Similan Islands

Phuket To Similan Islands: The Best Guide To The Similan Islands [2024]

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Are you looking for the BEST guide to the Similan Islands? Well, you’ve just found it!

Without a doubt one of the most beautiful places I visited during my whole Southeast Asia trip. In my opinion, it is an absolute must-visit if you’re in the local area.

In this article, you’ll learn everything from day trips to the Similan Islands from Phuket, prices, what to bring, the activities you can do, and so on.

So let’s dive in and uncover what you can expect from your trip to the Similan Islands!

About Similan Islands

In the Indian Ocean nestled on the eastern side of the Andaman Sea, the Similan Islands beckon you with their unspoiled beauty, boasting 11 idyllic isles (used to be known as nine islands) graced by pristine beaches and lush landscapes.

A designated national park in Thailand, these islands are a haven for marine enthusiasts. Beneath the crystalline waters, vibrant coral reefs glow with an array of marine life, making the Similan’s a premier destination for snorkelers and divers alike.

Beyond the aquatic wonders, the islands’ serene beaches invite relaxation, and the rich biodiversity of flora and fauna offers a captivating escape into nature. For those seeking an untouched paradise, the Similan Islands promise an immersive blend of natural beauty and marine life, creating an unforgettable journey for any discerning backpacker.

It is clear to see why the Similan Islands are one of the most popular destinations in Thailand and why you MUST go!

When To Visit The Similan Islands

Similan Islands are closed from 15th May to 15th October

The Similan Islands are open for visitors during the official tourist season, typically 15th October – 15th May.

This period aligns with the time when sea conditions are most favourable for water activities like snorkelling and diving. Outside this timeframe, as seen above, the national park is closed to protect the ecosystem during the monsoon season when rough seas and unpredictable weather prevail.

You should check the specific opening dates each year, as they may vary, and be mindful of the park’s commitment to conservation by respecting rules and guidelines to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable experience for all.

Similan Islands Day Trip Vs Multi-Day

So now you know about the Similan Islands and when you can visit. It’s time to discuss which trips will suit you best. There are 2 different packages when it comes to visiting from Phuket:

  • Day Trip (Shared and Private Boats)
  • Multi-Day Diving Trip.

Despite popular belief, You CANNOT stay at the Similan Islands. Most articles online have OLD INFORMATION. As of 2023 you cannot stay on the islands.

Similan Islands Day Trip (Shared)

The company I booked through was Love Andaman and they provided exceptional service. For any travellers staying in Phuket or Khao Lak you will be picked up via air conditioned mini van FREE OF CHARGE.

So what you can expect from this day trip from Phuket:

  • Early pick-up departing from Phuket to Similan ranges from 6:00 AM – 7:40 AM depending on where your accommodation is.
  • Arrive at the Port and receive a buffet-style breakfast and safety briefing.
  • Hop on a first-class speedboat for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to your first destination. 
  • First, Donald Duck Bay, Island Number 8 (Hike to the Sail-Rock or spend time at the white sandy beach)
  • Second,  Ba Ngu Island, Island Number 9 (Snorkelling).
  • Third, Payu Island, Island Number 7 (Snorkelling – Sea Turtles and Nemo (Clownfish) often spotted here).
  • Thai lunch buffet at Miang Island, Island Number 4 (2 Beaches – Honeymoon Bay and Princess Bay)
  • Speedboat back to the pier for after snacks.
  • Transfer back to the accommodation.

Tour itineraries can be changed due to weather or unforeseen circumstances. The tour leader and boat captain will make the decisions and inform you of any changes on the day.

Cost

The total price for this trip is between £70-90 (80-120 USD).

Should you book in advance?

1000% you should book in advance!

The Similan Islands are only allowed to let in a certain number of visitors per day (3850 on my last check) and for this reason, tours sell FAST. Make sure you don’t miss out by booking now! To find out more about my trip click the button below!

Other day tours I would recommend include: 

Siam Adventure World Day Tour

Oh-Hoo Day Tour

Similan Islands Day Trip (Private)

For those of you not on a backpacker budget and can afford to push the boat out a bit a private tour might suit your needs better. 

Alternatively, if you can get a group together of up to 15 people, this can create a more personalised way of seeing the Similan Islands while just with your friends.

What can you expect from this day trip:

  • Pick you up from any hotel or location within Phuket with their Private VIP Driver Team.
  • Arrive at offices for breakfast and safety briefing.
  • Set off on a speedboat to your first destination.
  • Koh Miang, Island Number 4 (Snorkelling spot 1).
  • Next, Koh Payu, Island Number 7 (Snorkelling to see a reef slop which ranges 5 to 40 metres).
  • Next, Christmas Point at Koh Bangu, Island Number 9 (Snorkelling to see GIant Snapper).
  • Then, Donald Duck Bay on Koh Similan, Island Number 8 (Hike to the Sail-Rock or spend time at the white sandy beach)
  • Finally, Ko Rang Yai (Watch the Sunset)
  • Head back to Phuket. 

Cost

£1177 (approx. $1440) – but if this was divided by 15 it would be £78 per person which is unbelievable value!

Should You Book In Advance

Even more so than the shared trip.

Private tours run less often than shared trips so make sure you book your trip as soon as possible so you don’t miss out! Click Below for a full tour overview!

Multi-Day Diving Trip Similan Islands

Undoubtedly, a liveaboard multi-day diving trip at the Similan Islands is a must for scuba enthusiasts.

Might be worth heading to Koh Tao and completing your PADI Open Water Diver Course.

These islands are globally renowned for their rich marine life and stunning underwater landscapes. The clear waters showcase vibrant coral reefs, home to diverse fish species, including sharks and rays.

What makes the Similan Islands special is their unique topography, featuring granite rock formations. These create exciting swim-throughs and tunnels, adding an adventurous element to each dive. Opting for a liveaboard trip ensures exclusive access to remote dive sites, enhancing the overall experience.

I haven’t done a liveaboard trip here in Similan but I have in Indonesia and it has opened my eyes to the wonders of the seas so I’ll definitely be back in the future to book on these tours!

Click here for all the best liveaboard trips.

My top trips include:

The Junk Liveaboard

DiveRace Class E (Thailand, Burma) Liveaboard

The Phinisi Liveaboard

Sawasdee FaSai Liveaboard

Giamani Liveaboard

What Activities Can You Do At The Similan Islands

During your Similan Islands day trip from Phuket, there is an array of activities you will be able to do. Here I will show you everything you need to know about what you can do at the Similan Islands.

Kick Back And Relax On The Beaches

If you’re not interested in the underwater world available to you then you’re in luck, the beaches of all the islands of the Similan Island trip are perfect to relax on.

The texture of the sand is soft and inviting, making it a delight for barefoot walks. The beaches are framed by lush vegetation, providing a scenic backdrop of vibrant greens against the gentle curve of the shoreline.

These pristine stretches of sand offer a peaceful escape, with ample space for relaxation and contemplation.

Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, enjoy a leisurely stroll, or have a little swing total relaxation can be found on the beaches of the Similan Islands.

Hiking To Sail Rock Viewpoint At Donald Duck Bay

It’s really the only possible hike during your trip to the Similan National Park. 

Make the short trek to Sail Rock Viewpoint and take in the pristine beauty of the bay from an elevated vantage.

I did not make the hike personally as I went to a different part of the island for my Instagram pics but with the crystal blue warm waters making the background I would expect a fantastic backdrop. Mine is impressive even from way below the rock!

Snorkelling

By FAR my favourite activities to do and one of the highlights of the trip were snorkelling and swimming.

Why?

You’ll discover Thailand’s best marine national park, acclaimed for its unparalleled snorkelling experiences

Tip – If you are not a strong swimmer make sure to wear one of the life jackets provided as the water can get choppy.

The islands provide a rich marine underwater world full of various vibrant and diverse aquatic life, making it among the best snorkel spots in Thailand and Asia.

Surrounded by tropical water that has temperatures of 30 degrees the warm waters make this one a perfect activity to do under the Sun. With various colourful corals and marine life species, including vibrant fish and fascinating sea creatures, the Similan Islands beckons you to explore their depths.

The pristine conditions and thriving ecosystems contribute to the area’s reputation as one of the best snorkel spots in the world. Any rubbish you find in the ocean make sure to carry back to the boat protecting this paradise.

Snorkelling at the Similan Islands is a journey into an underwater paradise, where the convergence of biodiversity and stunning seascapes creates an unforgettable experience for those seeking to connect with their aquatic side.

Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving is definitely something I will come back to the Similan Islands to do in the future.

Exploring the underwater world at the Similan Islands unveils a mesmerising adventure, guiding you through a path through the giant granite formations. This unique pathway, hosts an array of vibrant and diverse coral formations, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle.

The reefs, full of various colourful corals, paint the ocean floor with hues that captivate the senses. With an impressive underwater visibility of 20 meters, you’re treated to a clear and immersive experience.

The Similan Islands offer a captivating underwater world, brimming with various colourful marine life, ensuring a truly enchanting and memorable scuba diving expedition.

Simply put on of the BEST scuba destinations in the world. For the extra cost, the islands more than makeup for it.

What To Pack For Your Similan Islands Tour

So what are the essentials you need for a trip from Phuket to the Similan Islands:

  • A Waterproof Bag – Essential as this will hold your valuables and spare pair of clothes. Make sure to lock it up too!
  • Swimming outfit
  • Reef Safe Sunscreen – This one is critical. To snorkel in the Andaman Sea you need Reef safe sunscreen, I was not aware of this and left like a Lobster! You can see the red patches starting to appear in the picture below haha.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sliders/Flip Flops
  • Waterproof Phone Pouch – If you want to try and capture the underwater world one of these would be recommended. They are liable to break and the footage can sometimes be difficult with the salty water covering the plastic surface. The solution…

My Recommended add on for the best Similan experience possible:

  • GoPro with waterproof case – Put simply, to leave with the best memories of the underwater world you will need a GoPro. Producing the best quality videos and pictures a GoPro is essential for those wanting the perfect underwater shots.

Where To Stay For A Daytrip From Phuket

The two main places travellers visit the Similan Islands from are Phuket and Khao Lak.

Here I will show you my recommendations for accommodation when you want to book your Similan Islands trip.

Phuket

The Best Budget options are:

  • Black Pantera Hostel – for as low as £9 a night this hostel is a short walk from Bangla Road, this family-run hostel is sure to meet all your needs.
  • Hip Hostel – Situated just a stone’s throw from the famous Bangla Road, the Hip Hostel is for the more relaxed traveller.
  • Bodega Party Hostel – If you’re not in Phuket to party you’re in the wrong place! Offering a great mix of socialising and partying this hostel is perfect for the night lovers.
    • This one is very hard to book so make sure you book early!

Mid-Price Range:

  • Amalthea Hotel – This 4-star hotel shows over an 8.5 rating on Booking.com and is perfect for mid-priced travellers in Phuket. Around £60 pounds a night will get you top-class service tailored exactly to how you want to spend your time in Phuket.
  • Mazi Design Hotel – Another fantastic for the traveller on less of a budget. With various amenities, you’ll always feel comfortable at this hotel.

Luxury Range:

  • Sirinara Patong – This privately rented residence is perfect for those who want a luxury getaway. This Two-Bedroom Townhouse is in a central location making all parts of Patong Beach accessible.
  • Patongtower Duplex Seaview – The epitome of luxury. With a seaside view and top-quality facilities, it’s no wonder it boasts a 10/10 rating on booking.com.

Khao Lak

I have absolutely zero experience when it comes to Khao Lak as well… I didn’t go. From what I have seen these are 2 options that will provide comfort during your stay there:

  • WE Hostel – For less than £7 a night you can stay a this relaxing hostel. Perfect for a 1 night stop to do the Similan Island tour.
  • Snapper House – A 4-star hotel with over a 9.5 rating for £42 a night, looks like a bargain to me! With no negative reviews, this looks like an accommodation guaranteed for comfort.

Final Thoughts

So there we have it!

How to go from Phuket to Similan Islands, what a tour from Phuket has to offer, the activities you can do at the different islands, the equipment you need, and where to stay.

The South of Thailand is truly spectacular so make sure you see as much as possible!

Just so you know you will be shattered after this day ends! Haha.