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, 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.
By Bus You can catch a government bus from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Morchit) or Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai). Both stations have buses that leave everyday, on the hour. The trip to Sriracha takes about 2 hours. At Mo Chit proceed to window 54 to purchase your ticket. Tickets are 92/88 baht one way from Morchit/Ekamai and there is no discount for buying a return fare.
By Boat Upon arrival in Sriracha, take a tuktuk 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 in Si Racha. The ferry takes about 40 minutes and is 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. This counter may not be open in low season.
When leaving the island be careful. The ferry may leave from a different pier then you came on. It's best to ask a local moto-taxi driver when you are close to the piers. He/she will direct you.
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.
The eatery at the beach is also very good as well with reasonable prices.
Be careful at night. As you stay away from the more popular areas, the street lighting is poor or non-existent. If you are planning on walking around the island, a flashlight would be helpful.
As mentioned above, be careful when leave the island. The ferry may leave from a different pier then you came on. It's best to ask a local moto-taxi driver when you are close to the piers. He/she will direct you.