DIVE.in's team of PADI Scuba Instructors presents:

A Complete Guide to Diving in Thailand

Map of Thailand

Weather in Thailand

AVERAGE TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F RAINFALL DAYS — 112mm / 4.4 inches

Water in Thailand

AVERAGE WATER TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F

Currency

Bath

w

Language

Thai (English)

With more than 349 named dive sites, great visibility, perfect warm water all year round, beautiful reefs full of corals and some of the best marine life in the world, Thailand is THE perfect dive destination.

Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, and once you go diving here you’ll see why!

The authors behind the guide:

 

Torben Lonne

Torben Lonne

Dive instructor and Author

Torben spend most of his youth diving and teaching diving. Along his way, he passed Thailand where he worked as a PADI scuba instructor on dive centers and liveabords.

Boby Taylor

Boby Taylor

Thailand Expert and Co-author

Boby has a passion for diving and a love for Thailand. She came here for the first time when she was 12 and been back multible times since.

So, if you're ready we can start planning your dive trip to Thailand. There's much you need to know beforehand, but in this guide, we've tried to make it easily accessible.

Facts about diving in Thailand

  • More reef diving that you can imagine: Thailand as an astonishing 153 km2 of coral reef 
  • Great spots to see Whale Sharks & Manta Rays
  • 2125 different species of fish
  • 24 different Liveaboards in Thailand that are possible to embark on
  • Koh Tao is the place that issues 2. most dive certificates in the world
  • Similan Islands has often been ranked as one of the top diving sites in the world
  • The best time to dive in the Andaman Sea is from November to Apri
  • And the Gulf of Thailand from May to September
  • Thailand can be dived all year round
Go diving, come to thailand

The main diving areas of Thailand

Diving in Thailand is sorted in two main areas:

1. The Andaman Sea, stretching all down the west coast of Thailand

Tropical islands set in the Andaman Sea provide a variety of diving to suit just about everyone. Tropical and coral marine life creates a breathtaking underwater vista that is quite unlike any other. These waters also afford you the opportunity to dive with leopard sharks, whale sharks, and manta rays, amongst other fascinating creatures. Diving areas of the Andaman Sea: Phi Phi islands, Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, Krabi, Phuket, Similan Island/Khao Lak area.

2. The Gulf of Thailand

Diving the Gulf of Thailand is great for a beginner doing advanced courses or for travelers looking for their first dive course.  The gulf also offers amazing spots for experienced divers to enjoy a calm, nice and relaxing dive with the chances to see a whale shark. Diving areas in the Gulf of Thailand: Koh Tao Island and Koh Samui.

There's may reason top go diving in Thailand:

The conditions in Thailand’s water seem made for divers. With warm, clear waters year round and a few hundred dive sites from which to choose, it’s no wonder that divers flock here.

The many dive sites offer options for all levels of divers, from novices to the most experienced. Just about anyone can enjoy this underwater wonderland. This guide will provide you with detailed information about scuba diving in Thailand.

Types of diving in Thailand

Reef Diving in Thailand

There are many beautiful coral reefs to see in Thailand. Fortunately, these reefs are protected by the goverments, preserving them for the benefit of the marine ecosystem – not to mention the pleasure of divers. More than half of the coral reefs are found in Thailand’s 26 National Marine Parks. Three of these parks have been put forward as possible World Heritage Sites: Similan islands, Koh Surin, and Koh Tarutao.

Wreck Diving in Thailand

Several large wrecks have become fascinating artificial reefs teeming with marine life. Some of the more popular wrecks include the HTMS Sattakut, HTMS Khram, and HTMS Chang.

Drift Diving in Thailand

Gentle currents allow for scenic drift dives through the underwater splendor on offer in Thailand. A few of the popular options include Koh Rok Nai, Koh Similan, East of Eden, and Turtle Rock.

Dive pictures of Thiland

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How to dive Thailand?

There are two ways to dive Thailand:

Liveaboard diving in Thailand

Choosing to invest in a liveaboard diving trip is a fantastic way to gain access to the many fabulous dive sites that are a significant distance from the shore. The good news is that there are liveaboard options to suit all needs and preferences. No matter your budget, intended duration of the cruise, the number of divers, or level of expertise, you will find a liveaboard solution in Thailand.

See the selection of Liveaboards in Thailand

Tips for liveaboard diving:

  • Remember to pack proof of your diver certification as well as your log book.
  • You can expect an average of four dives per day on a liveaboard vessel.
  • Rather than heft a heavy dive bag onto a plane, take advantage of the cheap gear rentals (especially for your heavier items).
  • Limit the valuables you pack – onboard safes can be quite small.
  • If you drink alcohol or take any intoxicating substances while onboard you will be banned from diving.
  • Be prepared for night dives as these are frequently offered to certified divers.

Day trip diving in Thailand

Does the idea of staying a full week on a liveaboard give you seasickness? Luckily, there are a wealth of dive centers from which to choose. When it comes to diving in Thailand, the most popular choices are Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Phuket, Khao Lak, and the Phi Phi Islands. Here you can enjoy all the comfort and convenience of day trip diving and experience the beauty of these majestic islands. Tips for diving here:

  • Remember to pack proof of your diver certification as well as your log book.
  • Rather than heft a heavy dive bag onto a plane, take advantage of the fairly cheap gear rentals, with gear of good quality.

“Diving in Thailand is possible all year round”

TORBEN LONNE

Best time to dive in Thailand

Each area also has a different season that is perfect for divers. This also makes diving in Thailand possible all year round. One of the advantages of Thailand’s geographical location is that the water temperature is constant throughout the year. The water temperature is 26 to 30˚C all year round.

Best diving season for Andaman Sea:

Most divers make their way to Thailand between November and April, with the peak tourist season being December and January.

  • Peak diving season: From November to April.
  • Krabi, Phi Phi and Phuket can be dives all year round
  • Koh Libe and Koh Lanta are closed(or mostly closed) from June to October
  • Similands islands National park is open from November 16 to May 15

Best diving season for the Gulf of Thailand:

Thailand offers superb diving conditions for divers of all levels of experience. Warm waters, great visibility, manageable currents, and loads of dive sites at depths from 5 to 40+ meters. The best time to dive in Thailand depends on where you are planning on diving and what you would like to see.

  • Peak diving season: October to April.
  • Best time for whale shark sightings: February to May.
  • Best time of year for manta ray sightings: February to May.
  • Best time to dive the Gulf of Thailand: May to October (off season for the west coast).

Diving in the Similan Island

This small collection of islands is regarded by many as being the prime dive destination that Thailand has to offer.

In fact, it is frequently hailed as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. Here the landscape consists of everything from rock formations to bright corals and gorgonian sea fans. In fact, the beautiful coral gardens and deep rocky gorges are a photographer’s dream.

The Similan islands offer a great variety of diving across several sites. You can either explore sloping coral reefs or intricate rock formation. Similan Island’s reef system is composed bommies where you will be diving in between mounds filled with vibrant-colored corals.

The Similan Islands are dived either on a day trip from Khao Lak or via one of the many Liveaboards in the Similan area. The last option is recommended because you skip the 1,5-2 hour trip each way, and have the option of morning and afternoon dive when the area is less crowded.

Read more about diving in Similan Islands

 

▶ See the amazing diving in The Similan Islands

Diving in Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta continues to be a popular tourist and diving destination after massive restoration efforts following a devastating tsunami. You will enjoy stunning white beaches and amazing dive sites scattered over 70 islands surrounding Koh Lanta. Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are the 2 most popular sites in Koh Lanta.  You can go drift diving over a series of ledges while cruising along strong currents. Underwater photography is popular in Koh Lanta where you can always find huge fishes like manta rays and sharks.

Hin Daeng

Hin Daeng means ‘red rock’. This submerged pinnacle is home to a variety of soft corals in every imaginable shade of red. Although there is plenty of small marine life to attract divers here, it is the lure of manta ray and whale shark sightings for which Hin Daeng is most popular.

Hin Muang

Hin Muang means ‘purple rock’ and, like Hin Daeng, is named for the colorful soft corals that cover this rock formation. Divers will discover the highest vertical wall in Thailand at this site – and what a sight it is! Here you will hopefully see big fish, manta rays, leopard sharks, and grey reef sharks.

▶ See the amazing diving off Koh Lanta
Diving the reef of thailand

Diving in Phi Phi Island

Previously devastated by the 2004 tsunami, Phi Phi Island has stood back and slowly regaining back its crown as a world-famous diving destination. You will surely enjoy warm water diving in protected reefs, pinnacles, vertical drop-offs and miniature underwater caves. The Phi Phi Islands are a quick boat trip from Phuket, with many visitors opting for a day trip to this slice of idyllic (but bit crowded) paradise. This is a very popular dive destination in the Andaman Sea, with loads of easily accessible dives sites for divers of all levels to explore the incredibly beautiful coral reefs.

▶ This is Phi Phi diving

Diving in Krabi

Aside from being a popular tourist destination, Krabi host to most of Thailand’s National Parks. Most of the underwater landscapes in Krabi are pristine coral reefs and pinnacles with sheer drop-offs. Among the long list of diving sites, Koh Yamasan, Koh See and Koh Yung are the most popular sites. These sites are similar to each to where you can explore healthy coral reefs filled with various marine life.

▶ See the fantastic diving you can do from Krabi
Dive the reefs of thailand and see amazing marine life

Diving in Phuket

Despite being hit by a tsunami, the variety of underwater landscape of Phuket is still a popular diving destination in Thailand, if not in the world. Exploring Phuket’s underwater realm will take you to go reef, night, drift and deep diving where you can see barrel sponges, sea whips, gorgonians, groupers, jacks, and barracudas.

You can also have a great wreck diving experience by descending down along a limestone cliff where a former car ferry is resting. You can also plan and explore an artificial structure made up of stone elephants which is a popular icon in Thailand.

Dive trips from Krabi and Phuket, will often also include Hin Daeng, Hin Muang and Phi Phi islands. Or you'll have the option of going on a liveaboard to the Similan Islands

▶ Try going diving in Phuket

Diving in Koh Lipe

This small island located near Malaysia is not yet among Thailand’s most traveled destinations. Being part of a marine park, Koh Lipe has a long list of dive site offering great scuba diving experience. Advanced divers can go drift diving in an inter-connected plateau formed from various pinnacles. Novice divers can also enjoy a similar site but with the protection of shallow coral reefs. Diving along moderate currents in a narrow channel filled with soft corals and large coral bommies is also popular in Koh Lipe.

▶ Experience the diving off Koh Lipe
https://youtu.be/-ZRBW8Ghbts?t=1m18s
Great marine life in Thailand

Diving in Koh Tao Island

Underwater rock formations, tunnels, and swim throughs are the major attraction when you visit Koh Tao Island. The Koh Tao underwater landscape is a very popular destination to learn scuba diving. Many of Thailand’s young traveling tourists pass by and most of them end up doing an open water certification here. Due to the many students, courses in Koh Tao are often done in big groups of 8 students at a time. The massive granite protrusions of Koh Tao are the most visited sites. Here you see a lot of tropical reef fishes while having an amazing wall, deep and drift diving experience. You can also consider diving with sharks wherein Koh Tao’s southwest coast has a good shark population.

▶ Experience the diving on Koh Tao

Diving in Koh Samui

Dive trips from Koh Samui will often go to Sail Rock or to Koh Tao, as diving around Koh Samui isn’t the best. Sail Rock is located some 30 miles (45 kilometers) north of Koh Samui, so it’s prefect for a day dive trip. Another similar site is the Southwest Pinnacles. This is broken granite protrusion covered with soft and hard corals. The natural ledge creates a stunning site for wall diving where you can find jacks, barracudas and leopard sharks.

▶ (Click to watch video) Let's go diving Koh Samui
https://youtu.be/WKJz5gMXRbA?t=11s

Facts and info about diving in Thailand

Current in Thailand

Depending on the location of your dive and the weather conditions, you might encounter strong currents. This is particularly the case with dive sites such as some of those in the Similan Islands where strong currents swirl around rock formations. However, Thai waters offer many sites that tend to have gentle and manageable currents – often allowing for enjoyable drift dives.

Visibility in Thailand

No matter where you dive in Thailand, you can generally be assured of good visibility. On average, visibility in the waters surrounding Thailand measures an impressive 30 meters (100 feet).

Depth

There are dive sites worth seeing at all depths. For recreational divers, there are plenty of beautiful dive spots that range from 5 to 40 meters. For more experienced divers with the relevant qualifications, there are also sites to explore beyond 40 meters.

Snorkeling in Thailand

If you fancy some time on the surface or are going on holiday with non-divers, there are plenty of options for fantastic snorkeling in Thailand. The warm climate and clear blue waters allow for incredible sights from the surface. From turtles to corals and schools of tropical fish, there is a never-ending array of delights in Thailand’s best snorkeling sites.

Have you been diving in Thailand? Let us know what you think of it:

A Complete Guide to Diving in Thailand
4.9 (98.48%) 237 votes

31 Comments

  1. Diana H

    Thanks for the guide, will come in handy when I go to thailand in january.
    Can you recommend any centers to dive with?
    What is the normal price range in Thailand for a ouple of dives?

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Diana H
      Hope it will come in handy. Where in Thailand are you going? Prices vary a lot from region to region and depending on how far there is to the dive spot.
      I think the cheapest I’ve encountered was around 1800 thai bath and most expensive was 6000 bath.

  2. Jake Dell

    Loved the video at the top of the page! There were a few scenes with many black tipped sharks. What kind of sharks are they and do they pose any threat to humans while diving in the beautiful waters of Thailand? Also, any dive spots around Thailand without sharks? Thanks much! JD

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Jake,
      In Thailand you’ll mostly see Nurse and whitetip reef sharks, they are booth very harmless. Just don’t go and bother then, and they’ll leave you be. Most spots are without sharks, but you might be lucky and see one passing by. Sharks are really no threat to divers, as long as you’re not feeding them or spearfishing.

  3. antonio

    Wooow amazing pleace!! I must go to Thailand

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Do it, there’s really great diving. And it’s possible to dive all year round, either in the golf of Thailand or by the Andaman sea.

  4. testo

    I saw about three Sharks.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      That is quite good, most dives we don’t get that many. There are a few dive spots around, where the numbers are going up, but you’ll ahve to be lucky. What dive did you do?

  5. Bibi Jolie

    A must if you love diving! I’ve been diving in Thailand for many years, and it’s really, really amazing. I can recommend Phi Phi, Hin Deang and the Similan islands. You will really great amazing diving, and the Thai people are so friendly, so vacation here is amazing. I started backpacking through Thailand, and now I’m coming back to show this country to my children.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Bibi,

      Yes, Thailand it both beautiful above and below. It sounds like you did a lot of great diving there. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Stevie

    Hello. Does anyone know where in Thailand you can stay and work for accommodation where they also offer diving.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Well, depending on your skills, you’ll be able to find this at a dive center. The location shouldn’t matter, but more what you can offer in return. If you can teach diving then you should go for a paid job, but if you can offer simple skills like marketing, Webdesign, etc. and they are interested in your help you can either get paid like everyone else or go for accommodation and diving.

      There’s plenty of opportunities in Thailand, so it’s more about what you can offer them, than finding the place.

  7. Tim

    Great website and information. Can you recommend the best places to dive in October, as it seems quite a few are closed then. I’m quite new to diving and would like to do a refresher course and 2-3 dives.

    Reply
    • Boby

      October is not the best time for diving in Thailand, as there’s really unpredictable weather all around. Still there are some options that include good diving and a relaxing atmosphere because there’s less tourists.

      The Gulf of Thailand (koh Samui and Koh Tao) can be dived all year round, but from October you can experience some bad weather, big swells and drop in visibility.

      The Andaman Sea would be my pick for this season. The Similan Islands will still not be available, so don’t go to Khao Lak. Most busy and therefore also the places with the most options will be Phuket, Krabi and Phi Phi. Lanta is still a bit slow, but the island is opening op at that point.

      You can do refresher all around, Thailand is full of great dive centers and instructors, and 2-3 days of diving is good for this season.

  8. Abdulrahman

    Great info ! I’ll be in Thailand in July for work. What do you recommend for 1-2 days diving and snorkeling?

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Abdulrahman,

      Nice, great choice :) Sure, we’d love to help you pick the best spot, do you have a “side” picked? The Gold of Thailand or the Andaman Sea? Or do you need recommendations on this as well?

      Let me know, and I’ll help you get a few good days of diving and snorkeling.

  9. Mitch H

    I’m a beginner with open water certification and looking to get a few good dives in Thailand…I’ll be there at the beginning of September. Any recommendations where to go? I hear Koh Tao, Koh Samui, or Koh Phi Phi is best for that time. Of the 3, which would you choose? Or if you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear! Thanks.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Mitch,

      Most of the Andaman Sea is not good for diving in September as there are too much wind and waves. You can still dive at Phi Phi as the diving is often sheltered behind one of the islands, some of the dive sites will not be accessible but it’s still a good option. Especially for a new diver: It’s nice and easy diving with lots of life.

      Golf of Thailand is your best option when you’re new to diving and don’t want to risk ending up in rough sea and a dive with no visibility. Koh Tao is the better option of the two. Here’s nice clear water, good visibility, nice life and a relaxing atmosphere.

  10. Rahul dewangan

    Thanks for the guide.I will go to Thailand in September’s first week.can you recommend any centers to dive with?which center is the best price range in Thailand (jomtien beach) in September for discover dive.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Rahul,

      I can’t recommend any dive centers in Jomtien Beach(Pataya). I really don’t know them that well.

      But don’t use price as a measure of anything! Your first dive is not a place where you want to save money compared to picking the right dive center and the right instructor. Once there, or before you go, talk to a few centers, and ask how they conduct the try dive. How many will be in the group, will it be a shallow dive(if not, don’t go), will they provide pool training(or confined water) or will it just be an open water dive, who will be the instructor(talk to him/her and make sure you feel comfortable with the person how’s taking you down under).

  11. Gary

    Good afternoon
    We are planning a trip to Thailand. We want to visit Bangkok, Chang Mai and then 1 or 2 beach resorts on the Islands.
    I have never dived before but love snorkling. I think now I want to try diving.
    Could you recommend the best Island or Islands to take the PADI course?
    If I get to Thailand and I have already got my certificate does this change your suggestions.
    If you recommend some Islands what time of year is best. As we are at the planning stage we can choose the month.
    Is there 1 or 2 Islands with a short crossing or easy transport? When we go down to the islands we can either have 4 or 5 nights in one place or 3 nights in each. I expect if I have to take my PADI course I will need at least 3 days in one place?
    If I am not diving I am interested in the best islands or resorts for snorkling. We would also like to be near some towns and land based activities. We are not looking for quiet just beach resorts.
    Just in case my age makes a difference to your suggestions I am in my 50’s. No moon parties needed!!!
    Thank you in advance if you can offer any help or advice. We are in the early stages of planning so any suggestions will be great.
    Best wishes

    Reply
    • Julia

      When you’re there might go for Koh tao they are great for a open water course(I did mine there) and it’s nice diving for beginners and snorkelers as well. It will also fit with beach and it’s quite easy to get there from Bangkok, so it might be a really god pick for you. There’s plenty of things to do on KOh Tao, so it’s a win win. KOh tao, does have some parties, but not at all anything that needs to bother you, just pick a hotel a bit outside the town and you’re good. There’s plenty of travellers on the island that’s not there for the party.

      For other suggestions, you could also do Krabi or Koh Lanta, but that’s on the other side of Thailand. Therefore my pick would still be Koh Tao.

  12. amir

    I am an Iranian diver. How can I diving in your country? Please give me a complete guide on how to get a visa and a donation. Thank you.

    Reply
  13. David

    Good afternoon,
    We are thinking about going to Thailand in November. What would be the best location to stay for a great scuba diving vacation? What area

    Reply
  14. Megha

    Thank you for such useful information on your site. I’m planning a trip to Thailand in December and I want to do open water certification. Which place would you recommend for Open water course?
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Megha,

      Teh Gulf of Thailand, would be the best place for a dive trip in December. IF you’re looking for an open water course, Ko Tao is the best pick in the Gulf.

  15. Nancy Campbell

    We will be on a catamaran from December 30 to January 8th. We start in Phuket and end in Langkawi. Can you recommend anyone dive shop that might rendezvous with us and take us diving? There would probably be 6 to 8 divers.

    Reply
    • Torben Lonne

      Hi Nancy,

      I’m sure most dive companies, with own boat, will meet you somewhere close to the dive site and let you join. It’s common practice and I’ve seen in plenty of times doing dive trips.

  16. Alan Meitler

    Dear Torbin and Boby:

    I will have completed the basic PADI certification course for open water diving here in the United States, but will not have completed the open water training. I am vacationing in Thailand in February 2018. My language is English. How do I find the PADI dive shops for the Phuket area and for the Similan Islands where an instructor will help me finish my PADI certification? Is PADI widely recognized in Thailand, or harder to find? Thank you.

    Alan

    Reply
  17. Ship23

    Hi, we will be in Phuket this February first week and we plan to then venture to Phi Phi and Krabi. I am interested in going for a Scuba Dive during my trip, could you please suggest which of the three places above would be best and would be great if you could also suggest a nice diving school which is safe and professional please. Thank you so much for the information in the post. Looking forward to hear from you.

    Reply
  18. Shipra

    Hi, we will be visiting Phuket, Krabi and Phi phi coming Feb. Could you please advise which of the three would be best for Scuba Diving and also please suggest some good safe and professional diving schools that i could go for.
    Much thanks!

    Reply

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