Koh Chang, one of the largest Thai islands in the Gulf of Thailand
Koh Chang is an island in Trat Province, Eastern Thailand. Located in the Mu Ko Chang National Park archipelago, Koh Chang is Thailand's second largest island, and the biggest in Eastern Thailand. With about 5000 permanent residents the island is not heavily populated, but tourism has increased dramatically over the last few years.
Only very recently, in less than ten years, Koh Chang has turned itself into a major tourist destination, both for foreigners and local Thais.
The first foreign backpackers started arriving on Ko Chang in the mid-1970s, using local fishing boats, when the island was still undeveloped.
In 1982, Ko Chang along with the surrounding area became part of the protected Mu Ko Chang national park, with approximately 85% of the island, together with nearby coral reefs, falling within the park.
It has since become a major tourist destination, both for foreigners and Thais, with a number of tourist resorts being developed.
Despite this, tourism on Ko Chang. remains considerably less developed than on Ko Samui or Phuket.
This sudden tourism boom however, has been fraught with controversy concerning land encroachment etc. The government is trying to "develop" it from a backpackers' paradise to a top-level destination, and construction work is going on throughout the island, with basic huts torn down to make way for fancy resorts.
At present, Koh Chang is overpopulated with Russian tourists.