Coconuts’ Weekend Guide to Sriracha, AKA Thailand’s ‘Little Osaka’

Photo: Tourism and Sports Office, Chonburi Province 
Photo: Tourism and Sports Office, Chonburi Province 

The densely crowded streets and beaches of Pattaya wearing you down? Maybe it’s time to consider staying at another one of Thailand’s seaside cities: Sriracha. It takes an even shorter drive from Bangkok than Pattaya does, and Sriracha, during the past decade, has seen greatly improved infrastructure thanks to its growing popularity among business travelers.

This growth is largely attributed to its convenient location close to Thailand’s largest port Laem Chabang, which now has a considerable number of Japanese companies based in the vicinity. With the many Japanese transplants setting up communities in the area, this part of Thailand has earned the nickname “Little Osaka.” 

Even so, when it comes to tourism, Sriracha is not exactly known as a top-choice destination. Sure, the name rings a bell because of the spicy chili sauce that’s beloved around the world, but other than the Sriracha Tiger Zoo and the Khao Kheow Open Zoo, the rest of the town is largely underrated and overlooked.

(Fun fact: Despite debates about its origin — some argue it’s from Vietnam — the world-famous dipping sauce is believed to have been invented in the early 1930s in this very town named Sriracha.)

Anyway, Coco Travel is here to make the case that there’s plenty of great sights, eats and leisurely pursuits in Sriracha. Here’s a list of both mainstream and lesser-known spots in Sriracha as a jumping point for your own exploration of this great coastal town.

 

Koh Sichang

Photo: Amazing Thailand / FB
Photo: Amazing Thailand / FB

The island of Koh Sichang is located 12km off Sriracha’s shores, and it’s totally worth a leisurely day or weekend trip. Unlike other popular islands like Koh Lan and Koh Samed, this one is quiet with a laidback lifestyle and features picturesque views of historical sites, local fishing homes, white sand beaches and turquoise seawater. It’s easy to get there, too: There are ferries that leave hourly from Koh Loy pier, and the boat ride takes only about 45 minutes.

 

Koh Loy Park

Photo: Tourism and Sports Office, Chonburi Province 
Photo: Tourism and Sports Office, Chonburi Province

A main ferry port off the aforementioned Koh Sichang, Koh Loy Park is a tiny island connected to the mainland (it’s only 500 meters away from the Sriracha coastline). People come here to relax at the public park, see sea turtles and pay their respects at Koh Loy Sri Maharacha Temple, which is situated at the very top of the island and gives a panoramic view of the town. It’s also a hot spot for couples to take in a beautiful, romantic sunset at the sea.

 

Bang Phra Reservoir

Photo: Tourism and Sports Office, Chonburi Province 
Photo: Tourism and Sports Office, Chonburi Province

Whether you’re a runner, cyclist or a holidaymaker looking to get a little closer to nature, a trip to this scenic reservoir is worth the trek. Surrounded by lush grasslands, Bang Phra Reservoir offers a tranquil landscape where you can walk around and sooth your souls with fresh breezes, blooming flowers and chirping birds.

 

Chan Ta Ten Waterfall

Photo: Tourism and Sports Office, Chonburi Province 
Photo: Tourism and Sports Office, Chonburi Province

If you’re a nature lover and happen to be in Sriracha during the months spanning August to November, then the Chan Ta Then Waterfall is a sight not to be missed. Only a short drive from Khao Kheow Open Zoo, visitors can trek up an abundant forest and admire the unique beauty of the six-level waterfalls. Plenty of ways to spend a leisurely day there: swim, hike, picnic or just relax.

 

J-Park 

Photo: J-Park Nihon Mura / FB
Photo: J-Park Nihon Mura / FB

Red paper lanterns. Carp-shaped windsocks flying in the air. Buildings that emulate Japanese castles — and a lot of sushi bars. Once you step into this department store, it’s as if you’re in Japan. This community mall, which opened back in 2013, follows a theme of Japan’s Edo era, and is now a Sriracha landmark where locals and tourists alike come to shop, eat, drink and, of course, take pictures.

 

Space Inspirium

Photo: Space Inspirium
Photo: Space Inspirium

Feel what it’s like to be on the surface of Mars, and learn how to carry out a space mission at the first space museum in all of Thailand. Operated by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), Space Inspirium opened just a few years ago inside a large two-story building. The site is suitable for visitors of all ages, and the space features a total of 13 zones that contain state-of-the-art technology, such as a 3D theater, to help people in their search for knowledge about the universe.

 

Metal Art Gallery

Photo: Metal Art Gallery / FB
Photo: Metal Art Gallery / FB

Metal art, anyone? Here, machine parts, automotive tires and metal scraps are transformed into creative sculptures that often act as a nod towards pop culture icons. Metal Art Gallery was founded in February 2017 by Kitti Ruraphunsup, a passionate engineer who put his imagination into sculpting metal waste and bringing it back to life. Today the venue features over a thousand art pieces such as Star Wars’ beloved R2-D2, Toy Story’s Woody and the massive Hulk.

 

Mum Aroi Sriracha

Photo: Mum Aroi Sriracha / FB
Photo: Mum Aroi Sriracha / FB

This is arguably the most famous restaurant in Sriracha that gives a great view by the sea, whilst providing fresh seafood dishes without the tourist tax meant to drain your wallet. The eatery offers a pretty wide range of food, but the highlights we recommend are the deep-fried sea bass with fish sauce (THB390), fried squid with salted egg (THB180) and sour soup with tamarind and giant catfish roe (THB300). Private party rooms and karaoke lounges are also available on site.

 

Phutalay 

Photo: Phutalay / FB
Photo: Phutalay / FB

If Mum Aroi is too crowded and you’re looking for an alternative option, then this great venue also serves fresh seafood along with gorgeous panoramic views of the ocean. A sizzling hot plate of crispy oyster omelette is priced at THB250, while other menu highlights such as tom yum soup with a combination of seafood is THB290 and hormok, steamed curry custard with seafood served in a coconut, is THB360.

 

Teab Ta at Sriracha

Photo: Teab Ta at Sriracha / FB
Photo: Teab Ta at Sriracha / FB

Sriracha is not all about seafood — it’s crazy for chilled, tasty craft beer as well. With a space that stretches into the sea, this bar-on-the-pier attracts hopheads with nearly a dozen taps and more than 100 bottles of local and imported beers to choose from. To pair with the booze, the bar slings some appetizers that can be shared: chicken wings (THB109), crispy fried chicken tendons (THB99), and spicy glass noodle salad with seafood (THB139).

 

Centara Sonrisa Residences and Suites Sriracha

Photo: Coconuts Media
Outdoor jacuzzi and swimming pool next to the beach. Photo: Coconuts Media

Time to wind down and chill by the sea? Got kids to keep happy? Centara Sonrisa Residences and Suites Sriracha, a newly built seafront resort that opened just last month, was where Coco Travel stayed on a recent visit, and we found it to be an excellent choice for parents who want to take a family trip at a more luxurious level.

A dentist couple in Sriracha joined hands with prominent hotel brand Centara Hotels & Resorts to open this new destination hotel facing the Gulf of Thailand, designing the property with a focus on being kid and family-friendly. Case in point: its spacious “Family Residence” rooms that include bunk beds, a ball pit, a water playground and a VR game room.

Photo: Coconuts Media
Outdoor water playground. Photo: Coconuts Media

It’s not just geared towards kids. We later found out that Sonrisa is actually billed as the first hotel under the Centara brand featuring steamy, Japanese-style onsen baths (with mineral water powder imported from Japan). There are also on-site spa services such as back massages, aromatherapy oil massages or a “deep muscular massage” option for men.

Photo: Coconuts Media
Japanese-style onsen baths on the second floor of the hotel. Photo: Coconuts Media

Beach bums, however, might be a bit let down by the prospect of swimming and sunning themselves at the beach right by the hotel, since it’s filled with rocks and pointy shells. If chilling in a jacuzzi or sinking in a beanbag under the sun to take in the open seaside views is more your thing, then this would be more up your alley. The aforementioned islands, Koh Loy Park and Koh Sichang, can be seen from this vantage point, too.

Photo: Coconuts Media
View from the top floor of the hotel. Photo: Coconuts Media

Let’s get to the food. The restaurant, which is located on the top floor of the main building, has an outdoor observation deck and serves all-you-can-eat breakfast spreads with an impressive selection covering morning crowd-pleasers such as cereals, pastries, dim sum, light noodle dishes and khao tom Thai rice soup.

Dinner is where local seafood ingredients from the area really shine, though. We were especially into the “Local Hero” menu items, which feature seafood recipes using fresh, locally sourced ingredients from Sriracha. They include a wok-fried blue crab with egg yolk and yellow Sriracha sauce (THB490 / US$15.8), boiled squid with black ink soup (THB390 / US$12.6), and green mussels with red curry and smoked bamboo shoots (THB220 / US$7).

If booze is on your mind, then there’s no need to drive out and drink responsibly, as there are two bars on the property: One on the rooftop, and another next to a water playground, ready to concoct cocktails by the pool. They make classic cocktails like Whiskey Sour (THB290 / US$9.4), as well as “I’m on vacation mode” drinks like the Singapore Sling (THB190 / US$6.1) and Mai Tai (THB240 / US$7.7).

Photo: Coconuts Media
Tropicana Bar sits next to the water playground. Photo: Coconuts Media

Overall, the property’s got a convenient location — it’s just a few kilometers from the Sriracha city center — and facilities tailored to keep the whole family entertained without having to leave the hotel much. We also liked the top-notch service provided by its professional and polite hotel staff. The rooms are clean, spacious and well-equipped with comfortable amenities, and the prices, which — depending on the season — range from approximately THB2,500 / US$81 (for the Superior Room) to THB5,000 / US$162 (for the 60sqm Two-Bedroom Suite) aren’t too bad, either.

Read more of Coconuts’ travel content here:

Coconuts’ Weekend Guide to Penang: The city’s best street food, hidden bars, museums, and cafes

Tourists are all over this new ‘Bubble Igloo’ hotel in Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park 

Best New Bali Beach Clubs: Five fresh spots to sun, swim, booze in Nusa Dua, Seminyak, Pandawa, and Canggu

Pattaya’s Sky Gallery: Ideal spot for sunset and people watching in the seaside city 


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