Scuba Diving In Thailand

A historic landmark in Thailand

Recognized as the 18th most visited country in the World Tourism rankings, Thailand takes pride in its incredible historical landmarks and commercial centers.

They also boast of natural wonders both lying in its fertile soil and its crystal clear coasts.

Thailand: The Land of the Free

Aside from being a duly recognized member of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Thailand presents several other interesting facts embedded in its history, politics and economy.

Thailand has gained strength as a nation from its sustainable economic advancement. From the 1980s, its booming tourism and strong product exports have contributed to its financial growth.

Bangkok, as the country’s capital city, has become the center of Thailand’s political, commercial and cultural affairs.

Pattaya, Phuket, and Ko Samui are some of its top tourist destinations, known for their cultural landmarks and splendid natural resources.

 

Facts about diving in Thailand

  • Phuket, the largest island in Thailand, is also the most popular diving area with it's 21 kilometres wide and 48 long
  • Diving in Thailand started with the American Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War
  • The first commercial dive center in Thailand opened in Pattaya in 1977
  • Similan Islands has often been ranked as one of the top diving sites in the world
  • Scuba diving is popular all over the Andaman Sea, including Tarutao and Surin islands
  • In the Gulf of Thailand is Ko Tao, known as Turtle Island - also a major diving destination
  • The best time to dive in the Andaman Sea is from November to April, and again June to September
  • The best time to dive in the Gulf of Thailand from May to September
  • However it is okay to dive all year round

 

Diver’s Favorites in Thailand

With its generous weather and great beaches, Thailand satisfies every diver’s expectations for a marvelous diving adventure.

World class beach resorts and live-aboards make diving in Thailand a splendid endeavor. We've put together a gallery of some of the most beautiful diving places and underwater pictures from Thailand:

Similan Islands

Similan Islands, situated in the northern region of Thailand, is probably the country’s best diving destination.

With a wide variety of marine flora and fauna, it might even be considered as one of the best in the world.

Its stunning coral gardens and reef slopes are also known to provide great habitats for octopuses, lionfish, and clownfish.

Diving in Thailand with a clown fish and anemone

A clown fish hiding in anemone - Credit: Bjorn Stefanson

The islands are known to provide homes to a wide variety of attractive marine species.

Divers never fail to spot the majestic whale sharks, manta rays, reef sharks, leopard sharks, and barracudas that frequent this location.

Here's more on Diving Similan Island – Khao Lak Area.

Surrounded by huge boulder formations in its crystal blue seas, exceptional visibility and multicolored underwater sceneries in the Similan Islands will certainly be worth the long travel.

Located 100 km northwest of Phuket, the remote areas of Similan Islands are accessed by several live-aboards. Diving is best in the months of October to May.

Similan island is a top choice when diving in Thailand

The boulder formations and crystal blue seas of Similan - Credit: fomengto

Richelieu Rock

With its grand marine biodiversity, Richelieu Rock is also one of the most visited diving sites on Thailand’s northern coasts.

Richelieu Rock has been distinguished as a favorite stopover of no less than the biggest fish in the ocean, the whale sharks.

The months between February and April are the best period to swim with them.

Learn more about Diving With Sharks.

Due to the dense concentrations of planktonic organisms in the seas around the rock, whale shark sightings are believed to occur around 10% of the time.

Sea anemones, sea fans, and barrel sponges covering the limestone rocks are a common sight as well.

Aside from the majestic whale shark, your eyes will feast on wonderful sightings of yellow boxfish, white-eyed moray eels, 1 meter Malabar groupers and chevron barracuda.

A chance to see whale sharks feed when diving in Thailand

Richelieu Rock is a favorite feeding spot for whale sharks - Credit: Arvydas

Phuket

Situated at the heart of the Andaman Sea, Phuket has always been visited by new and returning visitors alike.

In addition to the diving spots available in its vicinity, its location allows convenient access to the Similan Islands, Hin Daeng and Richelieu Rock.

Two of the most visited diving spots in Phuket are the magnificent King Cruiser wreck and the famous Shark Point.

The King Cruiser passenger ferry wreck has become an underwater attraction for experienced divers due to the huge schools of fish inhabiting the area.

Know where are the Top 5 Of The World’s Best Wrecks.

Because of its extreme depth and powerful currents, this diving spot is not recommended for novice divers.

Other than schooling fish, large lionfish dwelling in its compartments are also priceless treasures discovered in this sunken vessel.

King cruiser wreck is a must when diving in Thailand

Divers delight in these schools of fish that dwell in The King Cruiser wreck - Credit: axel2001

Another diving spot much-loved by divers is the Shark Point (Hin Musang).

It is famous for its abundance of leopard sharks. Due to their docile nature, leopard sharks are favorite subjects for photography hobbyists.

Shark Point provides beautiful sceneries with its lovely mixture of fish and coral habitats.

Here's The Top 5 Must-See Coral Reefs.

Several scorpion fish and lionfish are known to inhabit its atoll. Sightings of puffer fish, Moorish idols and banner fish also make diving in this area a wonderful experience.

Weather conditions are best for diving in Phuket from November to April.

Photographers diving in Thailand love this subject

Shark Point is home to the most photographed leopard shark - Credit: kataleewan intarachote

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are two underwater rock formations lying within Mu Koh Lanta National Marine Park. With the majestic sea creatures living in these boulders located in Thailand’s southern region, these are definitely not the type of diving sites you should miss.

Hin Daeng (the Red Rock) is an underwater formation measuring as high as 3 meters from the water’s surface.

It is frequently visited for its abundance of whale sharks, barracudas and manta rays. Huge schools of jacks and trevallies also swim along its ridge, creating an illusion of a shimmering wall of silver.

Here's our guide in Photographing Manta Rays.

Formed like a giant loaf of bread, Hin Muang (Purple Rock) is great for diving with schools of pelagic fish. Its depths also provide an ideal location to spot leopard and grey reef sharks.

Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are accessible in day trips from Phuket, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi, especially from October to May.

Diving is not safe in these areas during monsoon season.

When diving in Thailand Red Rock has plenty of manta rays

The Red Rock has an abundance of Manta Rays - Credit: gZo

Samui Island

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, the tropical island of Koh Samui is certainly one of the most popular dive sites on the eastern coast of Thailand.

Since the 1970s, it has been a favorite diving destination for divers looking forward to a world class underwater experience.

Samui Island is not only known for the marine organisms inhabiting its crystalline seas; visitors also love the sight of its immense pinnacles, majestic rock formations, and colorful coral reefs.

Located 80 kilometers from the mainland of southern Thailand, Samui Island is best to visit in the months between May and August.

Samui gives world class experience when diving in Thailand

The crystalline seas of Samui Island - Credit: JAKKRIT SAELAO

What more to know about Thailand

The following trivia also makes Thailand a noteworthy country to visit:

  • Thailand is the only Southeast Asian nation which is able to successfully resist the colonization of European powers. Its name is derived from the Thai word Tai which means “freedom”.
  • Thailand, a kingdom ruled by constitutional monarchy, is led by the longest-serving head of state. King Bhumibol Adulyadej has reigned for almost 65 years.
  • With a land area measuring up to a total of 513,000 km2 (198,000 mi2), Thailand is considered to be the world’s 50th largest country.
  • Thailand is the 21st most populous country in the world with 64 million total population.
  • With over 14.5 million tourists, Thailand ranks 18th in World Tourism rankings for the most visited country.
  • Thailand is the world’s largest rice exporter. Other products of export include electronic appliances, computer hardware and cars.
Scuba Diving In Thailand
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About The Author

Torben Lonne

Torben is a top skilled PADI MSDT instructor. He has worked several years with scuba diving in Indonesia and Thailand - and dived most of his life in most of the world.He is also the co-founder and chief-editor of DIVE.in you can always catch him here [email protected]

3 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

      Hi Diana,
      Hope it will come in handy. Where in Thailand are you going? Prices varies a lot from region to region, and depending on how far there is to the dive spot.
      I thing the cheapest I’ve encountered was around 1800 thai bath and most expensive was 6000 bath. This was in 2011.

  2. Jeannie

    Diana, I currently live in Thailand. When diving around Phuket or Phi Phi, I like Sea Bees dive center. I recently did a liveaboard in the Similian Islands and used South Siam Divers dive center and found them very professional. In the Pattaya/Bangkok area, I use Mermaids Dive center. These are the centers that I’ve had experience with and enjoy. The prices vary…in Phi Phi, a 2 tank half day trip was usually around $75 – $100 USD. Around Pattaya, an all day, 2 dive trip including lunch is around $60 – $75 USD.

    Reply

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