SCUBA Diving in Thailand
21 July 2016
Thailand is a wonderful country with some excellent SCUBA diving. To the west of Thailand is the Andaman Sea, and to the east the Gulf of Thailand. The best dive sites are on the Andaman Sea side, both in the south and further north in the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock.
The Coral Reefs
Like in many other areas of the world, Thailand's coral reefs are under significant pressure. However, Thailand is acting to protect its reefs and marine environment. Some 25% of Thailand's marine and coastal areas are designated protected areas.1
Tourist Visas for Thailand
Tourists need a visa before visiting Thailand. You can obtain a 30 day Visa on Arrival at airports and a 15 day Visa on Arrival if travelling via land borders. It's better to get a visa beforehand though. A tourism visa will then allow a stay of up to 60 days with the possibility to extend it for a further 30 days. You can re-enter Thailand as often as you wish. For full visa rules see the Thai Embassy Site.
Is Thailand Safe?
The main diving areas are safe to visit. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, though, advises against all but essential travel to the Thai-Malaysia border in the southeast provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla. For up-to-date advice see the foreign travel advice. Another thing to bear in mind is that by law you must carry your passport with you at all times. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.
The Andaman Sea
The best diving in Thailand is in the Andaman Sea, to the west of the country. Here there are 17 marine national parks covering 62% of the coral reefs2. Visit between October and April - all the marine parks (which cover the best diving areas) are closed from May to the middle of October so areas like the Similan Islands are off limits. Even for areas that aren't closed, the diving isn't as good from May to September as this is when the rains come.
The Andaman Sea features coral reefs, dense mangrove forests, karst limestone islands and beaches with deep oceanic waters.
References and Further Reading
If you would like a DVD of the dive sites of Thailand you can order one for 15 Euros from the Dive Club Thailand web site.