In a nutshell
Whether your vacation is almost over and you still have a couple of days to spend on the beach or you simply don’t want to face a long journey down to one of those paradise islands in the South of Thailand, Koh Si Chang is one of the closest – and less crowded – beach destinations to Bangkok.
Why go to Koh Si Chang
Attr: strogoscope (cc by)
Just a short two-hour drive from Bangkok to Sri Racha and a quick ferry ride will bring you to a small and relatively quiet island, unknown to majority of western travellers apart from few those getting there by mistake on their way to Koh Chang, in Trat province.
Though one of the favourite weekend escapes for the Bangkokians, the island is never too crowded and it’s definitely not a good choice for backpackers searching for a party place.
Koh Si Chang beaches are not as stunning as those of the major touristy meccas in the country and the sand will not be as white and soft as what you’ve seen on postcards from Thailand, but on the other side if you’re looking for a relaxing place with an authentic atmosphere and genuine vibe, Si Chang is your best bet – both from Bangkok and Pattaya – which can be reached quite quickly. This is actually not the only reason to see the island; seafood is simply as good and fresh as it can possibly get and a few interesting temples and a historic royal palace will give an unexpected cultural touch to your visit.
When to go to Koh Si Chang
The rainy season runs from June till October, but only August and September can be really problematic with rain occasionally falling several hours every day. December and January are considered high season, and even if it can be quite cool at night, the temperature during the day is perfect for chilling out on the beach. Even if you hardly find Si Chang exceptionally crowded, try to avoid weekends and public holiday if you’re looking for a totally relaxing and quiet holiday.
The local Chinese temple attracts thousands of tourists during the Chinese New Year, but the majority of them are on a quick day visit without stopping on the island and not even show up on the beach.
Where to stay on Koh Si Chang
Koh Si Chang lacks decent accommodation options in the low budget range. There are a couple of acceptable digs available, but do consider them only if you are really on a tight budget. Starting from THB800 you can get much nicer rooms which will make your stay on the island memorable. The overall quality is generally good for the price you’re willing to pay (definitely better than on other islands in Thailand).
The majority of the guesthouses are located around the main road and to reach the beaches you’ll either have to walk for at least 20 minutes or get a tuk-tuk.
On Tham Phang beach you’ll find the only one and nice affordable resort, while not far from the beach in more secluded areas a few options are available for those who are searching for a bit of luxury.
Where to eat in Koh Si Chang
While there’s not a great selection of street food on Koh Si Chang, the island is an ideal destination for everyone who is loving seafood; a good number of restaurants offer the freshest and tastiest squids, prawns and crabs that you can imagine on a daily bases. Don’t expect too much style and decoration but you can be sure that you will not have to compromise with the quality of the food. A few restaurants and guesthouses have some western options in their menu, too.
How to get around Koh Si Chang
The main road cutting the island from north to south is Atsadang Road and can easily be covered on foot, especially the central part close to the pier where all the restaurants and shops are located.
To get to the beaches on the western side of Koh Si Chang you can still walk but it will take roughly half an hour. A tuk-tuk ride will cost you THB80 each way; quite expensive for the distance, but well, you are not going to use it too much! There are always tuk-tuks meeting the coming ferries and they are more than willing to get you as their client for your whole stay. Take your driver’s telephone number and enjoy your private limousine service.
The best way to move around is to rent a motorbike (THB300 per day) or a bicycle (THB60 per day). Every guesthouse and several shops offer the same rates. Charlie’s Bungalows is where you can find some of the newest and better maintained bikes.
How to get to and from Koh Si Chang
Ferries to Koh Si Chang depart from Koh Loi Pier in Sri Racha. Departures are very frequent both during the high season (hourly) and low season (at least one boat every two hours). The trip takes roughly 40 minutes and a one-way ticket costs THB50. The journey is pleasant and the sea panoramas are very nice thanks to large ships cruising around.
At high tide, occasionally the ferries will drop you off or pick you up at Ta Bon Pier, a bit further north from Ta Laang Pier, the commonly used pier on the island. Keep it in mind when you are leaving Si Chang: if you don’t see any ferry at the main pier, ask around.
Buses from Bangkok to Sri Racha leave frequently from the smaller Ekkamai Bus Station: they depart every 40 minutes all day long starting at 5:00am. A one-way ticket will cost you THB95. There are departures from Morchit Bus Terminal in the north of Bangkok, too, but they are fewer but cost the same.
If you’re arriving to Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, a direct minivan service to Sri Racha is available for THB130 and the trip takes less time as the airport sits off Highway 7, which leads down to Chonburi. Depending if Sri Racha is their final destination or not, buses will drop you in different locations around town. Tuk-tuks will happily deliver you to the pier for THB60.
Is Koh Si Chang a safe place to visit?
Koh Si Chang is a safe island to swim and snorkel with almost no boat traffic in the vicinity of beaches. If your accommodation is not on the main road, don’t forget to bring a flashlight if you are planning to walk around at night as lights around the island are limited. On Tham Saai beach be careful with sharp oyster shells close to the rocks.