Tuesday, November 4, 2008

SIMILAN

Mu Koh Similan National Park


Similan is a Yawi or Malay word, which means nine or a group of nine islands. This is located in Tambon Ko Phra Thong, Amphoe Khura Buri, occupying an area of 32,000 acres. It was declared a national park on 1st September 1982. Similan is a small group of islands comprising nine islands stretching from north to south, respectively, namely: Ko Bon, Ko Bayu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (two adjoining islands), Ko Payan, Ko Payang, and Ko Huyong. The National Parks office is located on Ko Miang. Similan is highly praised for its beautiful scenery, both onshore and underwater. It is situated 70 kilometres from Phang-nga town. Best time to visit is between November and April.

Interesting attractions in the National Park include:

Ko Similan or Ko Paet is the largest island in this group of islands. It has a distinctive horseshoe-shaped bay. The average depth of the water is 60 feet. Underwater is full of rock formations and coral reefs in several shapes and forms such as deer, leaf, brain, and mushroom. The latter one is the most unspoiled coral found in the country. Its soft sandy beach is very beautiful and diving around here will let you see a lot of fishes and coral. To the north, lies a striking large rock formation with astonishing shapes such as boot and Donald Ducks head. The upper part of the beach is an ideal lookout point with a rock of a sailing boat shape.

Ko Ba-ngu is the ninth island of the Similan group of islands. It has a strange feature. Looking from one point, the shape of a skull can be seen. Underwater is as beautiful as a valley full of coral reefs, deep gorge, and various sizes of fish.

Ko Huyong, the island offers the whitest and longest beach of all the nine islands. During turtles ’egg laying season, from November to February, there would be tracks on the beach from turtles that come onshore to lay eggs, resembling centipede tracks.

Ko Miang is the second largest island among 9 islands after Similan Island. It is where the office of the National Park is located. The island offers a scenic beach which is suitable for camping.

Diving Spots

There are several diving spots that suit both snorkelling and scuba diving. The famous scuba diving spots including rock formations that lie to the west of Ko Tachai where whale sharks can be seen, Ko Bon, Christmas Point rock formation, Fantasy rock formation, and Ao Kwang En (to the east of Ko Paet), etc.

Snorkelling spots are scattered around these nine islands. The interesting points are by the sailing boat rock, Ao Kwang En, and behind Miang Island.

How to Get There

Thap Lamu Pier, located 70 kilometres north of Phang-nga at Amphoe Thai Mueang, is the nearest point to Similan. A boat trip takes around 2 hours. There is no regular boat service for travellers to the island. Boats leaving from Thap Lamu are suitable for group tours and the boat rentals range from 30,000-40,000 baht, depending on various factors.

It is sometimes possible for individuals to hitch a ride or pay a reasonable fraction of the rental cost on a boat chartered by a group. This method is by no means certain and should be an obtion only for the adventurous who have time to spare. A boat trip from Patong Beach, Phuket takes around four hours.

Accommodation : There are bungalows and tents as well as restaurants available on the island.

Admission Fee: Adult 400 baht and Child 200 baht

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