Similan Islands, the group of magnificent little islands amidst the greenish blue waters are located just 84 km northwest of Phuket and its bustling crowds. Koh Similan also happens to be one of the best-known island groups found in the Andaman Sea. Wait till you explore the wonders beneath the sea, explore the clear blue waters and hold your breath, literally! Another interesting fact about the island is that it is counted among the “10 most interesting dive areas in the world”. Famous for the yachts and the tour boats this little archipelago has risen to popularity among backpackers.
“Similan,” the word is derived from the Malay Sembilan that translates into “nine”. Each of all the Similan Islands flaunts a number alongside their cherished names. And these names and numbers are, running from north to south: Koh Ba Ngu (No. 9), Similan (No. 8), Payu (No. 7), Miang (No. 4, No. 5 and, in some opinion, No. 6), Payan (No. 3), Payang (No. 2), and Hu Yong (No. 1). The Hin Pousar another name for which is the “Elephant Head Rock” is often considered No. 6 by some.
Entry Fee: The tourists with foreign citizenships have to pay a fee of 500 baht to enter the national park, and for children, it is 300 baht. But people holding a Thai citizenship can pay the fee of 50 baht, and for children, it’s 20 baht. The diving fee in the Similan Islands is an additional 200 baht per day. Remember, to ask, most of the boats do not include this in their quoted price.
Entry Timings: 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
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Best Time to visit Similan Islands
The Similan Islands are closed for visitors during monsoon. The best time to visit the islands is between 16 May and 15 October every year. But the sad part is Similan Islands, Ko Tachai, has now been closed since May 15, 2016, for an indefinite period to allow the island to recover from the damage that was brought on by the massive crowding of visitors.
How to reach Similan Islands
By Flight: Take a flight to Phuket and from there you have to take a boat journey. The Phuket international airport is the nearest airport to the Similan Islands, located just about 70 kilometers south of the pier and is just a 90 minutes’ drive for the ones who avail the local taxi service.
Keep in mind, there are no regular boat services and, at times, for extreme weather conditions, the boats stop running. The nearest ferry point is at the Thap Lamu Pier of Phang Nga province. But the best option still is to take a ferry from Phuket.
The incredible flora and fauna of Similan Islands
The enormous biodiversity of the waters and the salty beaches of the Similan Islands are amazing. Check out the diverse fish species. Plus the visibility underwater is the best that one can find in Thailand. Go for a dive and you can see a palette full of colors, the sea waters here is inhabited by plenty of colorful fish including lionfish and clownfish (Nemo). The lucky ones have even been able to spot bigger fishes, like a manta or even a whale shark, not to fry but.
Amazing varieties of exotic birds visit the islands, watch out for Nicobar Pigeons, Sea eagles and kingfishers. Then there are flying foxes, hairy-legged crabs, and mangrove monitor lizards. One of the islands, Ko Huyong, facilitates the turtle breeding facility run by the Royal Thai Marines. The access to the particular island is restricted for the same reason.
The exotic range of flora species found in the islands is absolutely wonderful. But the incredible corals are the ones to watch out for. They surely are breathtaking. But the saddest part is, the area has largely fallen victim to coral bleaching in 2010 and is yet to recover. The mangrove forests are unique and the vegetation there is extremely rare.
Suggested Read: 10 Best Islands In Thailand For Honeymoon
Things to do in Similan Islands
1. Diving is that one thing you should never ever miss while in Similan Islands. The waters here are crystal clear and the underwater visibility is the best in the whole of Thailand. You can also think about diving to Similan Islands from Phuket. It has been a popular activity among divers and game fishers.
2. Of course, the National park has to be in the bucket list. Explore the amazing diversity of the Similan Islands National Park.
3. Snorkeling the Similan Islands is a must. This happens to be one of the most common ways to discover the diversity. Hop on the giant snorkeling boats operating daily.
4. Always be up for a bit of hiking or trekking along the ridges. It’s not a large trek, smaller islands can be covered easily. These treks are great for exploring.
If you are up for a bit of quiet time go for bird watching. The island is home to an array of colorful exotic birds. Look out for the rare Nicobar Pigeon as well as the White-tailed Tropicbird. Also, check out the intense Sea eagles and Kingfishers.
How about a bit of unwinding after a day of snorkeling and diving, go Sunbathing on the Similan Islands.
Places to stay in Similan Islands
Depending on your budget you get to choose where you would want to stay. You can go to a hotel or a bungalow and you can even try out a campsite. The campsite on Koh Similan is blissful if you are looking to get in touch with nature but if you want luxury then go for the bungalows on Koh Meang.
a) Similan Island Bungalows
Koh Meang is your go-to place as it happens to be the only island with bungalows and accommodations with more facilities. There are restaurants and other chillout zones. You can check out the different range of bungalows, the most expensive of them being the Chomviews that costs around 2000 Baht a night. Then there is the cheaper version of these bungalows called Hu Yong that cost around 1000 Baht a night and the third kind is a Pa Yang for the same price. Don’t forget to book in advance as there are only 35 bungalows in total on the island and each of them can serve only two people.
b) Koh Similan Campsite accommodation
If you don’t want to stay in the bungalows, go for the campsite accommodations. It’s the budget alternative located on the Islands of Koh Meang, Koh Similan, and Koh Tachai. These are spacious tents and can hold up to 2-3 people per tent.
Being one of the finest places to visit in Thailand, Similan Island is indeed a wonderful vacation option for all the nature seekers. Thai blues are calling out to you!
Further Read: 15 Best Islands In Thailand For The Castaway Fantasies
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