A former retreat for Thai royalty, Ko Si Chang is an authentic alternative to the country’s hedonistic southern islands. It’s peppered with clifftop temples, golden Buddha shrines and other religious sites, with locals flocking to Ko Si Chang on weekends to soak up the sun, indulge in freshly caught seafood and pay their respects.
Taam Pang Beach and Chom Kao Kard Park serve up some of the best sunsets, while the island’s limestone caves are always popular with adventurous travellers. For a glimpse at 19th Ko Si Chang’s regal roots, visiting the crumbling ruins of King Chulalongkorn’s 19th century palace is a cultured way to spend the afternoon.
From Bangkok, the bus ride or drive to Sri Racha port is around 2-hours. Once in Sri Racha, boats to Ko Si Chang leave several times a day. The trip takes around 40-minutes, depending on conditions. On the island tuk-tuks, motorcycles and scooters are the most popular way to get around, though travelling on foot is a great way to see the island at a slower pace.
For years, the king found solitude and tranquillity at his Ko Si Chang palace. Though in 1893, he was forced to abandon his royal residence when the French occupied the island during a conflict over Laos. He never returned, though traces of royal occupancy remain to this day.