Ko Si Chang
Ko Si Chang (เกาะสีชัง) is a small island near Si Racha, population 4,500.
Situated in the Gulf of Thailand, its proximity to the shipping lanes has made it a convenient anchorage for dozens of barges which trans-ship their cargoes to lighters for the trip up the Chao Phraya to Bangkok. Ko Si Chang makes a nice weekend outing for local tourists.
While the beaches are not as enjoyable as those on islands further east and south, such as Ko Samet, tourists can explore the remains of a former royal palace which was built as a summer retreat for King Chulalongkorn. The royal residence was abandoned in 1893 when the French occupied the island during a conflict with Thailand over who would control Laos. The island also has many places of religious interest and value.
Please be respectful of the local culture and wear modest clothes when visiting the temples and religious shrines. Always remove your shoes and cover your shoulders when entering a holy area. Refraining from topless or nude sunbathing/swimming would also be polite.
You can catch a government bus from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) or Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai). Both stations have buses that leave everyday, on the hour. The trip to Sri Racha takes about 2 hours. At Mo Chit proceed to window 54 to purchase your ticket. Tickets are 92/88 baht one way from Mo Chit/Ekamai and there is no discount for buying a return fare.
From Ekkamai runs Minibus hourly to Sriracha for 130B.
Upon arrival in Sri Racha, take a tuk-tuk for 50 baht to the pier. Boats to Ko Si Chang leave hourly (or every two hours in low season) from the pier on Ko Loy. The ferry takes about 40 minutes and is 50 baht per person each way.
The information counter at the pier in Ko Si Chang provides necessary information and a brochure carrying the information of five important locations of the island written in Thai and English. This counter may not be open in low season.
When leaving the island be careful. The ferry may leave from a different pier than you came on. It's best to ask a local motorbike taxi driver when you are close to the piers. He/she will direct you.
By Tuk-tuk Motorcycle buffs will be intrigued by the strange motorcycle samlors peculiar to Ko Si Chang, three wheeled motorized rickshaws with outrageously powerful automobile or motorcycle engines. These once roamed the streets of Bangkok but were banished to Sri Racha years ago. They can be hired for about 60 baht an hour to take visitors on a tour of the island.
For group of tourists, one day around the island transport package can be arranged at the pier. The charge for the three-wheeled motorized tuk-tuk, which can accommodate 5 persons, is around 250 baht, and for the pick-up truck, which can accommodate 10 persons, is around 500 baht. Tourists can spend their own time at each location, and the pick-up time to the next location has to be discussed beforehand (as you get off at the location) or you can call the driver's mobile phone when finished at a spot.
By Motorcycle By far the most popular to get around the island is by renting a motorcycle, usually priced at around 300 baht/day. While there are a few steep hills, the island is easily navigated by a novice motorcycle driver. Motorcycles can be rented at the pier, or at many guest houses or rental facilities along the main road
By Foot For visitors who have more time or want to see the island at a slower pace, the island is easily navigated by foot. All of the island's main attractions can be seen in one day, and you can get pretty much anywhere on the island in less than an hour.
For an excellent map of the island visit this link: http://www.kohsichang.net/map-of-koh-sichang.html
Sunsets The island offers beautiful sunsets seen off Taam Pang Beach or Chom Kao Kard. The latter location has a nice walkway, benches and gazebos built onto a hill, all offering great sunset views for free. The walk from the road to the lookout point is quite nice.
Caves Of interest is the large cave known as Tham Saowapha which is said to extend over a kilometre into the limestone interior of the island.
Another cave, the chimney-like Tham Chaprakong gives access to the view from the top of the hill. Other caves on the island are home to meditating hermits, so visitors should take care not to cause any disturbance.
Many of the temples on the island also have caves used for worship which can be explored as long as you are being respectful.
San Jao Phaw Khao Yai Located northeast of the piers this venerable multi-level Chinese temple is up a high on a cliff and has a spectacular view back toward the mainland. The temple has many rooms and caves to be explored. To the right, just before entering the main hall, you will see stairs leading up to Buddha's footprint.
Buddha's Footprint and Lookout Accessible from the main road, or from San Jao Phaw Khao Yai, this lookout offers amazing views of both the island and the small lake known as Buddha's Footprint. The lookout has a shrine and a bell. If you wish to notify the spirits that you are visiting, you may ring the bell three times.
Wat Tham Yai Prik This large temple on the hill includes a giant golden Buddha visible from the ferry, as well as many other Buddha statues. The temple has a great view, caves, and many buildings to explore. The local monks will be happy to show you around and offer a blessing for a modest donation.
Rama IV Summer Palace and Gardens Located half-way down the east coast are the remains of this 19th century palace. You can spend an hour or two wandering around the old buildings, gardens, the pier, and the small beaches.
Taam Pang Beach The only real beach on the island offers nice swimming and good snacks. Beware of rubbish which can find its way onto the beach when the tide comes in.
The restaurant at the beach is also very good as well with reasonable prices.
Krua talay Sichang is a well-known seafood restaurant. They offer great food at a fair price. VIP karaoke rooms are free of charge.
Be careful at night. As you move away from the more popular areas the street lighting is either poor or non-existent. If you walk around the island a torch would be helpful.
As mentioned above, be careful when leaving the island. The ferry may leave from a different pier then you came to. It's best to ask a local moto-taxi driver when you are close to the piers. He/she will direct you.