Similan Island National Park locates at the Koh Phra Thong sub-district, Kuraburi; Pang Nga covers the area of 80,000 Rai. The word ‘Similan’ is Melayu which means ‘Nine’. Similan is a small archipelago nestled in the Andaman sea that consists of 9 islands lining from the north to the south are Koh Hu Yong, Koh Pa Yung, Koh Pa Yan, Koh Miang, Koh Pa Yu, Skull Island, Similan Island, and Koh Ba Ngu. Similan Islands are recognized as a magnificent in its beauty either ashore and undersea. The islands feature various species of coral to lure the divers both snorkeling and scuba.
Furthermore, a lot of rare species of sea fishes are available for the tourists to spot for example whale, dolphin, moray, etc. Mainly the coral reef of Similan Islands National Park is a deep-water coral reef with a lot of attractive corals like staghorn coral, bottlebrush coral, and Seriatopora histrix, specifically, Seriatopora histrix is not found in common except here and Surin Islands. The highlighted areas to see the coral reef are Koh Bon, Koh Ba Ngu, Similan Island, Koh Pai, Koh Miang, Koh Ha, Koh Pa Yung, Koh Pa Yan, and Koh Hu Yong.
Apart from the coral, there also are a lot of aquatic livings – sponge, soft coral, Coralline algae, sea flowers, giant clam, squid, lobster, and crab. And the fish reside in the location according to the explore is at least 54 species for instance grouper, sea basses, loach, hard-lipped barb, butterfly fish, parrot fish, etc.
About the Similan Islands
The Similan Islands consists of the towering limestone mountains, sandy beaches, and rocks. Each island has disorderly coast because the location is in the external sea which erodes by the sea directly. The surface of the water is a part of Andaman Sea, the eastern India Ocean. The continental shelf connected to the western coast of Pang Nga and Myanmar and parallel to the coastline of the Nicobar Islands which is the continental shelf of India. The beaches feature the powdery white sand while the peaks of the mountain are steep. The highest peak is 244 m from the sea level, and it is flatland rounded by the dune and coral reef in some islands.
The Climate of the Similan Islands
The summertime starts from the mid of February to May and the rainy season begins at the middle of May to October. The climate is average 27 Celsius degree. During the rainy season, the archipelago influenced by the southwest monsoon that is not only cause to be heavy rain but also creating wild sea, therefore it is not the right time to travel to the national marine park. Due to the critical time, the national park determines the travelling schedule as by following;
- Closing Season: from May 1 – October 31 annually.
- Opening Season: from November 1 – April 30 annually.
The Problem and Preservation of the environment
The spaces around the area included Koh Hu Yong, Koh Pa Yung, and Koh Pa Yan are preservation areas for the sea turtle to lay the eggs and strictly forbidden from any tourist. More than that, the Royal Forest Department proclaims to close the Fantasy Rock which used to be the top ten of the world because of its severe decline caused by the overloaded number of the tourists.
Besides, there is another problem which the illegal fishery by the local fishermen is specific in the areas of Koh Bon and Koh Ta Chai where had been found trapping the fish by bomb continuously. The primary cause of the problem is the distance of the locations led to the inadequate care.
In 1977, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation declared to limit the amount of the tourist to enter to the national parks included Similan Islands.
Attractions at the Similan Islands
1. Koh Similan (Koh Paed or the Eighth island)
The centre of the tourism and transportation of the Similan Islands. This is the largest island proving the beautiful white sand beach and various corals underwater. It is a right location for both snorkelling and scuba. There is a boot-like shaped rock in the north of the island and next one is the yacht rock which is the hallmark of the archipelago. Similan Island is perfect place for sea travel with its natural resources and activities – diving, nature trail, and wonderful viewpoint.
The island contains 2 beautiful beaches in the east and the west that linked by the 2.5 km nature trail path. The trace is about 1.30-2 hours. The island is a location of the national park guard office and tourist center, camping space, restaurant, and facilities for the visitors. The highlights of the island are;
1.1 Horseshoe Bay
It situates in the north of the island opposites of the Ninth Island. The Horseshoe Bay is the largest bay on this island with its horseshoe-like shape with the tail of the land reaches into the sea. There is a remarkable yacht shaped rock of the bay which is the well-known trademark for the tourists. The bay features a nice beautiful sand beach and crystal-clear water that is not too deep to swim or dive. The beachhead has some rocks that is the point of sea fish and a small group of corals to practice diving. The upper of the beach is a vast flatland where the location of the park guard office, restaurant, restroom, tent to facilitate the visitors.
The one-day-trip visitors will take the lunch break here. Besides enjoying the beach and water playing, the visitor also can go to viewpoint that is on the top of the yacht rock providing the charming panoramic sea view and the sunset. And the 2.5 km nature trail from the Horseshoe Bay to Wong Chang Bay, as well.
1.2 Wong Chang Bay
The bay stands in the west of the island features the powdery sandy beach along both sides of the coast that longer than the Horseshoe Bay’s beach. Regularly, the tourists stay at the Horseshoe Bay and take one-day-trip to Wong Chang Bay with the picnic style lunch. The bay is quiet and peaceful.
The nature trail path that connected from the Horseshoe Bay passes the top viewpoint that allow to spot the clear top view of the Eighth Island, Pusa Rock, the Seventh island, the Sixth island, the Fifth Island, the Forth island, and ordering to the first island. This nature trail is suitable for the tourist who stay the night at Similan Island only since it takes about 4-5 hours for the journey. Anyone who interested in the trail can contact the park guard to be the touring guide.
2. The Forth Island (Koh Miang)
It is not a complete trip to Similan Islands to miss Koh Miang the second largest of the archipelago. The island is so-called the capital of all islands because of its location that right in the center among others and it is the site of the national park office, too. There are 2 main beaches are the front beach locates in the west of the island and the little beach in the east. The former is metaphor the gateway to the island providing the tourist facilities including accommodation, camping space, restaurant, restroom, and exhibition center. The place is more popular for the tourists to stay.
Moreover, there is a long-tail boat service leading to the diving locations. Koh Miang is not only the center of the facilities, it also has a nice viewpoint which is Lan Kha Luang Viewpoint the rock cliff to the north of the little beach. The viewpoint presents the scene of the little beach, the Sixth Island, and the Fifth Island including the sunrise. More than that, the island is the house of the native animals – Hairy leg mountain crab, flying foxes, and Nicobar dove that exist in common on the island. And there are many diving spots at the place whether snorkeling or scuba.
2.1 The Front Beach
The longest beach on the island features the super soft white sandy beach and transparent water that can see the bottom. The beach is considered as one of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand with the shady sea forest. The north of the beach is the mountain spans to the rock cliff which allows the tourist to spot the lovely view of the beach, the Seventh Island, and Similan Island.
And in the south has a huge rock as a barrier and next to the rock is a 20 m beach called ‘Nui Beach’. And the rear of the island is a 358-meter path to connect the front beach and the little beach. The walk takes time approximately 15-20 minutes and passes an abundant rainforest.
2.2 The Little Beach
A 200-meter beach that is second to none in its charm. The beach provides the white sandy beach and clear water that is perfect for water playing. The beach is cool and pleasant with the shady sea forest. The area has shallow water corals scattered around the area specific the peninsula to the north of the beach. The visitor can take the path at the backward to reach Lan Kha Luang Viewpoint. The route is 450 m and takes about 30 minutes.
2.3 Lan Kha Luang Viewpoint
It is the best viewpoints on Koh Miang. The point is the space on the top of the cliff features a 180-degree view. The path to the viewpoint is not too steep and passes the bamboo woods, then it is a sparse forest that is more steep but easy to walk. And at the end of the walkway to reach the viewpoint need to climb up the rock with the rope tied to the tree.
The viewpoint allows the people to see the scene of the Seventh island and the tail of Similan Island. The north of the viewpoint features the view of the tail of Koh Miang, the Little Beach, and the shallow sea in front of the beach. And the coral reef and the view of the Fifth Island and the Sixth Island, as well. The location is full of Birds Nest Fern (Fern Kha Luang in Thai), so that named the viewpoint from that.
2.4 Sunset Viewpoint
From the Front Beach there is a walkway passes the residence to the south and cut through the hill with about 400 m (about 30 minutes). The sunset viewpoint at Koh Miang, even though is not outstanding beauty like the Similan Island but the location presents the lovely view of the charming rocks. The highlight of this place is watching the unblock sunset scene with the endless sea as the background.
Other Attractions at Similan Islands
The Similan Islands National Park has more exciting things to enjoy. There are a lot of beautiful diving spots within this heavenly archipelago. ‘Koh Ta Chai’ a scuba diving spot in the northernmost of the national park that features the visitors with various species of sea fish – Seapike, Batfish, Manta ray, Whale shark for instance. ‘Koh Bon’ situates in the northeast of the archipelago where the place that you can find Whitetip reef shark, Manta ray, Brownbanded bamboo shark.
‘Christmas Point Pinnacle’ where the house of Blue ribbon eel and mantis shrimps. ‘Fantasy Pinnacle’ situates in the west of Similan Island where is the house of stone flowers, coral, coralline algae, and various species of sea animals. And the snorkeling diving spots such as Ao Leuk, Ao Kwang Eng, etc. the tourist who interested in the diving trip can contact the diving tour company in Phuket and Pang Nga directly.
The primary diving spot of Similan Islands both scuba and snorkelling lure a lot of tourists who love the underwater world to experience the world-class diving spots each year. The diving attractions that the diver should check-in as by following;
- The snorkeling: The tourists can dive around the area of each island. However, the interesting ones including the Yacht Rock Bay, Ao Kwang En, Hin Dok Mai (the Rock Flower), and rear of Koh Miang.
- The scuba: The interesting areas are Koh Bon, Christmas Pinnacle, Fantasy Pinnacle, Ao Kwang En, Pusa Rock, Rock of Three, Hin Dok Mai, Koh Miang, Suan Pla Lai (Eel Garden), San Chalarm (Shark Ridge), and China Wall.
Koh Gao (the Ninth Island) or Koh Ba Ngu: A small island contains diverse shapes of the ridge especially at the Christmas Pinnacle diving spot which is the large, fantastic underwater ridges complex line in a vast space. The coral reef and coralline algae here are very abundant, and also it is a house for various species of sea fish such as Ribbon eel, Silvertip shark, Grouper, Goby, and mantis shrimps.
Koh Hu Yong
Koh Hu Yong or the First Island: A large island with the beautiful white sand beach that is the longest beaches of the Similan archipelago. The island is the location for the sea turtles to lay the eggs which are from November to February resulted in the noticeable track of the turtle on the beach.
Pusa Rock or the Skull Island: The Seventh Island of this archipelago with its bizarre appearance that looks like a skull. The place is another lovely undersea world features a various depth of the sea like the valley under the sea that full of corals and steep valley. A countless number of fish swimming nearby the ridges and the dolphin sometimes present to the visitor.
Koh Sam (the Third Island) or Pa Yan Island: it is plenty of rocks and cliffs without any beach. However, it is one of the famous scuba spots with its nickname “San Chalarm” (the Shark Ridge), or some are “the China Wall” which come from the appearance. The undersea wall created by nature is grand which gathers a lot of sea fish to find their food all around the space, for example, the shoal of seapike and also many colorful of coralline algae.
Koh Ha (the Fifth island): A minimal island but not small in its fame since it is an appealing diving spot with the remarkable ‘Garden of Eels’. And the location is also plenty of soft and hard corals.
Ko Hok (the Sixth Island) or Koh Pa Yu: An island with the stone mountains and cliffs. The coral reef at the eastern beach is approximately 150-200 meters wide. On the other hand, the west side is the high cliff, and there’s no any coral reef appear naturally. Nonetheless, there are some ridges and corals scattered around the place and some large corals at the 20 meters deep of the sea level.
Koh Bon or also called Koh Talu: An abundant house for a vast number of the sea fish with a stone bridge that is a hallmark of the place. The bridge created from the stone that eroded by the sea water to became the hole looks similar to the curvy bridge. Besides, the island is one of the specific spots to say hello to the manta ray.
The Facilities at the Similan Islands
1. The Admission Fee:
Thai: Adults = THB100, Children = THB50
Foreigner: Adults = THB500, Children = THB300
Note: Please carry your pass ticket with you after check-in, the park officer will ask for checking.
2. The Welfare Shops
2.1 The restaurant at the island opens daily by the following schedule
2.2 The souvenir shop and snacks (drinks, coffee, snacks) open daily between 7.00am-8.00pm.
2.3 Some facilities are providing specific on some island by the following detail;
3. Similan Islands (Koh Paed)
3.1 Camping Tent:
There’s no any accommodation on this island only tent provided. The tourist can bring in own tent with the fee to be applied. There are 2 camping spots are at the Horseshoe Bay and Ao Wong Chang. Nonetheless, after the Tsunami incident, the location at Ao Wong Chang was temporarily closed for restoration. Currently, it is only the camping area at the Horseshoe Bay in the backward of the national park office. The capacity of the space is 600 pax, and the rental fee for the tent is THB570 per unit for 2 persons included 2 sets of bedding. For one who brings in the tent, it is the THB80 fee to apply.
The restaurant locates next to the park office and operates between 7.00am-8.30pm. It serves an array of a la carte (custom made) menus. The drinks to be served are drinking water with the price is approximately THB20 per regular bottle, soda is THB30 per bottle, beer is between THB50-60. Moreover, the park office provides the locker facility for the tourist to store their valuable belongings. The electricity is producing on the island generated by the power generator between 6.00-10.00pm except for the walkway and restrooms that operates all through the night. The toilet at the Horseshoe Bay is at the rear of camping area including the bathroom. There are 5 men rooms and 5 ladies.
4. Koh Si (the Forth Island) or Koh Miang
- Ban Chom View: Providing 20 accommodation rooms and all are air-conditioned. The place is for 2 guests with the price is THB2,000 per night. To make the reservation, please go to the website www. dnp.go.th or call for booking at the Similan Islands National Park at +6681-0880561 or the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation at +662 – 5620760
- Ban Hu Yong: There are 5 guestrooms with a fan. The room is for 2 persons with the price is THB1,000 per night. To make the reservation, please call at the park office.
- Ban Pa Yang and Ban Pa Yan: There are 10 guestrooms with the fan. The room is for 2 persons with the price is THB1,000 per night and make the reservation at www. dnp.go.th
4.2 Camping Ground
The camping ground on Ko Miang is 150 pax of the capacity and locates next to the beach. The park office provides the tent for rent with THB570 per unit of the fee to apply including 2 sets of bedding. For the visitors who bring in the tent, the THB80 of charge to be asked. There are more than 10 restrooms for men and ladies.
The national park offers the welfare restaurant to serve the tourists which opens between 8.00am-8.00pm daily.
4.4 Taking Tour by Boat
There is a boat tour available at the Tourist Center on Koh Miang. The boat service is not only touring around the island but also making the trip to others islands.
Koh Miang – Koh Hok (the distance is 6 km) = THB150 per person/trip
Koh Miang – Similan Island (the distance is 11.5 km) = THB200 per person/trip
Koh Miang – Koh Gao (the distance is 13.5 km) = THB300 per person/trip
A journey around Similan island – Koh Gao = THB300 per person/trip
For more detail and booking, please contact the national park office at +66-7659-5045 and +66-7642-2136
How to Travel to Similan Islands
1. By Car
From Bangkok, drives head to the south until reach the highway number 4 (Ranong-Pang Nga) pass Takua Pa. And drives to Ban Lam Gaen to meet the trisection on the right to go to Tub Lamu Pier which is about 5 km of distance. And it is 50 m before arriving at the pier is the Similan Islands National Park office on the left.
2. By Public Transportation
There are many bus services depart from the Southern Bus Terminal to Tab Lamu Pier daily.
3. By Plane
From Bangkok to Phuket International Airport there are many airlines operators. And once arriving at Phuket then take the trip to Pang Nga by bus or van (the van service from the pier is THB300 for rounded trip /person) to Tab Lamu Pier. The distance is about 100 km. And then board on the speedboat to Similan Islands National Park which is approximately 70 km of distance. The boat trip needs pre-booking at least 3 days since it is only one trip a day for both to-go and comes back tour. The trip to go to the national park is in the morning at 8.30am and departs from the island at 3.30pm.
Some private operators will stop by at the islands along the way for snorkelling) but the service of the national park has no such this service.
From Tab Lamu to Ko Miang
The trip to Ko Maing or Ko Si where the location of the national park office and Similan Island (Ko Paed) is 70 km. The boat service operated by private departs from the pier daily throughout the tourist season (November 15 – May 15). All boat services leave from the dock at the same time according to the schedule mentioned above. The tourist must keep the ticket carefully to show for the trip back from the island. The duration of time for the journey is 1.5 hour (by speedboat).
However, the boat of private operators will stop by at any islands for example snorkelling at Ko Gao around 30 minutes, lunch break and diving at Similan Island around an hour, snorkelling at Ko Jed around half an hour, and then heading to the accommodation at Ko Si around 2.00pm. Regularly, the tourists purchase the one-day-trip package with the price is between THB2,000-2,800 per person.