Koh Sirey has for generations been home to sea gypsies and fishermen. The island just south of Phuket city is moving up market with new real estate projects in what used to be plantations. The view over the bay is spectacular.
Koh Sirey is just a few kilometers from the bustling and ever so busy Phuket City. But it is like traveling to another time and place. It is an island, but connected to Phuket Island by a short bridge. As you cross over to Koh Sirey you will fishing boats in the narrow channel and the port to the right.
Koh Sirey is only 21 sq km and it takes half an hour to drive around the island.
The local temple, Wat Koh Sirey the hill, has a large reclining Buddha and provides excellent views of the surroundings as well as Phuket City.
The area is not good for swimming. The water is very muddy.
Locals visit the wild moneys in the mangrove forest just east of the main bridge connecting Phuket City to Koh Sirey.
There are a few restaurants at Koh Sirey serving local seafood at very affordable prices next to the bay. Also check out the Phuket Alabone Farm and Restaurant.
The largest settlement of Sea Gypsies, also called Chao Lay, live on Koh Sirey at the Laem Tuk-kae area. This village suffered some damage in the 2004 tsunami and some new houses were built for them nearby by NGOs. The old village was rebuilt in 2006 and looks almost like it has been for the last 80 years.
Anyone expecting a glance into old traditional sea gypsy life will be disappointed. There are 15-20 small shops selling shells.