to catch on with eco-tourism lovers from here.
In 1982, Koh Chang along with surrounding area became part of the protected Mu Ko Chang National Marine Park. It is quickly becoming one of the more popular tourist destinations in Thailand and attracting travellers from all over the world.
Koh Chang has an area of approximately 429 square kilometers, 70 per cent of which is rainforest, steep hills, cliffs, waterfalls, and wildlife, fine beaches, coral reefs and an abundance of marine life.
Besides long white sandy beaches, most of which are half deserted, the island is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including a good selection of birds, deer and a number of elephants.
Getting to the island is now much easier than in the past. The quickest and most comfortable way is to fly. Bangkok Airways operates a regular service from Suvarnabhumi International Airport Bangkok to Trat Airport.
Minibuses, taxis, coaches and "VIP buses" ply to the island. The journey between Koh Chang and Bangkok takes about 5 hours by road.
Trat Airport is about 20 minutes away from the nearest car ferry pier, Aow Thammachat. The ferry runs every half an hour and the crossing takes about 30 minutes. The last ferry leaves from Trat for Koh Chang at 7 pm.
An airport minibus shuttle service runs between Trat Airport and Koh Chang. The minibus drops off or picks up guests from the hotels.
There are taxis (Songthaew) on Koh Chang and motorcycles can be hired.
Once on the island you can engage in different activities including tree top adventure a la Tarzan, visit the waterfalls, fishermen's village and mangroves or go diving, snorkeling or jungle hiking.
For those with love for adrenaline canopy adventure at the award winning Tree Top Adventure Park will enable you to experience new sensations never felt before. Go from tree to tree balancing yourself through an assortment of rope bridges, Tarzan swings, flying skateboards, and giant zip lines.
Briefing on how to use the slings, pulleys, and harnesses safely is mandatory before you embark on 30 activities ranging from easy to extremely difficult. Try the easy ones first.
The most difficult one is at the highest station which is about seven-storey high but you will always feel safe as the staff accompanies you in all the activities. The adventure course is certified by French experts.
You can then proceed to trekking, riding on elephants, at Baan Chang Thai, and then on to Nam Tok Khlong Plu which is a popular fall. The three-tiered fall, set amid striking jungle scenery, can be reached by walking 600m along a well-marked, lush, jungle path. Do take a change of clothes if you want to bathe in the pool to cool off. There are rest rooms for changing clothes.
A visit to Bang Bao fishing village is very interesting as residents in the area built their houses on poles pitched into the sea. Paths lead up to every house and shops, linking the fishing community together. Bang Bao is also rich with corals.
Baan Salak Khok community live on the southern edge of a bay which is approximately one kilometres wide, up to two kilometres long and connected to the sea by a narrow passage scattered with mangroves. It is one of the best preserved mangrove forests in Thailand.
Like Bang Bao, the quiet fishing village Salak Khok is built on stakes into the bay and houses are interconnected with small timber bridges. Tourists can experience the old ways of the fishermen by going on a ride on traditional Ruea Mat boat. If your trip runs into the evening you will see fireflies slowly appearing all around you.
You must be wondering where to stay. Of course, there are excellent hotels on the island like Koh Chang Tropicana Resort and Spa hotel, Mercure Koh Chang, Dewa Koh Chang hotel etc. The three hotels mentioned have spa but you can also choose The Spa Koh Chang.
If you love peace and quiet, whether in forests or sea, Koh Chang is the perfect place for your next eco-adventure.