Ko Si Chang
Ko Si Chang (เกาะสีชัง) is a small island near Si Racha, population 4,500.
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.
Situated in the Gulf of Thailand 12km offshore from Si Racha, its proximity to the shipping lanes has made it a convenient anchorage for dozens of barges which transship their cargoes to lighter boats for the trip up the Chao Phraya to Bangkok. Boats to Ko Si Chang leave hourly from the pier in Si Racha, taking about 40 minutes to make the trip. Price: 40 baht per person each way (as of December, 2009).
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 languages.
Motorcycle buffs will be intrigued by the strange motorcycle samlors peculiar to Ko Si Chang, three wheeled motorized rickshaws with outrageously powerful automobile or Harley Davidson engines. These once roamed the streets of Bangkok but were banished to Si 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 rickshaw, 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 down at the location) or can call the driver's mobile phone when finished at a spot.
Also of interest is the large cave known as Tham Saowapha which is said to extend over a kilometer 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. Also on the island is San Jao Phaw Khao Yai, a venerable multi-level Chinese temple high on a cliff with a spectacular view back toward the mainland.