Interesting Destinations near Phuket
Visitors to Phuket will usually find that there is plenty on the island to keep them entertained. It is sometimes nice though, to go a bit further afield. Probably the most enticing destination near to Phuket is the Similan Islands. This is considered one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world, but there is also plenty there for land lovers to enjoy. The Similan Islands offer a unique opportunity to visit tropical islands that have been hardly touched by tourism. Those who are considering taking a break from Phuket should definitely think about travelling to this destination.
Introduction to the Similan Islands
The Similan Islands (หมู่เกาะสิมิลัน Muu Koh Similan) refers to a group of islands to the northwest of Phuket. It is an archipelago made up of nine islands. The Similan Islands are a National Park so this means there are restrictions on the type of development that is allowed there. This means that the area has remained unspoiled despite being a popular destination for scuba divers. The nine islands that make up the archipelago include:
- Koh Huyong (aka Island Number 1) has the longest and most beautiful beaches of all the islands. Unfortunately tourists are not allowed to visit here because it is a turtle sanctuary.
- Koh Payang (Island Number 2) is a mountainous island that has some fascinating rock formations.
- Koh Payan (Island Number 3) is similar to Koh Payang.
- Koh Miang (Island Number 4) is the second largest island in the archipelago. There are some nice beaches here, and it is also possible to go snorkeling– this is also where the National Park Headquarters can be found.
- Koh Haa (Island Number 5) is surrounded by beautiful coral, and it is a popular dive spot.
- Koh Payu (Island Number 6) offers mixed coral and it is good for snorkeling and scuba diving.
- Koh Hin Pousar (Island Number 7) offers stunning rock formations both above and below water.
- Koh Bon (Island Number 8) has some beautiful beaches, and it is possible to camp overnight here.
- Koh Tachai (Island Number 9) also offers some stunning stretches of powder white sand, but there is no accommodation here.
Accommodation on the Similan Islands
The only accommodation available in the Similan Islands is to found on Koh Miang (Island Number 4). There are a limited number of bungalows that can be rented here – this accommodation can be arranged by phoning ahead to National Park Headquarters (+66) 25 62 0760. Those who wish to stay in one of these bungalows should book ahead to avoid disappointment. Those who are feeling a bit more adventurous can go camping on Island Number 4 or Island Number 8 (Koh Bon). Those who are travelling to the Similan Islands by boat will often stay on board their boat overnight.
Access to the Similan Islands
It is only permissible to travel to the Similan Islands at certain times of the year. The national park closes between mid May and mid November. There are some boats that are willing to take tourists during these out of season months, but they are compromising passenger safety by doing so. The seas can be treacherous during the rainy season. It is not recommended that foreign visitors go near the Similan Islands during those months when the park is closed.
Things to Do on the Similan Islands
There are a number of options for visitors to the Similan Islands including:
- This is one of the best places in the world to go scuba diving. There are a number of tours available that include dives of the area.
- Snorkeling tours are also available for those who are slightly less adventurous. There is plenty to see without going far down in the water.
- Those people who want to experience what it is like to be Robinson Crusoe can visit one of the more isolated beaches.
- Beach lovers will not be disappointed as this is the ideal location to just lie in a hammock and relax.
- There are a couple of nature walks available on Island 4 and Island 8 – there are also plenty of bird watching opportunities for those who like that sort of thing.
- The Similan Islands are a photographer’s dream destination. There are almost endless photographic opportunities on the island.
How to Get to the Similan Islands from Phuket
There are a number of options for travelling to the Similan Islands from Phuket including:
- There are a number of private boat tours that will take people from Phuket to the Similan Islands – usually as part of a day trip. Speed boats can make the journey in about one and a half hours.
- The Phuket Hydrofoil also offers day trips to the Similan Islands. This fast vessel can also make it to the islands in about an hour and a half.