Koh Sichang (เกาะสีชัง) or Koh Si Chang

Koh Sichang - 3 January 2012 - newpattaya.comKoh Sichang (เกาะสีชัง) is a hilly island located 12 km away from a city called Sriracha (ศรีราชา). Sriracha is located about 30 km north of Pattaya, that is a 20-minute drive depending on the traffic. During the 45-minute boat trip to Koh Sichang you will see large freight ships and hundreds of barges anchored near the island as this is one of the places where large ships stop to discharge their cargo into barges. I certainly do not the need these tankers to spoil the scenic views so the next time I visit I will ask them to find another spot to hang around….

Despite Koh Sichang’s proximity to Pattaya you will find that very few tourists have any knowledge of this island, they simply do not know of its existence. Just like what is the case in the nearby city Bang Saen you will find that the visitors are mostly thais. Especially during the chinese new year a lot of chinese tourists will be visiting since there is a famous Chinese temple known as Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai (ศาลเจ้าพ่อเขาใหญ่), or Shrine of the Father Spirit of the Great Hill on the northern part of Koh Sichang.

A shrine dedicated to the famous monkey that accompanied Hsuan TsangThe Father Spirit is a large rock inside a cave that has naturally worn into the shape of a human figure. There is a shrine dedicated to the famous monkey that accompanied Hsuan Tsang during his pilgrimage from China to India during the seventh century.

There is also a shrine dedicated to Guan Yin, the goddess of mercy. In Thai she is called Guan Im (กวนอิม) or Phra Mae Guan Im (พระแม่กวนอิม).

Near the temple there is a steep pathway with over 500 steps leading to another shrine housing a copy of the Buddha’s footprint. Actually there are two different pathways and even a road leading to the shrine so you don’t need to walk. One of the pathways is overgrown since no one uses it anymore – I went that way anyway carrying a 3 year old on my back – that is something I don’t recommend others do since there are snakes on the island.

The view from up there is amazing – you can take in a panoramic view of the hills on the island and much of the mainland.

Haad Tham Phang - 3 January 2013Haad Tham Phang (หาด-ถ้ำ-พัง) means collapsed cave beach, it is the most popular beach on the island with very clear water, actually surprisingly clear water. I did not think it would be possible to find crystal clear water only 100 km from Bangkok but luckily I was wrong. On this beach you will find deck chairs with umbrellas and you can also order food. During the weekends there might be many visitors but the rest of the week it will most likely be very quiet.

Other places of interest include the big yellow Buddha and Chong Khao Khad that is a public park with pavilions and an elevated concrete promenade that offers wonderful views of the cliffs and the sea. Somebody has spent a lot of money on this elevated promenade – I must admit it was quite unexpected to see a promenade of this size leading to nowhere on an island that has relatively few visitors. Yes, Koh Sichang is full of surprises.

Koh Sichang is famous due to its royal connections. The Judhadhut Palace built in 1892 was the summer residence for King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). Now the place is a public garden.

Before that, in the 1800s King Mongkut (Rama IV) visited Koh Sichang many times on his steamship – but presumably he always slept on board his ship. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) built a summer palace on the island. When King Chulalongkorn’s children became ill the King decided to send them to Koh Sichang where they became better.

French troops invaded and occupied Ko Sichang in the 1890’s. After the dispute with France was settled and the palace was completed, the island was considered to be too dangerous a place for the royal family to vacation.

For transportation on the island there are some really weird tuk tuks that look very different from the ones you see in Bangkok – I have never seen a tuk tuk with this particular design. I prefer to rent a motorcycle, that way I can do things my way, I can be in control.

You might not believe it, but the locals actually leave the key in the motorbikes on this island. A brand new motorbike standing unattended on the street with the key in the ignition, you won’t get to see that in the world of today. Maybe this is paradise on earth where people trust each other? Or maybe the reason is that Koh Sichang is a small island so there is not much point in stealing motorbikes.

If you are looking for white sandy beaches and bars where you can party all night you have come to the wrong place. This is not Koh Chang (เกาะช้าง), not Koh Samui or Koh Samet – this is Koh Sichang, a family friendly island.

Koh Sichang is also on Facebook.

Published 2 January 2013.

The pictures are dated 2 january 2013.

A Chinese temple on Koh Loi (เกาะลอย) that is connected to Sriracha.

A Chinese temple on Koh Loi (เกาะลอย) that is connected to Sriracha - 3 January 2013

On board the boat to Koh Sichang.

On board the boat to Koh Sichang - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

A Chinese temple on Koh Loi (เกาะลอย) that is connected to Sriracha.

A Chinese temple on Koh Loi (เกาะลอย) that is connected to Sriracha - 3 January 2013

Freight ships and tankers near Koh Sichang.

Freight ships and tankers near Koh Sichang - 3 january 2012 - newpattaya.com

Barges anchored near Koh Sichang.

Barges anchored near Koh Sichang - 3 January 2012 - newpattaya.com

Barges anchored near Koh Sichang - 3 January 2012 - newpattaya.com

The pier on Koh Sichang.

The pier on Koh Sichang - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Koh Sichang - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Koh Sichang - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

A shrine housing a copy of the Buddha’s footprint.

A shrine housing a copy of the Buddha’s footprint

A shrine housing a copy of the Buddha’s footprint

A shrine housing a copy of the Buddha’s footprint

A steep pathway leading to a shrine housing a copy of the Buddha’s footprint.

A steep pathway leading to a shrine housing a copy of the Buddha’s footprint

A steep pathway leading to a shrine housing a copy of the Buddha’s footprint

The temple called Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai.

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

There is also a shrine dedicated to Guan Yin or Guan Im.

There is also a shrine dedicated to Guan Yin

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Guan Yin – the goddess of mercy.

A shrine dedicated to Guan Yin

A shrine dedicated to Guan Yin

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai.

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

A shrine dedicated to the famous monkey that accompanied Hsuan Tsang.

A shrine dedicated to the famous monkey that accompanied Hsuan Tsang

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai - 3 January 2013 - newpattaya.com

A public park called Chong Khao Khad

A public park called Chong Khao Khad.

A public park called Chong Khao Khad

An elevated concrete promenade.

An elevated concrete promenade

An elevated concrete promenade

An elevated concrete promenade

An elevated concrete promenade

An elevated concrete promenade

An elevated concrete promenade

Big yellow Buddha.

Big yellow Buddha

Big yellow Buddha

View from the Big yellow Buddha

The beach called Haad Tham Phang.

Haad Tham Phang - 3 January 2013

Haad Tham Phang - 3 January 2013

Haad Tham Phang - 3 January 2013

Haad Tham Phang - 3 January 2013

Boat departing Koh Sichang.

Boat departing Koh Sichang

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