SCUBA DIVING THAILAND
Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in the world, and certainly one of the most visited in Asia, and for good reason. The beaches are white, the culture fascinating, and the weather warm. So it’s no wonder that the scuba diving in Thailand is just as sought after.
Thailand has a lot of options when it comes to scuba diving, in a lot of different locations.They are all unique, but the things you want like white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, warm clear waters, and great diving, they all have in common.
Table of Contents
BEST TIMES TO DIVE
Since Thailand is in the tropics, it is warm all year round. The warmer and wetter monsoon season is during May to September, and is more dry around November to mid-March.
BEST DIVE LOCATIONS
This is a gateway to the Similan and Surin Islands, with or without liveaboards. Be sure to dive the famous sites of Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Koh Tachai.
See our full guide to Khao Lak Diving
Besides the diving, there are also the iconic island hopping tours to those beautiful limestone formations and clear water bays that you see in movies and posters.
See our full guide to Koh Phi Phi Diving.
This is also a more unknown location when it comes to diving, but also has a great wreck, nice beaches, and great dive sites to explore. You wont be disappointed in this one.
See our full guide to Koh Chang.
This is a more quiet version of Koh Phi Phi, but you can still visit the same dive sites, such as Hin Muang and Hin Daeng to see manta rays. You’ll also love the beaches here.
See our full guide to Koh Lanta HERE.
The bigger brother of nearby Koh Tao, Samui lies just south and shares a lot of the same dive sites, and also has it’s share of great beaches and relaxing retreats.
See our full guide to Koh Samui HERE.
Koh Lipe is pretty far off the beaten path, and as secluded as it can get in Thailand. It’s well worth the trip though, as you will get some great diving away from the crowds.
See our full guide to Koh Lipe HERE.
Koh Phangan is an island in the gulf, and is one of the three sisters with Koh Tao and Samui. Phangan offers the best base for the famous site of Sail Rock. There is also plenty to do on land as well.
See our full guide to scuba diving Koh Phangan
This is near the popular backpack haunt of Phuket, but completely different in atmosphere. This much quieter location still has great diving, but with fewer people.
See our full guide to Koh Racha Diving
Probably one of the most popular and busy little islands, this is a backpacker and scuba diver mecca. You will enjoy this island that seems to be set up just for scuba diving and nightlife.
See our full guide to Koh Tao Diving
Phuket is a popular base for divers because you can visit a lot of the popular sites listed here, all from Phuket. Its also a beautiful location, with plenty to do out of water.
See our full guide to Koh Tao Phuket
Pattaya is most well known for it’s seedy nightlife, but its is also known to divers for a lot of good wreck dives. So if you are here more for wrecks, this might be the place to go.
See our full guide to Pattaya Diving
The picturesque scenery of the limestone cliffs and the beautiful beaches will make sure your dive trip here is one to remember. Get some great dives in, some rock climbing, and a lot of relaxing.
See our full guide to Krabi Diving
A lot of liveaboards start in Ranong, making it a gateway to Burma Banks and the Mergui Archipelago, as well as the Similan Islands. This boat trip is the best in Thailand.
See our full guide to Ranong Diving
The great dive sites of Similan Islands have even reached our list for the Top 100 Dive Locations in the World, so no matter where you visit them from on the coast, just make sure you do!
See our full guide to Similan Islands Diving.
Lots of nudibranch species
Nudi lovers will be glad to know they can find different species around the country.
Clownfish and their anemones
You’ll see plenty of anemones with their Nemo residents
If you are lucky maybe you’ll see one of the more rare species.
Normally seen around Bali but have been seen in other places like Alor.
white and black tip shark
Head to the Similan Islands to see lots of these guys.
Wobbegong and walking sharks
Lots of cuttlefish
The cutest of all cuttles
Whale sharks, dolphins, pilot whales and even humpbacks
During certain seasons and in the right places, you might just see them all.
These big guys are majestic, and best chance to see them is in the Andaman Sea
Schools of jacks
If lucky you can dive through huge schools that blot out the sun.
There are many many more incredible species you will run into, as well as huge numbers of common species and schools, and lets not forget the countless species of healthy corals.
Need scuba gear?
Check out our gear reviews
HOW TO GET TO THAILAND
If you click on the dive location/city that you are interested above, you will find more specific information on how to get to those specific spots within Thailand, but nearly always you will fly into Bangkok before heading to your location.
VISA INFO FOR AMERICANS
Americans get a 30 day entree on arrival by air, but if you want ot stay longer you can extend your visa at one of the consulates for another 30 days.
Still undecided about where to visit? Let me help a little more. Here are some suggestions based on questions I’ve gotten from readers:
WHAT SITES ARE A CLOSE VISIT FROM BANGKOK?
Pattaya is not far from Bangkok, and has some decent diving. But if you want a more island-like setting, just take a train or bus down the peninsula towards the likes of Koh Tao and the rest.
WHERE ARE THE BEST WRECKS?
There are a few wrecks in most areas, so I can’t name them all. The HMS Khram, the Petchaburi Bremen and the Hardeep Wreck of Samee San are all near Pattaya, and Koh Chang has a great wreck dive as well.
WHAT DIVE LOCATIONS ALSO HAVE GREAT BEACHES?
All of them. Although Thai beaches can be to popular and overcrowded at times, you are never going to run out of them. Check out Koh Phangan or Koh Lanta for some of the best. They also have beautiful island hopping tours from there.
IS SCUBA DIVING AND TRAVEL SAFE IN THAILAND?
This always depends on your definition of “safe”, but I have never felt anything but welcome in this country. Yes, there are some poor areas, but even in the dirtiest slums I felt safer than I do in Detroit or New York City or London.
As for the diving itself, I find that there are mostly very legit and high quality dive operations here. I have been to much worse in Mexico, Belize and the Caribbean. They all seem to be Westerner owned, and up to PADI regulations and safety. They will take care of you.
There have been stories of shabby instructors in Koh Tao, just because there are so many and so many guests, but jsut make sure you are aware of PADI regulations, and dive with a reputable shop and you’ll be fine.
WHERE TO STAY
Ever heard of PADI Travel? Yep, you can now book your dives and rooms with the biggest name in scuba diving! Trust me, you want to book you dream dive trip with the most trusted name in the industry!
Click the button to start browsing dive resorts and destinations.
As for finding accommodation and a good dive shop, it really depends on the specific location. Some locations like Koh Tao and have unlimited options, while others there are much fewer.
It was very hard to choose just one favorite in Thailand, but I think we have to choose the Similan Islands, which also happen to be listed in the top 100 in the world, so you know the sites have to be good.
THAILAND TRAVEL INFO
Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is located in Southeast Asia with the coasts of the Gulf of Thailand to it’s east and the Andaman Sea to the west. It borders Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia to the south.
Capital city of Thailand: Bangkok
Population: Approximately 66,720,153
Currency of Thailand: Official currency is Thai baht (THB).
Official Language of Thailand: Official language is Thai.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Thailand
There are 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thailand, three are cultural and the two are natural.
- Ban Chiang Archaeological Site
- Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex
- Historic City of Ayutthaya
- Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns
- Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries
See a list of Thailand’s UNESCO sites with more details HERE.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the real name of Bangkok is “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”?