Phuket, Phi Phi & Similans, 28 Oct - 7 Nov '17
SOUTHEAST ASIA'S MOST MAGICAL DESTINATIONS
Dates: 28th October - 7th November '17
Price: R30 799 per diver incl. 6 nights accommodation, 3 days of diving trips & 2 nights / 3 days Similan Liveaboard, max 20 dives
R27 899 per diver incl. 7 nights accommodation, 3 days of diving trips & 1 night / 2 days Similan Liveaboard, max 16 dives
R25 699 per diver incl. 8 nights accommodation & 4 days of diving trips, max 12 dives
** R18 499 per non-diver sharing, all rates quoted are per person sharing and subject to change
Includes: As specified above together with return flights & airport taxes, transfers, breakfast
At the heart of Southeast Asia lies Thailand, a worldwide famous country with a quintessential identity. Thailand offers miles of tropical beaches, lush rainforests, exhilarating cultural attractions, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins, ornate temples, its cuisine and of course excellent scuba diving. It is bordered to the north by Myanmar and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the west by the Andaman Sea providing numerous opportunities for outdoor, sun-worshiping adventure.
This dive trip takes us to Phuket's Patong Beach, our base for the duration of the trip with dive travel including sites around Phuket, the mystical Phi Phi Islands and of course, of the world's top dive destinations, the Similan Islands.
QUICK FACTS ABOUT PHUKET'S PATONG BEACH, THE PHI PHI & SIMILAN ISLANDS
PHUKET: Phuket is Thailand's largest island at 21 km wide and 48 km long, with a drive time, from one end to the other, of around 1½ hours. Although some areas of the island have become quite built up, other parts remain quiet and unspoilt and serves asl a beautifully remote destination. With its plethora of bays and beaches, alluring turquoise waters and spectacular scenery, Phuket ranks as Asia's most popular tourist and beach destination outside of Bangkok. Patong: Patong is a major tourist village on Phuket's west coast, offering an array of beaches, accommodation, nightlife, cuisine, entertainment and shopping.
** click on the map to enlarge
PHI PHI ISLAND: Phi Phi Island is one of the most unique and stunningly attractive clusters of islands in the world - an idyllic island retreat but also a world-class diving destination. This small archipelago consists of six islands of which Koh Young (Mosquito Island), the largest of its islands, is the only inhabited island. Phi Phi offers white sandy beaches, warm emerald waters and amazing towering limestone cliffs. Visit the islands and experience the wonderful southern Thai people and their warm friendly culture. By day, Koh Phi Phi offers hundreds of exciting adventures, such as diving and snorkeling, hiking, camping and rock climbing. By night, experience the world famous Thai cuisine, and then enjoy a cocktail on the beach at one of the local bars. Easily reached by an approximate hour ferry ride from either Phuket or Krabi.
** click on the map to enlarge
SIMILAN ISLANDS: Similan Islands are located just 84km northwest of the bustling crowds of Phuket and is one of the best-known island groups in the Andaman Sea. These lslands are a 24 kilometre long chain of nine islands and several rocks. Together with the two solitary islands of Koh Bon and Koh Tachai they form the Mu Ko Similan National Park. Fringed with pure white beaches, and home to Thailands least spoiled and most spectacular diving sites, the Similan Islands are a beautiful place to spend a beach holiday or to swim in the tropical sunshine. Important to note is that these islands are open only between the months October to May annually.
** click on the map to enlarge
While the official Thai language is widely spoken throughout Thailand, many of the local people also speak and understand English, though more so in Bangkok and the major tourist destinations than the less exposed areas.
Thai Bhat & USD
Persons travelling on an SA Passport do not need a visa to enter Thalinad. Please ensure that you have at least 6 months validity on your passport from date of entry and at least 3 clean pages ** subject to change without prior notice - please double check in advance of departure date
DIVING THESE ISLANDS
BEST TIME TO DIVE THAILAND: With a pleasant 28 - 30° year-round tropical temperature and generally good 30m visibility throughout its coastal areas, Thailand qualifies as a world-class dive destination. Not only does it step up for the more experienced diver, but it also serves as a brilliant destination in which to learn to dive. The country is warm and wet during the May to September monsoon, then dries out from November to mid-March with air temperatures ranging from 30–35°. The Andaman Sea's West Coast is best dived between mid October and April. It is also important to note that this is the period during which the marine reserves (where some of the top dive sites are located), are open to the public. May through September has heavy rainfall on the West Coast.
PHUKET, Patong: Phuket Island is the ideal place to stay on a Thailand scuba diving holiday as it is central to all of the region's best 60+ dive sites (including the Similans & Phi Phi Islands). The surrounding area has its own star attractions such as Shark Point, the Kingcruiser Wreck and the Racha Islands. One can stay in Phuket and then travel by day boat to the surrounding islands, but travel time to the dive sites can take anything up to two hours. Some of the best surrounding sites are visited by liveaboard, with options ranging from 2 days / 1 night up to a full 7 night liveaboard dive safari!
PHI PHI ISLANDS: The Phi Phi Islands are one of the most dramatically beautiful locations in the world. The scenery from the surface is absolutely stunning; colossal emerald green monoliths rising straight from the sea and soaring to heights of more than 500 meters. Underwater, these towers shape a rugged, interesting environment for scuba divers, and over time the elements have created caves, overhangs, and swim-throughs in the soft limestone rock. Can be reached by day boat or liveaboard.
SIMILAN ISLANDS: Without question, the Similan Islands represent the best diving that Thailand has to offer. Rated by National Geographic as a top global destination, these uninhabited islands have something for everone at every age and ability. Shallow tropical coral reefs, soaring pinnacles, massive coral gardens and of course a breeding ground for the Hawksbill Turtle. Best explored by liveaboard with at least a 1 or 2 night stay in order to reach of the best and furtherst sites. Can however also be visited by day boat.
FLIGTHS TO THAILAND, PHUKET
28 OCT Johannesburg to Doha, departing 20:50pm and arriving 06:00am
29 OCT Doha to Phuket, departing 06:55am and arriving 17:35pm
06 NOV Phuket to Doha, departing 19:35pm and arriving 22:00pm
07 NOV Doha to Johannesburg, departing 02:40am and arriving 10:00am
** Luggage allowance is 30kg per person
PHUKET - 4* Resort, Patong
The glistening Andaman Sea and sandy shores of Patong Beach are just 5 meters away from this family resort in Phuket. Experience one of the most vibrant holiday destinations in Asia, perched at the edge of town where the beach is uncrowded and the ambiance is chilled.
SUPERIOR ROOM: The superior room offers 40 sqm of cozy living space. Turn on the air-conditioning, lie back with a refreshment from the mini-bar and browse the international TV channels. The private balcony is furnished to sit and enjoy the tropical outdoor ambiance, a great spot for a morning coffee. The spacious interiors have a sitting area and desk space for personal computers with free wi-fi Internet connection available. The bathroom offers fresh towels and bath products to enjoy a soak in the tub or rejuvenating shower.
FACILITIES: Restaurant on site / a pool bar and a beach bar / 2 outdoor swimming pools / Spa & fitness room / 20m from the beachfront / shopping centre within 50 meters of the hotel and 12 km to city centre
DIVING: Day trips are organised by one of many dive operators in Phuket, and includes return hotel / dive centre transfers
Read more. . . . .
LIVEABOARD (2 nights / 3 days diving inclusion)
Cruising around the Similan Islands - Thailand’s National Marine Park for 3 days on a beautiful liveaboard. The MV Somboon 4 and her sister ship MV Somboon 3 are unique amongst Phuket liveaboards. They have no fixed schedule, allowing you the flexibility to hop on and off at your convenience making them the easiest boats to plan your liveaboard adventure around.
All cabins have air-conditioning and the trip includes all meals, fruits, drinking water, coffee, tea, divemaster supervision, tanks, weights, weight belts, transfer to and from your hotel / dive vessel (from selected areas only).
Departing Patong on morning of 24th October, dive 24, 25 & 26th. Overnight on liveaboard for the 24th & 25th with a late afternoon transfer back to Patong on the 26th. Dive sites include: Similan / Koh Bon / Tachai /Surin / Richelieu with a total of 11 dives
28th October, Saturday
Flight Johannesburg to Doha, departing 20:50pm and arriving 06:00am
29th October, Sunday
Flight Doha to Phuket, departing 06:55am and arriving 17:35pm
29, 30, 31, October and 3, 4, 5th November
6 nights accommodation in Patong, breakfast included
1, 2 & 3 November
2 nights (1 & 2nd November) accommodation and 3 days diving (1, 2 & 3rd) on a Similan Liveaboard to dive the Similans (divers)
Early morning speed boat departure from Patong to Similan Islands on the 1st and late afternoon return on 3rd Novemer.
30th October: 3 dive day King Cruiser - 3 dives (MONDAY), Patong area
31st October: 2 dive day, Racha Yai - 2 dives (TUESDAY), Patong area
1 - 3 November: 2 nights / 3 days / 10 dives liveaboard safari to Similan Islands (Koh Bon, North Point, Torinla Pinnacle, Richelieu Rock, Boulder City, Shark Fin Reef,
Anita Reef & Christmans Point)
4th October: optional - Visit Phi Phi Island – optional diving day
5th October: day off
6th November, Monday
Midday ferry from Phi Phi Islands to Phuket
Late afternoon transfer to the airport
Evening departure on flights from Phuket to Doha, departing 19:35pm and arriving 22:00pm
Late night arrivial in Doha
7th November, Tuesday
Early morning flight from Doha to Johannesburg, departing 02:40am and arriving 10:00am
* Return economy flights Johannesburg / Phuket / Johannesburg and airport taxes
* Scheduled road and ferry transfers
* Divers - 6 Nights full board 4* resort accommodation in Phuket, superior room including breakfast (upgrade options available)
** 2 dive trips with a total of 5 dives
** 2 Night / 3 day liveaboard accommodation to Similan Islands, full board, all soft drinks and 24 hour snacks (11 dives over 3
* Non-divers - 8 Nights full board 4* resort accommodation in Phuket, superior room including breakfast (upgrade options available)
* Items of a personal nature
* Meals & drinks not mentioned
* Tips, service charge and government taxes on local purchases (21%)
* Equipment rental
* Night dives, land tours
* Spa services, telephone calls, mini-bar purchases
* Travel Insurance, diving and medical insurance
* On the liveaboard - National Park Entry fee (approximately THB 500 per park + THB 200bht per day) & equipment rental full set
THB 500 per day (not including torch & computer)
DIVING IN THAILAND
PHUKET WEST COAST DIVE SITES: Phuket and the nearby islands of Racha Yai and Rachai Noi offer some great diving. The visibility is usually good, and in green season from June to October the visibility regularly exceeds 30 metres. Clown Frogfish, Ornate Ghost Pipefish, Turtles and Mantas are all frequently sighted around here. Scuba diving in Phuket continues year round with the best conditions being in the high season of November to April, with the absolute peak conditions being towards the end of this period. In low season the weather is less predictable, featuring more rain and choppier seas. However, schedules for trips to local sites are only rarely interrupted by weather conditions. Day trips leave from Phuket in the morning and return mid to late afternoon, depending on your dive site destinations.
Koh Dok Mai: An island located one hour east of Phuket this is a walldive where you can spot everything, however look especially for the sea horse hanging on to the gorgonias and the many species of moray eels. Positioned roughly in between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi
King Cruiser Wreck: The 85m King Cruiser was a ferry boat that plied the route between Phi Phi and Phuket. Then one fine day in 1997 it inexplicably sunk and created a perfect wreck dive. Positioned roughly in between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi.
Shark Point: So named for the large numbers of docile leopard sharks that can be found around its base, Shark Point is a lovely dive site that absolutely teems with life including Seahorses, Ribbon Eels, Turtles. It is positioned roughly in between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi and considered a 5* dive site.
Anemone Reef: Located a short distance north of Shark Point, Anemone Reef is another densely packed ecosystem and many dive operators offer day trips that cover both sites. Positioned roughly in between Phuket and Koh Phi Phi and considered a 5* dive site, it also includes Seahorses, Ribbon Eels, Turtles and Leopard Sharks.
Rachai Noi: Racha Noi is the more isolated of the two islands and is a popular dive-site for more experienced divers, as the depths are generally greater and the currents frequently stronger.
Rachai Yai: Racha Yai's best diving is off its east coast which makes it attractive during Phuket's off-season in the summer. Although visibility varies, it can be as good as 25 metres or more and offers 3 great wreck dive sites.
Hin Daeng & Hin Muang: Located south east of Phuket, these are two of the best sites in Thailandand also the deepest with drop offs to 70 metres. Easily reachable from Phuket on a day trip, they are definitely worth a visit. Mantas are the norm here and 8 metre Whalesharks are a common site. Visibility is often 30+ metres. Due to the secluded location of these sites, they are usually only offered during high season from October through to May.
PHI PHI ISLANDS: Phi Phi is easily reached from Phuket and its powder soft beaches and dramatic limestone cliffs make it a popular excursion for visitors. Jutting out of the azure blue ocean 50km east of Phuket and famed by the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio this island (which lies in a national park) offers superb diving and an abundance of marine life. Dive sites here differ substantially from the other destinations offered in Thailand - with dramatic limestone walls decorated with healthy soft corals, gorgonians branching out from the many colourful walls, and dives ending in shallow coral gardens. In additional sightings also include an array of small creatures such as pipefish, seahorses and razorfish as well as their larger cousins like leopard sharks, reef sharks, crocodile long-toms and turtles. Phi Phi Island can be dived as day trips out of Phuket or Krabi but preferably from the island itself. The dive sites can also be visited by liveaboard, taking in the best diving the area has to offer in that season.
Bida Nai: Koh Bida Nai which means "Inner Father Island" in Thai, is a limestone island that rises dramatically from the sea to the south of Phi Phi Leh. Along with its twin site of Koh Bida Nok, this is regarded as Phi Phi's best dive area. This site offers fields of staghorn coral, black tip and leopard sharks as well as a rich supply of baitfish. A delightful shallower part of the reef includes cuttlefish, crocodile long-toms and squid.
Bida Nok: This tiny limestone island jutting out from the sea, is located 2 kilometres south of Phi Phi Island and is one of Phi Phi's best and most popular dives. The reef itself is exceptionally healthy and is home to numerous moray eels, bird wrasse and bearded scorpionfish to name a few. Appearances by larger fish are common with leopard sharks and grey reef sharks frequently sighted.
Garang Heng: A dive site that is only visited by the day trip boats from Phi Phi Island
Hin Dot: "Chimney Rock" is located just outside of Tonsai Bay which is the main harbour in the Phi Phi Islands, on the south side of Phi Phi Don
Loh Samah Bay: This bay is situated on the south side of Phi Phi Leh next to Maya Bay and is another area popular with snorkelers. The diving is centred on a tiny cliff islet at the entrance to the bay.
Maya Wall: Maya Bay is located on the west side of Phi Phi and became famous as it was featured in the film "The Beach". It is a popular snorkelling destination and attracts lots of tourists wanting to see the iconic deserted paradise depicted in the film. This means it is often crowded but despite the people and boats the natural beauty of this area of the Phi Phi Islands is stunning and it's easy to see why Hollywood chose this setting.
Phi Phi Shark Point: Located 8 km south east of Phi Phi and is a submerged rock.
SIMILAN ISLANDS: The Similan Islands are breathtaking and renowned for both above and below water natural beauty, with visibility often in excess of 30 metres. The Similans are voted one of the top ten dive destinations in the world with an array of distinctly contrasting dive sites. This includes relaxing reef dives as well as huge underwater boulder formations with swim-throughs, giant Gorgonian Fans, vibrant coral gardens, a vast array of aquatic critters, White Tip and Leopard Sharks. The best way to visit all 25 or so scattered sites is by liveaboard but you can also get a taste of these islands by way of day trips out of Phuket or Khao Lak. Distances are long varying between 45 - 90kms. Important to note is that these islands are open only between the months October to May annually.
Anita's Reef: On the east coast of Similan Island with gentle sandy slopes boasting some stunning coral bommies, table & staghorn corals, Lionfish, Oriental Sweetlips and the less commonly seen Clown Triggerfish.
Breakfast Bend: The unusual name of Breakfast Bend comes from the gorgeous dawn light that you can experience here in the early mornings. This dive site is located on the east side of Koh Bangu, Similan Island number 9.
Chinese Wall: Located at the southern point of Koh Miang, Island number 4, Chinese Wall is named after the collection of granite boulders that stretch away from the southern point of island. The boulders begin above the surface and continue down underwater to a depth of almost 30m. These rocks form the swim-throughs, valleys, caverns and caves that make this site a diver's playground.
Christmas Point: The uniquely impressive topography of enormous granite boulders, arches and swim-throughs makes diving here unlike anywhere else. Using the walls as substrate, soft corals and huge sea fans proliferate and act as the backdrop to the passing sharks, jacks and fusiliers.
Deep Six: Located just to the north of Koh Pabu, this is one of the deeper sites in the Similans. Huge granite boulders form a rocky V-shaped ridge that starts just 5m below the surface and plunges down beyond 40m. The 'V' points north into deep water and the sides of the 'V' form the reef slopes of the island.
Donald Duck Bay: Donald Duck Bay is located on the north side of Island Number 8, and is named after a rock on the north side of the bay that looks like Donald Duck's head. The rock is the most recognised and photographed landmark in the Similans and is best viewed looking in from the outside of the bay on the east side.
Elephant Head Rock: This site gets its name from a rock that sticks out of the water and resembles a half submerged elephant. This site is another Similan favourite and its huge granite boulders have created a myriad of amazing swim-throughs, tunnels and caverns. Resident sea-life including groupers, turtles, trevallies and reef sharks. Sometimes a little bit tricky with current but always exciting, Elephant Head Rock is a 'must do' site.
Hideaway - Located just off the southern point of Koh Ha, Island no. 5, Hideaway is often referred to as 'Barracuda Point', however schools of barracuda are not that common here any more.
North Point: Located about 50m out from the north side of Koh Bangu, North Point is the most northerly tip of the island chain. As it is just east of Christmas Point, it offers similar conditions - a huge granite boulder dive site where currents can be strong. Visibility is generally excellent between 20-40m.
Richelieu Rock: Richelieu Rock is one of the most famous dive sites in Thailand and stands as an isolated pinnacle to the east of Surin Islands. The site is marked by the top of the pinnacle which is 1 meter above sea level at low tide and submerged at high tide. Forming a horseshoe the pinnacle falls steeply to the sourounding sandy bottom at a depth of 35 meters. The south side is a secured bay with a slope that gently falls to the deep whereas the rest of Richelieu Rock comprises of sheer walls, rocks and small caves that are home to various marine life. Due to the diversity of small and large creatures Richelieu Rock is a paradise for underwater photographers. Ghost pipefish, frogfish, harlequin shrimp, seahorses and stonefish can be spotted here. Cuttlefish are mating here in large groups and you can find almost any kind of moray eel. And of course there are occasional sightings of Manta rays and Whale sharks.
Sharkfin Reef: Sharkfin Reef is a long submerged rocky ridge. At low tide the ridge breaks the surface of the water to resemble a shark fin.