A former haunt of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), this small island, with a rugged coastline, once functioned as the customs checkpoint for Bangkok-bound ships. Now it is a relatively quiet place with some architectural ruins and a handful of guesthouses catering to visitors who want to avoid the bustle and commercialism of the resorts. There is only one ramshackle fishing village, Tha Bon, on the eastern side of the island. Just north of it is the Chinese Temple, with colorfully decorated shrine caves. On the west coast of the island are the beaches of Hat Tham Pang and Hat Tham. On the southern side, sprawling over a hillside, are the overgrown ruins of Rama V’s Summer Palace. The palace was built in the 1890s but abandoned after a fleeting occupation by the French in 1893. In 1901 it was moved and reconstructed as Vimanmek Mansion at Dusit Park in Bangkok (see pp106–9). One part of the palace complex that remains intact is the circular Wat Atsadang at the top of the hill. Crowned by a crumbling chedi, this was once a meditation chamber used by King Chulalongkorn.
The island also has a wellknown temple, Wat Tham Yai Prik. Its gardens provide crops for the locals, and it has large underground rainwater tanks to meet the islanders’ needs, since there is no other water source.
The deserted rocky hilltop offers pleasant walks and fine views. It is home to nesting seabirds and the yellow squirrel, which is endemic here. Boats to Ko Sichang take 40 minutes from Si Racha’s pier