Spend the weekend on Koh Sichang - a guide to a budget island getaway near Bangkok
Koh Sichang - the closest island to Bangkok
When it comes to amazing islands and beaches, Thailand has more than its fair share. With world-famous destinations like Phuket, Koh Samui, and Koh Samet, it’s no surprise that some of the country’s smaller islands tend to get a bit overlooked.
Located outside of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Sichang is an island that certainly doesn’t deserve to get overlooked. While not nearly as popular as Thailand’s other famous beaches, a weekend trip to Koh Sichang is an easy, affordable getaway from the big city.
Koh Sichang offers visitors a unique experience on a small, quiet island. The island is home to a historic palace museum, several beautiful Buddhist temples, and a sunny beach. It may not be the most stunning island in Thailand, but for its proximity to Bangkok and how affordable the island is, it just can’t be beat.
How to get to Koh Sichang
Koh Sichang is the closest nice beach to Bangkok. Located just outside of Siracha in Thailand’s Chonburi Province, the island is easy to get to from Bangkok.
First, you have to get from Bangkok to Siracha. Buses and minibuses leave every hour from Bangkok’s Ekkamai Bus Terminal (BTS Ekkamai Station). One-way tickets cost 100 THB, and the ride takes around 1.5 hours.
The bus stops in Siracha. From there, take a tuk-tuk (80 THB) to the tourist ferry pier. Ferries leave every hour during the day, and a one-way ticket costs 50 THB. Once on the island, rent a motorbike, hire a tuk-tuk driver, or just walk. The island is small enough that you can get around the main village area on foot.
What to do on Koh Sichang
Visit the Summer Palace
The main attraction, and what puts Koh Sichang on the map (at least for Thai visitors) is Phra Chuthathut Palace. The island was once the summer residence of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) who ruled Thailand from 1853-1910. The beloved Thai monarch built his palace along the beach on Koh Sichang.
In 1893, the island was invaded by France during the Franco-Siamese Wars. The palace was abandoned. After a Siamese victory, the king had his palace moved piece-by-piece to Bangkok. Today, you can visit the former Phra Chutathut Palace in the capital. It is now known as the Vimanmek Teak Mansion.
The palace was the only royal Thai palace built on an island. Today, the foundation of the palace remains, along with several former villas which now house the palace museum. Visiting the museum is free, and there is no strict dress code. You can spend a lazy afternoon wandering through the former palace grounds, and when you are tired, visit the museum cafe for a cool iced coffee.
Hike to the island viewpoint
A trail winds up the mountainside from the palace to the island’s viewpoint. Along the way, the trail passes several structures that were once part of the palace, including the Square Pagoda and a white Buddhist shrine built by the orders of King Chulalongkorn. The forward-thinking monarch was the first Thai king to travel to Europe, and was inspired by the art, culture, and architecture of the West. He ordered this Buddhist shrine to be designed in the style of a Christian chapel, complete with marble floors, a whitewashed exterior, stained glass, and a marble altar. It’s one of the most unique shrines in Thailand.
From the viewpoint, you can look out over the sea and surrounding area. The hike isn’t too hard. It’s relatively flat, and less than a kilometer from the palace to the viewpoint. There isn’t much shade along the way, so be sure to bring a hat or wear sunscreen.
On the way back down from the viewpoint, stop by the monument to King Chulalongkorn, the man who put Koh Sichang on the map a century ago.
Tham Pang Beach
The nicest beach on Koh Sichang is Tham Phang Beach. It’s located across the island from the village. While you can walk, the climb is steep and exhausting. If you want to visit the beach from the village, rent a motorbike, hire a motorbike taxi, or get a driver to take you. It’s just a kilometer or so up and over a hill.
The beach is a bit rocky, so watch your step! There’s a swimming area, and the waves and current are fairly mild. It’s never very crowded, either. Few foreigners know about Koh Sichang, so it’s not really popular with tourists. If you do visit during the off season, you’ll nearly have the whole beach to yourself.
There are several restaurants and food shops set up along the beach. Prices here tend to be a bit more expensive than back in the village, though very cheap by normal Thai island standards. You can rent a beach chair and umbrella for free as long as you buy a drink (try a cold coconut or mango smoothie!), and you can sit there as long as you like.
Sunset and seafood dinner
The nicest thing about Koh Sichang is that there really isn’t that much to do. In the evening, sit by the sea and watch the sunset with a few cold beers and a plate of seafood.
When I visited Koh Sichang recently, I had dinner at the De’Anchor Hotel, located within walking distance of the tourist pier. I ordered the softshell crab fried rice. Softshell crab is one of my all-time favorite treats, and I was amazed with the amount of food that I got. For only 180 THB, they served me a plate with two FULL softshell crabs! Absolutely delicious, with incredible views too. I didn’t stay at the hotel, since there are much cheaper places on the island and I’m a budget traveler, but their food is surprisingly affordable and super delicious. Wash it all down with a cold beer while the sun slips away behind the horizon.
The cheapest island in Thailand?
Usually, when you visit an island in Thailand, you can expect prices to be 2-3 times higher than they would be in Bangkok, even more so if you visit a popular place like Pattaya, Phuket, or Koh Samui. Koh Sichang, however, is surprisingly affordable, and even cheap! A weekend getaway to Koh Sichang from Bangkok won’t break the bank, leaving you extra money to spend on delicious seafood and ice cold beer. Since Koh Sichang is one of the lesser-known destinations in Thailand, especially among foreigners and tourists, the prices are much more reasonable than you would expect.
How much does it cost to visit Koh Sichang?
Bus ticket from Bangkok to Siracha - 100 THB
Ferry from Siracha to Koh Sichang - 50 THB
Motorbike rental on Koh Sichang - 300 THB/day
Bungalow rental - 300-500 THB/night
Seafood dinner - 200 THB
Visiting Phra Chuthathut Palace - FREE
Visiting Tham Phang Beach - FREE
Visiting the Buddhist temples - FREE
Where to stay on Koh Sichang?
There’s no shortage of cheap hostels and bungalows on the island. If you want to stay somewhere nicer, there are a handfull of resorts as well. Generally, you can just show up and see if there is any availability at a bungalow hotel. The island is rarely full. I recommend booking your stay in advance. Bungalows cost 300-500 THB a night, and a nicer resort will cost between 2000-3000 THB per night.