Similan Islands are among the best dive sites in Southeast Asia. They can be compared to the best places for diving in the Maldives, Fiji, Australia and Indonesia. Coral reefs, massive boulders, rich marine life and white beaches with soft sand are so beautiful, that the Diver magazine listed them among the top 10 places in the world for diving.
Diving is the main attraction of these islands. Huge granite boulders, caves form a fascinating underwater landscape attracts a huge variety of marine life, from tiny creatures to great Manta Rays. At 84 km to the north-west of the popular Patong Beach, Phuket town is a gateway to another world. One and a half hour trip by speed boat covered with huge boulders of the island grows in the middle of the huge Andaman Sea. This remote paradise ball seems to grow in the blue sea. Excellent diving in these areas enriches our visitors a new experience of diving in the underwater kingdom reefs. It is not necessarily be a professional diver to appreciate the quiet underwater ballet. The tube and the mask will allow all who wish to get acquainted with the local beauty of the underwater world.
"Similan" is derived from the Malay "Sembilan", and means "nine". Each island has its own name and numbering. Here they are from the north to the south: Koh Huyong, Koh Payan, Koh Miang, Koh Haa, Koh Hok, Koh Payu, Koh Similan , Koh Bangu. In 1982 , the Similan Island received National Park status to defend against the barbarian fishing with dynamite and random mooring of vessels, quickly destroy fragile coral reefs. The measures taken allowed to do away with the application of substantial harm to the environment of the park and greatly improved the situation compared to previous decades. Recently, the National Park was expanded to include two other islands of Koh Bon and Koh Tachai. But, apparently, the number "nine" is firmly engraved in the memory of people, so the last two islands are visited less frequently than the other. Similan Islands are not so pretty impressive when compared with those in the Bay of Phang Nga and Krabi, which many people associate with the Andaman Sea. They are the smallest islands of land, covered with dense forest and thickets. Among the large trees dominate the eucalypts, while zhekfrut, rattan and bamboo form dense thickets. Crab-eating monkeys (monkeys rarely caught the eye of observers), squirrels, bats, lizards and a wide variety of birds (conducted in 1992, research has shown that contains 39 species of birds) live in the forests here.
Some islands are hilly, the height of the highest peak reaches 244 meters above the sea level, while the plains are surrounded by sand dunes and coral reefs. But the most striking feature of these islands are the huge boulders that litter the western and the southern shores of some islands. Another attraction are the beaches of white coral sand, very beautiful and often deserted. Nowhere on the beaches you will not find dirt, mud, or something like that, the sand is very clean, white and soft. The most interesting sights are hidden under water. Here are some of the most spectacular coral thickets in the world and huge boulders strewn along the shore, turned the waters around the islands in the playground for diving.
The area of Similan Islands has more than 200 species of coral with a rich abundance of fish. In terms of the abundance of marine life and bottom topography, there is more diversity than most other places for diving. Visitors can find many interesting things, coral walls, large rocks, large gorgonievye corals, sponges drum, caves, arches and a lot of shallow areas for snorkeling. The water near the Similan Islands complex ecosystem of coral reefs are often called jungles of the sea. There are several factors that are essential for the formation and the existence of coral reefs, the main ones are: high and stable temperature of the water, its purity and transparency and the normal salinity of the sea. All of these factors are present in the Andaman Sea, which is not, for example, in the Gulf of Thailand. In the Andaman Sea, coral reefs are classified as deep (30-40 m) and mid-depth (8-15 ). The deepest reef species found off the coast of Similan Islands.
The territory of the islands can be roughly divided into two parts, each of which has a completely different environment for diving. The west coast is characterized by high velocity flow, the water swirls circling around huge granite boulders, some the size comparable with the major houses. These smooth, rounded boulders formed under water interesting shapes, holes, arches, near which divers enjoy the wealth of marine life. Just look through the clear water of these huge stones in itself is a magnet for many divers, because on this planet, there are very few places with a similar landscape. Growing on boulders colorful corals are so densely covered with these huge pitfalls that the rock surface is almost not visible. The passages between boulders, corals grow to enormous size, often intertwined, so swimming through these thickets is not possible. Diving on the eastern side of the island is completely different from its western part.
Coral reefs gradually go down to about 30-40 meters, with an increase in the depth of the corals are gradually replaced by a sandy bottom. To see the big fish is often possible, though at times you can find tiger, or even whale sharks. The peak tourist season in the Similan Islands, falls from October to May, but to visit them, and diving is possible all the year round. The waters are generally clear in summer and fall, the visibility averages is about 18-25 feet and sometimes exceeds 40 meters! The rainy season starts from mid-May to October. In total there are over 20 dive sites in the Similan Islands, many of which became famous throughout the world.
One of the most spectacular diving in the Similan Islands, begins with a series of large arches at a depth of 24 meters. The growth of soft corals reaches enormous size. Ko Similan This is one of the most popular dive sites with a huge area of the underwater rock formations. The depth varies from 15 to 40 meters. It is home to some types of rays. Beginning in 1999, it was once one of the most beautiful dive sites, the fantastic reef was closed to diving after a significant deterioration of the reefs. Managers of the park officially blamed divers, while the latter argue that the fishing boats without authorization enter the territory of the national park during the rainy season, when tourists in the park are not available.
Elephant Head Island, Ko Similan
Perhaps this is the most famous diving spots named in honor of the unusual shape of rocks protruding from the water in the southwestern part of the island. Huge boulders form a natural amphitheater, creating a sense of immersion in a huge aquarium. The Islands are currently closed due to visit the program for the protection and conservation of turtle populations reefs.
Similan Islands can be visited for one day, with the possibility to stop for the night. The islands have no permanent residents, except for the national park rangers. Accommodation is available on the islands of Koh Similan and Ko Miang . Visitors can stay in tents or bungalows provided by Similan National Marine Park, on yachts, designed for diving, or sailing with the possibility of normal night. For a one-day visit to diving low, so it's better to give preference to yachts designed for diving, or boats with the possibility of spending the night in order to practice snorkeling enough to be a day trip. Most visitors are content with a one-day trip to the modern high-speed boat from Phuket Town.
By Romanelli Ana
The Best Places to Visit in Thailand .
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Thailand has a rich and colorful culture and many exotic monuments and stunning beaches, which attract millions of visitors each year, from all people with a minimum budget to those who can afford to indulge in luxury. The country is often called the "land of smiles", because here there are more people smiling than in any other part of the world. Only in Thailand you can take a cruise on a converted rice barge, you can scream upstream in a boat or bamboo raft, you can go into a dizzying journey and you can stay in jungle tree houses or homes of villagers floating on the river. Equally memorable are the trails leading deep into the rainforest past cooling waterfalls and beautiful endless white sand caressing the translucent sea.
Do not miss the dynamic city of Bangkok, with its futuristic buildings juxtaposed against the glittering Grand Palace. Early morning, monks dressed in robes leave the sanctuary of temples to receive alms from the people or in a dusty village or on crowded city streets. Here Buddhism is a way of life and, with the respect people have for the monarchy, a dynasty that has maintained an independent country for centuries, resulting in a blend of tradition and contemporary living. His Majesty King Bhumibol is the longest reigning monarch in the world, having come in 1946. With the end of absolute monarchy, Thailand moved towards democracy, but this was thwarted by the military, who staged coups in protest at government policies. The latest blow came in September 2006 when a bloody revolt overthrew the Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and replaced him with an interim prime. Thailand has surpassed the economic collapse of 1997, SARS, avian flu and the devastating tsunami in December 2004 to become a popular destination for tourists, with its many natural beauties and rich cultural heritage. Thailand is a tropical country, so it's warm all year round, but the best time for tourists is from November to March during the dry season.
The main attractions
• Wonder at the beautiful architecture in Bangkok Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, a temple complex which houses a statue of the Emerald Buddha. Further up the river are the royal barges. They are richly decorated and are only used for special processions on the Chao Phraya River.
• Do not miss Wat Pho, Bangkok's largest temple and the place where Buddha is Down. The statue is huge - 46m long and 15m high.
• Discover Vmanmek, a lovely palace with 18 rooms, the former royal summer residence, rebuilt in Bangkok in 1900. Let yourself be excited by the former house of silk merchant, American Jim Thompson.
• Travel north to Chiang Mai, the second largest city of Thailand and a center for excursions to temples in the region, hill tribes and the Golden Triangle. Climb its 300 steps to the temple of Doi Suthep to have wonderful views of the city.
• Visit Kanchanaburi, a place about the horrors of the Second World War and Allied forces forced to build the Death Railway and the Bridge over the River Kwai. From the town you can go on trips to explore the waterfalls and the jungle region. You could spend a night on a floating house.
• Take a trip back in time and visit Ayutthaya, the former Thai capital. Wander among the ruins of palaces on foot,by bike, or even on the back of an elephant.
• A visit to Ayutthaya is not complete without a trip to Sukhothai, an ancient capital of the Thai. Beyond the city walls there are ruins of ancient temples and a few ancient engravings.
• Visit the north-eastern Thai, less known, especially Phimai, one of the most important Khmer historical sites in Thailand, dating from the eleventh century. The complicated structure resembles that of Angkor Wat.
• Thailand is not about just beaches and temples. Venture Khao Sok National Park exploring the southern Thai. Here the rainforest covers the limestone cliffs crossed by streams and waterfalls. Experience the lifestyle of a tree house or a house on the water, made of bamboo.
• Make a day trip from Bangkok by train over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, on the bridge that was built by Allied prisoners, led by the Japanese during the Second World War.
• Admire the skills of kite fighters. Your opponents kites male Chula and female high Pakpao in a battle of the sexes. Do not miss playing takraw, which involves handling a cane ball from one player to another, which are disposed in a circle, using in acrobatic feet, knees, thighs and chest. The goal is to keep the ball in the air and place it in a suspended basket.
• Take in a Thai kick-boxing match. This traditional sport can be seen every day in stadiums across the country. Boxing matches are preceded by elaborate ceremonies and accompanied by music.
• Get rid of all worries through meditation. Thailand has dozens of temples and meditation centers specializing in vipassana . You can attend one lesson or you can follow a whole.
• Meet more closely with northern Thai, especially remote provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son, hiking, riding elephants and rafting on the river.
• Join the crowd that goes to Suri, where elephants assembly occur in November. There are demonstrations of techniques and re-training scene of episodes in history.
• Enjoy thousands of kilometers from the Thai coast on the sand or under water. Try kayaking, canoeing in the limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay and explore the grottoes and caves that are half under water.
• Learn traditional massage and the healing properties of herbal medicine at ancient Wat Pho.
• Try Thai cooking at one of the many cookery schools. Learn how to blend herbs and spices for the unique flavors of Thai food. In some schools students encouraged to buy food in the market themselves.
• Take a boat trip through Bangkok's Floating Market or network of channels of the river, lined with dwellings opening directly to water. Life has hardly changed over the centuries to those who live on canals. • Dive with the Sharks at Siam Ocean World aquarium in Bangkok and experience to tell the tale.
• Take tea in the afternoon at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, one of the most famous hotels in the world. The former residence of Somerset Maughan and Joseph Conrad, today is attended by kings, princes and celebrities.
Thai cuisine is famous for the way that balances the five fundamental flavors in all meals and dishes - spicy, sour, sweet, salty and bitter (optional). Thai cuisine which includes specific four main regions of the country - North, Northeast (Isan), Central and South America. The cuisine of each region is influenced by neighboring countries of that region. Thai dishes include plenty of fresh, not dried herbs, spices and fish sauce. Nam pla is a fish sauce, flavored, which is found in almost all dishes. It is widely used and shrimp paste. Thais are accustomed to eat so much rice at every meal even. Most of them consider sandwiches not a meal but a snack. Also, locals do not really sit at table, because, especially children and teens eat when hungry. If you do meet a Thai, you may be wondering "gin khao yung" every time you meet, meaning " did you eat ?" or better said "have you eaten rice?". If you visit Thailand and stay at a local family take care not too eat too much, your body will get fat.
Thailand existed as several small states since 1000. Influenced more by India, Burma and Khmer people, the region was quickly engulfed in Buddhism. By 1350 the kingdom of Siam was created. At a distance of more than two centuries the Portuguese arrived, along with other Europeans, dealing with trade or were missionaries. Siam avoided European colonization but was forced to cede control of more distant areas (portions of Malay, Laos and Cambodia) France and Great Britain. Occupied by the Japanese in 1941, Siam declared war on the United States and Great Britain, while secretly monarchy suppressed resistance movements against the Japanese. During the Vietnam War Thailand was significant especially for the U.S. Army. Attracting investors and tourists, Thailand developed until 1996, when the military government triggered a decline in the economy.
The royal family is highly esteemed in Thailand, which must be respected by visitors. Locals are concerned with the public manifestations of anger as a fact and creates a very humiliating public image. It also discourages emotional manifestations gender and touching a person's head or your foot to straighten, it is a lack of good manners. Take care of your shoes before entering someone's house or a temple.
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Similan Islands - Dazzling white sand