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Diving in Thailand pt 1

Situated betwixt two seas: the South China Sea to the east, off the Gulf of Thailand, and the Andaman Sea to the west, Thailand has managed to develop a substantial diving industry. Blessed with beautiful white sand beaches, exotic islands and great weather, persuading travellers and holiday makers to don the flippers has never been too difficult.

Diving conditions are good, though not quite up to the standards of Australia or the Red Sea but up there with the best all the same. Thailand’s diving industry is also highly competitive, which can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand high levels of competition have made for extremely affordable diving but conversely there have also been reports that this has led to cost cutting and a lowering of safety standards.

Having it’s dive sites split between east and west has meant that there’s pretty much good diving all year round. So whatever time of year it is there should be good diving conditions somewhere off the Thai coast. Top Thai dive sites are generally considered Koh Tao (Turtle Island) off the east coast and Similan, Hin Mouang and Surin Island off the west.

The best diving is generally island based which means a stay on one of Thailand world famous islands, unless you go out on a dive boat for a few days.

For the time constrained or travel weary Thailand’s eastern coast out towards Cambodia offers diving at Koh Samet, Koh Chang and from there the few other less visited islands of Koh Muk and Koh Kut.

Getting There

Commercial flights run to Phuket and Samui aiports, though options for Samui are somewhat limited. Most domestic budget airlines fly in to Phuket and quite a few international airlines too but the only airlines flying in to Samui are Bangkok Airways (a somewhat expensive “boutique” airline) and Malaysia’s new offering, Firefly. However, Firefly only flies to and from Penang.

Overnight trains and buses are you best bet. See this post for details of train/bus to the south. From Surat Thani it’s a case of branching off on either direction to either the east or west coast. Or for Koh Tao follow the advice for the full moon parties here. More on travel to each area to follow.

There will be more to follow, watch this space.

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