You don’t have to cast your mind that far back into the realms of history, to discover when the now popular Thai island of Koh Chang first started to become the tourist destination it is today. Prior to that the waters surrounding Koh Chang were once ridden with war and conflict as a power struggle began for control of parts of Thailand with the French navy.
In the early 20th century the province of Trat was regained by King Rama from the French in exchange for the then Thai governed Siem Reap, Sri Sophon and Prataborg. This triumph is still celebrated to this day and the 23rd March is known as independence day to it’s locals. Chang island around this time was little known and the few families that inhabited the island would take to the mainland to grow coconuts and fruit as way of providing for there families.
Between 1940 and 1941 during the Indochina war, the history of Koh Chang would change for good with the French Navy’s attempts to recapture Trat. On 17 January 1941 the French-Thai battle took place on the waters around the island of Koh Chang. The Thai navy were successful in driving the French out of Thai waters but not without cost. A significant number of Thai nationals lost there lives as they fought for there country. The sunken ships during this time provide excellent wreck diving to this day. As a mark of respect for those that sadly died during the Ko Chang Naval Battle, the Thai navy holds a ceremony on 17 January each year.
In the mid 1970’s local fishing boats sailed Ko Chang’s first backpackers to it’s shores in search of the untouched sands and forestation that formed the island. A few years later in 1982 Ko Chang and it’s surrounding area was granted national park status under the name of Mu Ko Chang National Marine Park.
In 2001 then Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s visited the island of Koh Chang. He was so in awe of the islands beauty that he intended to develop Ko Chang to attract wealthy tourists from all over the globe. Today the once traditional bamboo huts that lined the beaches of Ko Chang are being replaced with luxury resorts.