About Similan Islands
The Similan Islands is an archipelago of 11 islands in the Andaman sea in southern Thailand.
Along with Ko Tachai and Ko Bon islands, the Similan Islands are part of Mu Ko Similan National Park and one of Thailand’s most beautiful places.
With its white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise sea, and beautiful granite rock formations, Similan Islands are one of Thailand’s top things to do.
A day trip from Phuket or Khao Lak is the best way to see the highlights of the Similan Islands in a short time.
We went on the shared Similan Islands Day Trip with Love Andaman from Phuket. So here’s our review and everything you need to know for your visit.
Did you know you can also do a multi-day trip and stay on Similan Islands?
Click here to read our Similan Islands Travel Guide with all the information.
Most day trips to the Similan Islands from Phuket and Khao Lak have a similar itinerary, so here’s what it generally looks like.
Similan Islands Day Trip itinerary
- Early morning hotel pick up
- Breakfast and briefing at Thap Lamu pier in Khao Lak
- 1 hour and 15 minutes speedboat drive to the Similan Islands
- Donald Duck Bay Similan Island (Island Number 8)
- Snorkeling at Ba Ngu Island (Island number 9)
- Snorkeling at Payu Island (Island number 7)
- Lunch and two beaches at Mieng Island (Island number 4)
- Drive back to the pier
- Last minute snacks
- Transfer back to the hotel
1. Donald Duck Bay Similan Island (Island Number 8)
Donald Duck Bay and its Sail Rock viewpoint are the symbols and most popular spots of the Similan Islands.
The Sail Rock viewpoint overlooks the beautiful white sand beach with the most stunning turquoise water of Donald Duck Bay.
Important to know: The viewpoint at Donald Duck Bay can be closed due to bad weather!
As the Sail Rock viewpoint is essentially a bunch of granite rock formations, it can be very slippery and, therefore, dangerous to climb when wet.
Despite having nice sunny weather when we visited, the viewpoint was closed as it was raining heavily in the morning. So, unfortunately, we weren’t able to see it. But it usually takes about 10 – 15 minutes to hike up, and you can expect to queue for photos.
But don’t worry if that happens. There’s one big rock on the right side of the beach where you can go and take lovely photos.
It was very crowded, though, and some people didn’t respect the queue, so we just took a few quick photos and went to enjoy the beach and swim in the beautiful crystal-clear water.
Being unable to hike the viewpoint gave us more time in the water, and we can’t complain about that! The place where we swam was almost empty as everyone took photos on the beach!
There are two spots for swimming at Donald Duck Bay, on the left and the right side, as the middle is reserved for arriving and departing speedboats.
Donald Duck Bay on Similan Islands is one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever been to, and we wholeheartedly enjoyed our time here. It made the whole trip worth it!
We stayed here for about 45 minutes before continuing to our next stop.
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2. Snorkeling at Ba Ngu Island (Island number 9)
Coral Bay at Ba Ngu Island is a great snorkeling spot where you can see all kinds of different fish, but unfortunately, the corals all seemed dead.
It was still a nice snorkeling spot, and we spent about 30-40 minutes there before continuing to the next snorkeling spot.
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3. Snorkeling sport at Payu Island (Island number 7)
Snorkeling at Payu Island is famous for being the place where it’s common to see sea turtles. However, we didn’t see any.
The sea was very choppy at this point, and it was hard to swim and snorkel, and we didn’t see much, except just one type of coral, which also seemed dead.
At this spot, we also stayed between 30 to 40 minutes.
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4. Lunch at Mieng Island (Island number 4)
We stopped by island number 4 – Mieng Island, for around 2 hours for a buffet lunch and to visit the two stunning beaches of the island.
They can prepare vegetarian/vegan lunch options, but you must inform your tour operator beforehand. We got special vegetarian food prepared for us as the buffet usually contains meat or seafood. And it was delicious.
Mieng Island is usually the last stop on day tours, and we were happy that we had enough time to eat and enjoy the beaches. Before coming, we were afraid we wouldn’t have enough time, but it turned out plenty.
5. Princess and Honeymoon beach at Mieng Island
Mieng Island has two beaches, Princess beach, and Honeymoon beach.
Princess beach is supposedly more beautiful for most people, and it’s also bigger.
But we chose to walk around 5-10 minutes through the forest path to get to the Honeymoon beach, which was much less crowded than the other one.
We went to the other end of the beach, where we were almost all alone. 🙂
The color of the water was absolutely stunning, and we really enjoyed our time there.
6. Observe the wildlife of the Similan Islands
You can see plenty of wildlife and marine life on and around Similan Islands.
And one of the easiest animals to spot is the Nicobar pigeon, a beautiful bird currently present on island 4.
We saw them around the restaurant area, but unfortunately, we didn’t get a better photo of them as they went away when many people came.
The birds are magnificent, but please do not disturb them, as they may migrate from Similan otherwise.
And you can also sometimes see the monitor lizards, but we didn’t see one. So here’s a photo from Melaka for reference.
What to expect on the Similan Islands day trip
While the trip was well worth it, it was a long day as we got picked up in the morning in Phuket at 6:20 am and only returned back to Phuket at 8 pm.
Also, please note that the speedboat ride can be very bumpy if the sea is rough. Similan is quite far from the mainland, so it takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes of speedboat drive to reach.
Some people gave bad reviews to these tours because they served the food in so-called “prison trays.”
Lunch is served inside the Mu Ko Similan National Park restaurant, and it is basic but tasty.
You’re not going to a fancy restaurant but a national park to see its beauty. Many people will eat lunch at the same spot, and the only way to handle that is with a system like that.
If you’re bothered by this, maybe this trip is not for you.
Please keep in mind that this is a VERY popular place in Thailand. And there will always be people around you, no matter where you go.
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Choosing between a private and shared Similan Islands tour
No matter which tour you choose, the nature above and underwater at Similan Islands is absolutely stunning, and you will be able to experience it.
1. Shared Similan Islands Tour
Shared Similan Islands tours are the most common way to do the day trip and are affordable for most travelers.
2. Private Similan Islands Tour
Private Similan Islands tours allow for a more flexible schedule and private experience, and we can highly recommend a private boat if your budget permits, especially for families and groups.
Can you stay overnight on Similan Islands?
Since 2018, you can only stay overnight at Similan Islands on a Similan Liveaboard multi-day trip, which is the best and the only way to get to the better diving and snorkeling spots.
Are the Similan Islands worth visiting?
Similan Islands are a must-visit place for the powdery white sand beaches, clear turquoise water, rich marine life, and some of the most stunning scenery in Thailand.
While Similan Islands can be very crowded, and the trip from Phuket is quite tiring, we loved it! And we can highly recommend it.
What is the price of the Similan Islands day tour?
The Similan Islands shared tour costs between 80 and 120 USD.
The Similan Islands private tour costs around 1500 USD for a boat fitting up to 15 people.
Do you need to book your Similan Islands tour in advance?
Yes, we highly recommend everyone wishing to visit Similan Islands book their tour in advance, as the visitor numbers are limited.
What does the Similan Islands day tour include?
While there are some differences between the companies that offer day tours to Similan Islands, they generally include the same things.
Our Similan Islands day tour included:
- Return transfer from our hotel
- Breakfast at the pier
- National park fees
- Fresh fruits onboard
- Water and soft drinks
- Lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available)
- Snacks at the end of the tour
Return transfer to Phuket and national park fees may not be included in the price of all Similan Islands day tours, so please check that beforehand.
The entrance fee to Similan Islands National Park in 2023 is 500 THB (around $14) for foreign adults and 250 THB for children.
Important: Snorkel masks were included in the tour price on our tour, but fins were not! So if you’d like to use the fins, you’ll need to leave a deposit of around 800 Thai baht, which you will get back at the end of the day. Most tours here have it like this, so it’s better to bring some cash with you just in case.
The hotel pickup for the Similan Islands Day Trip is around 6 am from Phuket and around 7 am from Khao Lak.
What to pack for the Similan Islands day tour?
The main things you need to pack for the Similan Islands day tour:
- Reef safe sunscreen
- Quick-dry Towel
- Bathing suit
- Dry clothes (use code SHIPPEDAWAY for 10% at Unbound Merino)
- Waterproof bag
- Waterproof phone pouch
- Action camera (GoPro with a waterproof case or Osmo Action)
Boats, especially speedboats, get wet, if not from water splashing inside, then from constantly going in and out of the water, especially on snorkeling trips.
Most people were using waterproof phone pouches with their phones instead of action cameras, which works perfectly fine.
Best time to visit Similan Islands
The best time to visit Similan Islands is anytime during the season, between the 15th of October and the 15th of May.
Similan Islands are closed from 15th May to 15th October, and it’s impossible to visit during that period.
This is to preserve the national park’s nature and for safety reasons, as monsoon season slowly starts and the sea gets rougher.
Regulations of Mu Ko Similan National Park
While the coral reefs around Similan Islands aren’t the healthiest in Thailand, they are slowly improving. We love that there’s lots of effort and measures taken to protect the corals and nature of Similan Islands.
We are happy to see the tour operators take part in reminding visitors at the beginning of the tours not to step on the coral, touch anything, feed the fish, or take anything (like shells and similar). These basic guidelines are easily understood, but many people still don’t know this.
Below is a list of the most important things to remember for your visit.
1. Do not use sunscreen with harmful chemicals that damage coral reefs!
It is encouraged to apply only reef-safe sunscreen, and there are educational boards across the park about the damage regular sunscreens do.
The key ingredients you want to avoid in sunscreen are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, which are known to be the most destructive to reefs. In addition, there’s also 4-Methylbenzylid Camphor and Butylparaben.
These ingredients are also harmful to you, not just marine life!
Read more: Environmental effects of sunscreen (Wikipedia)
Important to know: If you put sunscreen on your body right before entering the water, it can wash off completely, so you won’t be protected, and you can further damage ocean life. Doing it at least 20 minutes before getting into the water is advised.
2. Do not bring single-use plastic and foam boxes!
All national parks in Thailand enforce the rule about single-use plastic and foam boxes, and it’s the same in Similan Islands to protect nature from even more plastic.
3. Do not feed the wildlife
No wildlife feeding is allowed on Similan Islands, as it disrupts the natural process.
4. Smoking is only permitted in designated areas
One of the best rules on Similan Islands is definitely that smoking is only permitted in designated areas on the island.
This protects the beach from countless cigarette butts everywhere. And it protects people who don’t smoke from unwanted smoke exposure.
5. Do not fly drones
You can’t fly a drone at Similan Islands if you don’t get a permit from the National Park beforehand.
We hope we inspired you to visit Similan Islands and that you will have a blast on a day of exploring this beautiful part of Thailand.
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