The diving is generally located around offshore islands, offering fringing reefs, pinnacles & even offshore sea mounts that attract plenty of pelagic action.
The west coast faces the Andaman Sea and offers excellent diving all the way up the coast. In the southern Andaman, Ko Lipe has a few dive operators & Ko Lanta is well placed to offer diving to many top dive spots. Ko Phi Phi & Phuket also offer excellent diving opportunities and further north, the stunning Similan & Surin Islands are mainly reached by liveaboards from Phuket & Khao Lak.
On the east coast, most of the diving is concentrated around Ko Tao, the northern most of 3 popular tourist islands in the Gulf of Thailand: Ko Samui, Ko Phang-ngan & Ko Tao. It is possible to reach the best sites from all 3 islands, with Samui offering the most developed tourist facilities, but also the longest journey times to dive sites.
There is also diving on other islands on the east coast, such as Pattaya, just a short distance from Bangkok & Ko Chang, a little further east.
Thailand’s most famous visitors are Manta Rays & Whalesharks, which can be seen on both coasts if you are lucky. The dive spots most renowned for sightings are Richeleu Rock, just north of the Similan islands, plus Hin Daeng & Hin Muang in the Southern Andaman & Chumpon Pinnacle in the Gulf. Reef sharks & Turtles can also be seen, as well as graceful Leopard Sharks. The Andaman coast is also known for a wide variety of macro delights.
There are plenty of options for both day-boat & liveaboard diving in Thailand. The Similans, one of Thailand’s most famous dive destinations on the west coast, is usually visit by Liveaboard from either Phuket or Khao Lak, while most other dive sites in the country can be reached by day boat.
The best months for diving on the west coast are from November until May, with calm conditions, good visibility & almost permanent sunshine. From June to October, conditions can be affected by the Indian monsoon, but there are still many days when conditions are good for diving.
The best conditions on the East coast are usually from May to August, although most dive resorts offer diving all year round.
The cost of diving in Thailand varies greatly from island to island, depending mainly on how far away you are from the dive sites. In some spots, it is possible to make a couple of boat dives for as little as US$25 - US$50, but paying more will generally mean better diving. Liveaboards to the Similan Islands & beyond are the most expensive diving option, but include accommodation on the boat, plenty of diving and some of the the country's best diving.
Travel & living costs have risen in recent years, but are still very relatively cheap. It is possible to fly within Thailand cheaply, with buses, trains & ferries competitively priced as well.
Accommodation ranges from basic, traditional beach bungalows for just a few dollars up to international standard 5-star hotels.
Traveling around Thailand is both cheap & easy. There are international airports in Bangkok, Phuket & Ko Samui offering easy access to almost all Thailand’s best diving areas. There is also a wide range domestic budget airline options & reliable bus, train & ferry connections.
Tourists are granted a 30 day visa upon entry in Thailand & it is usually possible to arrange a 60 day visa in advance. Citizens of the following countries are only eligible for 15-day visas:
Bhutan, China, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Ukraine.
If you are coming to Thailand to study a longer diving course and are able to get a letter from your dive shop or course provider, it may be possible to arrange a 1-year, multiple entry student visa from your Thai embassy or consulate.
Thailand is famous the world over for its friendly people, tolerant attitude & great food. The country’s 70 million inhabitants are predominantly Buddhist, while the southern tourist islands on the Andaman coast are Musilm. The north is home to many traditional & culturally unique hill tribes.
Thailand is a very popular and safe place to visit, with many friendly locals & great tourist facilities. In built up areas, petty crime is occasionally a problem and some political unrest continues in the deep south of the country, although this does not affect the main dive destinations in any way.