Destination Profile: Koh Si Chang

Ko Si Chang is a verdant, scenic island in the Gulf of Thailand which is only a 2 hour journey from Bangkok or a 30 minute drive from the resort of Pattaya.

Situated in the province of Chonburi, it is accessible by ferry, from Siracha pier (sometimes written Sri Racha). A journey of 12km which takes about 45 minutes and costs 40 baht!!!! The ferries run every hour from 7am to 7pm but as this is Thailand they don't always stick to the scheduled departure times!!!

Despite the fact that it features in a plethora of travel guides, it is off the main tourist trail and thankfully, you won't find the usual tourist hordes that you associate with many other Thai islands, like Koh Samui or Phuket.

I only saw 4 other foreign tourists on the day of my visit, in mid-October 2009. The majority of visitors are locals, which explains why the prices for food, drink and hotels are very reasonable.

Although its beaches may not rival those in Koh Samet or Koh Tao. I think it is a great destination for a day trip and also makes a perfect getaway for a romantic weekend.

Tourists are drawn to Koh Si Chang by it's impressive history and can explore the remains of a former royal palace which was built, for King Chulalongkorn, as a summer retreat.

Another place of interest is the large cave complex known as Tham Saowapha which is reputed to extend more than a kilometre into the limestone cliffs of the island. It is important to remember that some of the caves on the island are home to meditating hermits!!! So travellers should take care not to cause any distress or upset to the inhabitants.

Motorcycle officiandos will be intrigued by the strange motorised tuk tuks known as "sky labs" which are unique to Ko Si Chang. They are three wheeled motorised rickshaws with enormously powerful car engines. These were once a common sight in Thailand but were banished to Koh Si Chang many years ago.

We hired a sky lab for 250 baht for the whole day. The driver took us too the main beach at Haad Tham Phang which has a nice view and lovely clear water and we spent several hours there relaxing and enjoying the sunshine not too mention several plates of som tam and multiple ice cold beer Leo's!!!

We also visited San Jao Phaw Khao Yai, a popular spot with a revered Chinese temple perched high on a cliff with a breathtaking view back toward the mainland.

The journey back to the pier at Si Racha was eventful as our ferry started taking on water which caused the engine to splutter to a halt and we had to be secured to the side of a passing fishing vessel to prevent us from sinking completely. We we then off-loaded onto another ferry for the journey home!!!

The absence of any life jackets on our floundering vessel was more than a little bit worrying, but fortunately we lived to tell the tale!!!!!

All in all koh Si Chang was a lovely place to visit and I look forward to my next trip there!!!!


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