SCUBA DIVING THAILAND

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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.

Different regions have different climates, and Gulf of Thailand diving is best from May through September, while the west coast and Andaman Sea is best from October through April.

BEST DIVE LOCATIONS

KHAO LAK

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

 

KOH PHI PHI

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.

 

KOH CHANG

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.

 

KOH LANTA

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.

 

KOH SAMUI

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

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

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

KOH RACHA

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 

 

KOH TAO

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

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

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 

 

KRABI

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 

 

RANONG

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 SIMILAN ISLANDS

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.

CRITTER HIGHLIGHTS

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

Octopus

If you are lucky maybe you’ll see one of the more rare species.

Mola Mola

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

One of my favorite sitings in Raja Ampat, and the only place I have ever seen them!

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.

Manta rays

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.

Many times coming from the US, you will have layovers in places like Taipei, Hong Kong or Tokyo. From Europe you might have layovers in Dubai or Istanbul.

Most of the time I visit Thailand by flying into Bangkok, but I have also tried the various land borders with Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. You wont be able to cross from Myanmar.  

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.

You can also apply at a consulate or embassy in your home country, to get a 60 day visa. You can still extend for an extra 30 days, even if you already have the 60 day visa.

COMMON QUESTIONS

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.

For each individual location you can click the guides above for information on where to stay at each place, or browse hotels with the search bar above from a trusted online booker!

OUR FAVORITES

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.

To make them even more amazing we recommend a liveaboard dive boat that starts in Koh Phangan, and lets you dive all the best sites, all the way into Myanmar.

THAILAND TRAVEL INFO

IMAGE SOURCE: SHUTTERSTOCK

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”?

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