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Places to visit

Koh Similan

Diving at Koh Similan

Koh Similan

 

Koh Similan is concluding of the national park of the Similan Islands located in southern Thailand, 50 kilometers west of Khao Lak. It is considered the best place in Thailand for divers.


The park covers 140 square kilometers in total, 14 of those being land in the shape of an archipelago consisting of nine islands. They are Koh Bon, Koh Bayu, Koh Similan, Koh Payu, Koh Miang (two adjoining islands), Koh Payan, Koh Payang, and Koh Huyong. For simplicity they are often referred to by their number instead - 1 through 9 starting from the south. Recently, the park was expanded to include the two remote islands Ko Bon and Koh Tachai, but since "Sembilan" is Malay for "nine" this doesn't seem to stick in people's minds and those are not visited as often as the original nine.


The islands were created by upwellings of hot magma during the Tertiary-Cretaceous period some 65 million years ago, then smoothed by glacial ice and the erosion by the sea. The coral reefs are about 5000 years old and hence the oldest in Thailand. In 1982, the national park was established and now it is scheduled to become a World Heritage.

The 2004 tsunami left the islands and the underwater landscape almost unharmed, since the waters are very deep around the islands.

The nine granite islands are postcard perfect images of paradise, covered in tropical jungle and equipped with beaches of chalk-white sand. As if this was not enough, the views under the water surface are even more impressive this is the best dive site in Thailand. Skin-Diver Magazine has acclaimed the Similans to be one of the ten most beautiful places in the world.


There is an enormous diversity in species - both in fish and corals. The visibility is the best you will find in Thailand. You will see plenty of colorful fish such as lionfish and clownfish (Nemo), and if you're lucky you may spot a bigger one like a manta or even a whale shark.

On Ko Huyong Thai Marines run a turtle breeding facility, but access to the island is limited.


High season in the Similans is from December until April, when the monsoon stays far away. The best period to visit is March, when the winds are calm and the water clear. The national park is closed from May 16 to November 15.


There are several dive trips going to the Similan from Phuket and some from Khao Lak. Both day trips and live aboard cruises are available. Dedicated cruises where your boat picks your group up from your destination and cruises around usually start at 4 days and 4 nights in length. Many shorter trips are available, often with operators who have a large vessel on the islands over summer and who do regular transfers using smaller speed boats.

Note that there is a national park entry fee of 400 baht per traveller and a further daily usage fee of 200 baht per diver per day. Most boats do not include this in their quoted price. It is paid to your dive operator before the trip.



If you traveling from Phuket most of these actually depart from Tap Lamu near Khao Lak but focus on the Phuket area, with offices on Phuket and pickups from major beaches:

Diving liveaboards such following

* Jonathan Cruiser, 43/63 Moo 5, Viset Rd., T. Rawai A. Muang, Phuket, โ˜Ž +66 76 281 529 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., fax: +66 76 281 530). Jonathan Cruiser offers 4 day/5 night and 5 day/6 night liveaboard diving trips. 25000 baht for 4d/5n plus park fees and rental.

* White Manta Liveaboards, 18 Sin Ming Walk, #02-03, Singapore, โ˜Ž +65 9677 8894 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., fax: +65 6452 5496). White Manta is a Singaporean operator which has two vessels doing liveaboards in the Similans: the MV White Manta and the MV Black Manta. White Manta liveaboards are fairly high end, with the option of staying in luxury master suites with en suite bathrooms. 4d/3n trips start at approximately 28000 baht.

* Scuba Cat Diving, 94 Thaweewong Rd, Patong Beach, Phuket, โ˜Ž +66 76 345 246 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., fax: +66 76 293 122). Scuba Cat Diving has several liveaboard options. There are three cruise vessels which do longer trips (4 days/4 nights and up) to the Similan Islands among other destinations. There is also a vessel, the MV Scuba Cat, moored on the Similans throughout the high season with transfers by speedboat on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and you can vary your length of stay from 2 days/1 night and upwards accordingly. The lack of daily transfers has its upside: there won't be the bustle of divers arriving and leaving every single day. From 10000 baht for 2d/1n.

* South Siam Divers, 459/1 The Best Villa, Patak Rd, Karon, Muang, Phuket, โ˜Ž +66 76-286-016 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., fax: +66 76-286-020). South Siam Divers has two boats moored on the Similan Islands, one with daily transfers and one with transfers 5 days a week (excluding Wednesday and Sunday). You can do daytrips through to living onboard for a week or more. The boat sleeps 28 and day trips are also possible, so during peak season there can be as many as 60 people on board for lunch between the arrival and departure of the speedboat. Divers are allowed 4 dives a day of 50 minutes each and must follow a guide. From 11000 baht for 2d/1n.


Diving liveaboards from Khao Lak

* Similan Diving Safaris, 13/19 Moo 7, Khaolak, Kukkak, Takuapa, Phang-Nga, โ˜Ž +66 76 485 470 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., fax: +66 76 485 471), . From 17800 baht (bunk in a 4 person room) for 4d/4n.

Overnight Diving Tours is so special especially for Similan Island

* Similan Overnight Tours, 4/37 Moo 7 Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phangnga, โ˜Ž +66 76 486 868 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Wicked Diving offers unique 3 day/2 night diving adventures. Nights are spent on the the islands, days are spent at various dive sites. Trips depart Monday and Friday 12,000 baht. edit

Snorkeling only liveaboards

* Similan Tour, 1/6 Khao Lak, Lam Kaen, Thai Muang, Phangnga, โ˜Ž +66 76 443 258 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Similan Tour have a snorkeling-only liveaboard for 3 days and 2 nights, departing Tuesdays and Fridays. 7400 baht. edit

Day trips

* Similan Scuba Adventures, 4/56 Moo 7, Tambon Khuk Kak, Amphur Takua Pa, Phang Nga, โ˜Ž +66 76 485 610 (fax: +66 76 485 610). Similan Scuba Adventures have a day trip where divers and snorkelers go to different sites to get the most out of the experience. They also have liveaboards. The day trip is 52 Euro for snorkelers and 76 Euro for divers (2 dives)

* Similan Diving - Wicked, 4/37 Moo 7 Khuk Khak, Takuapa, Phangnga, โ˜Ž +66 76 485 868 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Wicked Diving Offers one day trips to the Similan Islands with safe, secure guides. Guides speak English, Swedish, Norwegian, German and Italian. 5000 Baht. edit


Diving liveaboards from Koh Lanta

* Lanta Diving Safaris, 289 Moo 1, Ban Saladan, Koh Lanta, โ˜Ž +66 75 68 49 04,. Lanta Diving Safaris, Koh Lanta's only liveaboard, does periodic (about 1 per month) 7 day/7 night trips that include a day's diving in the Similans. 7d/7n trips approx 30000 baht plus fees.


Diving liveaboards from Krabi

* KrabiDivers.com, Sea of Love Plaza (opposite McDonalds), Aonang, Krabi, 8100, โ˜Ž +66 075-695-480 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 24hr. Located in the heart of Aonang, the beachside town of Krabi, in the Sea of Love PLaza. KrabiDivers.com provides dive courses, trips, liveaboards, dive equipment sales and also helps customers with hotel bookings and other arrangements. edit

Fees/Permits

The National Park fee is 400 baht/day (children 100 baht). For Thai citizens the fee is 40 baht, children 20 baht.

Diving fee is an additional 200 baht/day regardless of passport.


There are tours leaving from Khao Lak that offer diving and snorkeling tours. In addition, once on the islands there is the option of using the Marine Park boats for transit between the islands. This is not totally reliable, but is a less expensive alternative.


Incredible marine life, great scenery, white sand beaches.


The Similan Islands are home to some of the best diving in the world. They are also home to great snorkeling, bird watching and sunbathing.

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