Visiting the Similan islands: day trip or overnight stay?

The Similan Islands are located in the Andaman Sea on the West Coast of Southern Thailand and are one of the best kept secrets of Thailand. Crystal clear water full of sparkling marine life, breathtaking sandy beaches and a wonderful place to relax. The Similan islands are a true paradise on earth.

 

checkoutsam Similan islands Thailand

General information

The Similan archipelago consists of the following eleven islands: Koh Bangu, Koh Bon, Koh Ha, Koh Hin Pousar, Koh Huyong, Koh Meang, Koh Payan, Koh Payang, Koh Payu, Koh Similan and Koh Tachai. These are all located in the Mu Koh Similan Islands National Park, which occupies more than 140 square kilometers (87 square miles). The Similan Islands are a fantastic travel destination for tourists who love diving and want to explore more deserted places full of underwater wildlife. All islands are surrounded by crystal clear and shallow water full of beautiful rock formations and spectacular coral reefs. The marine life around the Similan Islands has no equal in Thailand and the surrounding region. It’s not surprising that they were named in the top ten of best dive sites in the world according to National Geographic.

similan islands thailand

The Similan Islands surpass your wildest dreams! It’s one of the most beautiful places Thailand has!

Wonderful underwater life

Both snorkeling and diving in the Similan Islands are the main activities to do on the islands. This pristine underwater landscape and diverse marine life was made possible thanks to the Andaman Sea. This has created the ideal water conditions where the visibility underwater is exceptionally high and perfect for diving and snorkeling. In addition, the average temperature of the water is an ideal 25°C or 77°F. If you go diving in the Similan Islands, you’re guaranteed to encounter a variety of tropical fish: from the smallest creatures to giant manta rays and even whale sharks. And then I’m not even talking about the basking shark, barracudas, trigger fish and coral in almost all colors of the rainbow.

Gorgeous tropical islands

The islands consist of rough, rocky coastlines in the west and sandy beaches with beautiful crystal white, soft sand in the east. Some of the Similan Islands have a number of mountains, the highest being 244 meters (800 ft) high and showing off on Koh Similan. Other islands have sand dunes, so there’s no shortage of variation. There are a number of tropical songbirds on the islands, as well as reptiles.

similan islands day trip

Snow-white beaches, slowly waving palm trees, transparent water, … What more could you ask for?!

Which Similan Islands should you visit?

The easiest way to travel between the islands is with sailing boats called liveaboard boats. There are a number of agencies offering iveaboards for the Similan islands, and they leave at different times every week. Their schedule, however, depends on the weather so try to plan this in advance. Not every island can be visited so I’ll give you  the three most beautiful Similan Islands that you can visit.

Koh Similan

The largest island is called Koh Similan and this is probably the best place to start your adventure. Here you have some beautiful coral reefs making this one of the best places to dive in the Similan Islands.
You start diving in the Donald Duck Bay where you can admire green turtles and a lot of crustaceans and other underwater life. Beacon Point is also a great place to explore the underwater life in the Similan Islands National Park. Here you can dive up to 40 meters (131 ft) deep and see impressive rock formations and stone corals.
The famous “Elaphant Rock” can also be found in the waters around Koh Similan and its name is derived from a rock formation that breaks through the surface of the water and resembles an elephant’s head.

Koh Tachai

Koh Tachain is one of the most popular places to scuba dive on the Similan Islands. When you stay in Khao Lak you can easily achieve this. One of the nicest dive sites here is the Koh Tachai Plateau, which is close to the beautiful Richelieu Rock. This place has the shape of a horseshoe and is full of soft corals, anemones and horn corals. In addition, magnificent whale sharks live here during most of the year.

Koh Bon

An hour’s boat ride from Koh Tachai is Koh Bon, a place that is famous because it seems to be the home of many giant manta rays throughout the year. It’s a dive site for advanced divers because the currents here are stronger than on any other island. The average depth of the water is between 5 and 40 meters (16 to 131 ft) with a minimum visibility of 15 to 40 meters (49 to 131 ft). When a manta ray is approaching, don’t move too much because they will see sudden movements as a threat, causing them to swim away quickly. Furthermore, you’ll also find various shark species, eagle rays and sometimes even the nice napoleon fish!

liveaboard similan islands tour

For the best diving and snorkeling locations, it’s best to arrange a liveaboard. But with small boats you also come a long way!

Diving on the Similan Islands

As far as diving on the Similan Islands is concerned, there are plenty of places for professional and novice divers. There are also several diving schools on different islands, so this is the perfect place to learn how to dive!
Perhaps the best way to get the most out of your visit is booking a liveaboard Similan Islands tour. You depart from the mainland or Phuket and then you visit several dive sites around the archipelago. Most tours last four to five nights and you live, eat and dive up and out of the boat. This is an absolute must for diving enthusiasts.

similan islands diving

This archipelago has an exceptionally beautiful fauna and flora both above and below water! Diving or snorkeling is therefore recommended!

How to reach the Similan Islands?

Traveling to the Similan Islands is very easy because several roads lead to this paradise. The fastest way is to fly to Phuket by plane, from where you take the bus to Khao Lak.
From Phuket you can also organize day tours (or multiple day tours) that take you to the islands by bus and boat trips.

Bangkok is located 764 kilometers (475 miles) north of the archipelago and from the capital you can also take the bus to Khao Lak. Do count on a day of travel. If you want to lose as little time as possible, you can also take the night bus. Then you can easily take the boat from Khao Lak to the Similan Islands.
If you come from Phuket you’ll have to take the boat from Chalong or Patong. From here, fun tours are organized where you explore the archipelago by boat.

Curious about tours to the Similan Islands? Look at these possibilities:

 

» All tours and day trips to the Similan Islands

Spend the night at the Similan Islands

The accommodations on the Similan islands are very basic but clean. On Koh Meang you have your own air conditioning in your bungalow. This is also the only island where you have various types of accommodations, where there are differences in luxury. The other islands where you can stay are Koh Similan and Koh Tachai. You can even camp on Koh Similan. Spending a night on the Similan Islands is definitely not a must, because you can easily reach them from Phuket. But if you want to enjoy the islands a bit more, then I advice you to book a while in advance.

similan islands accommodation

Spending the night in this magical place? Which can! But be on time!

The best time to visit the Similan Islands

The fragile and unique ecosystems on the island group are one of the main attractions of the region. The Thai government protects these by closing them during the monsoon season for the public because they can’t handle mass tourism at that time of the year. This starts in May and ends in October. Unfortunately, the islands are also threatened by local fishermen fishing here illegally.
Also, the islands have only just recovered from the impact of the tsunami in 2004. This destroyed a lot of natural habitats such as mangroves. Fortunately, nature is recovering, with the help of the Thai government. Moreover, you can’t visit some islands because sea turtles are nesting here, so always check the official website (http://www.similan-islands.com/) for precise information.

Because they’re closed during the monsoon season, every other period is great to visit these gems, especially from February to April. During this time of the year the weather is amazing and the sea is calm so you can admire the underwater life in all its glory.

sililan islands sam checkoutsam

You’ll not complain when you finally get to see the Similan islands! It really was one of the highlights of my trip through Thailand.

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Hi, I'm Sam Van den Haute. The last three years I've been traveling the world almost constantly. Heading out for an adventure and visiting the most beautiful places are what I love to do! Let me inspire you with great stories, beautiful pictures and handy tips from my adventures and travels. On my facebook page and instagram account you'll get to see the latest updates and photos to inspire you for your next vacation.
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