A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Similan Islands vs. El Nido for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Similan Islands or El Nido?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel cost comparison between Similan Islands and El Nido can help. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Similan Islands

There are places divers like, and there are places divers love. One of the most popular spots to visit the underwater world is at the national park of the Similan Islands in southern Thailand. With 140 square kilometers of land and nine islands, this area is a paradise for those ready to get their feet wet.

The park is made up of nine islands: Ko Bon, Ko Bayu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang, Ko Payan, Ko Paying and Ko Huyong. If these names are a bit too similar for you to easily differentiate, don't worry. Most refer to each island with a number from 1 to 9. Two more islands were added to the park Koh Bon and Koh Tachai in 1998.

Even though the park was only established in 1982, the islands have been around for approximately 65 million years. They are the product of swells of hot magma during the Cretaceous period and smoothed over by glacial ice and water erosion. The reefs beneath the surface are approximately 5,000 years and therefor the oldest in Thailand. Luckily, because of its deep waters, the islands' underwater landscapes were essentially unharmed during the 2004 tsunami.

Each island is covered in lush, tropical jungle and white, sandy coastlines. There is fish of every shape, color and size including the famous "Nemo" clownfish, batfish, barracudas, whale sharks and manta rays.

You'll want to plan your visit around monsoon season. So book a trip sometime between December and April. March is a particularly good time to visit as the winds have died down and the water is crystal clear. The park is closed from May to November.

There are a few tents and bungalows on some of the islands. They are government run, and you'll need to reserve them in advance. Many divers will simply take day trips, or sleep on board boats. There are several organized tour and boat options available out of Phuket, Khao Lak and Ranong. Both areas will likely offer day trips and live-aboard cruises. These cruises typically start at four days and 4 nights, but shorter trips are available. There is an entry fee to the park, along with a daily usage fee for those spending multiple days in the park. This fee is paid to your driver before the trip.

El Nido

El Nido is a coastal destination on the Philippine island of Palawan. It consists of about 45 islands and islets all with beautiful beachfront scenery and plenty of opportunities for experiencing nature above and below the water. Some of the island's best features include limestone karst cliffs, coral reefs, lagoons, coves, and waterfalls.

Which city is cheaper, El Nido or Similan Islands?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Similan Islands is $160, while the average daily cost in El Nido is $36. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Similan Islands and El Nido in more detail.



Accommodation

Travelers usually pay around $120 for a double occupancy room in Similan Islands If you want to be in a premiere location or have high end amenities, you can expect to pay a bit more.

An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $26 in El Nido For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Similan Islands $60
    El Nido $13
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Similan Islands $120
    El Nido $26

Food

On average, meal and food prices in Similan Islands cost around $32 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $13.

In El Nido travelers spend around $11 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Similan Islands $32
    El Nido $11

Local Transportation

Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Similan Islands than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $118 on transportation in Similan Islands on average per day.

El Nido's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $17 per person, per day on transportation in El Nido.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Similan Islands $118
    El Nido $17

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Nido

Also for El Nido, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Van Transfer: One way El Nido to Puerto Princesa: $103
  • Palawan Transfers between El Nido and Puerto Princesa: $30
  • One Way Sharing Van Transfer El Nido to Puerto Princesa: $10
  • El Nido to Sabang Private Transfer: $140
  • El Nido to Puerto Princesa - Private Transfer: $115

Is it cheaper to fly into Similan Islands or El Nido?

Prices for flights to both El Nido and Similan Islands change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Entertainment

Sightseeing expenses in Similan Islands, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $39 per day, per person.

Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in El Nido can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $4.87 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Similan Islands $39
    El Nido $4.87

Tours and Activities in El Nido

For El Nido, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • EL NIDO ISLAND HOPPING (TOUR A)- Lagoons and Beaches with Buffet Lunch: $67
  • EL Nido Tour A: $26
  • EL Nido Tour B: $35
  • EL Nido Tour C: $40
  • EL Nido Tour D: $33
  • El Nido Island Hopping (Tour A) – Full Day: $28
  • El Nido Island Hopping Tour B: $32
  • El Nido Island Hopping Tours(A-D): $25
  • El Nido Nacpan Beach + Lio Beach + Las Cabanas Tour: $82
  • El Nido Nacpan Beach + Lio Beach Tour: $68
  • El Nido Tour A Private Tour: $95
  • El Nido Tour A With Big Or Small Lagoon: $39

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Similan Islands spend on average $8.29 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

Typically, people visiting El Nido spend on average $7.57 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Similan Islands $8.29
    El Nido $7.57


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Similan Islands and El Nido, we can see that Similan Islands is more expensive. And not only is El Nido much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to El Nido would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in El Nido and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Similan Islands would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Similan Islands than you might in El Nido.

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Similan Islands vs. El Nido Travel Comparison

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