Text: Rachel Kwek Photos: Tourism Authority of Thailand
Comprising 11 islands and covering 140 square kilometres, Mu Koh Similan National Park is an idyllic destination with clear turquoise waters and abundant wildlife. One can swim alongside many species of sharks, turtles and fish at the many dive sites in this divers’ paradise hailed as one of the top dive locations in the world. Due to the fragility of the ecosystems in the park, it is designated as a protected area and some of the islands are not open to visitors. Only isalnds 4 and 8 are open to visitors. While you can get from one island to another via paid boat rides provided by the Similan Islands National Park, schedules are not fixed and it might be more efficient to engage the services of a local dive company. There is no accommodation within the park. Where: Phang Nga Province, 70km off the coast of the Andaman Sea, 120km northwest of Phuket and 50km west of Khao Lak Getting there: Take a car, taxi or bus to Khao Lak or Thap Lamu Port, the main gateway to the islands. Then, take a speedboat, which will take 60 to 80 minutes, or other vessels available through travel service providers. Travellers can also take a boat owned and operated by the national park ( 4 hours, 1500 baht or about USD45); this service is not available from May 17 to November 14 during the monsoon season when the park is close.