Mu Koh SIMILAN National Park
The islands are
covered in tropical
jungle and the
beaches have no
mud, giving them
some of Thailand's
finest white sand.
For Similans Diving
Mu Koh Similan National Park was
established in 1982 and is located along the
western coastline of the Andaman Sea in the
Indian Ocean, about 100 km northwest of
Phuket. The park area covers 140 km², 16
km² of which is land, composed of 9 granite
islands created by upwellings of hot magma
during the Tertiary-Cretaceous Period some
65 million years ago, then smoothed by
glacial ice and the wave action of the sea.
Similan is really the Malaysian word
for nine, as there are 9 islands in the Similan
group. The islands are named Koh Huyong,
Koh Payang, Koh Payan, Koh Miang, Koh
Ha, Koh Payu, Koh Pusa, Koh Similan and
Koh Bangru but are often simply referred to
by a number 1 through to 9. A popular game
on the Thailand dive boats is to argue over
which island represents which number. In
1998 the park boundary was expanded to
cover Koh Tachai and Koh Bon, 2 islands to
the north of the Similan group. There also
2 exposed rock pinnacles called Hin San
Chalam (Shark Fin Rock) and Hin Koh Ha.
The Similans are islands of high and
steep granite mountains with beaches and
rock formations. The shoreline features
inconsistently curved rocks worn away by
direct wave action. The islands are covered in
tropical jungle and the beaches have no mud,
giving them some of Thailand's finest white
sand beaches. The highest point, on Koh
Similan is 244 metres above mean sea level.
The seas around the islands are surrounded
by coral reefs.
The distinctive granite boulder
formations on the surface continue underwater
on the west coast of the islands creating the
dramatic underwater seascapes that divers
love. However, what makes the area unique,
at least from a divers point of view, is that
around on the east coast of the islands there
is a different environment. Here are white
powder-sand beaches that slope down from
the water's surface to about 40 metres, and
feature coral gardens all the way down. The
distance from the mainland and the lack of
any real inhabitants on the islands keeps the
water crystal clear.
Around the Similan Islands
Koh Similan is the largest island (5
km²). There is an unused lighthouse, built
by the Royal Thai Navy on the island,
which visitors may climb to with park ranger
permission. The climb is not an easy one
but the views are superb. Koh Pusa is the
smallest island, only really an exposed rock.
It is commonly referred to as Hin Hua Chang
(Elephant Head Rock).
The Thai National Park Authority
maintains 2 park ranger stations, 1 on Koh
Similan (island number 8) which has basic
bungalow accommodation for rent and also
some tented accommodation. There is a
short walking trail here and another shorter
one on Koh Miang (island number 4). There
is also a Royal residence of a Thai Princess
on island number 4, which is heavily guarded
by the Royal Thai Navy whenever she feels
like dropping in for a visit. Koh Tachai also
has a camping area with restroom facilities.
How to Get There
The Similan Islands are found in the
Andaman Sea about 65 km offshore from
Phang Nga province and 100 km from
Phuket Island on the Thai-Malay peninsula.
If you are embarking on a Liveaboard cruise
then you don't need the info in this section
as transport to and from your boat will be
arranged for you.
To get to the Similans, you can take
a boat from Tap Lamu Pier, 60 km north of
Phuket airport and 10 km south of Khao Lak.
VIP A/C buses run daily from
Bangkok's southern bus terminal direct to
Khao Lak and you can then jump in a taxi
to take you to Tap Lamu Pier. There are also
buses from Bangkok to Phang Nga Town and from there take another bus the remaining
65 kilometres to Tap Lamu junction which
is 5 km from the pier. Take a taxi the rest
of the way.
From Phuket, you can get a bus from
the Phuket Town bus terminal to Khao Lak
and get off at the Tap Lamu Pier junction,
south of Khao Lak.
The nearest airport to Tap Lamu is
Phuket International Airport. There are direct
flights to/from Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia,
Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and
Bangkok - Thailand. From the airport take
a taxi the approximately 60 km north to
There are private tour boats that run
daily from Tap Lamu Port to Mu Koh Similan
National Park station on island number 4,
approximate distance of 70 km. The boats
leave at 8:30 am and the journey takes 3½-4
hours. The return boats depart at 13:00 and
15:00 daily. This service is closed during
the low season from May to November
The climate in the Similan Islands
is tropical and the temperature is warm
all year round. The northeast monsoon
from November into April provides clear
sunny days with a light breeze and cooler
nights. The southwest monsoon prevails
from late May until October and this brings
showers and winds. The Andaman Sea can
sometimes be quite rough during this time
with large waves so Similan diving cruises
are not offered at this time.
The hottest months are usually April
and May when the average temperatures
range from 30 to 36°C.
The High Season for tourism in this
part of Thailand runs from November to
April. Probably the best time to visit the
dive sites of the Similan Islands is between
February and April as you're assured of great weather and calm seas, plus there'll be
a few less tourists! It's also the time of year
when you are most likely to have an exciting
encounter with reef sharks, whale sharks and
Sightseeing and Things to Do
Most people travel to the Similans for
the snorkelling or scuba diving. However,
there are opportunities to enjoy bird watching
and a jungle walk on 2 islands.
Koh Miang, also known as Island No.
4, is the 2nd biggest island after Koh Similan
(Island No. 8) and is home to the park
headquarters. This island boasts the best
wildlife watching opportunities in the Similan
National Park. Here you can find 2 beautiful
white, sandy beaches on either side of the
island connected by a walking trail through
the tropical jungle. Inland you may well spot
a Nicobar pigeon or a hairy-leg mountain
land crab. This crab species is called Pu Kai in
Thai, which means 'Chicken Crab' because
it makes a noise like a young chick.
Island number 8, the largest island,
offers a trek up to a viewpoint providing great
views of the island chain, and a walking trail.
Here you can also find Donald Duck Bay,
so-called as the granite rock formations look
similar to the famous cartoon character.
Book early to ensure your first choice
is available and avoid disappointment.
Similans diving is popular and the best
opportunities attract repeat customers who
book well in advance.
For tour booking contact; Phone Net
Tour, Soi Sansabai, Patong Mobile: 080 893
9729 or KOS Enjoy Tour, Tel. 087 380 9048,
093 673 4520.