The capital city of Bangkok is located on the shores of the Chao Phya River. An estimated ten million people live in Bangkok, Thailand’s cultural, industrial and political centre. Although the air quality in Bangkok isn’t great, most travelers spend a couple of days there seeing the sites before heading north to Chang Mai or south to one of the beaches. The Damnoen Saduak floating market and the Grand Palace are two of the more popular sites in Bangkok. Muay Thai, the local martial art, is a very popular event and arenas staging matches can be found in Bangkok and in all major centers.
Located in Thailand’s Northwest Heartland, 700 kilometers north of Bangkok, is the city of Chang Mai. Famed for the old walled city of Buddhist temples, Chang Mai is Thailand’s second most import urban centre. Although the Chang Mai’s metropolitan area has an estimated population of one million people, it lacks the cosmopolitan nature of Bangkok. Silverwork, woodcarving, pottery and other crafts are plentiful in Chang Mai’s markets. Jungle trekking and river rafting tours are available in many of the Northwest Heartland’s national parks.
Situated 862 kilometers south of Bangkok is the island of Phuket. Surrounded by the Andaman Sea, Phuket Island is 49 kilometers long and 22 kilometers wide. All standards of resort, hotels, and guest houses are available. Phuket has five main beaches offering seclusion to those seeking it or night life for those wanting it. Flights to Phuket are available from Bangkok or various Asian gateways. Live-aboard dive boats and day trips are available from Phuket to all dive sites in the Andaman Sea.
Scuba diving in the Andaman Sea is excellent with an amazing array of coral, tropical fish and pelagic species. One of the biggest thrills available to divers is an encounter with a whale shark, As large as 15 meters in length, whale sharks have been seen at all of the popular dive sites surrounding Phuket. Beautiful, graceful, often inquisitive, this friendly giant is a plankton eater, offering scuba divers a non-threatening experience with one of the world’s largest sharks.
Live-aboard dive boats depart from Phuket for a variety of itineraries including: Similan Islands/Richelieu Rocks. The Similan Islands National Park is located approximately 60 nautical miles north-west of Phuket. Rated by many as one of the top ten diving destinations in the world, the Similan Islands offer both challenging deep rock dives and easy shallow coral reef dives. Nine islands with powder sand beaches, breathe taking scenery and secluded yacht anchorages, a Similan Islands vacation can be enjoyed by those seeking adventure or relaxation. Underwater the Similan’s are in a class of their own. House sized boulders piled one on top of the other create a maze of passageways or swim-throughs. Around, through or under the rocks, these passageways can be explored by both novice and experienced divers. Underwater visibility ranges between 20 and 40 meters, while water temperature averages 29 degrees Celsius. Marine life is abundant, including reef dwellers and pelagics.. Soft and hard corals come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. February through April brings a rise in water temperature creating an increase in plankton levels. This increase in plankton attracts manta rays and whale sharks. Top side the islands of this marine park are lush and green with an abundance of bird life. Beautiful white sand beaches are plentiful and the deep powder sand is soft and cool under your feet.
Day trips available from Phuket include Phi Phi Island, Koh Raja Yai, and Shark Point to name only a few. December through March, Phuket’s main diving season day trips run almost everyday. Off season services are reduced, advanced bookings are recommended.
Phi Phi Islands are like so many mythical castles nested amongst the clouds. Sheer vertical cliff walls plunge from the sky to the sea. Streaked with red, eroded, abstract, majestic, unusual, impressive and unique, Phi Phi Islands should not be missed. Burrowing through these massive rock formations is a system of tunnel-like caves, some ascending skyward as is they were cut through the rock by giant termites. Living inside this cave system are thousands of white and black nest swiftlet birds. They construct nests from their own saliva, completely unaware of how prized a delicacy their humble homes have become. Nest harvesters climb makeshift ladders of bamboo as high as 100 meters, risking their lives to harvest these nests. Swiftlet nests are the essential ingredient in bird’s nest soup, and are an expensive delicacy available in many Asian markets and restaurants. Underwater at Phi Phi, this cave and cavern system continues. Penetrating caves requires special procedures and techniques and should only be attempted by certified cave divers. Phi Phi offers many great dive sites including walls covered with soft coral and anemones. In recent years rock climbing has also become a popular activity.
Shark Point is located 15 nautical miles south of Phuket. A rock pinnacle with a small portion of the rock visible from the surface, Shark Point is home to the friendly leopard shark. Growing to a maximum length of two meters, the leopard shark is a bottom dweller. Harmless and friendly, the leopard shark displays none of the characteristics commonly attributed to sharks. Also found at Shark Point is an abundance of brown banded moray eels. Growing to an average length of 50 centimeters, this smaller eel comes of its rock den to entertain divers with the dance of the snake charmer. A marine sanctuary, Shark Point is one of the most popular day trips from Phuket. A kaleidoscopic floral garden of soft coral, hard coral, sea fans, sea anemone, feather starfish; pink, purple, crimson red, and snow white, Shark Point could more aptly be called “Strawberry Fields”.
Koh Racha Yai is situated 15 nautical miles south of Phuket. This is a great place to start your dive vacation, with maximum depths of 20 meters, 20 to 40 meters of visibility and lots of tropical fish. The coral reef is well-preserved with coral heads only five meters below the surface, offering good diving and snorkeling. Days on Raja Island are like a fresh spring morning, a light atmosphere, clear calm seas, peaceful, relaxing and refreshing. Just what you want from your vacation.
South of Phi Phi Island, almost to the Malaysian border, lie the islands of Hin Daeng (red rock) and Hin Muang (purple rock). These colorful pinnacles are known for walls covered in soft corals and pelagic species such as whale sharks, manta rays, devil rays, barracuda and tuna. Not much of Hin Daeng is visable from the surface but underwater is one of Thailand’s best wall dives. The south face of Hin Daeng is a vertical wall that drops to over 60 meters in depth. Leopard sharks inhabit the deeper ledges and schools or grey reef sharks have been seen here. A few hundred meters northeast of Hin Daeng is Hin Muang. Named for its prolific purple soft corals, Hin Muang has much more to offer in terms of marine life than Hin Daeng. Both islands are open water pinnacles and are considered advanced dives. These islands are best reached by live-aboard from Phuket.
The Gulf of Thailand
The waters surrounding Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan offer the best recreational diving in the gulf of Thailand. Scuba diving, especially for beginners, is a big attraction here and has now become part of the local culture. Dive centers are plentiful on these islands and most of the dive sites are reachable by half or full day boat trips. There are no Liveaboards in the Gulf of Thailand, and visibility is not up to par with Scuba Diving in the Andaman Sea.
The Gulf of Thailand is home to some recently discovered Second World War shipwrecks and is becoming a mecca for technical divers.
Contact us today to arrange your Thailand Scuba Diving package.