Should you visit Similan Islands or Penang?
Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel cost comparison between Similan Islands and Penang can help. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.
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.
Just off the northwestern coast of Malaysia is the charming and diverse island state of Penang. As the link between the ancient kingdoms of Asia and Europe's colonial empire, this area is enriched with Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences. This exciting culture is centered in George Town, the main city of the state.
Which city is cheaper, Penang or Similan Islands?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Similan Islands is $163, while the average daily cost in Penang is $93. 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 Penang in more detail.
Travelers usually pay around $122 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.
Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $86 for a double occupancy room in Penang.
On average, meal and food prices in Similan Islands cost around $33 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 Penang travelers spend around $30 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.
Meals for one day
Similan Islands $33
Typical Food prices in Penang
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Penang:
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Penang
Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Penang.
Dinner at Penang Hill:
Private Dinner at THE TOP with Skywalk Experience from Penang:
Private Malaysian Cooking Tour with Lunch from Penang:
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 $120 on transportation in Similan Islands on average per day.
While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $11 per day to get around in Penang.
Typical Local Transportation prices in Penang
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Penang:
Bus From Airport to George Town
Taxi From Airport to George Town
Motorbike Rental (One Day)
Bicycle Rental (One Day)
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Penang
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Penang:
Shared Transfer: Penang Airport to Penang Beach and City Hotels:
Private Transfer: Penang International Airport to Penang Beach or City Hotels:
Private Penang Arrival transfer to Hotel:
Private Economy Penang Airport Transfer-Departure:
Private Airport Transfer: Penang Island to Penang International Airport (PEN):
Penang to Kuala Lumpur transfer with sightseeing(optional):
Penang City to Kuala Lumpur International Airport One-way Transfer:
Penang City to Kuala Lumpur City One-way Transfer:
Penang City Hotels to Kuala Lumpur Airport One-way Transfer:
Penang Arrival Transfer:
Penang Airport Transfer to any Georgetown City Hotel or vice versa:
Escape Theme Park with One-Way Transfer from Penang:
Is it cheaper to fly into Similan Islands or Penang?
Prices for flights to both Penang 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.
Sightseeing expenses in Similan Islands, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $40 per day, per person.
Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $44 per person, per day in Penang. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.
Typical Entertainment prices in Penang
Here are a few typical costs in Penang for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:
Tours and Activities in Penang
Here are a few actual costs in Penang for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:
10 days Non-stop Excitement Peninsular Malaysia Private Tour:
A Fabulous Day in Penang (Private Tour with Lunch):
Full Day Kedah and Mount Jerai Tour with Lunch from Penang:
Full Day Lost World of Tambun Tour from Penang:
Group Tour : Full Day Pulau Penang Exploration with English Speaking Guide:
Group Tour : Half Day Penang Guided Trip:
Orangutan & Charcoal Factory Tour:
Penang Day Tour and Sightseeing:
Penang Day Tour and Sightseeing:
Penang Full-Day Private Customizable Tour with Pick Up:
Penang Heritage Tour:
Penang Hill and Temple Tour:
Typically, people visiting Similan Islands spend on average $8.44 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Penang may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $14 per day on alcoholic beverages.
Typical Alcohol prices in Penang
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Penang:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Similan Islands and Penang, we can see that Similan Islands is more expensive. And not only is Penang much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Penang would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Penang 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 Penang.
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