Long ago, we watched people coming to the island on Chinese junks, but these days the choices are train, car or bus to Siracha, and then a ferry to the island.
Ferries leave every hour from 07:00 to 20:00, and they pretty much leave on time. We have been left standing on the pier with 19 pieces of luggage on the ferry a mere 2 m away because we were 20 seconds late. If you miss the last ferry you can charter a special trip for about B1,500, or hire a speedboat at the Thaa Charin pier (towards bottom left of Siracha town map).
Most often the fastest route is to go to Siracha by Highway 7, which is the extension of the Motorway. About kilometer marker 17, as the road starts up a long hill, get into the left lane so you can exit. You will come to a flyover at kilometer marker 20, and a sign for the Siracha Tiger Zoo. Turn left onto Highway 3241, in the direction of the Tiger Zoo, just before the flyover turn left. Then make a U-turn as soon as you can, and drive 6 km to town.
If you're on the south side of Bangkok and don't start out on the Motorway, take the elevated part of the Bangna-Trad highway to the Bangwua exit about kilometer 38, then bear left to join the motorway and continue as described in the paragraph above.
Hesitant navigators will prefer to take the Bangna-Trad highway to the Chonburi bypass, and follow the signs for Bangsaen. From the bypass you'll rejoin Highway 3 (Sukhumvit) a few kilometers before Bangsaen. From Bangsaen, it is about 10 km to Bangphra, and a further 5 km to Siracha.
Turn right at the first stoplight in Siracha (look on your left for the Dara Samut School, with buildings shaped like boats, and a sign showing a right turn for Samitivej Hospital). Follow this road down to the sea, where it turns left to parallel the water, and proceed to a conspicuous roundabout. Here you make a right turn onto the causeway leading to Ko Loy. Ferries leave from the very furthest point, past the many restaurants and souvenir shops. Your car will probably be safe left on Ko Loy overnight, but being cautions folks, we always park in town--see choices on the Siracha town map.
Air-conditioned tour coaches leave from Mo Chit and the Eastern Terminal at Ekamai every half hour. Fares are B88 and B81 respectively, and travel time averages a touch over two hours. To save a little time, get off in front of Robinson (Pacific Place), and take a samlor (tuk-tuk) to the pier ("thaa reua pai Ko sii chang"). Fare to the pier is B40 for however many people can fit into one samlor, but it isn't unusual to be asked for B50 when traffic's heavy.
The Royal State Railways do not take passenger travel to the Eastern Seaboard terribly seriously: there is one train a day, leaving Hua Lamphong at 7:00, and departing Klong Tan Station (just at the Ekamai-New Phetchburi Road intersection) 07:23, arriving Siracha at 10:15. You will get to see a lot of rural scenery, and a different perspective on Bangkok's suburbs, but the ride isn't quick or especially comfortable. The fare's an affordable B23. A samlor from the Siracha train station to the Ko Loy pier should be B70.
Among day tripping tourists, a very popular approach is to hire a samlor to take you to the sightseeing points mentioned below, the beach at Tham Phang, and more. The complete tour costs B250 for up to 5 persons, with negotiable stopping times at each point.
You can spend a pleasant day motoring around Ko Sichang and its sister islands, stopping to hike, swim, fish, or snorkel over the coral around Ko Khaangkhaao (Bat Island) just to the south of the main island. (The coral is not spectacular, but there is usually clear water and thousands of colorful fish to see.)
The island's best-known and biggest beach is Tham Phang (Fallen Cave Beach) on the outer, southwest side of the island. It offers a broad sandy beach, umbrellas and chairs for rent (20 baht per person as long as you care to stay), changing and bathing rooms, plus some simple food.
The beach at the palace is popular with locals, as is secluded Haad Sai Kaew to the south. When the wind is right, this is some of the cleanest and clearest water we've found in Thailand.
The crowd of boats at either pier points to Ko Sichang's economic mainstay-fishing, but above all, fishing for squid. A visit to the market on the pier about 08:00 is likely to present a scene of silver, gold and red fish, shrimp as long as 25 cm (ten inches), squid, and crabs, all vigorously alive, plus a variety of mollusks.
To catch something yourself, an easy start is to bring your own rod, and try your luck from the cliffs. Even an unlucky beginner can expect to land a few squid. To catch the bigger stuff, rent a small fishing boat for B600 on up a day.
Traffic on the island is light, and local drivers (unusually for Thailand) are careful of pedestrians, so you can walk everywhere there's a road. Destinations not listed under things to see are the headland beyond Tham Phang Beach (by road) and the summit above the Buddha Footprint, to which there is a path of sorts. There is a lot of enjoyable bush walking, starting from the old palace, Tham Phang beach, or the Yellow Buddha. Be careful! Most of the island is limestone, and there are some concealed potholes. For mountain biking or longer hikes, the mostly empty southern half of the island has some very scenic tracks. There are also caving and climbing opportunities-ask at the information booth.
Bring your own equipment, or buy cheap stuff in the market. The best place to see fish and coral is at the southwest tip of Ko Khaangkhaao, mentioned under boat trips.
You can rent sea kayaks at Haad Tham Phang. The very fit owner says he's made a circuit of the whole island in less than three hours. Ko Khaangkhaao would be an easier paddle, and has nice, usually empty beaches as well as snorkeling opportunities.
Built starting about 1890, the Judhadhut Palace was abandoned shortly after hostilities with France in 1893 showed how vulnerable it was to a modern navy. The main building was taken to Bangkok, where it is now famous as Vimarn Mek palace. Several of the remaining structures have been restored. A walk from the visitors' center on the hill down past Asdangkhanimit Temple, through the gardens and along paths under century-old frangipani trees, taking time to look at the exhibits in the restored buildings and explore some of the tempting paths and staircases, is a delightful way to spend an hour or two in the morning or late afternoon. There's a pleasant coffeeshop in the green wooden building by the beach.
North of the town, very conspicuous as you approach on the ferry, is the Chinese temple known as Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai, or Shrine of the Father Spirit of the Great Hill. This predates [dmk1]the palace by centuries, going back to the days when junks from Ming China anchored in the sheltered water on the east side of the island. The shrine, founded around a cave from which seafarers saw a magic light shining into the night, draws tens of thousands of mainly Chinese supplicants from as far away as Djakarta and Beijing.
In a little gazebo about 100 meters above the main shrine is the Buddha's Footprint. If you have the energy for a fairly stiff climb, the ideal approach is to go up the rear or western stairway early in the morning. After 505 stairs you step suddenly from close bush to a panoramic view of the harbor and Siracha on the mainland, spectacular at sunup. An improvised walking stick is handy for the steeper parts and for making yourself understood by any stray dogs that might claim the stairs for themselves.
This unorthodox (nuns wear brown, and everybody works) Buddhist community offers a pleasant walk through shady gardens, sweeping views of both sides of the island, meditation cells in the rock, and a chance to talk to some of the monks and nuns.
Our main claim to culinary fame is seafood, but you can get a variety of other items-even a good steak, if you look. Ko Sichang also offers a surprisingly wide range of accommodation, from luxury hotel rooms to the simplest beach cabins. See the ratings and ads on the eat and stay pages for details.
There's a 24-hour ATM at the Thai Farmers Bank, which will change foreign currency and travelers' checks weekdays 09:30 - 15:30. Nowhere on the island accepts credit cards.
Most motorized travel on the island is by the distinctive three-wheelers (nobody calls them tuk-tuk's here; they're samlors, meaning three wheels). They are not cheap, but there's actually an official rate structure you can expect them to follow. You can get a copy at the information/ police booth at the Tha Lang pier. The official limit is five passengers all for the same fare. For reliable and knowledgeable service, look for samlors displaying the Ko Sichang Tourism Development Council logo. Motorcycle taxis are also widely available, and substantially cheaper for the person traveling alone.
Ferries to Siracha run the same schedule every day, from 06:00 to 18:00. Service from Siracha is every 90 minutes from 07:00 to 19:30. See the Maps pages for details. Departure times are from Tha Lang; you should plan to board 10 minutes early at Tha Bon. Outside normal hours, you can hire a whole ferry or speedboat for about B1,000 one way.
It's not usual to tell tourists of anything that might frighten or harm them, but we don't want you to have any nasty surprises, and the island is basically a very safe and healthy place.
is a hospital in the center of the market where you can get emergency
attention 24 hours a day. If an urgent procedure is required that
the hospital can't perform, they will send you to the mainland.
Siracha has three
large, modern hospitals.
There are very few cases of mosquito-borne disease on the island, but repellent is a good idea.
The island sometimes seems to be covered with millipedes (kingkue), the brown, tubular creatures you see inching across the roads and sidewalks, or squashed where they inched too slowly. Do not confuse them with flat, fast-moving centipedes, which are rare, but have a painful bite.
In general, whatever you might run into in the tropics, you might run into here. Wading around rocks or coral, watch out for sea urchins. Hiking, be careful of the cactus spines. We haven't heard of any snake bites, but we walk carefully anyway.
With provincial, marine and immigration police offices, and a very small number of tourists, Ko Sichang is almost totally crime-free. You can safely walk anywhere, anytime, and if one of the locals accosts you it's almost certain to be with friendly intentions. If you drop your wallet, there's a good chance of getting it back with all its contents. Unlike Ko Samet, Ko Samui and other tourist islands, Ko Sichang does not take recreational drugs lightly. Don't ask, don't buy, don't sell, don't use where anyone might see you. If you want to swim nude or topless, hire a boat to a secluded beach.