Diving in Thailand – Introduction
Without a doubt Thailand is home to some of the finest and most beautiful beaches and islands in the world, surrounded by crystal clear water and stunning coral. And that is the main reason why the number of divers coming to Thailand has escalated over the past decade or so.
Even though the best time of the year to dive in Thailand is between October and June, it is still perfectly possible to dive virtually any day of the year. As diving in Thailand is considered one of the safest destinations for diving and snorkeling in the world, it is perfect for first-timers wanting to try these pastimes out.
The sea visibility in some places of Thailand is almost unbelievable; which means talking about distances of up to 30 meters – unheard of in most parts of the world. One can enjoy splendid sights of underwater mountains, coral gardens, undersea rock formations, hard and soft coral, whale sharks, silver tip sharks, manta rays and even sunken battleships.
History of Diving in Thailand
Diving in Thailand is a recently new phenomenon beginning with the American Navy SEALs during the Vietnam War. Thailand’s first ever diving store was opened in Pattaya in just 1977 and shortly after that very year, the popularity of diving for both Thais and foreigners in Thailand exploded.
After Pattaya, the next destination to see divers arriving by the busload was Phuket and they were soon heading out to dive in the gorgeous Similan Islands and the rest of the stunning Andaman Sea. In the fact, the Similan islands have been ranked as one of the top ten diving sites in the entire world. Today, diving is popular all over the Andaman Sea, including the virtually unseen Tarutao and Surin islands.
Over on the other side of Thailand in the Gulf of China, Ko Tao (Turtle Island) has recently emerged as the biggest diving destination in Thailand with over 20 major centers located on the island.
It is believed that Thailand is now the most popular destination for diving in the whole of Asia.
Why Dive in Thailand?
So, how come diving in Thailand has turned into a phenomenal success?
Superb locations for every diver of every skill
High standard of diving centers
Diving is possible all year round
Reasonable cost of diving
Main centers are affiliated with PADI or other recognizable dive bodies
Courses are held in a variety of different languages
Latest amenities and excellent boats
Huge range of sites – something for everyone
Thailand has two unique distinct oceanic zones
The Similan Islands are a prime example of encouraging divers, while at the same time maintaining ecological stability and preserving biological diversity of flora and fauna. From 1999 to 2003 the Similans attained a five fold increase in the amount of visitors, which was just 10,000 increased to 50,000 and most of them were divers. The income grew in that time from 22,000USD to a staggering 460,000USD with foreign divers each spending an average of roughly 1,200USD.
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