Well known for its stunning diving spots and peaceful beaches, Thailand showcases what an idyllic tropical paradise holiday is. A perennial favourite for tourists, there is a lot on offer regarding marine life and stunning landscapes both above and below the sea.
Diving in the shallow gulf on the east is great for beginners, and there is a strong dive education infrastructure on Koh Tao, Samui and Koh Phangan. However, the best diving is in western Thailand, in the Andaman Sea. Here, lies not only the Similan and Surin Marine Park, but the fantastic southern dive sites of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.
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Similan | Surin islands
Divers come to Thailand from around the globe to encounter whale sharks and manta rays. My scuba journey began on the Island of Koh Tao, specifically for the chance to see whale sharks. These incredible creatures make their way into the gulf and like to swim around the dive sites of Chumphon Pinnacle, and Sail Rock. You can meet them up and down the west coast; I have been lucky to see them at Richelieu Rock and Koh Tachai.
There is a great chance to see large manta rays at Koh Bon, just north of the Similan Islands, usually from January until the park closes in April. Coral dives in the Similan Islands can be spectacular, but (a preference of mine) is the vast underwater boulder seascapes, home to forests of enormous Gorgonian fans. I haven’t seen this type of underwater scenery anywhere else during my time diving.
Thailand is home to one of the world’s most well-known and revered cuisines, encompassing an incredible array of flavours and fresh, healthy ingredients; there will be at least one dish you will fall in love with. As the Buddhist religion is woven deep into the culture here, preparing inclusive meals for those on vegan diets is simply part of life, so you will never feel left out or go hungry. However, some people visiting Thailand for the first time, find the spice level quite explosive. Ensure you learn to say, ‘I don’t want it spicy,’ ‘mai ped.’ Let us know if you are chilli averse, and we will ensure your plant-based treats are tempered accordingly.
Thailand is situated north of Malaysia and south of Laos.
The capital Bangkok is one of the major hubs in Southeast Asia. Once you have arrived in Bangkok, it is simple to take a flight to Phuket, to dive the Andaman side, or Chumphon to dive the Gulf of Thailand.
There are loads of international flights arriving here daily, so you should not have trouble finding one from wherever you are, to one of the most vibrant cities on the planet.
It would be a shame not to spend a few days in Bangkok before or after your dive holiday to experience the night markets, temples and bustle of this city that never sleeps.
No, you need not be highly experienced to dive in Thailand. Moreover, the Gulf of Thailand has many PADI dive schools and resorts catering to any diving level. On the Andaman Sea side, where the famous Similan and Surin marine parks are, diving, in general, is not difficult. Currents are not often strong; if they are, a bit of practice drift diving should do the trick.
Depth-wise, if you plan to dive on the west coast, it does help to have some deep diving certification. This could be a PADI advanced course, PADI deep adventure dive, or as a stand-alone Deep Diver speciality.
Scuba diving in Thailand is not considered expensive. Next to Malaysia, it could be one of the cheapest places in the world to scuba. This is not just for diving but for diving courses as well. Thailand has a thriving scuba education sector with very appealing prices.
The cost of a dive liveaboard in the Similan Islands is markedly cheaper than some other dive destinations in Southeast Asia and certainly compared to liveaboard prices in the Americas. Overall, Thailand is a fantastic destination for entry-level divers, those discovering their first dive liveaboard trip, and those with experience wanting more accessible diving.
Yes! Thailand is arguably one of the best places in the world to learn how to dive. You will find top-quality facilities with a very fair price tag. Suppose you are looking to upgrade your current certification level. In that case, Thailand should also be high on your list with courses from Open Water to instructor development and technical diving.
You could also consider extending your dive certification during a liveaboard trip in the Similan Islands. Perhaps a PADI Advanced course, or a PADI Nitrox certification. For any questions about dive education, get in touch with us.
Thailand can be dived all year round. When the monsoon is hitting the Gulf of Thailand, the weather is great on the Andaman Sea side, and vice versa. Let us know when your planned trip time will be and we can give you the best recommendations.
Thailand is a great place to scuba dive. The diving isn’t perhaps on the same level as Indonesia or the Americas, but it is accessible, well-priced and has fantastic vegan food. The level of dive service is high, and diving on the west coast can often produce some out-of-this-world moments with manta and whale sharks.
When the Similans have their days of remarkable visibility, the underwater topography is second to none.
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