The underwater kingdom, with its explosion of colours and rich marine life, is a whole new world – and scuba diving opens the door to it. Gliding through the water, listening to your heart beat rapidly, and watching your breath form bubbles is truly a Zen-like experience.

And to go through this surreal experience for yourself, look no further than Thailand. With its long coastline, innumerable islands and turquoise waters, the country offers some of the best scuba diving in the world.

Excited already? Let’s dive in deep and discover everything we need to know about scuba diving in Thailand.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Scuba Diving?

One-Time Dive Experience (Discover Scuba Diving)

This is a guided program that teaches you the required skills to scuba dive, so you don’t need to possess any skills beforehand. After the training is done, you are directly taken for a dive in the sea. Sometimes a practice session is done in a pool before the dive. The activity lasts for half a day and, depending on the operator, you might go from a single dive to a maximum of three. The experience lets you dive up to a maximum depth of 12 metres.

Eligibility

  • The minimum age limit for scuba diving is 10 years.
  • The program doesn’t require you to know swimming, although it’s a bonus if you do. It’s just to build your confident underwater.

Scuba-Diving Certifications

These programs are ideal for those who want to take it a step further and learn advanced scuba diving. There are three types of courses:

Open Water Diver (OWD)

This basic course combines classroom training with pool practice. Then, it’s straight to diving in the ocean.

The course runs for 3 to 4 days during which you complete 4 to 5 open water dives to become a certified open water diver. Once certified, you can dive anywhere in the world with a diving partner or professional. The OWD certification lets you dive up to a depth of 18 metres (60 feet).

Eligibility
– Minimum age requirement to enroll for the course is 10 years.
– You should be able to swim 200-300 metres non-stop and float and tread water for 10 minutes.

Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD)

This is an intermediate-level program that lets you dive up to a depth of 30 metres. You get a total of 5 dives over 2 days, out of which 2 are mandatory and the rest are of your choice. To be eligible for the advanced course, getting the OWD certification is mandatory.

Divemaster

This course is for those who want to become professional instructors. The course fine-tunes your diving skills, provides dive knowledge and teaches rescue and supervision skills.

Best Places For Scuba Diving In Thailand

Scuba diving in Thailand happens in the southwest and southeast regions. The best destinations to scuba dive in the southwest are Similan islands, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe. Other diving destinations include Phuket and Krabi.

 

The southeast also has stunning dive locations, with Koh Tao being the best among them. Other diving destinations are Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

Let’s look at each of these awesome places.

Koh Tao

Best Time To Dive In Koh Tao: January to August
How To Reach Koh Tao:
 The island is 6-7 hours away from Bangkok by flight and ferry.
Cost Of Scuba Diving In Koh Tao: 
Starts at 3000 THB for a one-day activity and 8600 THB for a 4-day OWD course.
Recommended Scuba Operators In Koh Tao: Sairee Cottage Diving, Roctopus

Koh Tao is one of the best and the cheapest places in Thailand to scuba dive. Its underwater landscapes are teeming with vibrant corals and a variety of reef fish. It’s also one of the few places to watch whale sharks, leopard sharks and bull sharks from close quarters.

The island is ideal if you are looking for a relaxing getaway from the tourist hotspots. You can laze on its white sandy beaches or trek through tropical jungles during the day. Nights are for bar-hopping and getting sloshed with strangers.

Koh Samui

koh-samui-beaches

Best time To Dive In Koh Samui: January to August
How To Reach Koh Samui: 5-6 hours from Bangkok by flight and ferry.
Cost Of Scuba Diving In Koh Samui: Starts at 5,500 THB for a one-day activity.
Recommended Scuba Operators In Koh Samui:
 Discovery Divers, Silent Divers

Koh Samui is the second biggest Island in Thailand and the most expensive place to scuba dive. The corals around here are home to a variety of fauna, and deeper dives let you come face-to-face with stingrays and barracudas.

Being one of the most visited islands, Koh Samui has something to offer to everyone. It has uber-luxury resorts and spas for those looking for detox sessions. Nature lovers can escape into lush rainforests and secluded beaches. The nightlife is happening with beach parties and fire shows.

Krabi

Featured Image

Best time For Scuba Diving In Krabi: November to April
How To Reach Krabi: An hour from Bangkok by flight
Cost Of Scuba Diving In Krabi: Starts at 4,900 THB for a one-day activity
Recommended Scuba Operators In Krabi: The Dive Ao Nang, Kon-tiki Krabi Diving and Snorkeling Center

Krabi is a mainland paradise, with scenic beaches, craggy limestone cliffs and countless offshore islands. Needless to say, it has loads of diving opportunities. Diving in these waters can expose you to a diverse marine wildlife, right from squids and stingrays to black-tip reef sharks.

Apart from being a good diving spot, Krabi is a great place to go to if you’re looking for a laidback vacation. One of the biggest attractions here is the stunning Railay Beach – it is surrounded by towering cliffs on all sides. Krabi also has scenic mangroves to explore. Nights here are rather mellow compared to the other southwest islands.

Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi

Best Time For Scuba Diving In Phi Phi: November to April
How To Reach Phi Phi: 6-7 hours from Bangkok by flight and ferry.
Cost Of Scuba Diving In Phi Phi: Starts at 3,400 THB for a one-day activity
Recommended Scuba Operators In Phi Phi: Island Divers, Phi Phi Diving

Koh Phi Phi is a popular dive destination near Phuket, with tons of easily accessible dive sites. The diving experience here is much better, compared to Phuket or Krabi.

Koh Phi Phi’s dramatic landscapes were first made famous by the movie, The Beach. The narrow strip of land between the two picturesque bays has now seen plenty of hotels, restaurants, and bars come up. Tourists dive into the azure waters during the day and party all night long, just to repeat it all over again.


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Pattaya

Best Time For Scuba Diving In Pattaya: November to April
How To Reach Pattaya: 2 hours by cab from Bangkok
Cost Of Scuba Diving In Pattaya: Starts at 3,000 THB for 2 dives
Recommended Scuba Operators In Pattaya: Dive in Pattaya, Real Divers

The sin city of Thailand is known to one and all, courtesy its nightlife. It’s not as well known as a scuba-diving destination, though there are quite a few dive sites around Pattaya. If you have the time, it would be best to check out the other islands for a better experience.

Apart from scuba diving, Pattaya is a hotbed for adventure sports, right from high-adrenaline ones like skydiving and bungee jumping to milder ones like zip lining. There are beaches too, but they remain crowded throughout the year.

Phuket

Best Time For Scuba Diving In Phuket: November to April
How To Reach Phuket: 1 hour by flight from Bangkok
Cost Of Scuba Diving In Phuket: Starts at 2,900 THB for a single shore dive
Recommended Scuba Operators In Phuket: Super Divers, Andys Scuba Diving

Phuket is the largest Island in Thailand and the most commercial one. Scuba diving happens in Phuket, but is best done on the nearby islands of Similan and Koh Phi Phi.

Being a tourist hotspot, Phuket offers all kinds of experiences to its travellers. It’s the perfect destination to enjoy the beaches and relax in cosy resorts. The nightlife here is almost as crazy as Pattaya, so party animals are sure to get hooked.

Similan Islands

similian-islands

Best Time For Scuba Diving In Similan Islands:  December to April
How To Reach Similan Islands:  7-8 hours from Bangkok by flight and road.
Cost Of Diving In Similan Islands: They only have liveaboard cruises, starting at 3,700 THB per day. The cruise typically lasts for 4-5 days.
Recommended Scuba Operators In Similan: Similan Diving Safaris, Khao Lak Explorer

The Similan Islands are undoubtedly the best scuba diving destination in Thailand, and one of the best in the world. There are numerous excellent dive sites here. The underwater topography is vivid and colourful, with rich corals and granite boulders. The visibility here is outstanding, and one can spot a variety of fishes frolicking in the waters.

One can do a day trip to Similan from Phuket or Krabi, but it would be pretty hectic. The best option would be to either go for multiple-day cruises along the islands, or camp on Similan itself.

Koh Lanta

Crown-Lanta-Koh-Lanta-Thailand

Best Time For Scuba Diving In Koh Lanta: November to April
How To Reach Koh Lanta: 
4-5 hours from Bangkok by flight and ferry.
Cost Of Scuba Diving In Koh Lanta: 
Starts at 3,050 THB for day trips
Recommended Scuba Operators In Koh Lanta: 
Go Dive Lanta, Dive and Relax

Koh Lanta is one of the lesser explored islands in southwest Thailand. If you are looking for a quiet, idyllic vacation, then look no further. Lanta also happens to be an amazing scuba diving destination. Some of its dive sites are world-class and on a par with the Similan Islands.

Diving here opens you to the world of steep walls and violet corals. The visibility is clear and you can spot whale sharks, grey reef sharks and manta rays.

Most travellers who land up here lounge about on its serene beaches, gaze at its spectacular sunsets, and hike through mangroves. Nights are spent enjoying drinks in beachside bars.

Koh Lipe

koh-lipe-beaches

Best Time For Scuba Diving In Koh Lipe: November to April
How To Reach Koh Lipe: 6-7 hours from Bangkok by flight and ferry.
Cost Of Scuba Diving In Koh Lipe: Starts at 3,000 THB for day trips.
Recommended Scuba Operators In Koh Lipe: Koh Lipe Diving, Adang Sea Divers

Koh Lipe is an untouched piece of land at the southern end of Thailand. It has some of the most spectacular dive sites in Thailand, with unique marine life species. Highlights include dugongs, sperm whales, minke whales, and seahorses hiding under purple corals.

Far from the maddening crowd, the long and white stretches of Koh Lipe have managed to escape commercialisation. You can have entire beaches to yourself, as there are hardly any tourists here. The best way to discover this island is on foot, while mingling with locals.

The Difference Between PADI & SSI

PADI and SSI are separate certification bodies, but the scuba diving experience is identical irrespective of who you choose to go with. The only difference is the cost, as SSI can be a tad cheaper.

How To Choose A Good Scuba School

We know you’re brimming with excitement at the thought of scuba diving, but that doesn’t mean that you pick the first dive school that comes your way. Remember that the dive experience depends largely on the dive shop and the instructors they provide. So, make sure you are convinced about the dive school before making a decision.

Here are some things to keep in mind while making your selection.

Size of school: Schools can be classified into big, medium and small.

  • Big schools: These schools are for those who are comfortable underwater and don’t need personal attention. They’re ideal for those looking to meet new people, as these groups tend to be large.
  • Small schools: These schools are best for those who are new to scuba diving, and are apprehensive about their first dive. There is close individual monitoring and the feeling of being safe all the time here.
  • Medium schools: These schools combine the best of both worlds. You get to meet enough people on the dive, but at the same time it isn’t overcrowded.

Internet Search: Research on the internet about dive shops and read reviews on popular websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp before signing up.

Time Of Diving: Party lovers might find favour with schools that start in the afternoon, while early risers will choose to go in the morning. The time of diving also depends on your arrival time at the destination.

Price: Rates do play an important role. You obviously don’t want to get ripped off, yet at the same time price should not be the sole deciding factor.

Preparing For Scuba & Things You Need To Know

As awesome as scuba diving is, it can seem intimidating to many as there might be a fear of entering into unfamiliar territory. But keep these things in mind, and you’ll be good to go.

  • It’s important to wait at least 18-24 hours after the last dive before taking a flight. Not following this thumb rule can be harmful and may even prove fatal.
  • Check your body for open wounds and cuts and cover them up before the dive. The skin is prone to infections around coral.
  • Don’t dive with a cold or sinus infection, as it will be dangerous to equalise the air pressure.
  • It helps if you are fit before a dive. Although it’s not much of a physical activity, you don’t want to gasp for breath every now and then.
  • Don’t binge-drink the night before the dive, as you don’t want to get dehydrated. At the same time, drinking enough water before and after the dive to avoid dehydration.
  • It’s common for divers to have an urge to pee while underwater. This is quite normal. Remember that there are only two types of divers – those who pee in their wet suit and those who lie about it.

The Free Trip Planning App for Thailand!

Highest Rated Travel Planning App on Android & iOS

If you want to avoid reading hundreds of articles like these to plan your trip, download Ithaka.

It is a fun way to discover Thailand and plan your entire trip by talking to someone who’s already been there and done that!

From helping you discover the coolest destinations to recommending activities, your travel buddy on Ithaka will help you plan your entire trip.

Download the App Now:

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