The time was when visitors to Phang Nga province were confined to day trippers from Phuket who came by bus or boat to see the fantastic scenery of Phang Nga Bay Although that's still mostly true, there is at least one type of visitor who chooses to stay in Phang Nga province: divers.
About an hour's drive from Phuket airport is the Khao Lak-Lamru National Park. Although relatively unknown, even among Thais, the beach here was home to several bungalows, hotels and resorts. The main reason these are all here is the Similan Islands, about 60 kilometers off the coast.
The Similans are a group of eight islands that Skin Diving magazine rated among the ten best places on earth. Even for non divers, the islands, as well as the mainland, are home to some beautiful scenery.
Further to the north are the Surin islands, also very highly rated dive spots.
Many of the resorts and other businesses along Khao Lak beach were wiped out by the December 2004 tsunami. This was probably the hardest hit area of the Thai coast by the disaster. Many businesses have since been rebuilt and re-opened, although it is probably fair to say that things are not yet at the level they once were.
This small island has a picturesque village, which rests precariously on small pilings and extends out across the water. It is inhabited chiefly by Muslim fisher folk, whose unique culture has existed, cut off from the mainland and most modern amenities, for more than a hundred years. Souvenir shops and seafood restaurants cater to visitors
The Similan Islands
is a group of islands in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Phang Nga Province , southern Thailand . It is a national park which was established in 1982 .
Similan Islands National Park was established after the one-year exploration by the Foresty department. The park is the archipelago consisting of nine islands which are Ko Bon, Ko Bayu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang (two adjoining islands), Ko Payan, Ko Payang, and Ko Huyong. Recently, the park was expanded to included two remoted islands which are Ko Bon and Ko Tachai. The Similans are situated 70 kilometres from Phang Nga town. "Similan" is a Yawi word which means "nine". Similan is one of the most famous diving sites in Thailand.
Similan Island is the largest island. It has the average depth of 60 feet. Underwater is full of rock formations and coral reefs in several shapes and forms such as deer, leaf, brain, and mushroom.
Above the water are found many diverse species such as the Nicobar Pigeon, Mangrove Monitor Lizards and more
Ko Huyong has the longest and widest beach in the park. However, the park prohibits any tourists from landing on the island as the beach on the island is the place where turtles come to lay their eggs.
There are five islands that make up the Surin Islands named Koh Surin Nua, Koh Surin Tai, Koh Ri, Koh Kai, and Koh Klang. The two main islands in the group are Koh Surin Nua (Northern Surin Island) and Koh Surin Tai (Southern Surin Island).
The islands are about 55 kilometres away from the Thai coastline heading towards Burma and are famed for being one of Thailand’s most relaxed and beautiful travel destinations. They are also renowned for having some of the best diving and snorkelling opportunities in the kingdom – particularly in the waters between the two islands. Between the two islands there are ten bays of which Ao Mae Yai is probably the best known and Ao Luk the most visited. Both Koh Surin Nua and Koh Surin Tai boast glorious white sand and crystal clear water surrounded by dense forest – a picture of paradise!
Details: The best time to visit the islands is November to April.
Koh Yao Island
Koh Yao Island sometimes written Ko Yao or Ko Yoa. The Island is made up of 2 large islands: Koh Yao Noi (Little Long Island) and Koh Yao Yai (Big Long Island). Located in The south of Phang Nga Bay between Phuket and Krabi province. Covers an area of 137.6 square kilometers. Koh yao Noi is half the size of its counterpart but all of the government offices and most of the population are located on Koh Yao Noi.
In the beginning of 1700 century people from the southern of Thailand (Trang, Krabi, Satun and North of Malaysia) moved to Ko Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi. Nowadays the particular dialect spoken on the islands still bear obvious Malaysian lexical traces. Many words in native language are from Melayu.