Tag Archives: diving

Activities To Avoid in Thailand

Thailand is a place of beauty, adventure and there are so many amazing activities to try here, that after three years of living here, I am still finding new activities and places to visit. Unfortunately there are also a number of activities that have given rise to exploitation, both in regard to wildlife and people. I believe that people do have the power to bring about positive change and, particularly in a country like Thailand, where many locals are keen to reap the benefits of tourism, I feel it is important for tourists to do their research into putting their money into ethical enterprises.

For amazing wild animal experiences, read this article about how and where to see wild elephants, dolphins, monkeys, gibbons, whales, whale sharks, turtles and more

Activities to avoid in Thailand include:

·         Riding an elephant. Read here for more information on why riding is a form of abuse and how you can enjoy an ethical elephant experience instead

elephants Thailand
Feeding the ellies some sugarcane at Hug Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai, Thailand

·         Visit a tiger temple or take pictures with tigers. The infamous tourist temple was closed down last year. When it was investigated, they found dead tiger cubs in a freezer and allegations of missing adult tigers thought to have been sold on the black market to China for tiger bones. This scandal is on top of the commonly held assumption that these tigers are drugged in order for tourists to take photos with them. I personally feel that the claim that people can get close to them because they are domesticated tigers brought up around people does not have any ground.  Getting into a cage with a grown adult tiger is dangerous, no matter how the animal was raised. Read more about the truth on the BBC website here

 

 

  • Go to a pingpong show, sex show or participate in any activities relating to the sex industry. Aside from my personal feelings about female exploitation, Thailand is a hub for human trafficking and there is no knowing how the women and men in these industries are treated. 425,500 people are thought to be enslaved in modern day slavery in Thailand. (Source https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/thailand/ )and some of these unpoliced, illegal industries have been found to ‘employ’ underage prostitutes, indicating child abuse and exploitation. Is this really where you want your money going?  This article is an interesting and eye-opening read from the BBC website.

 

  • Sunbathing in the nude, women going topless on a beach and males riding around on scooters without shirts. Spain this is not. Most of Thailand is fairly conservative, whether the locals are Buddhist or Muslim and getting your baps out on the beach is not acceptable here.

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe
  • Standing on coral reefs. Coral is extremely fragile and if you touch it, not only could you end up injured, but you are killing this vital eco-system that the ocean relies upon. Please be extremely careful of where you are stepping in the sea.

 

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Make sure you don’t touch control…but definitely take some snaps
  • Touching wild animals- There are regular news stories in local papers here in Thailand about people touching turtles and I am frequently frustrated by the number of Instagram photos of people holding up a starfish. That is a wild animal and you are disturbing it. Remember to always be respectful of wildlife.

 

activities to avoid Thailand
Whale Watching in Thailand from a respectful distance
  • Taking photos in the markets or streets with ‘pet’ monkeys or gibbons. These are animals that belong in the wild and should not be used in the tourist industry in this way. Often teeth are painfully removed to ensure the animal does not bite people and they are often wearing nappies and chained up.

 

activities to avoid in Thailand
Spotting wild gibbons in Khao Yai National Park – they can be heard all around Thailand, especially at dawn and dusk

·         Fishing and squid fishing. This is more of a personal thing as I am super into scuba diving and would prefer to see the fish underwater rather than kill them. However, I think it is important to be aware that Thailand has a massive problem with over-fishing and unfortunately very little is done to stop this. As a result of corruption many fishing boats can still be seen in marine parks which are supposed to be protected and I often sea fishing nets while scuba diving in supposedly protected areas. Don’t add to this problem.

activities to avoid in Thailand
Every time I go snorkelling or diving I usually find Nemo, help protect him and his habitat

And for things NOT to miss in Thailand check out this blog post

For more information regarding Thai culture and how to be respectful read this post

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Best Diving in Thailand

Thailand has some great dive spots and while some of them may not be as incredible and colourful as they once were, the reasonable prices and wide availability of dive centres will always keep me coming back for more diving.  As far as I know Koh Tao still claims to be one of the cheapest places to do your Open Water certification, which is where I did my first diving certificate 4 years ago, and it’s been an obsession ever since. I have over 70 dives and most of them have taken place in Thailand. I still have a few more dive places to try out in the near future though.

While I’ve dived off many islands and beaches around Thailand the following are my top dive sites that I have returned back to many times:

Diving Koh Phi Phi

Known as a party island, Koh Phi Phi often surprises her divers with some great underwater marine life. Some of the best diving I’ve done in Thailand has been around Phi Phi Marine Park. One dive, my sister and I spotted a turtle, a black tip reef shark AND a leopard shark – all before midday. The coral is generally in pretty good shape, though the waves can make you feel a little queasy on the way out to the dive sites. I recommend using travel bands like these from Amazon Travel Sickness Wristbands (Black)

diving with turtles in Thailand
Diving with turtles in Thailand

Getting there: Fly or take a night bus to Krabi, then approx 2 hour ferry to Koh Phi Phi. You can book joint bus and ferry tickets here. The more tickets you book the cheaper they get.

Stay: I have yet to find a great place to stay in Koh Phi Phi (after around 5 trips at least), I recommend showing up and using the little accommodation office near the pier. Give them your budget and they will find you a place.

Don’t miss: the beach fireshows – after I have been spoilt for fireshows living here, I still think they are impressive and the best in Thailand.

Diving Koh Similan / The Similan Islands

Diving the Similan Islands is usually on the bucket list for divers in Thailand. While the Similan islands are no longer covered on coral and marine life, they still have some great dive sites. Whale sharks and manta rays can be spotted around this area. Day trips here are extremely expensive (when I went we paid 6000 baht for two dives, compared with 2500 baht average in other dive spots around Thailand). Liveaboards are very popular here and you can often get great deals at the end of the season (April, May) if you can be flexible. This whole area is closed off during the rainy season (end of May to October) and even in October you are not guaranteed diving (my liveaboard was cancelled due to enormous waves one October). If you are considering a liveaboard then make sure it includes Richelieu Rock or at least Koh Bon for a chance of manta rays.

diving thailand

Getting there: The jump off point to the Similan Islands is in Khao Lak. You can book your night bus travel here on this website. Alternatives are to fly to Phuket and then travel on (sometimes two buses) two hours North to Khao Lak.

Stay: Beware of cheap accommodation here. I’ve stayed in various dives (pun intended) so nowhere to recommend.

Don’t miss: Khao Lak’s tiny national park with a few secret hidden beaches to discover along the way. For more on Thailand’s National Parks, read my post here

Diving Richelieu Rock

Arguably the best dive site in Thailand, I was lucky enough to spot my first whale shark here and therefore it will forever by up there in my memories of great dives. The dive site has lots of pretty purple coral and is claimed to be one of the best spots for whale sharks in Thailand. ( If only we could hold the whale sharks to that…!). North of the Similan Islands, it’s about a two hour, fairly bumpy, speed boat ride to get there.

diving thailand
4 metre ‘baby’ whale shark at Richelieu Rock, best dive site in Thailand

Same details for Khao Lak, see above.

 

Diving Koh Phangan

Diving on Koh Phangan can be both great and disappointing in my experience. Sail Rock dive site has a lot of shoals of fish so if you’re looking for quantity then diving here can be impressive.  The coral is fairly pretty, although expect a lot of divers underwater around the time of the Full Moon Party.  The visibility is always worse around Full Moon and, unsurprisingly, there is no diving on the whole island for the day after the Full Moon party.  For Full Moon Party Tips, read my post here as I’ve been to 5!

diving thailand
Find Nemo everywhere you dive in Thailand

Getting there: There are several ways of getting to Koh Phangan. Options include flying to Koh Samui + ferry (more expensive but faster), flying to Surat thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat + minivan + ferry, and booking a train or night bus to Chumpon + ferry. You can check out great travel deals here on this island website.

Stay: I loved staying at Seaboard Bungalows in the North and Sail Rock Divers also had some good value, nice rooms. I always use Agoda for finding the best deals.

Don’t miss:  Bottle Beach, it’s one of my favourite quiet beaches in Thailand. Read more about it and other quiet beaches here

Diving Koh Tao

While diving on Koh Tao has seen its reputation take a nose dive (!), it remains one of the cheapest places to get your Open Water Certificate and there are 75+ dive centres to choose from. If you just arrive on the island, use your negotiation skills to get your diving qualification and accommodation throw in together. Be prepared for it to get very busy underwater.

Getting there: there are multiple options. I recommend night bus or train to Chumpon and then ferry from Chumpon to Koh Tao, book your tickets here.

Don’t miss: a trip to Ang Thong Marine Park- I’m yet to go but have heard great things.

 

Ao Nang Islands, Krabi

Many dive shops in Krabi will also advertise taking you to Koh Phi Phi Marine Park, but a cheaper alternative is to stay and dive the local islands.  Visibility is not always the best but when I went I saw two bamboo sharks and I was lucky enough to see this amazing seahorse. I find there can often be lots of marine life to see even when some of these dive sites don’t shout about it. Ao Nang also offers a great jump off point for island hopping around Railay, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Yao Noi and more. 

Getting there: Fly or night bus to Krabi and then take the airport shuttle or songtaew (truck) to Ao Nang area. . Book your bus tickets using this handy website.

Stay: I loved the location and pool at Timber House in Ao Nang, book your stay here on Agoda

diving thailand
Seahorse spotting in Krabi, Thailand

More dive posts coming soon: snorkelling around Koh Lipe was beautiful but I have yet to dive there and I’m planning on a few dives around Phuket once rainy seasons finishes. Watch this space.

Into sea animals? Read about how and where to see pink dolphins in Thailand year round.

And for more island advice, check out my honest island summaries here to help you decide where to visit

Useful Dive Items

 

I never go diving without my Gopro Hero 4. I’m convinced the moment I do is the dive when I will see five sharks, 10 mantas, some dolphins and a whale. Buy GoPro HERO4 BLACK from Amazon here 

It took me a while to figure this out but your underwater dive photos and videos will look shit unless you include a red or orange filter. (Should have listened more on that colour loss part of the Advanced Open Water!) Get yours here Polarpro Red Filter and make sure you remember it when you dive. Or your photos will look like my whale shark one above – very blue!

If you get cold easily then I recommend using a long sleeved rash vest under your shorty wetsuit. I am yet to find a dive shop in Thailand that would give me a long wetsuit (for free). I always use my billabong rash vest to keep warm on those longer, deeper dives. And especially for liveaboards when multiple dives means a lower overall body temperature. Buy a similar one here from Amazon, Dakine Women’s Persuasive Snug Fit Long Sleeve Rashguard

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Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something, I may receive a small commission for it at no extra cost to you.

Thailand: Top 10 Adventures and Activities!

Visiting Thailand? Here are the top 10 adventures and activities that you can do here, written by someone who lives here! Thailand has so much to offer, especially when you dig a little deeper than just the beach parties and Khao San Road in Bangkok!

1. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary. One that rescues elephants and offers no riding! (Hug Elephant Sanctuary I strongly recommend!) Read more here about why you shouldn’t ride elephants and how you can support ethical animal placesReasons to visit Thailand

2. Go to the jungle – Khao Yao National Park is one of my favourite places to visit for activities and adventures like hiking, jungle treks, camping and wildlife spotting. Read more here about Khao Yai and other places near to Bangkok to visit

activities and adventures Thailand
I was lucky enough to spot three wild elephants in Khao Yai National Park. This was an alone adult male.

Or if you want to venture slightly off the beaten track then read my post here about the activities you can do in Thailand’s amazing National Parks

3. Party on a paradise island like Koh Phi Phi or if timings work out head to Koh Phangan for the world famous Full Moon Party…read here for advice for the Full Moon… I should know I’ve been to 5!

adventures activities Thailand
Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe

4. Visit a Bangkok skybar, avoid the incredibly expensive Lebua Sirocco Tower and head to Vertigo or Octave instead. Just as impressive a view and (slightly) more purse friendly.

activities and adventures Thailand

 

5. Go market shopping at Chatachak Weekend market. It’s open Saturday and Sunday and has probably everything you will ever need to buy in your life. Haggle with a smile and be open to getting lost in the middle (items tend to be cheaper there than around the road on the outside).

6. Activities to have to include visiting at least one Buddhist temple. In Bangkok, I love Wat Pho with it’s huge golden reclining Buddha and colourful stupas. Read here for more Bangkok adventures and activities (I live here!) or if you are heading to Northern Thailand like Chiang Mai then do not miss the White Temple in Chiang Rai, it’s a stunning sight to see.

adventures activities Thailand
White Temple in Chiang Rai

7. Eat Thai food. Street food, mango smoothies, desserts, the list goes on. Be adventurous and try some new dishes, sometimes in pays off

adventures activities Thailand
Just not when you’re drunkenly trying scorpions on Khao San Road in Bangkok…

8. Snorkelling Trips are an absolute must do activity. The coral and the fish are worth seeing in all their colours and they trips are great value for money, often full days including a pretty island spot for lunch too. Beware that national park fees will be added in some places so check when you book the tour.

adventures activities Thailand
Snorkelling in Koh Chang

9. Try scuba diving for the first time. Koh Tao, while not the beauty that it once was for diving, is still one of the cheapest places in the world to get qualified as an Open Water diver with PADI or SSI. Be warned, once you start you will be spending all your money on diving around the world in the future. If you’re already qualified or keen to do more then read about the best dive spots in Thailand here

adventures activities Thailand
Dive around tropical coral reefs

10. Get exploring Thailand by island hopping around 100s of islands. Take ferries or kayaks and enjoy anything from party islands to tranquil and deserted spots all around Thailand’s coastline. For (almost) all island summaries check out my blog post on Thailand’s Best Islands here. 

adventures activities Thailand
Beaches on Koh Phangan
Top 3 Things to Enjoy your Adventures and Activities in Thailand
      1. GoPro HERO4 BLACK Never miss a moment above or under the water with a Gopro. I’m obsessed with mine and love the results it produces, particularly diving and snorkelling shots
      2. A bag like this Dry Bag (Green, 5L) to keep all your valuables dry on boats and in monsoon season. Also it generally keeps things sand free too!
      3.  Don’t forget your mosquito spray. I’ve yet to find strong repellent in Thailand so recommend buying in advanvce from somewhere like Amazon Repel 40-Percent DEET

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Adventures Activities Thailand

The Ultimate Bucketlist for Asia

More of a List for Living than a bucketlist, this is to never be completed, to be ever-growing and inspiring me for the next adventure!

(Edited June 2017)

  • Wreck diving in Coron, Philippines
  • Visit Myanmar
  • Climb a volcano for sunrise
  • Visit unseen Thailand
  • Do a liveaboard in Indonesia – Komodo?
  • Kayak with dolphins
  • Chill out on the 4000 islands in Laos
  • Visit desert islands in Thailand
  • Try kitesurfing
  • See manta rays
  • Dive with sharks
  • Travel India  but there’s way more to see!
  • See the Taj Mahal
  • Sleep in the desert
  • Celebrate Songkran – the Thai New Year Water Fight festival!
  • See orangutans
  • Dive with hammerhead sharks
  • Visit Borneo
  • Go to ALL the Thai islands
  • Go to China
  • See pandas in the wild
  • See wild elephants
  • Go hangliding off a mountain
  • Snorkel with whale sharks
  • Get better at surfing in Bali
  • Live in an exotic country
  • Volunteer
  • Work in a dive shop as a divemaster
  • Spend months travelling and diving the Philippines
  • Do a liveaboard dive boat
  • Live near the beach
  • Teach abroad in South East Asia
  • Learn to scuba dive
  • Get the top teaching qualification
  • Learn to salsa dance
  • Ski in Korea
  • See wild tigers in India
  • See blue whales off Sri Lanka

 

What else is on yours?

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