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Best diving location in Thailand?

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by Salt, Feb 17, 2016.

  1. Salt

    Salt Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: New England
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    23
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    I am going to be doing a month of backpacking in March. Would like to get in some diving. My travel guide, "Rough Guide to Thailand", recommends the following areas:

    East Coast
    Ko Chang
    Pattaya

    Andaman Coast
    Ao Nang
    Khao Lak
    Ko Lanta
    Ko Phi Phi
    Phuket

    Gulf Coast
    Ko PhaNgan
    Ko Samui
    Ko Tao

    Deep South
    Ko Lipe

    That's a lot of locations. And never having been to Thailand, it's all just a bunch of meaningless names to me. Can anybody help me narrow them down. Where's the best diving? Where is the cheapest (but still decent)? If you could only do one or two, where would you go?

    I hear there are some good cheap liveaboards out to the Similan islands too.

    Thanks.

    P.S. I have my AOW and about 75 dives under my belt.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
  2. lord khram

    lord khram Loggerhead Turtle

    1,312
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    Andaman Coast is by far the best Thailand has to offer. Diving in the gulf of Thailand is really not that great.
     
    stevenl likes this.
  3. red_barbarian

    red_barbarian Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: home is where the suitcase is
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    Given that the OP stated that this was a backpack travel trip, cost may be a factor as well. OP you may find Ko Tao the best bang for your buck if cost is a major concern for you. If you simply want the best sites available then as above the Andaman coast is the best on offer in Thailand. Be aware however that over the years the quality of diving in Thailand has degraded and the costs have gone up.
     
  4. Lemuzzon

    Lemuzzon Angel Fish

    50
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    Those places are all the best known places. I'm not saying that's a bad thing at all, I'm just saying you don't need a book to find out about them.

    Especially if you're backpacking, I say throw the book away, book a flight from Bangkok to Koh Samui and then just follow the advice of the people you meet from there. Koh Tao was where I got certified and is my favourite place in Thailand. Koh Phi Phi is also awesome and has good diving nearby.

    Basically if you start in Koh Samui you can hit all those places (and they are ALL worth it at least for the topside life) by travelling from East to West. Or, if you it's more convenient, you can start in Phuket and travel West to East.

    The only place I wouldn't recommend on that list is Pattaya. I'm not aware of any great diving there and it's kind of a grungy, very touristy suburb of Bangkok. I've also never been to Koh Lipe, so I can't comment on that.
     
  5. Buadhai

    Buadhai Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Korat, Thailand
    713
    174
    43
    IMHO the best diving in Thailand currently is the South Andaman via liveaboard:
    1. It's less crowded with dive boats than the Similans
    2. The islands are beautiful. I could spend a week at Koh Ha
    3. The dive sites are, mostly, in good shape (see #1)
    4. If the dives are scheduled right (a couple in the early morning and a couple more in the late afternoon or evening) then you'll miss all the day trippers from Phi Phi and Lanta.
    I'm doing three liveaboards this year. Next week is the North Andaman. My wife's only been once and this was her choice. South Andaman in May. Losin and the southern Gulf in September. Losin is perhaps my favorite place to dive, but it didn't seem to make the Rough Guide. Maybe that's why I like it.

    I've been to Koh Tao several times and never had any good diving there. Probably just bad luck, but I don't plan to go back.

    As usual, YMMV.
     
    KCrofoot likes this.
  6. Salt

    Salt Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: New England
    76
    23
    8
    Okay, now that I am in Bancock and have my bearings a little bit:

    Will start off on Koh Tao. Taking the overnight train to Chumphon then ferry. Will probably do 2-3 days diving there and see how I like it. Looking at Scuba Junction or Roctopus as a smaller operation that might get me out to the better dive sites.

    Then Koh Lanta, then Koh Phi Phi, then to Phuket to see if I can find a cheap live aboard (maybe just 3 day).

    Not sure how much diving I will get in at the other places. There is a limit to the funds for diving. I guess the dilemma is that Koh Tao is the cheapest but not the best. So trying to figure out how to balance that.

    Then up north to Chiang Mai for non-diving stuff.

    How does that sound for a plan?
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
  7. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada Solo Diver Staff Member

    16,817
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    Enjoy. You've been forewarned about the Koh Tao diving but are going anyway. But the island us beautiful. Enjoy enjoy. Truly. I loved it there despite being so disappointed in the diving. There are some sites much less disappointing and hopefully you'll get to most of those and then it'll seem like a much better trip altogether. :)
     
  8. hippiedive

    hippiedive Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: United States
    17
    3
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    I agree with Buadhai. So many dive boats on the sites in the Similans. If you don't mind seeing tons of divers then maybe it won't bother you. I prefer less crowded conditions. The best dive imo on Ko Tao...chumpon pinnacle is chock full of divers. Other sites down near the Cambodian border are a better option for the gulf. The S. Andaman is the best bet but the reefs there are not as good as the Similans used to be. When I dove the Similans 15 years ago I saw 7 mantas and 4 different species of sharks on one dive. Good luck seeing that these days.
     
  9. Zippsy

    Zippsy Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: SIngapore
    1,817
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    Richelieu Rock. Today, we had the best dives I've ever done there with incredible viz and more fish on a single site than I've ever seen (including at Sipadan, Raja Ampat and Komodo). The best part was that there were only three boats there as every headed to Koh Tachi to see a couple of mantas. Magic at a world class dive site.
     
  10. hippiedive

    hippiedive Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: United States
    17
    3
    3
    That's good to hear Zippsy. Thanks for the update. I'll be there in 5 weeks on a 4 day trip...just before monsoon season and hoping the weather will hold up. It is still cheaper than the other 3 locations you mentioned...that's why I go there. Then will head down South to Hin Daeng/Muang.
     
    Zippsy likes this.

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