Si Racha or Sriracha as this town is also known, may not be as popular as some of the other seaside resorts on the east coast of Thailand but nevertheless, there are several attractions in and around town. Sriracha is located approximately 100 kilometres (60 miles) south-east of Bangkok and 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Pattaya. And for most tourists, this little town is perceived as a fishing and refinery port. But there's a lot more to this place.
Though there are several idyllic beaches in the near vicinity, this particular destination is not the real reason why you should stop over for a visit. Perhaps one of the main attractions while you are here is to take a tour of the nearby Tiger Zoo but even more so, you may want to take a boat trip to the island of Koh Si Chang.
While wandering around the streets of Si Racha you cannot help but notice the resonating sounds of several spluttering three-wheeled motorcycle rickshaws. They are the preferred form of transport and quite unique to this particular area.
The town has an excellent reputation for some of the best seafood restaurants in Thailand and it also claims to be famous for its amber coloured spicy chilli sauce called Nam-Prik-Si-Racha.
Not only is this popular tangy sauce produced here, but you'll find it in just about every restaurant and kitchen throughout Thailand. And there's a good possibility you can also purchase some of this famous sauce in supermarkets all around the world.
There are several first-rate open-air seafood restaurants situated at the end of the tentacle-like piers running off busy Jermjompol Road. It's the town's main waterfront street where local delicacies such as fresh oysters, mussels, shrimp, crab and abalone can be enjoyed with the famous thick and tangy chilli sauce.
One of the main attractions in Si Racha is the Thai-Chinese temple of Wat Ko Loi connected to the mainland by a long causeway some 400 meters north of the Ko Si Chang Pier and resting on an offshore rocky promontory. Love it or hate it, ostentatious or picturesque, artistic or bewildering, you simply cannot ignore it.
A Buddha footprint cast in bronze graces the temple as do picture images of the Monkey God and Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy. Buddhists are often seen feeding turtles in a pond in the temple grounds as an act of merit making.
The Wat Ko Loi temple houses a life like golden wax statue of a monk known for his tremendous healing powers and there's a recent story about another monk who, after spending many a year on the small rocky outcrop, reportedly stole all the temple's life savings and donations before mysteriously disappearing in 1959.
Ferry boats depart from the Ko Loi Pier at Si Racha every hour from 7:00 am to Koh Si Chang Island and if memory serves me correctly, the last boat leaves at 8:00 pm. But remember it's best not to leave it too late. Though there are some worthwhile sites to see here, you may want to stay on the island when the sun goes down as there are great viewing opportunities not to be missed.
While Koh Si Chang Island may be small in size, it does pack a big punch and this usually happens the moment you disembark the ferry. But before I tell you about all the hot spots, you need to get in touch with a little island history. I promise not to hold you up too much as I am sure you would rather go sightseeing.
Eight kilometres east of Si Racha, is Sriracha Tiger Zoo, covering an area of some 40 hectares. Bengal tigers are the main feature here, though the zoo also has a vast collection of wildlife and over 100,000 crocodiles. During the months between May and August, you could experience the hatching of baby crocodiles.
Various live performances similar to that in which you find in any commercial circus are all on offer here. There are crocodile shows, tiger shows, elephant shows as well as pig and ostrich racing. You can watch female tigers nurturing piglets and tiger cubs feeding off grown-up female pigs.
Attractions include female performers wrestling with crocodiles and a "Scorpion Queen" who places over 100 live scorpions on her body. Not advisable to try this at home, though. Sriracha Tiger Zoo is open from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm.
Please note that Sriracha Tiger Zoo has been constantly engrossed in various cruelty issues surrounding the inhuman treatment of some of their beautiful inhabitants. The welfare of the tigers at the zoo in particular are not always at their best as are similar circumstances with some of the zoo's other animals too.
Those of you who may consider the welfare of these animals an issue, then you might not want to visit this zoo. Although you as a visitor may not necessary witness these events, I thought it best to mention it here. Hopefully many of these issues have been resolved of late. The tigers in the photo below seem to have a few issues with an electrical system in their enclosure which I'm very sure they would rather do without.
To see more photos of this region, go to www.pictures-thailand.com
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