Thailand's great diving has long been kept somewhat of a secret from the world. Residents of Southeast Asia and those more adventurous divers from Europe and North America however, long ago discovered the wondrous attractions that dwell in our undersea Kingdom. Thailand is blessed with two bountiful seas, the Gulf of Thailand in the East and the Andaman Sea-part of the eastern Indian Ocean-in the West. Thailand's territory stretches from the eastern border with Cambodia, to the western border with Burma, and then south to Malaysia.
The riches that these oceans behold are a delight to those of us that have had the pleasure to dive here. Furthermore, the Kingdom is blessed with a remarkable history and culture, friendly natives who offer friendly service, beautiful national parks, a wide range of accommodation possibilities at every price level and some of the most delicious and extraordinary food and exotic tropical fruits in the world. Often referred to as the "Land of a Thousand Smiles," Thailand is a joyous country in which to travel.
One of the first Thai phrases travelers learn is mai pen rai which literally translates to "it is nothing." It also is used in the same ways that "never mind" or "that's OK" are used in English. However, mai pen rai is more than that-it is almost a philosophy that teaches one to hide problems and keep one's "public face" smiling and happy. For the visitor this attitude creates of feeling of burdens lifted. It makes you feel satisfied, content and cheerful. While exploring the country you'll feel carefree, lighthearted and safe-you'll feel mai pen rai.
Is it any wonder so many of us expatriates have decided to stay, or any wonder that people visit Thailand time and time again?Thailand offers the visiting diver diverse undersea experiences along with an unbelievable amount of top-side recreation. It's the perfect place for a diving holiday. World-class diving, heavenly tropical islands and immaculate white sand beaches await. With water visibility often exceeding 30 meters, an average ocean temperature of around 28º C, and uncommonly calm sea conditions.
Thailand has some of the most comfortable and safe diving environments found anywhere in the world. Every year more and more words are written describing the diverse marine life that prowl the depths of Thailand's oceans and every year more and more divers visit the country.
There are three reasons for this: First, new destinations such as the Burma Banks, the Mergui Archipelago, and the Andaman Islands in the Andaman Sea; and Koh Tao in the Gulf and Koh Chang near the Cambodian border have been made more accessible to a wider variety of visitors. Second, Thailand's infrastructure has vastly improved making it easier to communicate with the people who offer the diving, the dive center owners. Third, the diving boats, diving resorts, diving operations and diving staff have improved their services and amenities so greatly that they now cater to even the most discerning diver. Diving takes place in three general areas: Pattaya, near the capital of Thailand, Bangkok; the southern islands of the Gulf of Thailand; and the two triangles of diving in the Andaman Sea on the west coast of Thailand's isthmus. The pages that follow will describe these areas in detail and will give all of you an idea of what to expect when planning a dive trip here.
Diving activity takes place in three general areas: Pattaya, close and convenient to Bangkok; the islands of the Gulf of Thailand including Ko Samui and Ko Tao; and on the west coast of Thailand, in Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, and Krabi, where diving is offered in the two Andaman Sea triangles.
Pattaya: Fun City Frequently referred to as "Southeast Asia's Fun Resort", Pattaya is located just a short two hour drive from Bangkok. A weekend escape for those living a chaotic life in the capital, Pattaya's dive sites stretch from Pattaya Bay to the border of Cambodia. Although mainly a popular place in Thailand for diving instruction, the waters around Pattaya can offer the experienced diver the opportunity to dive on ship wrecks, an activity sadly lacking in other locations around the country. From pleasant diving during the day, to the exotic and frantic bar and entertainment scene at night, Pattaya is the most comprehensive resort in Thailand and attracts a wide variety of visitors from all over the world.
Thailand's diving possibilities are almost endless. With world- class dive sites heavenly tropical islands and immaculate white sand beaches, Thailand's undersea kingdom is the perfect destination for a dedicated or casual diving holiday. Thailand is a remarkable country full of history and culture, friendly natives who offer friendly service, beautiful national parks, a wide range of accommodation possibilities at every price level, and some of the most delicious and extraordinary food and exotic tropical fruits in the world. And with over 50 dive centers located on islands and towns in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea, visiting some the best dive sites in the world has never been easier.
Diving environments range from deep, underwater mountains, to breathtaking pinnacles rising out of the sea; from shall pristine coral gardens to dramatic under- sea formations created by huge granite boulders; from plunging limestone walls to large dramatic caves.
Our reefs feature hundreds of species of both hard and soft corals. Large pelagic fish including whale sharks, silver tip sharks, and manta rays are seen frequently The amount and variety of tropical Indo-Pacific fish will impress even the most seasoned diver.
Masks, fms and snorkels are readily available for rent not only at dive centres but also through guesthouses in beach areas. If you're particular about the quality and condition of the equipment you use, however, you might be better off bringing your own mask and snorkel - some of the stuff for rent is second-rate. And people with large heads may have difficulty finding masks that fit since most of the masks are made, or imported, for Thai heads.