Scuba Diving Thailand
At the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand, the “Land of a Thousand Smiles,” is a country proud of its unique culture and famous worldwide for its cuisine. Thailand also offers miles of tropical beaches, lush rainforests, exhilarating cultural attractions and excellent scuba diving. Thailand has some of the finest and most beautiful beaches and islands in the world, surrounded by crystal clear water and stunning coral, and that is the main reason why the number of divers coming to Thailand has escalated over the past decade or so.
SCUBA DIVING THAILAND
The fantasy destination of divers, Thailand with everything from old WWII wrecks, extensive cave systems, drop offs and holes, hundreds of continental and oceanic islands and a diverse marine ecology Thailand truly offers some of the best diving in the world.
Divers can enjoy splendid sights of underwater mountains, coral gardens, undersea rock formations, hard and soft coral, whale sharks, silver tip sharks, manta rays and even sunken battleships. Diving in Thailand is more about big fishes but there are also very good spots for macro diving like the Richelieu Rock making it an excellent spot for underwater macro photographers. The best coral can be found in the Andaman Sea around the Similans Islands. All over Thailand, you can find an incredible range of marine life. Reef Sharks, Leopard Sharks and turtles are common encounters.
Thailand has two main diving areas, the Andaman Sea on the West coast and the Gulf of Thailand on the East Coast with different diving season. With the Gulf of Thailand on the east and the Andaman Sea on the west, diving opportunities include fringing reefs, deep drop-offs, wrecks, walls, caverns, tunnels, pinnacles or open ocean seamounts. These locations offer some of the best diving in the world with access to a range of different sites to suit all diving levels.
Gulf of Thailand region offers divers an amazing range of diving destinations. The beautiful island of Koh Tao along with the pristine islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan are must-visit dive destinations. Located in the north of the gulf region are also the popular destinations of Pattaya and the unspoiled island of Koh Chang. Te best time to spot Whale Sharks runs between February and May.
Andaman Sea, most of the top dive sites destinations are on the Andaman Sea on the South East coast of Thailand. Many divers also begin their adventures in Phuket, as some of the top Andaman Sea dive sites are within easy reach on a daytrip or liveaboard.
The most famous ones are the outstanding Similan Islands with truly excellent diving. Ask anyone who knows about the region and the first place they will mention is the Similan Islands. This small collection of islands set in the beautiful Andaman Sea are the jewel in the Thailand diving crown. Topography ranges from stunning rock formations and beautiful age-old gorgonian sea fans to colourful corals brimming with exotic marine life. World class dive sites pepper the area such as West of Six and Elephant Head Rock which are among the finest in the country and as good as anywhere in Asia. One of the best features of diving in the Similan Islands is its 2 distinct types of dive site – deep water boulder formations and pretty coral gardens.
A bit further North, there are the Surin Islands, less known than the Similans but also excellent with the world famous Richelieu Rock dive site with good chances to spot a Whale Shark! Richelieu Rock is one of Thailand’s premier and most popular dive sites and attracts scuba divers from all around the world. This large pinnacle rises steeply from a depth of 35m and is visited by liveaboards from Phuket and Khao Lak that usually dive it several times per trip. Here you can expect to see schools of trevally, grouper and snappers as well as barracuda. If you are in luck you may even spot a manta ray or whale shark. The colourful soft corals, sea fans, small caves and vast array of fish and macro critters all add to the attraction that.
Phi Phi Island is also a popular destination in this region with various easily accessible dive sites to explore.
Krabi The south-western coastal town of is the jumping off point for the enchanting Koh Lanta archipelago, as well as the stunning Koh Lipe. Thailand is an amazing dive destination and there’s a lot to explore underwater in this tropical paradise.
Hin Daeng / Hin Muang – These 2 pinnacles away from the Thai mainland are perhaps the best dive sites outside of the Similans. Manta rays, whale sharks and a variety of other sharks make frequent visits to these 2 spots where the diversity and sheer numbers of fish can be breathtaking. Shorter liveaboards trips that go here can give you a glimpse into some of Thailand’s finest underwater treasures.
DIVE SEASON: The diving is typically good all year. The Gulf of Thailand is at its peak from May through September while the best diving is from October through April in the Andaman Sea. The best diving period is from November to April when the visibility is very good.
VISIBILITY: Visibility is generally good throughout the country and averages around 30 metres/100 feet.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Nice warm water, varying between 28-30°C/82-86°F year round.
WEATHER: Thailand has a hot and humid climate year-round. The country is warm and wet during the May to September monsoon, then dries out from November to mid-March. Air temperatures range from 30–35°C/85-95°
DIVE LEVEL: The coral reef is shallow and most of the dive sites are between 10 and 30 meters or 30- 100 ft. deep.
MARINE LIFE: Typical Indo-Pacific reef fish and critters are well represented and there’s a good chance you will see morays, puffers, triggers and Moorish idols, as well as mantas, leopard sharks and possibly whale sharks.
CLIMATE: The weather in Thailand is generally hot and humid: typical of its location within the tropics. Generally speaking, Thailand can be divided into three seasons: “hot” season, rainy season, and “cool” season, though Thailand’s geography allows visitors to find suitable weather somewhere in the country throughout the year. Temperatures typically range from 19 to 38 degrees C (66-100 F)
LANGUAGE: More than 92% of the population speaks Thai or one of it’s regional dialects. While the Thai language is the official language of Thailand, as a result of its cosmopolitan capital city and established tourism infrastructure, English is spoken and understood throughout much of Thailand. .
TIME ZONE: Thailand Standard time is GMT +7. Thailand does not observe daylight savings.
ELECTRICITY: 220v at 50 cycles per second.Outlets in Thailand generally feature flat, two pronged plugs, though some feature holes for round plug ends. Few outlets feature three holes (grounded outlets) so it is often necessary to have a three to two prong adapter for using notebook computers in Thailand.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: Thai Baht. Baht come in both coin and banknote form. The size of Thai currency, both coins and bills increases with value and varies in color. . Major credit cards are widely accepted at major Stores, restaurant and hotels.
GRATUITIES: Tipping is optional and appreciated. Most of the hotel bill already includes a 10% service charge.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: is both modern and widespread, with comprehensive coverage for cell phones and reliable pay phones found throughout the kingdom. The Thailand cell phone coverage is widespread, with reception available in all areas except at the most remote islands and isolated mountainous regions. Many overseas cell phones will work in Thailand, provided they are GSM compatible, as Thailand features both GSM 900 and 1800 networks.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: Foreign citizens must hold a valid passport with at least six months validity, a valid Thai visa, and proof on onward travel. However, visitors from ASEAN or Western countries, including most European, Commonwealth, and North American citizens, are not required to have a Thai visa for visits less than 30 days in Thailand.
GETTING THERE: Flights to Thailand are provided by approximately 70 airlines that have licenses from the Thai government and abide by international standards, including Aeroflot, Air France, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Swiss Air, and many others. Thai Airways, the Thai national air carrier, provides the most comprehensive global air service to and from Thailand and is one of the most esteemed airlines in the world. Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) serves as the primary international airport in Thailand for numerous international airlines, most with direct flights from abroad landing in the Thai capital. However, some chartered flights and international service from nearby Asian nations may land at one of the other, smaller international airports within Thailand, such as Phuket (HKT), Chiang Mai (CNX), Hat Yai (HDY), and Koh Samui (USM) International Airports
CUSTOMS: Thailand customs allows visitors to enter Thailand with personal effects, the value of which does not exceed 80,000 Baht, without paying import fees as long as: 1) the items are specifically for personal or professional use; 2) the amount of goods are reasonable; and 3) the items are not subject to restriction or prohibition.
There are restrictions on the amounts of alcohol and tobacco products; only the following amounts may be transported into Thailand under duty free regulations: * 250 grams of cigars or smoking tobacco, or 200 cigarettes * 1 liter of wine or liquor.
Prohibited and Restricted Goods The Thailand Customs Department is responsible for stemming the illegal transport of illicit drugs into and out of Thailand. Consequently, Thailand Customs officials do occasionally ask to search passengers’ bags
DEPARTURE TAX: International departure taxes are now included in the cost of air tickets when they are purchased from an airline or travel agent. There are no official domestic departure taxes, although privately owned and operated airports, such as Koh Samui Airport, has levied a small domestic “departure tax” in the past and may still do so depending on their current policies.
TOPSIDE ATTRACTIONS: There is something to meet all the varied needs, tastes, and desires of every type of tourist. From traditional Buddhist festivals and wet and wild Thai new years celebrations to spectacular national parks and an array of land, sea, and air activities, Thailand is a wonderland of festivals, attractions, and activities.
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