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Does The Base Location of The Similan Diving Liveaboard Make Any Difference?

In short, the answer is quite often ‘No, not a great deal.’ Other than a couple of boats which are based in Phuket, most of them sail from a pier in Khao Lak. Therefore, even a Phuket-based boat or dive centre will have the logistics worked out to transfer guests from and back to either Khao Lak or Phuket. As you may have already guessed, Phuket and Khao Lak are the two main areas of mainland where scuba diving and tourism are extremely important to the local economy. However, in addition to Phuket and Khao Lak, there are other places where the diving businesses operate from and send boats to The Similan & Surin Islands, as well as Myanmar, Hin Daeng/Muang and Koh Haa.

Khao Lak dive centres are by far the most numerous of those that offer Similan Islands liveaboard diving trips. The reason for this is that Khao Lak, a seaside town in the province of Phang Nga, is the nearest point of mainland Thailand to The Similan Islands, and there is a port at Tab Lamu, which has several piers. However, Khao Lak is still unheard of by many international tourists, as well as some who already live in Thailand. Phuket is far better known, and has its own busy international airport. Phuket has many more hotels and more dive centres than Khao Lak, but not as many as Khao Lak that offer liveaboard cruises to The Similan Islands. Even further away is Ranong, located north of Phang Nga and bordering Myanmar (Burma).

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Khao Lak: Most convenient for everyone. Khao Lak’s geographical location makes it most convenient for almost everyone involved for organising and joining a Similan liveaboard diving cruise. At the Pier in Tab Lamu there is plenty of space for boats and vehicles, especially when compared to Phuket. This extra space is mainly due to this area not being a hotel hotspot which would skyrocket land rental fees. Also, Khao Lak is the nearest point of mainland to the Similan Islands, thus the boats use less fuel than if they travelled from or back to elsewhere. After all, running a boat is more expensive and slower than running a vehicle on the road. So, with the dive centres and boat owners operating from around Khao Lak, and the fact that it is a nice place for holidaying couples and families, the seaside town has grown in recent years. As a result, many divers who want to join a Similan liveaboard decide to stay in Khao Lak, as the accommodation is better value than in Phuket and there is a lot less travelling involved.

Phuket: Popular year-round. Phuket has a long history of being a very popular tourist destination, both for local Thai people and for international tourists. This is Thailand’s largest island, but is connected to the mainland by Sarasin Bridge. Also there’s an international airport that services dozens of airline carriers. On Phuket Island there are hundreds of hotels and dozens of diving centres and schools. Diving to the south and east of Phuket can be done all year round, but the Similans is seasonal. While a few of the Phuket diving centres have and run their own liveaboard boats that sail to The Similans, most of them in Phuket act as agents for the liveaboard business, and will send their customers to other companies: usually in Khao Lak. However, there are several of our more luxurious boats which are owned and managed by companies in Phuket. These companies don’t have much in the way of shop-front retail business premises, because most of their communications and logistics are done online. In addition, their large boats are where all the diving equipment can be stored. Thus there is no need for an office where guests can check in and fit diving gear.

Ranong: Far away. Ranong is several hours by road north of Phuket and past Khao Lak. It is the border province to Myanmar (Burma) and it has a relatively short coastline, but a longer land border. The only Similan liveaboard dive centres based in Ranong operate their Thai-licenced liveaboard boats that sail into Burma more than just within Thailand. Ranong has a domestic airport that offers a few flights to Bangkok’s Don Meaung Airport. For anyone wanting a liveaboard diving trip just to the Similan Islands, sailing from Ranong offers a very limited choice. However, for those divers already in the area, this could be perfect.

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Average Rating 8.9/10 Based on 383 Diver Reviews for Liveaboards - Liveaboard Locations

MY Genesis 1 MY Genesis 1
Stephen
British
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 16 Mar 2020
Special thanks to Stefan for making the whole trip fun and to all the other crew ????????????...
MV Nemo 1 MV Nemo 1
Swiss
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 12 Mar 2020
My first liveaboard was a great experience. Good boat, comfortable cabin, caring staff and delicious food, everything as expected. All dives were goo...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Vicks
Irish
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 07 Mar 2020
We had a wonderful 3 day trip on the MV lapat. The diving was great. Our guide and all of the staff on board were friendly, helpful and really ensu...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Katherine
British
Review score: 8/10
Dived: 06 Mar 2020
Had a great few days on the MV Lapat. The crew and instructors really looked after us with some great dive sites, and we were well looked after with p...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Paul
American
Review score: 9/10
Dived: 02 Mar 2020
Great trip. Dives were relaxed and everything was as advertised. Would use them again for a short one to two night trip....
MV Manta Queen 5 MV Manta Queen 5
Mike
Swedish
Review score: 7/10
Dived: 28 Feb 2020
The only thing is the rock hard mattress in the cabins. Super unpleasant made the night's a course of survival. At least not as good as it could be....
Blue Dolphin Blue Dolphin
Dimitra Miliordou
Greek
Review score: 7/10
Dived: 27 Feb 2020
Our experience with Blue Dolphin was nice, however the boat was pretty small for 15 divers in total. The equipment had already been set up in advance,...
MC Sundancer MC Sundancer
Dimitra Miliordou
Greek
Review score: 8/10
Dived: 25 Feb 2020
Great experience, we saw two giant Manta rays in our last dive, which made us ecstatic! Friendly and attentive staff, spacious and well-equipped boat....
MV Oktavia
MV Oktavia
MV Oktavia
Manuel
German
Review score: 8/10
Dived: 24 Feb 2020
Hello, Thank you for the great dive trip 3D/2N end of February. Great boat, great dives, great guides, great crew and great food. Unfortunately t...
MV Lapat MV Lapat
Jason
American
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 22 Feb 2020
Dries, Tong and the whole boat crew are amazing . no need to look anywhere else... The only thing I was upset about was that no other customers gave g...
MV Nemo 1 MV Nemo 1
Thorsten
German
Review score: 9/10
Dived: 21 Feb 2020
I had great experience diving with the Nemo Crew.I learned so much in 3 days,and i was blown away by the wonderful underwater world at the similan isl...
MV Manta Queen 8 MV Manta Queen 8
John P
Australian
Review score: 10/10
Dived: 20 Feb 2020
My first liveaboard boat trip. The locations, the boat and boat boys, the dive guides, the cooks and the food, and my fellow divers, all fantastic!...
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