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Thailand's Diving Locations

The Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand

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...Good for: Small animals, underwater photography, value-for-money, advanced & beginner divers, snorkelling, non-diving activities
Not so good for: ...

With its warm clear waters crammed with colourful, tropical fish-life and corals, set around stunningly beautiful tropical islands, the Andaman Sea boasts some high quality scuba adventures and certainly offers the best diving in Thailand by far. Discover here the sites you can explore from our liveaboard cruises or dive day trips.

A firm favourite with scuba divers over the past decade or so, Thailand is blessed with gorgeous weather, fantastic beaches, and handy diving a few kilometres from a fun-packed shoreline.

Thailand diving: anemonefish with magnificent anemone - photo courtesy of Marcel Widmer - www.Seasidepix.com

Phuket, Khao Lak, Phi Phi Islands and Ao Nang Beach - Krabi are the top resort locations for a Thailand diving vacation. Phuket is best placed to serve the whole region, and is popular with party-goers, whilst Khao Lak is ideally placed to focus on the northern Thai Andaman Sea. Ao Nang is set on the peaceful and spectacularly beautiful Krabi coastline across Phang Nga Bay, and Phi Phi's magic draws sunseekers and travellers for the beaches and a slice of island-life.

The biggest draw-card here though, are the professionally run dive outfits that have a fantastic range of value-for-money liveaboards cruising around world class dive sites in the Similans, Burma and Hin Daeng.

The picturesque Similan Islands are the most popular Thai scuba destination, with superb underwater scenery and excellent visibility in its aquamarine waters. Huge deep water boulder formations create daring swim-throughs as well as providing dramatic back-drops to its vibrant reef slopes. You can dive here by liveaboard or day trips.

The world famous Richelieu Rock is perhaps the Thailand's most famous dive site, and it rates as one of the top places in the world for diving with whale sharks. Koh Bon and Koh Tachai are great for manta rays and white tip reef shark encounters.

Hin Daeng - Hin Muang is your best chance to see grey reef sharks, patrolling the walls. Besides that, it's also the second home in the Andaman Sea for whale sharks and mantas. Visit Hin Daeng and you'll experience the excitement of diving Thailand's biggest vertical wall. Nearby caves and caverns add to the thrill of adventure.

Koh Samui is the ideal base for exploring the sites in the Gulf of Thailand. The diving may not be quite as varied as in Phuket and the Similan Islands, but there are some very good dive spots around Samui and Koh Tao which can be combined with a stay at one of Samui's excellent resorts.

Thailand's Dive Sites

For more detailed information on the best sites in Thailand, click on the links below:

Andaman Sea

Map of Thailand (click to enlarge in a new window)
Northern Region
Central Region
Southern Region

Gulf of Thailand

Dive The World Thailand Recommendations: Richelieu Rock, Koh Tachai, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang.

The Diving Season in Thailand

You can dive Thailand all year round. The best conditions in the Andaman Sea exist from November to April, with whale sharks visiting from February to May, and manta rays all year round. Visibility can easily reach over 30m, the seas are a bathtub 28-31°C, and the surface conditions are generally calm, especially in the months following the new year.

Late May to October brings monsoon winds and surface swells to the Andaman Sea, making some of the remote sites, such as the Similans, Richelieu Rock and Hin Daeng, inaccessible and reducing visibility in general by about 30% at the open locations. October can also see heavy rains in the area.

The liveaboard season runs from early October to mid May, but there are some liveaboards and overnight trips to the Phi Phi Islands all year round.

For the Gulf of Thailand, the best months for diving are May to August, when the Andaman Sea has its low season.

Reef Basics

Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 5 - 30m
Currents: Can be strong
Surface Conditions: Can be rough
Water Temperature: 26 - 31°C
Experience Level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: >250
Access: Liveaboards, resorts and day tours
Recommended length of stay: 1 - 3 weeks

Frequently Asked Questions

Do people speak English there?

English is very widely spoken in the tourist destinations and you can enjoy a great holiday here without knowing a word of Thai. However as Nelson Mandela himself says, "Speak to me in a language I understand and you speak to my head; speak to me in my own language and you speak to my heart" - so a few words can get you a long way and you might end up not parting with too much cash for that plastic elephant memento. Grab a phrase book and learn the basics - it's amazing how far you can get with a "Hello, yes, no, how much, please, thank you, you are very beautiful!"

When is the diving season in Thailand?

Tourist high season is from November to April. Whether you are coming here for diving or not, we recommend you try to come from February to April. The weather is at its best, there are fewer tourists here, accommodation is much better value-for-money, and the seas at their calmest. The dive sites the Similan Islands are less crowded, and it's your optimum time to see something special on your Phuket liveaboard trip, as it's whale shark and manta ray season. November to April is the best time for diving in Phuket, Krabi, Phi Phi Islands and Khao Lak. March to September is however the best time to be diving Koh Tao and Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand so there is always a good time of year to scuba dive in Thailand.

Are there any strong currents?

Some of the diving sites visited can have strong currents. This depends on the site, time of month and time of day. Your guide will advise you in your pre-dive briefings. Generally, there is never an occasion when you need to swim against a strong current.

I don't have my scuba license with me, can I still dive?

If you have a PADI certification, we can check your details direct with PADI. Please provide your name as it appears on your card and your date of birth. If you contact the scuba centre where you were certified, they can help you obtain a new card before you travel.

Is it true you provide free dive insurance?

Yes it is true! This offer is open to you if it is your first time booking with us and the value of your booking is at least US$ 1000. You will be covered for diving accidents during the period of your booking.

Do I need a wetsuit?

Although the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand are very warm at (27-30°C), you might get chilled making several dives per day over multiple day trips. We recommend at least a 3mm wetsuit shortie, or more if you are susceptible to heat loss. A wetsuit also provides protection from jellyfish and accident coral stings.

Can you arrange accommodation for me?

Our affiliated hotel reservation agents hotelscombined.com has 1,200 different accommodation choices throughout Thailand, including all the popular tourist destinations, and over 175 hotels in Phuket alone. Browse their website choices, use their live chat to ask your questions, and then simply use your credit card to make your hotel reservation:

Save on your hotel - www.hotelscombined.com

From 5-star beach resorts to low-cost hotels and lodges, there's something to suit everyone's taste and needs. And you can be certain that whatever option you select, it will be backed up with their 'Low Price Guarantee', ensuring you will always get top-dollar value for money.

Occasional trouble in the south of Thailand - does that affect your areas?

There is trouble in the south of Thailand but if you look at a map of the countryOpens in a new window you will see that the 'deep south', where there are incidents of unrest, is a long way from Phuket and Krabi provinces. The restive states are those bordering Malaysia which see very little tourist activity and there has been no proof to date that foreign nationals are seen as a target by those seeking independence from the kingdom of Thailand. In other words - no.

Is there any good wreck diving in Thailand?

There are many wreck dives, both in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Some are suitable for recreational scuba divers, others are for technical divers only. This website is dedicated to wrecks in Thailand: Thai Wreck DiverOpens in a new window

Is Malaria a problem?

All the destinations for Thailand diving are free of Malaria.


... The diving service you offer is excellent. Staff friendly and helpful, also during the booking process. Good value for money ... , Netherlands