Diving in Thailand gives SCUBA divers the chance to experience the lush underwater life of the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand with relative ease and comfort.
Liveaboard diving in Thailand offers enough to tempt any serious diver- healthy reefs, schools of fish, barracuda, whale sharks, and manta rays- but the country's food, people, and landscapes put the icing on the cake. It's no wonder that Thailand is a world favorite for divers and Southeast Asia-lovers alike, who return year after year for affordable liveaboard dive trips to incredible underwater destinations. Thailand is filled with some of the world's best dive sites, the most popular areas being Koh Tao and Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Phuket in the Andaman Sea. Thailand's dive sites include fringing reefs, deep drop-offs, wrecks, walls, caverns, tunnels, pinnacles and open ocean adventures. Marine life, given Thailand's location on the edge of the Coral Triangle, is extremely varied and the corals very healthy.
The Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock and its whale sharks, Mergui Archipelago and its undisturbed Burmese waters, and the southern pinnacles off Phuket promise dramatic underwater topography and a wealth of marine life. The relative closeness of these destinations to the Thai mainland makes Thailand the perfect country for a dive certification trip; once you have earned your PADI Open Water card on the mainland, check out the array of options for a short liveaboard dive safari or even day trips to the Similans or southern destinations like Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lipe, and Koh Lanta National Marine Park.
20 liveaboards in Thailand
The beautiful S/Y Diva Andaman Liveaboard is a stunning classic sailing yacht offering fantastic journeys diving the Similan Islands with 7 luxury AC, en-suite cabins she delivers personal attention
- Free WiFi
The Deep Andaman Queen offers 9 en-suite, AC cabins, large dive platform with fresh water showers to rinse yourself after diving and camera rinse buckets. Explore the Similan Islands & Richelieu Rock
Explore the Andaman Sea aboard the world class Thailand Aggressor liveaboard. With up to 5 dives a day you are sure to see the best of Thailand & Burma in comfort with exceptional Aggressor serviceThailand Aggressor
Liveaboard Destinations in Thailand
Liveaboard diving in the Similan Islands, is the peak of Thailand dive experiences. Its huge granite boulders with caverns and arches offer shark diving, schools of fish, huge sea fans, and general world-class quality of habitats and species. Elephant Head Rock, West of Six, and Christmas Point are only a few of the 20 plus dive sites. Similan scuba diving varies in difficulty, but currents in certain areas makes them better-suited for experienced divers. Lush greenery and white sand beaches ring the nine islands, completing the view from above water.
Liveaboard boats diving at Richelieu Rock, will bring you to the pelagics capital of Thailand. Around this limestone pinnacle jutting from the depths of the ocean, upwellings rich with plankton invite whale sharks, mantas and barracudas, not to mention the macro-life hiding amongst Richelieu's famous purple soft corals and sea fans. The strong currents here call for experienced divers. Koh Tachai and Koh Bon, members of the Similan Island National Park, are often visited en route to Richelieu, and offer more pelagics, Napoleon Wrasse, and even night diving for macro-critters.
A Liveaboard dive tour in the North Andaman Sea includes the crown jewels of Thailand diving (Similans and Richelieu), but they don't stop there. One additional highlight of these trips is the lush Surin Islands, where non-divers and divers alike are bewitched by the small cove beaches, island wildlife, and accessible snorkeling sites- not to mention the highest hard coral diversity in Thailand. Another incredible North Andaman dive area is the Mergui Archipelago of Burma, which opened to divers in the late 1990s; its undisturbed ecosystem offers the whole range from huge pelagics down to tiny macro-critters. Experienced divers will be best suited to week-long North Andaman itineraries, which visit some remote destinations with currents and open water.
The length of liveaboard itineraries in the North Andaman Sea, including the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock, ranges from three to seven nights, with a budget from 130 to over 400 euros per night. Most liveaboards are M/V diving yachts, with one ex-merchant vessel and one sailing yacht completing the liveaboard.com offerings. North Andaman liveaboards run from October through May for best visibility and surface conditions. The water temperature averages a comfortable 27-30 C. Usually, North Andaman liveaboard itineraries include the Similan Island, Richelieu Rock, the Surin Islands, and sometimes south Burma, depending on the itinerary length.
North Andaman liveaboard trips depart from Khao Lak or Phuket. Getting to Phuket is easy with a 1 hour flight from Bangkok or direct international flights from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other Southeast Asian destinations. Phuket is also reachable by train, bus, and car within Thailand. Khao Lak has no airport, but it lies only 70 kilometers, or one hour, north of Phuket by car or easy bus journey. Khao Lak can also be reached from Bangkok by overnight buses headed toward Phuket, but make sure they're taking a route that allows you to disembark in Khao Lak.
North Andaman liveaboards specializing in the Mergui Archipelago may also depart from Ranong, reachable by dependable buses from Bangkok, Phuket, and other locations in Thailand. Trains run from Bangkok to Chumphon station, two hour's bus-ride from Ranong. Flights are sometimes possible with a low-cost carrier; inquire at a travel agency in Thailand for details. Dedicated Mergui Archipelago itineraries range from five to seven nights, with a budget from 150 to almost 400 euros per night.
Liveaboard diving in the South Andaman Sea presents a wealth of offerings just off the front door of Phuket. Leading the way are Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, underwater pinnacles covered with carpets of anemones, sponges, and sea fans, which host regular whale sharks and manta rays. Experienced divers are best suited to the currents swirling around these pinnacles. South Andaman liveaboards also visit Koh Ha and Koh Rok; these uninhabited, white-sand islands offer one of the best-preserved coral reefs in the country. Entry-level divers can find their niche in the South Andaman, where dive certification courses are offered on Phuket and Koh Phi Phi.
The length of liveaboard itineraries in the South Andaman Sea ranges from two to six nights, giving entry-level divers a chance to experience a liveaboard along with more seasoned enthusiasts. The budget ranges from about 150 to over 400 euros per night, and the boats are M/V or S/V diving yachts. Trips usually run from April through October, departing from Chalong pier in Phuket or Pak Bara pier near the town of Hat Yai. Getting to Phuket is easy with a 1 hour flight from Bangkok or direct international flights from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other Southeast Asian destinations. Phuket is also reachable by train, bus, and car within Thailand. Hat Yai can be reached by domestic or select international flights (from Kuala Lumpur). Trains and buses run to Hat Yai from within Thailand, and even from Malaysia.
More about diving in Thailand
- Submerge at Koh Phi Phi's coral gardens and limestone slopes, hosting everything from seahorses to sharks.
- Wreck dive in Khao Lak on your way out to the North Andaman Sea.
- Dive the untouched Mergui Archipelago in Burma, newly open to diving and rich with life.
- Koh Tachai hosts pelagics just like Richelieu- dive here for mantas, whale sharks, tuna, and fun underwater topography.
- Koh Bon is a premier manta site, but it also adds reef sharks and macro to the mix.
- Lose yourself in the profusion of marine life on and around Hin Daeng and Hin Muang's vertical cliffs.
- Maximize your dives per day by living onboard and have dive sites on your doorstep daily.
Ports of departure and how to get there
The departure location for many North Andaman liveaboards (diving the Similans, Richelieu Rock, and more), is Khao Lak. Serene, white-sand beaches at the base of forested hills line Khao Lak's quiet coastline, making it an ideal spot for relaxed beach-hopping before or after your cruise. Divers with extra time in Khao Lak have the opportunity to enjoy young and old wrecks just offshore, including one (the Sea Chart One wreck) deep enough for nitrox and tech diving. For entry-level divers, Khao Lak's proximity to the Similan Islands makes it a great place to combine a PADI Open Water course with amazing day trips to Thailand's premier Andaman dive destination. Onshore, national parks like Khao Sok tempt explorers with age-old evergreen forests, limestone caves, and blue lakes.
Getting to Khao Lak is easy by car or bus from Phuket, about 70 kilometers to the south. The travel time is roughly one hour. Khao Lak can also be reached from Bangkok by overnight buses headed toward Phuket, but make sure they're taking a route that allows you to disembark in Khao Lak.
The departure location for many Andaman liveaboards going both north and south is Phuket, well-loved Thai fun town and beach spot. From Phuket, liveaboards set off for Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, Koh Ha and Koh Rok, and even the Similans, Richelieu, and the Mergui Archipelago. Northbound liveaboards may use Phuket as their port of arrival at the end of a trip if they started from Khao Lak. Divers with extra time in Phuket can visit the pristine coral garden of Shark Point or the Kingcruiser Wreck, not to mention taking advantage of night life, food, and land tour options. If you're planning a dive certification trip, Phuket or its neighbors (Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta), are the perfect locations for your PADI Open Water course.
Getting to Phuket is easy with a 1 hour flight from Bangkok or direct international flights from Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other Southeast Asian destinations. Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, and Thai Airways are among the airlines flying to Phuket. Phuket is also reachable by train, bus, and car within Thailand.
Best Time to Travel
The best time to dive in Thailand is year-round. However, the peak Thailand diving season for the Gulf of Thailand is from May through September and from October through April for the Andaman Sea. The water temperature in Thailand ranges from 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) to 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). Visibility in Thailand's waters is optimum throughout the area with an average of 30 meters (100 feet). Diving depths will typically vary depending on the dive site, but usually do not exceed 36 meters (120 feet). Currents are usually mild and the overall air temperature is hot with high humidity.
Thailand Diving Reviews
Didn't know what to expect, but got to see alot of new sealife. For example seahorses. Alot of new experiences. Sometimes there where surges which wasn't good for my equalizing, but it was possible to manage. Sweeping thermal clines which was a bit of a surprise because of the bad visibillity and cold water. But our guide managed to guide our group around them most of the time.Diving Thailand in May on the MV Pawara
The diving is excellent even in the off seasonDiving Thailand in July on the Giamani
The Similan Islands were very nice. The diving around Phi Phi island was very nice, but very crowded. And it was the end of the season.Diving Thailand in April on the The Junk
As ever: Wonderful!Diving Thailand in April on the The Junk
not great visibility overall, but incredible exciting dives of all kinds (drifts, wrecks, caverns/caves, deep dives, etc.) and a super fun, safe experienceDiving Thailand in April on the Deep Andaman Queen
I enjoyed it very much.Diving Thailand in April on the MV Similan Explorer
It can be great - but you have also few bad dives betweenDiving Thailand in March on the The Junk
Its always great diving in Thailand will definitely go backDiving Thailand in March on the MV DiveRACE Class E
Very good, I would love to do it again!Diving Thailand in February on the Diva Andaman
Very pleasant and relaxingDiving Thailand in March on the White Manta Thailand
Visibility generally good, fish variety average, damaged sites and bleaching but good enough for an enjoyable tripDiving Thailand in February on the Diva Andaman
Good experience, but overall not the trip of a life time given the limited amount of things to see and experience. Still very nice dive trip and I really liked it though. It is a good value-for-money experience!Diving Thailand in February on the White Manta Thailand
Extremely fortune to play with manta rays up close at Koh Bon. Incredible experience!!!Diving Thailand in February on the Deep Andaman Queen
Similans and Surin Islands generally just too busy. Astounding how many boats are out there. Richelieu is a stand out awesome dive site, the rest is okay.Diving Thailand in January on the Panunee
Excellent except I didn't count on so much coral bleaching but glad to see positive recoveryDiving Thailand in January on the Deep Andaman Queen
Pretty good in terms of variety, colours and abundance of life.Diving Thailand in December on the MV DiveRACE Class E
Very good, boat goes to the places everybody goes. Marine parks are reasonably priced, water is warm enough for a shorty.Diving Thailand in December on the MV DiveRACE Class E
Very impressive. With better policing and expansion of the marine reserves then it could be even better! All reefs definitely need more mooring lines to prevent anchor damage and perhaps restrictions on number of boats at the same locations.Diving Thailand in January on the White Manta Thailand
The # & variability of fish phenominal. Very poor visibility.Strong currentsDiving Thailand in December on the Diva Andaman
Busy but very nice divingDiving Thailand in December on the Deep Andaman Queen
overall the diving was good. the viz was no so great probably due to the season. no big stuff.Diving Thailand in December on the White Manta Thailand
Need to see more.. see you soon again!Diving Thailand in December on the White Manta Thailand
Water warm and visibility was very good. Will go again. At some locations there are too many dive boats. Also some large boats move in to the dive sites to drop off and pick up divers - it would be better if all would use small inflatables or similar - it is (hopefully) safer and better for the dive sites.Diving Thailand in December on the White Manta Thailand
I missed seing big fish except from that very good.Diving Thailand in November on the Giamani
We are glad we made arrangements to do so. The company of quests on the boat was just right. The crew was excellent and kind. Special mention should be made about the gentle giant, Kim Mortensen. He proved very helpful. Of course Mike, B.J., Chris, and not to be forgotten the 3 woman and Jeab &Sik..Diving Thailand in November on the White Manta Thailand
Good but also disappointing. Sharks really seem to be endangered in this area. Someone should also remind the fishing boats to keep their distance from protected waters.Diving Thailand in November on the The Junk
Super - but too many boats and turist at timesDiving Thailand in February on the Deep Andaman Queen