Are you planning a vacation to the Similan Islands? In this article, I lead you through the best of the island, offering information to help you plan a vacation of a lifetime to this stunning spot.
The Similan Islands are situated in the glittering seas of the Andaman Sea, off the west coast of Southern Thailand. In this essay, I’ll go over everything you need to know about the Similan Islands, including the best things to do and more.
It is made up of eleven islands, each one as beautiful as the next. It’s no surprise that this area is a sanctuary for diving aficionados and adventurers alike, with its crystal blue seas filled with marine life and beautiful rock formations and coral reefs.
Is it your passion to go to isolated and barren locations teeming with wildlife? Get away from Phuket’s throngs and explore these unique treasures for yourself.
In this Similan Islands travel guide, I’ll take you through all there is to see and do in the region, as well as how to get there and more.
In This Post
About The Similan Islands
The Similan Islands are a tiny and lonely archipelago 60 kilometers off Thailand’s west coast, close to the border with Burma (Myanmar). It is by far the greatest scuba diving location in Thailand, and many consider it to be among the best in the world. This is supported by the enormous number of dive sites accessible to divers of all skill levels and accessible through both day tours and liveaboard diving safari cruises.
The Similan Islands are a nine-island archipelago. They are protected islands that are part of the Similan National Park. They are deserted and closely monitored.
Because the islands were suffering from overtourism, they restricted the number of persons that may enter the National Park each day in 2018. Make sure to reserve your Similan Islands day excursion online ahead of time so you don’t miss out!
The Similan Islands are recognized for their amazing diving and snorkeling possibilities, in addition to their beautiful natural beauty. They’re one of Thailand’s most popular attractions, and a must-see for anybody who enjoys the underwater world.
Map of the Similan Islands, photo by Demis
The warm and clean saltwater allows for up to four hours of diving each day and attracts a variety of colorful and intriguing marine life species of all kinds and sizes. Many visitors to the Similans come for the chance to dive with Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.
Although sightings are far from assured, there is typically a good possibility of seeing them from February to April. In reality, the two deserted islands and one undersea pinnacle immediately north of The Similan Islands are the finest places to encounter huge pelagic animals like sharks and rays.
The country’s three best diving sites are Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, and Richelieu Rock, which are rich with exotic fish, crustaceans, and even the rare marine reptile. The Similan Islands and Koh Bon are protected as part of the Similan Island National Marine Park, while Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock are protected as part of the Surin Islands National Marine Park.
Temperature at Similan Islands
Weak – Medium
Normally calm on the eastern side. The western side can be choppy.
When to dive at Similan Islands?
Best Times: November to April
The national marine parks are closed from May 16th to October 14th during the Indian Ocean monsoon season. As a result, they are only open from October 15th to May 15th. From December through March, the sea and weather conditions are ideal.
What type of dive site is Similan Islands?
Coral reef, Swim-through
The Similan Islands are comprised of eight deserted islands. The diving spots on its western side are largely granite rocks. The diving locations on the eastern side, which is more sheltered, include sloping coral reefs that are accessible to divers of all skill levels.
How to get to Similan Islands?
It is not easy to get to the Similan Islands, particularly because there is no regular boat service to the island. Boats may even cease operating entirely during the low season (May to October), so keep this in mind when planning your trip.
To travel to the Similan Islands, take a boat from the harbour at Khao Lak, Thailand’s mainland. Even if you’re staying in Khao Lak, the majority of Similan Islands day tours include transportation to the dock.
There are several businesses that provide day tours to the Similan Islands. In general, they all provide quite comparable experiences. I’ve selected some of the more popular excursions with excellent web reviews below.
Day trips from Phuket and Khao Lak, as previously noted, are widespread and may last anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the kind of boat.
Check out 12Go, which we use to buy transportation tickets all around Southeast Asia, for accurate boat timetables.
Top Things to Do in The Similan Islands
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Similan Islands
After making the bold assertion that it is one of the top scuba diving sites in Asia, we obviously have to speak about snorkeling and diving first.
The Similan Islands give more than excellent conditions for a superb diving experience, with warm, clear seas, light to moderate currents, and visibility of 20 to 30 meters.
Throughout the diving season (late October to May), you may discover the rich marine life that dwells just under the surface and marvel at the breathtaking scenery.
Similan Islands Liveaboard
With so many dive sites to select from and so much marine life to observe, it might be difficult to decide which ones to visit! A liveaboard would be an excellent choice if you want to make the most of your stay in the Similan Islands.
If you want to get the most out of your diving experience, we strongly suggest liveaboard diving.
These excursions take you to all of the major diving locations and include a variety of dives of varying difficulty as well as night dives!
Hiking in the Similan Islands
Although the islands are small, you may spend time away from the sea exploring the deep woods and finding secret locations where few people have explored.
Whether you like to hike the trails or go off-road, you can take your time and see some magnificent vistas along the route. Just remember to bring mosquito repellent and a bottle of water with you.
Relax by the Beach
The pristine sandy beaches of the Similan Islands are ideal for relaxing and unwinding.
You could go snorkeling, diving, or swimming if you wanted to, but why would you when the sun is shining down on you and the lovely sound of waves lapping at the shore? You wouldn’t, that’s for sure.
With so many divers visiting the Similan Islands, this little island has become a popular stop for yachts and tour boats.
Because of its popularity, you may expect to see a few boats and people throughout the day.
If you want to remain on the island, you will have the beaches to yourself after the day boats depart.
Admire the Wildlife
If you like animals, the Similan Islands are home to some spectacular species that you may admire. Many crab-eating monkeys, squirrels, bats, lizards, and rare and unusual birds may be seen among the ironwood and gum trees that line the islands, as well as rattan and bamboo that form part of the heavier undergrowth.
A journey here may be well worth it if you like bird watching or just seeing creatures enjoying their lives to the fullest in their natural surroundings.
What marine life can you see at Similan Islands?
The Similans is home to a wide variety array of aquatic species. Larger pelagic species (Whale Sharks and Manta Rays) tend to visit the northern locations more often than Similans, although they do appear on occasion. At the Similans, you may observe reef fish, reptiles, invertebrates, and other creatures from the surface to as deep as you are certified to dive.
Reef Manta Ray
Giant Moray Eel poking its head out of a reef.
Giant Moray Eel
School of Barracuda at Moalboal, Philippines
Giant Trevally Jack Jackfish (Caranx ignobilis)
Clown Anemonefish in its anemone, which protects it from predators
A whitetip Reef Shark swimming across the ref during the day.
Whitetip Reef Shark
Where to Stay in the Similan Islands
The Similan Islands’ unique ecosystems are highly vulnerable and must be conserved, thus you may only remain on three of the islands.
These are Koh Miang, Ko Similan, and Koh Tachai. Fortunately, private development has not yet wrecked these islands, thus the only lodging available is in the form of guesthouse bungalows or camping tents.
The tents are pretty large, with adequate room for two to three individuals. Some campgrounds even include a small restaurant. The accommodation on the islands is frequently included in packaged trips, so be sure you know precisely what you’re receiving when you arrive.
The majority of the Similan Islands do not allow overnight stays, and some are even off-limits all year (due to the unusual species of nesting turtles!). As a result, many individuals choose to stay in Phuket or Khao Lak. This works out very well, particularly if you want to do liveaboard diving while you’re there.
Review of Our Similan Islands day trip from Phuket
On my first vacation to Thailand, I went to the Similan Islands. We were largely stationed in Phuket and took day excursions to the neighbouring islands before heading to Koh Lanta.
The Similan Islands are often visited as a day excursion from Phuket. While the Similan Islands are undeniably gorgeous, they are quite a distance from Phuket.
We awoke at 4:30 a.m. and were picked up at our Karon Beach hotel at 5 a.m. We rode on a minibus for about 1.5 hours, picking up other passengers along the way and ultimately arriving at the port.
Before leaving on another 1.5 hour speedboat excursion, we were offered a modest breakfast.
I’ve been sailing my whole life and am accustomed to being at sea, but there were a number of people on the speedboat who were feeling ill.
However, as you reach the first Similan Island, you will forget the previous three rough hours.
The lake is a brilliant blue, and you can’t help but be awestruck by its beauty.
We went to three separate islands and spent the most of our time snorkeling in the pristine sea, where we even saw turtles!
The first island visit was strictly for snorkeling, and it was a little distant from the beach. We all disembarked on the beach of the second island and had a delicious rice and fish meal provided immediately on the beach.
The last visit was at the main beach on Koh Similan, the archipelago’s largest island. This is the beach that is always photographed from the vantage point that overlooks it.
Even on a wet day when the colors were muted, it was one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. If you go during the dry season, expect it to be quite crowded.
We immediately returned to our boat and resumed our voyage home, which turned out to be interminable. Because the waves were higher, our speedboat was significantly slower, and it took us at least two hours to return to Khao Lak.
The trip back to Phuket seemed to go on forever. We didn’t get back to our hotel until after midnight since it was pouring fiercely and traffic was delayed.
This clearly does not happen every day, but if you’re visiting Thailand during the rainy season, it’s something to keep in mind.
Is a day trip to the Similan Islands worthwhile?
Both yes and no. I thought the Similan Islands were beautiful, but if I went back, I wouldn’t visit them as a day trip from Phuket.
The early morning start and the travel return, which lasted until after midnight, were just too much for me. If I could go back in time, I would choose one of the following possibilities.
Do a day excursion from Khao Lak – On my second trip to Thailand, I stayed in Khao Lak for a night and quite enjoyed it. The town is substantially smaller and has a more laid-back atmosphere than Phuket.
The beach isn’t very lovely, but from here you can take a day excursion to the Similan Islands and save the lengthy drives to and from Phuket.
Do an overnight liveaboard trip — A few companies also provide overnight excursions to the Similan Islands.
Because the islands are a protected national park, you are not permitted to sleep on them; however, you may sleep aboard a boat moored off the coast.
These are more expensive than day trips, but you will have a far more amazing experience!
Imagine waking up to the sound of the waves and gazing out your window over the blue sea.
You will also be able to enjoy the splendor of the Similan Islands for a few hours before the masses of visitors come.
Visit the Surin Islands instead — On my second trip to Thailand, I went to the Surin Islands instead, and I much preferred them. These lovely islands are close to the Similan Islands and provide a similar experience.
In the Surin Islands, you may also camp on the beach, which is a terrific option if you want a longer experience but don’t want to sleep on a boat. The Surin Islands are likewise less popular and less crowded since they are still off the beaten path.
All of these possibilities, however, entail spending more than one night away from Phuket. If you just have a day in Thailand, a day excursion to the Similan Islands is the most convenient alternative.You must determine if stunning white sand beaches, bright turquoise sea, and abundant marine fauna are worth 6+ hours of travel time in a single day.
So, what are your thoughts? Are the Similan Islands now on your list of fantastic locations to visit, or have they always been on your list but we’ve encouraged you to go?
Hopefully, this guide has persuaded you to visit Similan Islands and experience the splendor for yourself.