Diving in Thailand: the best places for diving, prices and tips for tourists
The warm sun, clean beaches and clear waters of Thailand make it a great diving destination. Real treasures are hidden in the depths of the sea: the remains of sunken ships, the most beautiful gardens of coral reefs and bright outlandish fish.
But in order to see all this diversity of the underwater world, you need to know where and when to dive. In some places, the water is not so clear, and when diving, you will see almost nothing, in others you run the risk of meeting dangerous underwater predators, and at certain times of the year, the weather conditions are simply not suitable for this entertainment.
Thailand is known to have a tropical climate. In the dry season, which lasts from October to March, the temperature fluctuates around 18-32 degrees. During the monsoon season, which begins in June and ends in October, temperatures range from around 26 to 32 degrees.
Such climatic conditions and the fact that Thailand is washed by the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand at once, contributes to the fact that diving there can be practiced almost all year round. The best time to dive into the waters of the Andaman Sea is from November to April.
In the west of the Gulf of Thailand it is recommended to dive from February to May, and in its east - although all year round, though visibility is still better from November to March.
Best Dive Sites
Having decided on when you will explore the underwater world of Thailand, you can proceed to choosing the right place.
The Andaman Sea attracts divers with a variety of underwater inhabitants and beautiful coral thickets. Tourists for whom diving in Thailand is not new, as a rule, choose to dive into the sea, leaving the Gulf of Thailand to beginners. Visibility in its waters sometimes reaches 50 meters. The following places are best adapted for diving:
- Phuket island. This popular tourist island is home to the largest diving center in the entire country. In addition, there are many rocky reefs in the waters near the island, next to which you can meet stingrays and even whale sharks;
- Krabi province. Here you can dive at several points, the most popular of which are the marine reserve, the beaches of Ao Nang and Rialai, as well as the Koh Naa archipelago;
- Phi Phi Islands. It is convenient because most of the hotels are very close to the main diving points;
- Mergui archipelago. More suitable for experienced divers, as some of the islands of the archipelago are still not explored. There you can find a lot of interesting things, and feel like a real pioneer;
- Similan Islands. This place is an archipelago of nine islands. Within the archipelago are the best dive sites not only in Thailand, but throughout Asia: Donald Duck Bay, Elephant Head Rock, Sharkfin Reef, Stonehenge, Snapper Alley, East of Eden.
There are plenty of places for diving in the Gulf of Thailand. It is located south of Cambodia and, despite being rather shallow, is of great interest to divers. Points for diving there are scattered almost along the entire length of the bay:
- Ko Phangan. Three islets that make up a small lunar group. Connect with Ang Thong, Thai National Wildlife Refuge;
- Samui area. Two main points can be distinguished there: Koh Yippon - consisting of 50 small islands, an archipelago, and Sail Rock, teeming with anemones;
- Chumphon Province. It is distinguished by a rich marine fauna, a variety of hard and soft corals and coastal reefs. It is considered a great place for activities such as night diving in Thailand;
- Koh Tao island. There are five main dive sites here: White Rock, Gemini (a group of rock formations), Nanguyang Summit, Green Rock and Chimphon Summit.
Pattaya is one of the most popular places among Thai and visiting youth, and is also washed by the Gulf of Thailand. In the waters near Pattaya, you can see the famous ship "Nardip", which sank there at the end of World War II. In addition to the place where it is located, near Pattaya there are several more interesting places for diving:
- Hin Kuak Maa. Diving there, you can see blue spotted rays, outlandish starfish, moray eels and sea turtles;
- Hin Rap South. It is a rock covered with barrel sponges and corals. Located next to the Blue Rocks, which also impress with their beauty;
- Hin Ran Taek. A small rock formation, next to which, you can find a lot of marine life;
- Koh Chang island. 52 small islands united in an archipelago. Koh Chang is a Thai marine reserve.
Cave divers around the world have long recognized Thailand as one of the most interesting places for cave diving. Almost along the entire coast you can find chalk caves descending directly into the sea. The most famous of them are located in the province of Krabi and in the region of the Phi Phi Islands.
The Twin Cathedral Cave is considered a very interesting place for research. This is one of the main attractions of the Koh Lanta archipelago. Outwardly, it looks like a temple, divided into two halls, where you can watch zebra sharks, squids and turtles.
Near the island of Lanta Yai, you can find many caves with one entrance and one exit, which are considered the safest, since you cannot get lost in them. At the same time, many interesting creatures can be found next to them: whale sharks, tuna, octopuses and even cuttlefish.
More experienced divers should definitely visit Tham Sra Kaeo Cave. It is the deepest in the entire kingdom - the two exits of the cave are connected at a depth of 84 meters under water. The maximum depth to which divers had to dive there is 240 meters. Finding this cave is easy. It is located 20 km from Krabi Town. You can get there along highway number 4, heading towards Phang Nga.
Another very beautiful place is Anemone Reef. There you can see leopard sharks, red corals, and, of course, many different types of anemones. Near the reef is the sunken Royal Cruiser. Its body is densely covered with corals. The wreckage is located at a shallow depth - 25-32 meters, and if you wish, you can not only admire it from afar, but also swim inside.
Recommendations for tourists
Diving in Thailand is a good way to get acquainted with the diversity of the underwater world and fall in love with it once and for all. If you come to the kingdom without knowing how to dive at all, visit, first of all, the training centers. You can find them in almost every local resort. Remember also that without a special permit, which is issued in Thailand by four companies:
- PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors);
- NAUI (National Association of Underwater Instructors);
- SSI (International School of Scuba Diving);
- BSAC (British Diving Club).
All centers in Thailand offer roughly the same list of courses:
- Eco diving
- scuba diving
- Rescue diving
- Diving with mixed gases
- Diving for people with disabilities
Prices for dives and training courses
Depending on the location of the diving center, the cost of diving and training may vary, but on average the prices are about the same. As an introduction, consider the cost of services on Koh Samui.
For beginner divers
|Swimming pool with photography||2500THB|
|Sea dive with a start on the shore + photography||2500THB|
|2 diving boat dives||4500THB|
|2 speedboat dives||5500THB|
For certified divers
|2 diving boat dives||THB 3800|
|Three boat dives||4500THB|
|2 boat dives + speed catamaran||4200THB|
The cost of training courses (PADI system), depending on the theory, practice and number of dives, can be 10,000 - 15,500 THB.
Among all the courses offered, the most popular is the Beginner Diver course, where all the details of the process will be explained to you. And when it comes to independent diving, it is better to give preference to the waters of the Gulf of Thailand. There is not so deep, so this option suits beginners much more than the Andaman Sea. If you want to retire, we do not recommend going to Pattaya - it is too noisy and crowded there.
Beginners should remember that it is desirable to dive underwater from a special water transport. In addition, even experienced divers should not forget that real danger can lurk in the waters surrounding the coast of Thailand. So, on the Similan Islands, sometimes there are sea devils, whose bite is fatal to humans. But sharks, being dangerous predators, still arouse interest among divers. You can swim with them in the waters of the Surin National Park.
Once in Thailand, do not miss the moment to go diving, because it will give you a lot of pleasant sensations. In addition, the next time you visit, you may not have such an opportunity - the Thai authorities may well ban diving for a while due to a sharp decline in the coral population.