With no less than 50 offshore islets, Ko Chang is Thailand's second largest island, and the biggest in the Ko Chang National Park.
Pretty much the first Western contact that the islanders of Koh Chang had was when the corpses of French sailors, killed in a sea battle with the Japanese in 1941, washed up on their shores. The islanders felt that the backpackers who started arriving in the mid-1970's didn't smell much better, but at least they had big smiles underneath their big noses and what seemed like a fortune to spend.
In common with all Thailand's islands, Koh Chang was then first developed for backpackers, who are now being displaced as the island is turned into a luxury destination: construction work is going on throughout the island, with basic huts being torn down to make way for luxury resorts. This is obviously unfortunate for the budget travelers, but will hopefully be good for the environment, provided the developers don't get carried away, as the more expensive resorts can afford better sanitation and waste disposal facilities than could their predecessors.
Koh Chang's recent success is due not only to its proximity to Bangkok, but to its gorgeous mountainous topography, which is rich in primary forest, waterfalls and still thinly-populated sandy beaches. There are coral reefs to the west of the island which, whilst not amongst the finest of a kingdom blessed with such magnificent underwater treasures, are colourful and abundant with marine life.