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A Similan Adventure
Written by Administrator    Wednesday, 02 April 2014 11:32    PDF Print E-mail
A Similan Adventure
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.

A Similan Adventure A Similan Adventure

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.

A Similan AdventureThe 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.

A Similan Adventure A Similan Adventure 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.

A Similan Adventure 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.

A Similan Adventure A Similan Adventure

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 Tap Lamu. 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 each year.

A Similan Adventure A Similan Adventure Climate
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 manta rays.
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.