Koh Sichang is home to a Royal Palace built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1892. During its heyday the Palace boasted 4 mansions, 14 halls and a magnificent pavilion surrounded by ornamental gardens, ponds, walkways and a private beach. The main royal residence (Phratinang Manthatratanarot) was a 3 story high octagonal teakwood mansion which sat by the beach near the Asadang Bridge.
In 1900, after Koh Sichang was invaded by the French (see History of Koh Sichang), the main royal residence was pulled down and re-assembled at the Dusit Palace in Bangkok - where it remains today as the Vimanmek Mansion - the largest teakwood building in the world.
The octagon stone base of the main royal residence is still visible and the buildings within the palace compound and the palace gardens have been lovingly renovated and restored. Click on the pictures for a larger view.
It is possible to spend half a day walking around the Palace buildings and gardens, taking in the exhibits and exploring the maze of walkways, gardens, ponds, caves and hidden coves.
After visiting the Palace you can walk to the Bell Stone, Wat Asdangkhanimitir, Khao Noi View Point and then on to the Tourist Service Center (see map).
There is a marine biology research center with a small museum located next to the entrance of the palace grounds and a little beach called Tha Wang which is popular with local islanders and children. Entry to the Marine Life Museum and Phra Chudadhuj Palice is free of charge.
Located on the right hand side between the Palace and Wat Asdangkhanimitr, the Bell Stone is a natural rock formation in the shape of a frog. If you hit the Bell Stone with a rock it rings like a Bell. To the right of the Bell Stone is an old photogenic Chedi.
Built by Royal command on the hillside south of the Palace, Wat Asdangkhanimitr is a very unusual Thai temple consisting of a round church like consecrated hall with a Thai style pagoda roof. Gothic arch windows and doors with stained glass are used in the mix and a ceremonial walkway runs around the outside. Eight stone inscriptions depicting the Lord Buddha’s teachings are built into the walls of the walkway.
There is a sacred tree in front of Wat Asdangkhanimitr called the Sri Maha Bodhi tree which was planted by King Chulalongkorn from a sapling brought from Boddh Gaya in India by one of his Princes.
Today the temple is still used by the islanders and once a year in May a special ceremony is held next to the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree.
Khao Noi View Point
Khao Noi View Point is located between Wat Asdangkhanimitr and the Tourst Service Centre. It offers magnificent views over the island and across the sea to the mainland. Don’t forget your camera.
Tourist Service Centre
The Tourist Service centre located past Khao Noi View Point contains information about the Palace and Koh Sichang.
Chinese Temple and Buddha's Footprint
North of the harbor is a Chinese Temple known as Saan Chao Pho Khao Yai or Shrine of the Father Spirit of the Great Hill. Discovered during the Ming Dynasty by Chinese seafarers it still attracts thousands of Chinese pilgrims from Thailand and across Asia. The temple gets especially busy during Chinese New Year when boatloads of Chinese Buddhists attend on pilgrimage. The Father Spirit is a large rock inside a cave that has naturally worn into the shape of a human figure.
Other shrines within the temple are dedicated to the famous monkey that accompanied Hsuan Tsang during his pilgrimage from China to India during the seventh century and Guan Yin ‘The Goddess of Mercy’.
Next to the temple is a steep pathway with over 500 steps leading to another magnificent shrine housing a copy of the Buddha's footprint. There are panoramic views from the shrine across the island and the sea towards the mainland. Don't forget to ring the bell three times to let the mountain Gods know you've arrived ... and whatever you do - do not forget your camera !
Haad Tham Phang
Haad Tham Phang, or Collapsed Cave Beach, is the most popular beach on the island with pleasant clear water and a gently sloping sandy beach when the tide is out. Umbrellas, deck-chairs, rubber rings, kayaks and snorkeling equipment is available for hire and there are several restaurants offering tasty, reasonably priced, food and drink. The beach can get busy at the weekends and on public holidays however during the week it is extremely quiet. There are other smaller beaches scattered around Koh Sichang but they do not offer any facilities.
North of Haad Tham Pang is Laem Chakrapong, a cape of splendid rocks at the foot of a steep rocky hill. It is a favorite fishing spot and a place to watch beautiful sunsets. The concrete road to Laem Chakrapong is lined with many different trees with plaques in Thai and English detailing the trees names and origin.
Wat Tham Yai Prik & Meditation Center.
Located next to the big yellow Buddha, Wat Tham Yaai Prik started life in 1970 as a solitary abode in a limestone cave. The temple has grown over the years as the Abbot's fame as a teacher of meditation has spread. Today Wat Tham Yai Prik houses over 40 monks and nuns from various walks of life.
The temple is open to visitors and the nuns act as guides. Various meditation and living areas are housed within the limestone caves and death seems to be a common meditation theme. Many meditation caves have photos of corpses in various states of decomposition or dissection - the point being that by contemplating death, you will understand the nature of existence.
Chom Kao Kard
Chom Kao Kard is a public park with pavilions and an elevated concrete promenade offering splendid views of the cliffs, sea and rugged headlands. It is a famous spot for taking in the magnificent sunsets.
Things to do on Koh Sichang
You can hire a Tuk Tuk and get a personal tour of the island for Baht 250 or you can hire a motorcycle for B300 per day and go exploring on your own. The island is only 8 square kilometers so it is impossible to get lost and the roads are in good condition. Private cars are not allowed on the island so the roads are relatively safe !
Bring your own gear or rent on the island (fishing rods are available at Charlie’s Bungalows). You can fish off the rocks, the public piers or rent a boat for the day. There are plenty of fish and squid around and you will be very unlucky not to catch a fish.
Kayaks are available for rent at Haad Tham Phang.
Gear usually minus the fins is available to rent at Haad Tham Phang and from Charlie’s Bungalows. Koh Sichang and the nearby Bat Island offer excellent snorkeling (see map).
Visit Bat Island
Bat Island or Koh Khang Kao has a nice beach and is very good for snorkeling and fishing with plenty of coral close to the shore. You can rent a boat to take you to the island and bring you back or you can Kayak across from Koh Sichang.
Visit Ko Kharm
Koh Kharm is located about 800 meters northeast of Koh Sichang approximately 10 minutes by ferry from Koh Sichang harbor. Home to about 40 families this tiny island is extremely peaceful and a great place for a traffic free walk. From the ferry pier head east to the stony beach of Haad Kruad where you will see the three islands Koh Kham Noi, Koh Prong and Koh Ran Dokmai. Then carry on to Ao Sapparod (Pineapple Beach) which is clean, sandy and suitable for swimming. A small path from Ao Sapparod will take you to a viewpoint which offers magnificent sunset views. A walk around the whole island takes about 2 hours. The regular Koh Sichang ferry will stop at Koh Karm on the way to and from Koh Sichang BUT you must inform the boat driver or his assistant that you want to get off at Koh Karm. If nobody wants to stop at Koh Kharm the ferry will sail on by.
Have A BBQ
Buy some charcoal, a grill, visit the seafood market early in the morning and have yourself a seafood BBQ. BBQ facilities are available at Charlie's Bungalows.
Visit the Fishing port
Take a stroll and check out the colorful fishing boats and watch the locals fish off the pier.
Spoil Yourself In One Of The Restaurants
Koh Sichang is famous for its seafood, especially squid, crab and prawns. If you like seafood check out iThalay and Pee Noi’s Seafood (see map). If you are in the mood for some international dishes Pan & David's restaurant offers excellent food and wine at reasonable prices (see map).
If all the above is not enough to keep you busy for a few days you can always just chill out, relax, read a book and unwind.