Koh Si Chang is a small picturesque island in the Gulf of Thailand. With its relaxed atmosphere and slow pace of life, the island is a haven of tranquility not far from the hustle and bustle of Pattaya and Bangkok.
Among its draws are the beaches with clear waters, beautiful sunsets and outdoor activities as snorkeling, biking and kayaking. The island’s restaurants always have a steady supply of fresh seafood like crab, squid and prawn.
Koh Si Chang’s only town on the North East tip of the island is lined with narrow lanes and small colorful houses. As private cars are not allowed on the island, traffic is very light.
The island can be reached by ferry from Si Racha in about 45 minutes.
Do & See on Koh Si Chang
Although a small island, Koh Si Chiang features a number of historical sites, temples, beaches and lots of natural beauty. Distances are small and there is hardly any traffic making exploring the island a relaxed undertaking.
Koh Si Chang houses several beaches with usually clear waters.
A sandy beach with some rocks, Tham Phang beach on the West coast is the island’s biggest beach. Deck chairs shaded by parasols are for rent, as well as kayaks. Several restaurants serve simple Thai dishes and drinks. Usually the beach is quiet, except on weekends and Thai public holidays.
Around the island are several smaller, even quieter beaches with very little or no facilities.
Wat Tham Yai Prik & Yellow Buddha
In the interior of the island between Tham Phang beach and the old town is Wat Tham Yai Prik Buddhist temple and meditation center.
A stairway flanked by the mythological Naga serpent leads up to the ornate temple building. From here you will have great views of Koh Si Chang island, the surrounding islands and the Gulf of Thailand.
A little higher up the hill is a very large golden colored image of the Buddha. The seated image overlooks the small town and the sea.
Just North of town and Tha Lang pier where the ferry arrives is a Chinese temple known as the Chao Pho Khao Yai Shrine, or “Shrine of the Father Spirit of the Great Mountain”. The shrine dedicated to the spirit is housed in one of the many caves.
Going back many centuries, the shrine is believed to have been founded by Chinese traders passing the island by boat. During Chinese New Year the shrine is visited by thousands of pilgrims from across Asia.
Near the Chinese temple, a little higher up the hill is a replica of a Buddha footprint housed in a Sala, a Thai style open pavilion. Next to it, on top of a rock stands a small golden pagoda. Thai people come here to pay homage to the Buddha footprint.
Although the fairly steep climb of more than 500 steps requires quite a bit of effort, the views of the old town, the port and the Gulf of Thailand are great.
The stairs to the Sala start behind the Chao Pho Khao Yai Shrine.
King Chulalongkorn’s Summer Palace
About halfway down Koh Si Chang’s East coast is Judhadhut Palace, built by King Chulalongkorn around 1890 as the summer residence for the Royal Family.
When the island was briefly occupied by the French in 1893, the palace was deserted. The main building Vimanmek Mansion which is completely build of teak wood was dismantled and rebuild at Dusit Palace in Bangkok.
Several structures remain including the beautifully restored green Ruen Mai Rim Talay building and the wooden Atsadang Bridge, which was the pier where the King’s boat landed.
The palace gardens with its ponds, extensive walkways and seaside location make for a relaxing walk.
Wat Atsadang Nimit
Also part of the palace complex is Wat Atsadang Nimit, a Buddhist temple standing on the hill South of the palace.
The temple is a mix of European and Thai architectural styles. A white Thai style stupa stands on top of a church like building with Gothic arched windows inlaid with stained glass. The palace opens daily, admission is free.
Khao Noi Viewpoint
A short walk towards the hills from Wat Atsadang Nimit is Kho Noi Viewpoint which offers great views of Koh Si Chang, the sea and surrounding islands all the way up to the mainland.
Koh Khang Khao
Koh Khang Khao, a very small island just South of Koh Si Chang offers a nice sandy beach and good snorkeling. To get there, rent a boat at the pier. The rate would be about 1,500 to 2,000 Baht for a half or full day respectively.
Getting to Koh Si Chang
To get to Koh Si Chang, take the ferry from Si Racha town in Chonburi province. The ferry departs from the pier just South of Surasak Montri park and arrives at Tha Lang pier on Koh Si Chang. The trip takes about 45 minutes, the rate is 50 Baht per person one way.
The town of Si Racha is a little over 90 kilometers from Bangkok international airport and about 30 kilometers from Pattaya.
Private cars are not allowed on Koh Si Chang.
A large version of a tuk tuk that can seat five people can be rented for a full day tour around the island at about 250 Baht. Many of the drivers offer a tour of the island’s highlights.
Motorbikes can be rented at 300 Baht per day from most of the hotels or at the ferry pier.