Scuba Diving in Thailand
Scuba Diving Thailand
The Andaman Sea on the west coast of Thailand is unavailable May to October because of the monsoon. This doesn't affect the east coast as much. There are many dive operations, offering courses, day trips and live-aboard options for scuba divers and snorkellers.
Check that you have adequate insurance before you dive. Treatment in recompression chambers is expensive. Standard travel insurance may cover you for diving up to 30 metres, so it is best to check. If organizing your own insurance separately try doing it through DAN (Divers Alert Network). There are three recompression chambers in Thailand : one in Phuket at Hat Patong; one in Chonburi, south-east of Bangkok; and one in Bangkok.
Some of the more popular dive sites in Thailand are listed below:
Koh Tao (on the southern east coast) used to be famous for good diving but now the sites are becoming so busy that the reef is no longer as pristine as it once was and much of the sea life has been scared off apart from the increasingly vicious trigger fish who have become so used to divers that they will attack. However Koh Tao is one of the cheaper places for diving and is a good place to do a diving course with one of the many dive shops on the island.
Koh Similan on the west coast in the Andaman Sea is considered a world-class scuba diving area offering a wide variety of wreck dives, stunning underwater rock formations, coral reefs with beautiful soft corals, swim-throughs and a variety of fish and marine life including sharks. Dive trips to this location need to be arranged from Phuket or Khao Lak on the mainland.
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang . These are underwater pinnacles and reefs with brightly-coloured corals, manta rays and other large and small marine animals.
King Cruiser is a wreck dive accessible from Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, or Phuket.
You can also go diving from Phuket, Krabi and in Tarutao Marine National Park on the West coast and from other islands and beach resorts on the East coast - see Thailand islands and Thailand beaches for more information.
In some of the more popular tourist resorts, there are many dive shops and it is worth shopping around to find one that suits you. Dive operations are not carefully regulated in Thailand and not all of them operate to a very high standard.
Some tips for choosing a dive shop:
Word of mouth. This is always the best bet for choosing which outfit to go with. If you meet an experienced diver who has had a good experience with a dive shop, it is worth listening to their recommendation.
Safety. Ask about whether they have oxygen on the boat. Do they have third-party insurance, ie will they cover medical costs or the cost of a recompression chamber if needed? Does the equipment look well-maintained?
Personality. If doing a course, it is important to have an instructor you feel comfortable with. Also some people feel more comfortable diving with a large organization whereas others may prefer a smaller, less formal dive shop. Often one indication of a good dive shop is if the divemaster or instructor sounds enthusiastic about what they are doing. Someone who is motivated and enjoys what they are doing is probably more likely to ensure correct safety procedures and give a good service.
Size of the group. Whether doing a course or going on a fun dive, make sure that the group is six people or less. You will get much more out of it than going diving with a larger group.
Language. Check they offer instruction in a language you understand.