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Sawatdee!

We are Michael and Pinky, a Bangkok-based couple who loves to travel, explore, and go on adventures all over the world. We are always looking for the greatest experiences for adventurers on a budget.

Spend the weekend on Koh Sichang - a guide to a budget island getaway near Bangkok

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.

You can get to Koh Sichang by ferry from Siracha, Thailand

You can get to Koh Sichang by ferry from Siracha, Thailand

How to get to Koh Sichang

the ferry to Koh Sichang costs only 50 Thai baht (about $1.50) and takes around 40 minutes

the ferry to Koh Sichang costs only 50 Thai baht (about $1.50) and takes around 40 minutes

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.

the tourist pier on Koh Sichang

the tourist pier on Koh Sichang

What to do on Koh Sichang

Koh Sichang - the closest and easiest island to visit from Bangkok, Thailand

Koh Sichang - the closest and easiest island to visit from Bangkok, Thailand

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.

beautiful Koh Sichang in the Gulf of Thailand

beautiful Koh Sichang in the Gulf of Thailand

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.

a villa at the Phra Chuthathut Palace Museum on Koh Sichang, Thailand

a villa at the Phra Chuthathut Palace Museum on Koh Sichang, Thailand

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.

Phra Chuthathut Palace was the old Summer Palace of King Chulalongkorn of Thailand

Phra Chuthathut Palace was the old Summer Palace of King Chulalongkorn of Thailand

Hike to the island viewpoint

the Square Pagoda on the hike up to the Koh Sichang viewpoint

the Square Pagoda on the hike up to the Koh Sichang 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.

a western-style Buddhist temple on Koh Sichang Island was designed to look like a church

a western-style Buddhist temple on Koh Sichang Island was designed to look like a church

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.

the view from the Koh Sichang viewpoint

the view from the Koh Sichang viewpoint

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.

a memorial to King Chulalongkorn on Koh Sichang Island

a memorial to King Chulalongkorn on Koh Sichang Island

Tham Pang Beach

Tham Phang Beach, Koh Sichang Island, Thailand

Tham Phang Beach, Koh Sichang Island, Thailand

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.

Tam Phang Beach

Tam Phang Beach

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.

Tham Phang Beach on Koh Sichang Island is the closest and nicest beach to Bangkok

Tham Phang Beach on Koh Sichang Island is the closest and nicest beach to Bangkok

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.

there are plenty of restaurants and shops on Tham Phang Beach

there are plenty of restaurants and shops on Tham Phang Beach

Sunset and seafood dinner

sunset on Koh Sichang

sunset on Koh Sichang

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.

amazing soft shell crab fried rice - only 180 THB for this HUGE portion and two full crabs!

amazing soft shell crab fried rice - only 180 THB for this HUGE portion and two full crabs!

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.

The National Mosque of Malaysia - how to visit and what to know before you go (Kuala Lumpur)

The National Mosque of Malaysia - how to visit and what to know before you go (Kuala Lumpur)

Weird "Cooling" Coffee - Nescafe "Ais" from Malaysia

Weird "Cooling" Coffee - Nescafe "Ais" from Malaysia