In addition to sun and beautiful beaches, Thailand is home to a number of renowned diving spots. Scuba divers can explore the clear waters around the Thai coast and islands, coming across reefs, shipwrecks, and a plethora of sea life.
Make the most of your trip with this quick guide to scuba diving in Thailand.
Is Thailand Good for Scuba Diving?
The sea around Thailand is known for having some of the world’s best dive sites. Spots like Hin Daeng, Hin Muang, and Richelieu Rock are well-known among divers and have appeared on lists of the best places to dive, not just in Thailand, but globally.
Thailand is not only great for seasoned divers but for first-timers as well. There are a number of diving sites suitable for beginners and diving schools to guide them.
Where Is the Best Diving in Thailand?
The seas around Thailand have many areas where visitors can go diving and explore the depths.
The majority are suitable for by divers of any level, with some parts more challenging than others. Diving schools will take their clients out to these spots and instruct them, especially if the visitors are beginners.
Some of the places regarded as being the best for diving in Thailand include the following.
Richelieu Rock: Home of Giants
This horseshoe-shaped rock is found in the Mu Koh Surin Marine National Park, close to the Surin Islands in the Andaman Sea.
Wildlife found at Richelieu Rock includes:
- Ghost pipefish
- Whale shark
Richelieu Rock is famous for being among the best places in the world to spot whale sharks — the largest living shark species. These gentle giants can grow to over 30 feet but feed on plankton and other tiny creatures, similar to whales. They pose no threat to divers, who can swim alongside them.
Deep-Sea Diving in the Similan Islands
The Similan Islands are one of the best areas for diving in Thailand. Around 50 miles off the coast of Phuket, they are protected by the Thai government as part of Mu Koh Similan National Park.
There are around 20 different dive sites around the Similan Islands, all of which are home to many species of sea creatures, including:
- Various coral species
Hin Pusar (Elephant Head) is a particularly interesting site, with a rocky maze for divers to explore. In some parts, the depths reach as low as 40m.
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang: the Red and Purple Rocks
Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (also known as the red rock and the purple rock) are found in the same region of the ocean around 40 nautical miles south of the Phi Phi Islands, just a few hundred meters apart.
These underwater rock formations boast a variety of colorful corals, caves and channels to explore, and the opportunity to get up close to the sea life, such as:
- Shoals of fish
- Zebra sharks
- Manta rays
- Harlequin shrimps
Chumphon Pinnacle: Diving at Koh Tao
Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand is the location of the Chumphon Pinnacle. The huge peak of granite is covered by pink sea anemones, and visibility is often clear enough to sea 36 meters down to the sea bed.
Among the many fish that live around Chumphon Pinnacle are:
- Giant groupers
- King mackerels
Massive whale sharks can sometimes be seen here from March to May and from August to October
Sail Rock: One of Thailand’s Favorite Dive Spots
Sail Rock, also located in Koh Tao, is one of Thailand’s most popular diving destinations. The massive rock rises from the sandy seafloor 40 meters down to 15 meters above the surface of the sea.
Beginners and seasoned divers alike have plenty to enjoy from Sail Rock. Schools of barracuda congregate here, while giant clams and oysters can be found on the rock itself. Other inhabitants include:
- Moray eels
One of the biggest attractions is a vertical cave that divers can swim through in the main rock itself, known as “The Chimney”.
Where Can I Learn to Scuba Dive in Thailand?
Thailand has many scuba diving schools that cater to beginners. There are schools close to all major diving spots, meaning that first-time divers can learn while experiencing the beauty of the seas around Thailand.
Good places to learn include:
- Koh Tao
- Phi Phi Islands
- Similan Islands
Is Diving in Thailand Safe
In general, diving is perfectly safe and hundreds of people come to dive in Thailand each year without incident.
However, it is worth knowing the risks and exercising caution when scuba diving.
- Poisonous sea life: do not touch the wildlife while diving. If bitten or cut by an animal, it is best to seek medical attention immediately
- Coral: if you cut yourself on coral while swimming, seek medical attention, as coral can contain toxins, which can enter the wound
- Jellyfish: the stings of some species can be dangerous
- Underwater currents: these can be especially problematic in the rainy season
- Alcohol: swimming when intoxicated is the most common cause of drowning
It is advisable to dive with a diving school, even for more experienced divers, but especially for beginners. Diving with professionals who know the waters and can instruct beginners on proper techniques is the best way to scuba dive safely.
Does Thailand Have Sharks?
Several shark species can be found swimming in the waters around Thailand. The majority of these are harmless to humans and seeing them swimming around you can make for an unforgettable experience.
Sharks native to Thailand include:
- Zebra sharks (also known as leopard sharks)
- Blacktip reef sharks
- Whitetip reef sharks
- Grey reef sharks
- Nurse sharks
- Bamboo sharks
- Whale sharks (the largest shark in the world)
Shark attacks on humans are rare—less than 100 cases occur worldwide each year. The shark species with the most recorded bites, the great white shark, is not found in Thailand.
Two shark species that have been known to attack humans do appear in Thai waters occasionally:
- Tiger sharks
- Bull sharks
However, sightings are rare and attacks are almost unheard of in the country. There has only been one confirmed shark attack in Thailand in the last 500 years.
Planning a Diving Holiday in Thailand
Anyone planning to go deep-sea diving in Thailand should consider which sites they would most like to visit and choose a scuba diving school in the area with good reviews.
Before traveling to Thailand, it is essential to have the applicable documentation. For many nationalities, this means obtaining the eVisa on arrival (eVOA) for Thailand.
While citizens of some countries must apply for a paper visa at an embassy, those who are eligible for the eVOA can submit their online application for the Thai eVisa and avoid any extra traveling and waiting in line.
Learn more about the requirements for the Thailand eVisa to ensure a successful trip.