What to Do in the Similans?
- What to Do in the Similans?
- How to Get There?
- The Islands
- What to Do?
- 3 Facts to remember not to get in trouble
- Staying over in the Similans
- How to Book A Room in the Similans
- When are the Similan Islands open?
- Useful tips:
- On the not so fun side:
- Good to know about Similan Islands:
- More Photos of the Similans Islands
- Where are the Similan Islands?
- FAQs about Similan Islands
- More islands in Thailand
The Similan Islands form a fabulous archipelago in the Andaman Sea, just 120 km northwest of Phuket island. These small islands are so stunning; you don’t even need to be an excellent photographer to come back with amazing photos.
Most people go there on a day trip tour, but the best way to enjoy the Similan islands is to stay for two days. It’s a little far from Phuket and can be tiring to get there on a speedboat. This way, you’ll have some fabulous beaches almost for yourself in the morning and the evening, and having the beaches for yourself is priceless.
How to Get There?
To get there, you should consider booking a tour that takes you around for some snorkelling first, then drop you on the main island where a restaurant and basic accommodation are available. If you can afford it, try not to book the cheapest speedboat, unless you are on a strict budget. You don’t want to travel like a bunch of sardines in a tin can. Of course, if you are a diver, you’ll have dozens of dive centres offering this destination as a day trip from Khaolak or even better: as a liveaboard cruise.
The Similans are open from October 15 to May 15. Time varies each year so always check before planning a day out there.
Similan comes from a Malay dialect word meaning nine. The park had originally nine islands numbered 1 to 9 but expanded to include two islands located a little further in 1998: Ko Tachai and Ko Bon. Each island has a name and a number, covering 140 km2.
Island 1: Ko Hu Yong
Island 2: Ko Payang
Island 3: Ko Payan
Island 4: Ko Miang
Island 5: Ko Ha
Island 6: Ko Payu
Island 7: Ko Hin Pousar
Island 8: Ko Similan
Island 9: Ko Bangu
Island 10: Ko Bon, also known as Ko Talu
Island 11: Ko Tachai
(The two main islands are Ko Miang and Ko Similan)
What to Do?
The main part of the archipelago consists of 9 islands, but you will only have time to visit 2 or 3. The first is very well known for its iconic landmark made of giant boulders perched at the top of a hill overlooking the incredibly clear water of the bay below. You’ll arrive in the morning and will have just a bit of time to explore it and even climb on top of it, maybe one hour, but do it if you can, the view from up there is worth it!
Climbing to the boulders isn’t too hard since there are steps and ladders to reach the top. Standing on this rock will give you a beautiful bird view of the entire bay. The shadow of the boats floating above white sand will give you an idea of how clear the water is.
Your speedboat will probably make a second stop near another island where you can enjoy some great snorkelling. Water is always warm and visibility incredibly clear. It feels like flying above coral formations surrounded by thousands of colourful fishes. It would be best if you also got a chance to see sea turtles swimming around the boat.
3 Facts to remember not to get in trouble
- Do not feed the fish, even if they swarm around you and beg for some.
- Do not pick up any coral or sea life.
- Do not walk on the coral, swim!=
Staying over in the Similans
The last stop is ‘Island #4’ where you can spend the night in a small tent or an air-con bungalow. I don’t know about you, but we picked the cottage without hesitation. It’s not that expensive, but it is quite hard to get. Nothing fancy, but you get your own (cold) shower and bathroom, a balcony with a bit of sea view, and the luxury of cold air at the hottest time of the year (That’s March to April.)
You can rent a tent, but it can get quite hot in it. Please note that you have to book in advance for both tents and bungalows. It would be unwise not to, but it is not easy to book through their website. Last time we went there, it was 570 baht for a tent and 2,000 for a cottage, plus tax of course.
A thatched roof restaurant near the beach serves basic lunch and dinner, water and soft drinks. That’s the only place to hang at the end of the day. Not sure if beers are still on sale since they were talking about banning alcohol in all national parks. So at this time, I don’t even know if you’ll be allowed to bring your own.
This island has two beaches connected by a narrow path meandering through the woods. The beach in front of the restaurant is large with incredibly white sand, well shaded for a nice rest. The water here too is clear and painfully blue, so don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen. The ocean is warm, and fishes once again are everywhere. The beach on the other side of the island is rockier and less attractive, but since you have plenty of time, it’s fun to explore. Go to every corner of the island!
One of the highlights of our stay was a nightly encounter with a giant snake, maybe 3 meters long. That monster was having a nap at the bottom of the stairs leading to our bungalow. It looked like a python, but we were not sure. So we had the choice between sleeping on the beach or practising our best high jump. We chose to jump, but then I couldn’t resist going back and get some close up photo. The lady working at the restaurant told us the next day that such an encounter was very unusual. Considering how small the island is, I wonder how rare.
How to Book A Room in the Similans
NOTE: Staying overnight is not always possible, it changes each year, and it isn’t easy to get that information.
When are the Similan Islands open?
The Similan islands are open from October 15 to May 15. Time varies each year, so always check before planning a day out there.
Having a waterproof camera is worth it. Turtles are not shy, and you will effortlessly get a nice shot. The entire area is full of corals and tropical fish. It might not be a bad idea to buy one of those waterproof floating bags; they are cheap.
On the not so fun side:
- Buy some motion sickness pills. Most companies will provide some, but better be safe than sick, and it’s a long trip, so unless you are a sailor: take it, once you start to feel sick, it is not easy to stop it.
- Don’t seat at the front of the speedboat, it’s fun for 5 minutes while you are still in the calm waters, but it might become a real roller coaster ride, and your spine might never forget it. Don’t forget, sunscreen, sunglasses AND a cap! The rear end of the boat is the most stable place, but you’ll be in the sun for more than two hours! Now if you like fantastic scenery, but you are worried about seasickness, consider a cruise in Phang Nga Bay instead.
Good to know about Similan Islands:
There is a National park fee to pay, but it usually is included in the speedboat fare. To book a tent or a bungalow, contact the National Parks at (+66) 25 62 0760 is the easiest way. You can contact your travel agent and get a pick up at your hotel or drive to Takua Pa and get a boat from there which is cheaper.
More Photos of the Similans Islands
Where are the Similan Islands?
If you are on mobile, add the map here: https://goo.gl/maps/13tq3FhkBL6k3EF68
FAQs about Similan Islands
- Q. When are the Similan Islands open?
a. The Similans are open from October 15 to May 15
- Q. How far from Phuket are the Similan Islands?
a. The Similans are 119 km north-west of Phuket Island, and 50 km west of Khaolak. Khaolak is a 115 km drive from Patong Beach.
- Q. How to get to the Similans?
a. Tours will send a van to our hotel and drive you to Thap Lamu pier in Khaolak; then a short speedboat ride will take you to the islands.
- Q. Can I book a tent or a bungalow on the Similans to stay overnight?
a. Staying on the Similan islands is not possible this year.
- Q. Where can I book a trip to the Similans?
a. You can book a day trip from any tour agent in Phuket, at your hotel tour counter, or in one of the many street tour booths.