Koh Sichang, Thailand

Koh Sichang, a delightful hidden gem of an island near Bangkok, Thailand



Koh Sichang is a small island off the coast of Siracha in the Gulf of Thailand. It's not very well know like some of Thailand's other islands. Koh Sichang may not be the most famous island in Thailand, but it is one of the most affordable, relaxing, and - most importantly - closest to Bangkok.
  • Easy to get to and within two hours of Bangkok
  • Relaxing island
  • Budget-friendly

Koh Sichang - เกาะสีชัง

The small island in the Gulf of Thailand is known for its beach, cheap seafood and accommodations, laid-back atmosphere, and as the site of a former royal palace. It's the best beach near Bangkok, and is very easy to get to for a weekend trip away from the city.

the beach on koh sichang island, thailand
the beach on Koh Sichang, Thailand

How to get to Koh Sichang from Bangkok, Thailand

The greatest thing about visiting Koh Sichang is how close it is to Bankok, and how quick, cheap, and easy it is to get there. To get to Koh Sichang, first you have to leave Bangkok and travel east to the town of Siracha (which has nothing to do with the, admittedly delicious, sauce).

From Bangkok:

  1. Buses to Siracha depart hourly from Ekkamai (Eastern) Bus Terminal or Mo Chit (Bangkok) Bus Terminal. Ekkamai is easiest to get to, since it's located right off of the Skytrain at BTS Ekkamai Station. A ticket from Bangkok Ekkamai to Siracha, Thailand costs 100 THB.
  2. The bus trip takes around 1.5 to 2 hours depending on traffic. Once you arrive at the bus station in Siracha, you can take a tuk-tuk to the tourist ferry pier for 80 THB. Just tell the driver "Koh Sichang", and he'll take you to the right place.
  3. At the Siracha-Koh Sichang Ferry Pier, you'll need to buy a ticket to the ferry. A one-way ticket costs just 50 THB. Ferries to Koh Sichang are old and slow, and the trip takes around 40 minutes. I find the ride to be pretty comfortable, though, especially if you choose to sit on the upper deck where you can feel the cool sea breeze and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
  4. Once on the island, you can get around most places on foot. Motorbikes are also available to rent for 200-300 THB per day.
a Chinese temple near the ocean in Siracha, Thailand
a Chinese temple near the tourist pier in Siracha, Thailand
Ferries depart from Koh Sichang every hour. The boats are old and a little rickety, but I think that the ride is a lot of fun. I always choose to sit on the upper deck. The lower deck, though air-conditioned, is a little stuffy and makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. On the upper deck, I can feel the sun and the sea breeze, and can enjoy watching my surroundings. It's beautiful on the sea, and I don't want to miss it! Don't forget sunscreen.

a colorful wooden ferry boat in Thailand
the tourist ferry from Siracha to Koh Sichang, Thailand

Getting around Koh Sichang

Once you arrive at the pier on Koh Sichang, there will be songtaew (public pickup truck taxis) and tuk-tuk drivers waiting to take you around the island. You can also rent a motorbike. If you do rent a motorbike, please be careful! There is a hospital on the island, but it's really more of a very small local clinic. Take care and drive carefully.

Please note that technically it's illegal to drive without a Thai license. While the police will almost always look the other way, rent a motorbike at your own risk. The good news is that you can get most everywhere on the island on foot, and if you are here to relax, you won't have far to go anyway!

a palm tree and island in thailand
Koh Sichang Island in the Gulf of Thailand

What to do and see on Koh Sichang

Koh Sichang is a very small island, and you can see most of the sights in a day. Don't feel like you have to rush around too much, though! Take your time to enjoy the scenery. If you only want to do a few things, here are some of my top recommendations. In my opinion, these are the coolest and most interesting things to do on the island.

Visit the Phra Chuthathut Palace

The most famous site on Koh Sichang is the site of the former Phra Chuthathut Palace, the Summer Palace of King Chulalongkorn of Siam. The beloved monarch built his summer palace on Koh Sichang - the only royal palace in Thailand that was built on an island - around the turn of the 20th century. When Koh Sichang was invaded by the French during the Franco-Siamese Wars in the early 20th century, the palace was abandoned.

a villa at the former palace of Thai King Chulalongkorn
a villa at the former Summer Palace
After a Thai victory, the king had Phra Chuthathut Palace moved piece by piece to Bangkok. You can still visit it today! Nowadays, it's called the Vimnamek Teakwood Mansion, and it's still one of Bangkok's most popular tourist sites.

Today, the site of the former palace is a museum. It's free to visit and to explore, and you don't need to dress up like you do at the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Shorts and sandals are ok! Several of the old villa buildings remain, and have been turned into museum exhibition rooms. There's a small cafe on the site where you can get a cool drink.

After exploring the old palace, follow the trail up the hillside to the island viewpoint. The path isn't so far - less than a kilometer - and it's not so difficult. It can get hot, though, so bring some water with you. Along the way you'll pass a small Buddhist chapel that's part of the old palace grounds.

a Buddhist temple that looks like a Christian church, koh sichang, thailand
a Buddhist temple on Koh Sichang, Thailand
King Chulalongkorn was the first Thai monarch to study and travel in Europe. After his travels, the king was especially inspired by western architecture, which is evident in several of the buildings build during his reign (such as Hua Lampong Train Station in Bangkok). This small Buddhist shrine looks a lot like a Christian church, complete with a whitewashed exterior, marble tile, and stained-glass windows. It's really cool, so don't miss it on your hike up to the viewpoint!

the viewpoint on Koh Sichang, Thailand with views of the sea and boats
Koh Sichang Viewpoint
From the viewpoint you can look out over the island, and see the fishing boats and ferries sailing across the Gulf of Thailand.

Explore a colorful Chinese Temple

As you arrive on the ferry, look up in the hills to the right of the pier. You'll see a sprawling Buddhist temple complex built in a Chinese-Thai style. A lot of Buddhist temples on Thailand's islands are Chinese-inspired. This is because Thailand used to be a major shipping port for Chinese merchants, many of whom settled down on the islands and beaches along Thailand's coast.

a chinese Buddhist temple in a cave on Koh Sichang Island, Thailand
a Chinese temple on Koh Sichang Island, Thailand
Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai Temple, known as the "Shrine of the Father of the Spirit of the Hill" (what a mouthful) is a beautiful and colorful Chinese-Thai Buddhist temple. The main shrine is located inside a cave on the side of a hill, and up above, you can hike to a Buddha footprint shrine.

dragon motifs at a Chinese temple in Thailand with incense burning
dragon and incense

Go swimming or just enjoy a beer on Tham Phang Beach

Of course, if you are visiting Koh Sichang, chances are that you just want a weekend away from the traffic and pollution of Bangkok. Whether you are a local, expat, or tourist, it's nice to get out of the city. Hit up Tham Phang Beach for white sand and clear water.

tourists playing on Koh Sichang at Tham Phang Beach
Tham Phang Beach, Koh Sichang, Thailand
The beach is located on the opposite end of the island from the ferry pier. Although the distance across the island isn't far, the road over the hill is very steep and can be difficult to walk. I recommend hiring a tuk-tuk or motorcycle taxi, or renting a motorbike to get to the beach.

There are a few resorts on this side of the island, but most accomodation are back in the village near the ferry pier.

On the beach, there are several souvenir shops, restaurants, and food stands. You can sit in a beach chair for free, as long as you buy some food or a drink. Grab a beer, fresh coconut, or mango smoothie, and relax on the sand.

a rocky beach on Koh Sichang Island, Thailand
the beach on Koh Sichang

Enjoy a delicious seafood dinner

After a day of swimming, hiking, sightseeing, or relaxing, how does a delicious seafood dinner sound? One of my all-time favorite dishes is fried soft shell crab. Usually it's kind of expensive, but I am pleased with how cheap seafood is on Koh Sichang! A huge serving of two deep fried soft shell crab with fried rice only set my back 180 THB. If you've traveled to other islands in Thailand, you know how amazing that is!

two softshell crab and fried rice
soft shell crab - a surprisingly cheap and delicious seafood dinner on Koh Sichang
I like to eat at the restaurant at De'Anchor Resort. Even if you aren't spending the night there (the hotel can a little expensive if you are on a tight budget), visit the restaurant for good (and affordable) food and a beer or two.

pink and blue sunset on Koh Sichang island, Thailand
sunset at Koh Sichang

Where to stay on Koh Sichang - best value hotels and bungalows

You can find good deals through sites such as Booking.com. Koh Sichang is a fairly small island, but there's a good number of accomodations, from upscale resorts to cheap and basic bungalows. Unless it's the high season, Koh Sichang is almost never crowded, so you shouldn't have any trouble booking accomodation even just a few days in advance.

Booking.com

My favorite place to stay on Koh Sichang is at De'Anchor. It's a beautiful resort on the island, and it's super close to the ferry pier. If you just want a relaxing getaway, it's in a prime location, and the amenities are great. There's a swimming pool and a restaurant with surprisingly affordable prices and great mixed drinks. It's not the cheapest place to stay, if you're on a budget, however. If you want to stay somewhere cheap, check out one of these great bungalow hotels on Koh Sichang! Shop around on Booking.com to make sure you find the best prices.

Budget travel on Koh Sichang - how much does it cost?

Visiting Koh Sichang from Bangkok is not only easy, it's also surprisingly affordable. Unlike a lot of islands in Thailand that have big tourist industries, Koh Sichang is quieter, and generally more popular with expats and Bangkok families on a weekend trip. A seafood meal is surprisingly cheap, often costing less than 200 THB for a BIG portion. While there are some upscale resorts on the island, it's possible to find a private bungalow for between 200-500 THB per night. Prices definitely can vary with the season, but overall, Koh Sichang is one of the cheapest islands in Thailand to visit.

A weekend on Koh Sichang - sample budget

100 THB - bus from Bangkok to Siracha
  80 THB - tuk-tuk to the ferry pier
  50 THB - ferry from Siracha to Koh Sichang
300 THB - motorbike rental
300 THB - seafood dinner and beer
400 THB - bungalow rental

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  • There is a 7-eleven store on Koh Sichang in the village near the ferry pier. You can buy water, snacks, beer, and even simple meals there for a low price. They also have things like sunscreen, toiletries, and medicine that you may have forgotten.
  • There is a small clinic on the island, but if you have any serious medical emergencies, I recommend heading back to the mainland and going to nearby Pattaya or Bangkok.
  • Don't forget your sunscreen, and be sure to stay hydrated!


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