Mu Ko Similan Marine National Park
Mu Ko Similan Marine National Park
Thap Lamu, Tambon Lam Kaen, Phang Nga - Phuket ( Similan Islands )
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Mu Ko Similan Marine National Park

Similan Islands is a group of islands in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Phang Nga Province, southern Thailand, just 65 Km west of Khao Lak and 85 Km north-west of Phuket. These jewels in the Andaman Sea are a true paradise for divers and absolutely perfect for snorkelling day-trips or just to enjoy sunbathing on a pristine tropical island. The Similan archipelago is the most beautiful and diverse dive destination in Thailand, and also one of the best ten dive destinations in the world, according to the National Geographic Society. The archipelago consists of a 25 km long chain of nine stunning and pristine islands and several granite rocks that barely break the sea surface. Similan archipelago was declared a national park in 1982 and appointed "Mu Ko Similan Marine National Park", where "Mu Ko" means cluster of islands in Thai and "Similan" is a Yawi word, a Malayan dialect, which means nine. In 2001, the Ministry of Agriculture includes at Park two remote islands named Koh Bon and Koh Tachai, which are located at 22 and 60 km north of the archipelago. The Park Headquarters on archipelago is in Koh Miang, the island # 4, where are also some spartans bungalows and tents. The Park HQ on mainland is in Thap Lamu, a small fishing village located just 15 km from Khao Lak, which it is the nearest access to the islands. The landscape is characterized by low rock formations covered with dense forest, nothing special at first glance compared to impressive limestone cliffs on Phi Phi Leh or Phang Nga Bay's islands. Approaching to them the first feature that strikes visitors are the huge smooth granite boulders dotted along the western coasts of most of the islands. Joints on the eastern shores they appreciate what make these islands rare precious diamonds into Andaman Sea. Here are other piles of large granite stones overlooking stunning coral sand beaches surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters amaze each one of the lucky visitors. They are not comparable to any other beach along the coasts on Andaman Sea. The Similan’s coasts are mainly made of granite, so there is no ground or mud along beaches; the sands are very clean, white and fine as talc powder. The waters near the shore are an amazing clarity as heavenly natural swimming pools. Most of stunning beaches are along the eastern coasts, the most protected from the Andaman Sea waves during the monsoon season. The underwater show which offers the islands is even more spectacular. Some of the most stunning coral growths in the world can be found in the reefs of Similan Islands. The coral reefs are interspersed by numerous sandbanks dotted with unbelievable huge granite formations and mostly covered with colourful anemones, superb gorgonian sea fans and stunning gardens of hard and soft coral. The reefs are teeming with marine life a true paradise for lovers of snorkelling and diving. The imposing structures and the insulation offshore of Similan make these islands real centres of attraction for marine life, with huge shoals of plankton and baitfish that attracting predatory fish from many miles away. Here you will spot, in addition to usual reef fishes, the larger marine species in Thailand. Around all islands of archipelago there are frequent sightings of Manta Rays, Dolphins, Black Tip and White Tip Reef Shark as well as large and harmless Whale Sharks. Offshore are sedentary Black Marlin, Blue Marlin, Yellow Fin Tuna, Kawakawa Tuna, Dogtooth Tuna and Sail Fish. The reefs close to islands are populated by a lot of fish species including Angelfish, Unicornfish, Butterflyfish, Parrotfish, Pufferfish, Jackfish, Sea Snakes and a huge variety of invertebrates, such as Octopus, Cuttlefish, Squid, and Shrimps. Some islands are flat, while others have quite high granite hills, with the Similan's highest top at about 250 metres a.s.l.; all interiors are rich in flora and fauna, with some hiking trails that allow exploring. The flora is made up of lush tropical evergreen vegetation, like ironwood, coconut palm, gum trees, jackfruit, rattan and bamboo. The islands are home to 27 species of small mammals, such as Monkeys, Dusky Langurs, Squirrels, Monitor Lizards, Bush Tailed Porcupine, Flying Lemur, Bats, a large variety of reptiles and 39 species of birds including Pintail Snipe, Grey Wagtail, Nicobar Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Barn Swallow, Cattle Egret and Collared Kingfisher. Admission fee: 500 THB per person, 300 THB for child.
Getting to Similan Islands: The Park is located 65 km off the coast of Khao Lak, Phang Nga Province. The nearest access to the Similan Islands is Thap Lamu, a small fishing village located just 15 km from Khao Lak, 90 Km north of Phuket and 120 from Krabi. From its piers depart all boats to Mu Koh Similan Marine Natural Park. Journey time from Thap Lamu Pier is around 70 minutes. The round trip is performed by large offshore speedboats with engine powers which are close to 750 hp. The Park is easily accessible from all seaside resorts in southern Thailand with daily excursions and even multi-day cruises for diving enthusiasts. The streets of Khao Lak, Phuket or Krabi are full of tourist agencies and kiosks selling the packages offered by many authorized tour operators. Beware and compare rates before choosing between them, considering not only the cheaper price but also the quality of the proposed service. The majority of these tours provide the transfer by minivan from your hotel with departure at about 06.30; the roundtrip by speedboat from Thap Lamu Pier; the visit of Koh Ha and Koh Payu to enjoy snorkelling and swimming; a long stop for lunch buffet and relax on Koh Miang; the visit of Koh Ba-Ngu, the northernmost island of Park, to snorkelling, and in finally another long stop on Koh Similan, the main island, to enjoy the beach and climb to the viewpoint on the Sailing Rock. The departure time from the Similan Islands is at 15.00; the arrival time at the hotel is between 19.30 and 20.00. Prices of tours range from 2,800 to 3,500 THB depending on the company and eventual options chosen, and include refreshment on board, the lunch buffet, snorkelling equipment, tour guide, insurance and National Park admission fee, 500 THB for adult and 300 for children. The tours which cost less usually provide fewer stops on the islands. Are also available tours which provide an overnight stay in a tent or bungalow for a day or two. The cost of excursion is relatively low, when you consider the distance from the coast of these wonderful islands, and the cost of the transfer by minivan services from Khao Lak, Phuket or Krabi.
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