How to get to Similan Islands
These remote islands are home to a small group of National Park Rangers who live there to protect the reefs and islands, a few people to run the government cafeteria and the tents and bungalows.
Getting to the islands is best arranged through either a travel agent in the region or a diving or snorkeling company. There are plenty, but please make sure they are certified by the TAT, insured and actually have knowledge of the Similans. Please don’t try to save a few Baht when your safety and the well-being of the Similan National Park are at stake.
Getting To the Similan Islands
While there are a great many companies in Phuket that advertise direct travel, it is very rare. Almost all companies transfer people 100 km via minibus to Taplamu pier, then onwards. Taplamu is Khao Lak’s local pier. We encourage contacting Khao Lak companies for all your travel needs – they are cheaper and more knowledgeable about local conditions. To save time and money – simply stay in Khao Lak before and after your visit!
Taplamu to Similan Islands
Thap Lamu Port is the main gateway to the Similans, as it is the closest point of land AND a deep water pier – home of the Thai Navy’s 3rd fleet. Island #4 is almost directly west of the port. It is approx 50km away. If you travel by speedboat, the journey is between 60 and 80 minutes. Larger boats and liveaboards take 3-5 hours to get there, so most of them depart at night. The cost varies wildly from 1000 baht for a space on the deck of a fishing boat to 5500 baht for guided diving trips. A simple ride on speedboat is about 2000 baht. There are several options for this. There is also a boat owned and operated by the national park that takes 4 hours and costs 1500 baht. It leaves each day at 09.00. These services are not available after May 16th of each year, as the park shuts down for Monsoons. Diving boats are the only way to get here from then until November 15th when the park reopens.
Taplamu is about 5km from the main North/South Route in Thailand, so getting there via bus is quite easy. The easiest way is to make your way to Khao Lak and get a taxi. If you have arranged a tour through a local company, they will offer transfer free of charge.
Daytrips to the Similan Islands:
The Similan Islands are famous throughout the world for the clear tropical waters, white sandy beaches and incredible marine life. That’s why you are even reading this page? Most people choose to Visit the Similan Islands for a single day trip. This is typically done via speedboat. While tours can be arranged from Phuket – very few people are told that this involves a 90 minute ride in a minibus to AND from the pier.
In Khao Lak you can chooe from many companies that operate to the Similan Islands. Again – please choose only those companies that are indured, certified with the TAT and carry safety equipment. You can choose Snorkeling only boats, diving boats or ones that cater to both.
Getting To Similan Islands via Bus:
Impossible! However you can reach either Khao Lak or try to reach Tablamu and then get a boat to the Similan Islands
There are daily bus services from Bangkok to Khao Lak (approximately 750 total kilometres), air-conditioned bus fee is 460 Baht, and VIP air-conditioned bus fee is 896 Baht. These leave from Bangkok at approx. 06.00 and 18.00 each day. The VIP takes 12 hours, and the Regular bus takes 14-15 hours. DO NOT purchase a ticket from the travel agents in the tourist areas. They sell tickets to Surat Thani and then put you on a local bus which adds several hours to the journey and lots of inconvenience. Please Purchase your tickets from the Government Bus Station – Southern Terminal.
Almost all buses heading North (Bangkok, Surat Thani, Ranong, Chumphon, Takuapa) will pass through Khao Lak. The 1st class buses will take 90 minutes, the 2nd class can take three hours. They will depart about every hour. Just make your way to the Bus station at Phuket Town.
Getting to Similan Islands by Air
The nearest airport to the Similan Islands is Phuket International Airport. It is about 70km south of the pier. There are buses, and a confusing system of Taxis. We recommend using Khao Lak Taxi Service. Reliable, safe and secure. They are also quite affordable.
It is possible to get to Khao Lak/Tap Lamu via bus from the the airport. It is time consuming. Make your way to the main road (about 5km East). This can be done by taxi or a new public bus. The bus stop is on the opposite side of the road, heading North. It is about 600 Meters South of the crossroads. Every bus will stop there. Please ask the driver if they are heading to Khao Lak/Tap Lamu. The total trip should take about 3 1/2 hours.
Phuket Airport is serviced by several international airlines and a great many regional airlines. More airport details here.
Here are just a few Airlines:
Bangkok Airways (regional)
Nokair (within Thailand)
Tiger Air (from Singapore)
Fireflyz (from Penang)
Getting To Similan Islands by Taxi
From anywhere in the region you may also order a taxi to pick you up or drop you off. With groups of 3-5 people, this is the wisest choice for time, convenience and economics.
If you are in a hurry, this is also the best choice as buses (and people) tend to work on “Thai time”.
Please check out Khao Lak Taxi Service for a price list of places served and prices for those services.
Speedboats, sailing vessels diving liveaboards and even luxury yachts can be chartered or individually booked from several dive companies in Khao Lak (and the local pier – Thap Lamu).
Getting around the Similans
Only Similan Islands #4 and #8 allow you on land. There are trails and very beautiful viewpoints. Bring your shoes! The other islands are off limits to foot traffic.
Transit between the islands can be very tricky. There are transfer boats available through the National Park. As the National Park service is a government agency, they are not always tightly organized. If you are short on time (and patience), we recommend using the services of a local dive shop or snorkeling company.
A company has recently started offering an overnight tours, with the option to stay on the islands, while visiting various dive sites and snorkeling areas each day. When on the islands, the National Park offers powerboat transit as follows. These are very basic and departure times are not scheduled. You will need to contact the park directly to find the times.
Distance and prices for tansfer between the Similan Islands:
- Ko 4 to Ko 6 – distance 3 kilometres a 150 Baht/person (snorkel tour only)
- Ko 4 to Ko 8 – distance 11.5 kilometres a 200 Baht/person (transit only)
- Ko 4 to Ko 9 – distance 13.5 kilometres a 300 Baht/person (snorkeling and transit)
- Around Ko 8 and Ko 9 a 300 Baht/person (snorkeling only_