In the early 20th century the province of Trat was regained by King Rama V from the French in exchange for the then Thai governed Siem Reap, Sri Sophon and Pra ta burg. 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 ships sunken during this time unfortunately don’t provide excellent wreck diving, due to the murky waters in the bay. However, as a mark of respect for those that sadly died during the “Ko Chang Naval Battle,” the Thai navy holds a ceremony which is attended by local dignitaries 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 Koh 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 Koh 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.