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

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.

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.

Penang

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 $157, while the average daily cost in Penang is $92. 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.



Accommodation

Travelers usually pay around $116 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 $84 for a double occupancy room in Penang.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Similan Islands $58
    Penang $42
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Similan Islands $116
    Penang $84

Food

On average, meal and food prices in Similan Islands cost around $31 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 $12.

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.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Similan Islands $31
    Penang $30

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Similan Islands

For Similan Islands, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Thai Akha Kitchen Cooking Class & Local Market Tour: $23
  • Tom Yum Thai Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $23
  • Asia Scenic Thai Cooking Class: $25
  • Siamese Cookery House Thai Cooking Class in Bangkok: $26
  • InFusion Cooking Classes in Koh Samui: $26
  • Sompong Thai Cooking Class: $27
  • Galangal Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $28
  • Lanna Smile Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai: $29
  • Pum Thai Cooking Class in Patong Beach: $31
  • Chocolate Cooking Class at SO Sofitel Bangkok: $31
  • Thai Cooking Course Hua Hin: $31
  • Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy: $31

Typical Food prices in Penang

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Penang:


  • Snack
    $1.89
  • Dinner at The Suffolk House (for 2)
    $81
  • Lunch at Sakae Sushi (for 2)
    $68
  • Lassy Juice
    $1.65
  • Dinner for 2
    $3.55
  • Street Stall Food
    $0.66
  • Casual Lunch (for Two)
    $4.49
  • Italian Lunch (for Two)
    $11

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Penang

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Penang.

  • Bachelor's Pizza Co. at EPiC Food Hall: $1.75
  • US PIZZA in Malaysia: $3.70
  • US PIZZA in Malaysia: $3.70
  • US PIZZA in Malaysia: $3.70
  • Pizza Mansion in Klang Valley: $19
  • Cooking Class With Garden Tours in Penang: $38
  • Local Evening Food Tour in Kuala Lumpur: $40
  • Bayu Balau Beach Resort 2D1N Stay at Standard Room with Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner: $41
  • Kota Kinabalu City Night Tour with Seafood Dinner: $43
  • Kuala Selangor Fireflies Night Tour with Seafood Dinner and Boat Trip: $43
  • Countryside Village Walk and Cooking Tour at Kota Kinabalu: $45
  • Sunset and City Night Dinner Cruise with Complimentary Drinks in Kota Kinabalu: $45

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 $116 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.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Similan Islands $116
    Penang $11

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Similan Islands

Also for Similan Islands, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Krabi/Phuket Airport Transfers (KBV/HKT) for Krabi & More: $15
  • Private Phuket Airport Transfers (HKT) for Phuket and Other Areas by Oriental Holiday: $18
  • 7 Spa Luxury Spa Treatments in Pattaya with Round Trip Transfers: $26
  • Kata Rocks Resort & Residences (8D7N) with free COE Application and Airport Transfers: $2,321
  • Private Bangkok and Pattaya Airports Transfers (UTP, DMK or BKK) for Pattaya: $31
  • Private Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) Transfers for Chiang Mai by TTD: $12
  • Private Chiang Mai International Airport Transfers (CNX) for Chiang Mai and More: $16
  • Private City Transfers between Ayutthaya and Bangkok by TTS: $53
  • Private City Transfers between Bangkok and Pattaya by TTS: $53
  • Private City Transfers between Bangkok and Pattaya, Ayutthaya, Hua Hin & More: $46
  • Private City Transfers between Bangkok and Pattaya, Ayutthaya, Hua Hin & More by TTD: $43
  • Private City Transfers between Hat Yai and Pak Bara Pier: $68

Typical Local Transportation prices in Penang

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Penang:


  • Local Bus
    $1.42
  • Island Ferry
    $0.57
  • Bus From Airport to George Town
    $0.64
  • Taxi From Airport to George Town
    $11
  • Motorbike Rental (One Day)
    $7.09
  • Bicycle Rental (One Day)
    $2.36

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Penang

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Penang:

  • [Exclusive Sale] Private Langkawi International Airport Transfers (LGK) for Langkawi: $12
  • [6% Flash Sales] Private City Transfers for Ipoh and Surrounding Cities: $134
  • [23% Flash Sales] Private Transfers between Desaru and Kuala Lumpur : $194
  • Upside Down House Gallery and Busquarium Tickets with Transfers in Langkawi: $11
  • Tanjung Rhu Mangrove Tour with Lunch and Transfers in Langkawi: $24
  • Sunset Mangrove Cruise Experience with Transfers and Meal in Langkawi: $35
  • Sungai Lebam River Cruise Tour with Transfer within Desaru: $36
  • Shared Transfer: Penang Airport to Penang Beach and City Hotels: $11
  • Shared Timba-timba Island, Mataking, and Pom Pom Boat Transfer: $22
  • Shared Semporna Ferry Transfer for Bohey Dulang, Mantabuan and Sibuan Island: $22
  • Shared Mabul, Kapalai and Gusungan Island Ferry Transfer: $22
  • Shared Bus Transfers for Senai International Airport (JHB): $1.95

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.





Entertainment

Sightseeing expenses in Similan Islands, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $38 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.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Similan Islands $38
    Penang $44

Tours and Activities in Similan Islands

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

  • SHOCK PRICE!! Only at THB10 for Airport Rail Link (ARL) Single Journey Ticket with FREE EMS: $0.30
  • Pattaya Pipo Pony Club Admission Ticket in Pattaya: $1.55
  • Pattaya Sheep Farm Ticket: $2.19
  • Nails, Eyelash, and Waxing Beauty Experience at Ju's Nail: $3.75
  • Ramayana Water Park Ticket in Pattaya: $3.75
  • Wakeboarding Experience at Thai Wake Park in Pattaya: $4.19
  • Pong Yang Adventure Park Experience: $4.49
  • Aquaria Phuket Ticket: $4.95
  • Rejuv Salon Beauty Experiences at Sathon Bangkok: $5.85
  • Nong Nooch Tropical Garden Ticket in Pattaya: $5.89
  • Sleep Salon & Nails Experience in Bangkok: $6.15
  • Kanchanaburi Mallika City Ticket: $6.19

Typical Entertainment prices in Penang

Here are a few typical costs in Penang for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Butterfly Gardens
    $7.33
  • Trishaw Tour (One Hour)
    $7.09
  • Fort Cornwallis Entrance
    $0.47
  • Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi Entrance
    $2.36

Tours and Activities in Penang

Here are a few actual costs in Penang for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast Ticket in Johor: $12
  • Binsuluk River Cruise Tour: $40
  • Dinawan Island Experience from Kota Kinabalu: $46
  • Heritage Staycation at Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion with Breakfast & Guided House Tour: $100
  • Historical Klang & Orchard City of Selangor Walking Tour: $64
  • Ice Skating Experience with Blue Ice Skating Rink in Johor: $4.85
  • Langkawi Private Guided Mangrove River Cruise Tour: $116
  • Little India & Mah Meri Cultural Village Tour: $126
  • Private Island Adventure at Paradise 101 in Langkawi: $49
  • Putrajaya Islamic Walking Tour from Kuala Lumpur: $64
  • Sepanggar Island Diving Experience: $67
  • The Sheep Sanctuary Admission Ticket at Cameron Highland: $1.95

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Similan Islands spend on average $8.10 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.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Similan Islands $8.10
    Penang $14

Sample the Local Flavors in Similan Islands

Also in Similan Islands, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • PB Valley Vineyard and Wine Tasting Tour in Khao Yai: $22
  • Bangkok Pub Crawl by Pub Crawls Thailand: $22

Typical Alcohol prices in Penang

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Penang:


  • Beer
    $1.89


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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Similan Islands vs. Penang Travel Comparison

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