How to get to Similan Islands
The Similan Islands offers no port of airport, and are, in fact, a set of remote islands that are home to a small number of National Park Rangers that live here in order to protect the islands and reefs. Other folks have been hired to run the government cafeteria as well as the bungalows and tents.
If you want to visit the Similan Islands, which are about 120 km northwest of Phuket and 50 km west of Khao Lak, you should talk to a travel agent in the area or speak with a snorkeling or diving company. There are many different companies available to choose from, but you want to make sure they’re TAT-certified, are insured and have experience with the islands.
Money is no object when your safety is on the line. Don’t try saving Baht at this time
Although there are a number of establishments in Phuket promoting direct travel, it’s actually rare to do. Most companies will send people 100 km by minibus to the Taplamu Pier and then to the destination. Taplamu is the local pier for Khao Lak. We ask that you reach out to companies in Khao Lak who can meet your travel needs. They tend to be less expensive and more knowledgeable about the local conditions. If you want to save money, stay in the area 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 well-known for offering clear tropical waters, amazing marine life and white sandy beaches. Why else would you read this page?
The majority of folks come to the Similan Islands for a day trip, usually getting there by boat. These tours can be set up in Phuket, but most folks are not made aware that the trip involves a 90 minute ride via minibus and pier.
If, in Khao Lak, you can pick from companies that go to the Similan Islands. Don’t forget to pick companies that have been TAT-certified, have safety equipment on hand and are insured. You can pick from diving boats, snorkeling boats or boats that cater to either one.
Getting To Similan Islands via Bus:
It’s not possible to use a bus to get to the Similan Islands. Rather, you go to Tablamu or Khao Lak and then take a boat to the islands. There are bus services that run from Bangkok to Khao Lak. It costs nearly 900 baht for the air-conditioned VIP bus, although there are cheaper options. The bus will leave Bangkok around 6 a.m. and again at 6 p.m. The VIP will take 12 hours to make the trip; regular buses will take between 14 to 15 hours.
Your best option is to buy tickets from the Government Bus Station – Southern Terminal. If you buy them from a travel agent, your ticket will go to Surat Thani and then put you on a local bus. This means added hours to your trip.
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 many international airlines and a great many regional airlines. More airport details here.
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_