Travels in Asia

Have you ever dreamed of visiting a tropical paradise in Thailand? If so, you might want to check out the Similan Islands. These are nine stunning islands in the Andaman Sea, about 70 km away from the mainland. They are a haven for divers, snorkelers, and beach lovers. In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about the Similan Islands, based on my own adventures there.

Similan islands in Thailand - everything you need to know before your trip

The content of the article:

Tours to Similan Islands

Why do tourists go to the Similan Islands

The main reason why tourists go to the Similan Islands is to enjoy the amazing underwater world.

The Similan islands are one of the best diving and snorkeling destinations in Thailand, and even in the world.

  • The water is warm and clear, with visibility up to 30 meters.
  • The coral reefs are colorful and healthy, hosting a variety of fish, turtles, rays and even whales.
Incredibly beautiful sea colour near the Similan Islands
Incredibly beautiful sea colour near the Similan Islands

Another reason why tourists go to the Similan Islands is to relax on the pristine beaches.

  • The sand is soft and powdery, and the water is turquoise and calm.
  • You can sunbathe, swim, or take a walk along the shore. Some of the beaches have swings and hammocks for you to enjoy the breeze and the view.
  • The most popular beach is on island number 8, also known as Koh Similan. It has a stunning viewpoint that overlooks the bay and the islands.
The Similan Islands are famous for their turquoise water and white sandy beaches
The Similan Islands are famous for their turquoise water and white sandy beaches

What are the Similan islands

The Similan Islands are a group of nine islands numbered from 1 to 9. The islands also have names, but locals and tourists usually use numbers.

Here are the names and numbers of the Similan islands:

  1. Koh Huyong
  2. Koh Payang
  3. Koh Payan
  4. Koh Miang
  5. Koh Ha
  1. Koh Hok
  2. Koh Payu
  3. Koh Similan
  4. Koh Ba Ngu
Panoramic view from the observation deck on Sail Rock (Island No. 8)
Panoramic view from the observation deck on Sail Rock (Island No. 8)

However, not all of the islands are open to tourists. The Thai government has imposed some restrictions to protect the environment and the wildlife of the Similan islands.

  • Currently, only islands 4, 6, 8, and 9 are accessible to visitors.
  • Other islands are closed for turtle and birds conservation. You can still snorkel or dive around the islands, but you cannot land on them.

How to get to Similan islands

Currently, Similan Islands can only be visited if you buy a tour. There is no other transport to Similan, only excursion boats, catamarans and ships.

An tour to the Similan Islands can be purchased with transfer from hotels in Phuket, Krabi (Ao Nang), and Khao Lak.

The boats to Similan islands depart from the pier in Khao Lak, which is about an hour's drive from Phuket, Krabi, or Khao Lak. Most of the tours include a transfer from your hotel to the pier and back, as well as a national park fee, which is 500 baht per person.

The duration of the excursion depends on the type of boat and the itinerary.

  • A speedboat tour usually takes about 7 to 8 hours, and covers 3-4 islands.
  • A catamaran tour takes about 9 to 10 hours, and covers 4-5 islands.
Passenger embarkation / disembarkation process at the Similans Islands
Passenger embarkation / disembarkation process at the Similans Islands

Where to stay on Similan islands

If you want to stay overnight on the Similan Islands, you will be disappointed. In 2018, the Thai government banned overnight stays on the islands, as part of the measures to preserve the natural beauty and the wildlife of the Similans. Today there are no accommodation facilities on the Similan Islands.

Before that, there were some bungalows and tents available for rent on island 4 and island 8, but they have been removed. Today, there are no types of housing on the islands, and you can only visit the Similan Islands during the day.

What does an tour to Similan island include

An tour to the Similan Islands usually includes the following services:

  • Transfer from your hotel to the pier in Khao Lak and back to the hotel on Phuket, Krabi or Khao Lak.
    • The transfer is done by a minivan or a bus, depending on the number of passengers.
    • The pick-up time is usually between 6 and 7 am, and the drop-off time is between 5 and 6 pm.
  • Rental of snorkeling equipment. You will be provided with a mask, a snorkel, and fins. You can also use a life jacket if you are not confident in swimming.
  • Tour of three to four islands with stops.
    • You will visit different islands depending on the tour operator and the weather conditions.
    • The most common islands are 4, 6, 8, and 9.
    • You will have about an hour on each island, where you can snorkel, swim, or relax on the beach.
  • You will also have a chance to walk along the snow-white beach and climb to the famous observation deck on island 8, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Similan islands.
  • Lunch and refreshments. You will be served a buffet lunch on one of the islands, usually island 4 or island 8.
    • The lunch consists of Thai dishes, such as fried rice, noodles, chicken, fish, vegetables, and fruits.
    • You will also have access to drinking water, soft drinks, coffee, and tea throughout the day.
Sail Rock viewpoint | Similan islands
Sail Rock viewpoint (Island No. 8)
The sand in the Similan islands is very fine and white
The sand in the Similan islands is very fine and white

What to bring on a trip to the Similan islands

To make your trip to the Similan Islands more comfortable and enjoyable, you should bring the following items with you:

  • Swimsuit and towel. You will need them for snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing. You can also bring a change of clothes if you want to feel more fresh after the tour.
  • Sun cream (waterproof). The sun is very strong in Thailand, and you can get sunburned easily. You should apply a waterproof sun cream with a high SPF before and during the tour.
  • Hat and sunglasses. They will protect your head and eyes from the sun and the wind. You can also bring a bandana or a scarf to cover your face and neck.
  • Shoes that are not afraid to get wet. You will have to walk on the sand, rocks, and coral, which can be sharp and slippery. You should wear shoes that are comfortable and durable, such as sandals, flip-flops, or water shoes. You should avoid wearing sneakers or socks, as they will get wet and dirty.
  • Tablets for motion sickness. If you are prone to seasickness, you should take some tablets for motion sickness before boarding the boat. You should take them 15 to 20 minutes before the departure, and follow the instructions on the package.
  • Mosquito repellent spray or cream. Although the Similan islands are not known for having many mosquitoes, you might encounter some of these bloodsuckers if you decide to relax in a shady place.
Beach on Island No. 8. Similan islands
Beach on Island No. 8

Is it worth it to go to the Similan Islands with small children

If you have small children, you might want to think twice before taking them to the Similan Islands. The trip to Similan is too tiring and challenging for small children, for several reasons:

  • The boat ride is long and bumpy. It takes about an hour and a half to reach the islands from the pier, and the same time to return. The boat can be crowded and noisy, and the waves can be rough and splashy. Your children might get bored, restless, or sick during the ride.
  • The snorkeling is not suitable for beginners. The water is deep and the current is strong in some areas. Your children might not be able to see much or enjoy the snorkeling if they are/

Tours to Similan islands are too tiring for small children. There are more child-friendly tours to Koh Racha.

About the author

The author of AsiaPositive Iryna Rasko

I am a passionate traveller and photography is my greatest love. Asia is a constant source of inspiration for me.

The information I share in my articles is based on personal experience and extensive research. It is my sincere hope that my articles will assist you in planning your travels in Asia and beyond.

Please note that English is not my first language and I apologise for any errors or awkward phrasing.

© Iryna Rasko