Tag Archives: diving

Koh Mak Island Thailand

Please note: this post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a booking I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I loved visiting the Thai island of Koh Mak. My friends and I couldn’t decide between Ko Mak or Koh Kood so we did both! We spent 4 nights on each during a week’s holiday from working in Bangkok in February 2022 so Thailand during covid times.

Is Koh Mak worth visiting?

Absolutely yes. I loved this tiny island full of beaches and chill island vibes. It has a long pier with a bar at the end, perfect for sunset and photos. Everyone was extremely friendly and it’s small enough to walk or cycle to most places, if you don’t mind a couple of hills! The only issue was the sandflies so I recommend not lying on the beach too much as they can be vicious and very itchy.

Where is Koh Mak?

Koh Mak is a tiny island near Koh Chang and Koh Kood and not far from the Cambodian border.

How to get to Koh Mak from Bangkok?

Boonsiri sell package tickets from Bangkok to Koh Mak from Khao San or Latkrabang (near Suvarnabhumi airport) which include a bus ticket to the pier Laem Ngop, ferry ticket from the pier to Koh Mak and it also includes the transfer to your hotel. The cost of getting to Koh Mak from Bangkok was 1000 baht per person. To find a cheaper ticket you can book a government bus, then pay transfer to the pier and then approx. 400-600 baht for the ferry or speedboat. From Koh Mak back to Bangkok you can also do the same deal with Boonsiri. The bus journey from Bangkok is approximately 5 hours. Buses do a stop in the middle and have a toilet onboard. They also provide food/snacks and water.

How to travel from Koh Mak to Koh Kood?

At the time of writing (February 2022) there is a daily ferry between these two islands which takes approximately 45 minutes. You can book tickets easily through your accommodation and no need to book much in advance.

Where to stay on Koh Mak?

As a tiny island, doesn’t have loads of accommodation options but I would 100% recommend where I stayed which was By the Sea Koh Mak. Run by the friendly Silke, this Koh Mak hotel has a beautiful pool and a beach, and it was an absolute delight. I’m very obsessed with the interior design and it has a café with delicious food for breakfast, brunch or lunch. I have been recommending this place to all my friends and would definitely stay there again. In February 2022 the cost of a three person room was approximately 1500 per night making this perfect midrange accommodation. The staff were really friendly and helpful too.

The beautiful pool at By The Sea Koh Mak
The beautiful pool at By The Sea

What to do on Koh Mak?

Spend time at the beach, go snorkelling, rent bicycles or motorbikes and explore the island, go scuba diving, eat delicious food! There are plenty of things to do on Koh Mak for a small island.

Where to eat on Koh Mak?

Koh Mak restaurants that I love:

By the Sea Koh Mak: We loved the food at By the Sea as previously mentioned with smoothie bowls, granola and sandwiches.

Head in the Clouds: We enjoyed lunch here one day with ocean views

Thai Sabai – great Thai food on the beach

Riverside: Not actually next to a river but more of a big pond. Really delicious Thai food and also Italian food with an Italian chef!

Little Red Oven – a chain of pizzerias that are now all over Thailand, really great pizza, can get it delivered too

Food Art Hut – I had a great breakfast here with avocado and bread

Koh Mak bars: where to drink in Koh Mak

My absolute favourite place was Blue Pearl Bar at Cococape Resort. It’s a long pier so you basically are drinking in the middle of the ocean with amazing views and great Koh Mak sunsets.

Photo of the best bar in koh mak
Sunsets from Blue Pearl Bar Koh Mak

Best Beaches Koh Mak

One warning about the beaches on Koh Mak – the presence of sand flies. In February when I visited they were abundant and we all got bitten. Don’t lie on the beach for too long or consider a sunbed or water leggings.

Ao Soun Yai Beach – is one of the biggest stretches of beach and has Thai Sabai restaurant on it. I found this to be the best snorkelling with a reef just in front of Thai Sabai where I saw a lot of tropical fish, some healthy coral and a few string rays!

Koh Kham Beach – This is an island you can see from Ao Soun Yai beach. You can take a little boat to it and it has gorgeous white sand.

Ao Kao Beach Koh Kood – this is the beach in front of By the Sea and Head in the Clouds. It’s decent but I didn’t find any good snorkelling there.

Scuba Diving Koh Mak Island

I did two dives while I stayed there and both dives were in the marine national park nearby. The coral reef was healthy looking and I really enjoyed my dives even though the visibility was not great. I dived with Koh Mak divers who were great at communicating and I ended up with a private divemaster as the boat wasn’t busy.

Thinking about nearby islands? Also check out my post on visiting the nearby island of Koh Kood Thailand

Looking for more scuba diving in Thailand – read this post here about the best diving in Thailand.

Pin this to pinterest to save for later

Best cheap diving in the Maldives – Fuvahmulah Island

Cheap Diving in the Maldives – Fuvahmulah

Having relocated to a tropical Maldivian island in 2018, I couldn’t wait to experience diving in the Maldives. I had heard many amazing stories about the best dive sites in the Maldives and I was so excited to explore local islands, instead of diving on a resort island where I live. 

My first diving trip was in April of this year to the Southern island of Fuvahmulah (pronounced a bit like Formula with stress on the ‘la’!). I was diving with marine biologists, dive instructors and divemasters, some of whom have over 800+ dives to their name and we all agreed it was the best diving we had ever done! Fuvahmulah is nicknamed the ‘Galapagos of the Maldives” and it is not without reason. In three days of diving, we dived with oceanic manta rays, whale sharks, tiger sharks and thresher sharks, staying in budget accommodation and paying a cheap price for diving the Maldives. It is no surprise that Fuvahmulah and neighbouring island Addu are being considered by the government as future biosphere reserves. Read more about that here. 

pin on pinterest scuba diving the maldives

Fuvahmulah – best island in the Maldives for cheap diving?

Fuvahmulah is an island and its own atoll, located in the South of the Maldives. The population is approximately 15,000 people and it is known as the only atoll to have one island. It is a local island, not a resort island and therefore Maldivian laws and customs are more applicable here than in resort islands. As on all local islands, alcohol is prohibited and you cannot wear bikinis on the local beaches. However, I did feel Fuvahmulah was one of the more relaxed places I have visited and I felt comfortable wearing whatever I wanted and wearing bikinis on the dive boat was not an issue.  Fuvahmulah is not a well known tourist destination in the Maldives, although it is becoming increasingly popular for its dive sites and marine life.  

Marine Life in the Maldives, particularly in Fuvahmulah

Fuvahmulah is host to a huge range of marine life. In season, you can scuba dive with oceanic manta rays, thresher sharks, tiger sharks and whale sharks. It is also possible to see hammerhead sharks as well as other sharks like oceanic white tips and silver tips at different times of the year and depending how lucky you are! I feel we saw more megafauna in 3 days of diving than most people see in a lifetime!

 

Cheap diving in the Maldives with tiger sharks
Cheap diving in the Maldives with tiger sharks in Fuvahmulah

How to travel to Fuvahmulah from Male, Maldives

Fuvahmulah island is located in the deep South of the Maldives, so you can fly to Fuvahmulah from Male, the capital. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. At the time of writing, two airlines with a few flights a day fly from Male to Fuvahmulah. While the diving can be cheap, the flights aren’t always so compare different airlines to find a better rate, try Maldivian airline and Fly Me. Manta Air are a new airline with more connections likely to come soon.


Where to stay in Fuvahmulah

Because it is not a well developed tourist destination, Fuvahmulah budget accommodation is limited to a few options. We stayed in a fairly cheap guesthouse Calyx Grand (click here to view) that I would definitely recommend. It was lovely – clean and spacious and the staff were helpful. Much better than I had been expecting considering it was one of the cheaper hotel options! We had a work permit discount for hotels in the Maldives but for a tourist rate please check with the individual hotels. We asked our Maldives dive centre for a morning pick up as it was a short truck ride to the harbour. I would also suggest staying near the harbour as a good option so that you can be close to the dive centres and dive boats.

 

 

 

 

What dive school to choose in Fuvahmulah

There is a well known dive centre called Fuvahmulah Dive School (FDS) who we considering going with as we had many good recommendations. However, we chose Fuvahmulah Tiger Dive  as we booked through a friend and got very cheap dives because of this. One thing I recommend is asking if the dive school gets big group bookings. Some of the diving can be with big groups of Chinese or Indian divers and you may be expected to join dives with one of these large groups. We travelled as a group of 6 divers and therefore requested our own dive guide which was perfect for us. 

 

 


Cost of Diving in Fuvahmulah

Fuvahmulah is one of the cheapest places for budget diving in the Maldives – which makes no sense because the diving is so incredible! Expect to pay upwards from $40 per dive depending on how many dives you are planning to do and if you have your own equipment. As usual with diving packages, the more dives you book, the cheaper the cost of diving.  It is also possible to book Maldives diving package deals, with flights, accommodation and diving all organised for you. However, it is cheaper to book flights, accommodation and diving separately. It is also cheap to dive and travel to Fuvahmulah if you have a Maldives work permit as there are big discounts available.

Cheap diving in the Maldives with oceanic manta rays
Me admiring an oceanic manta ray while scuba diving on a budget in the Maldives


Best Dive Site in the Maldives

We spent most of our 8 dives on the same plateau, a dive site called Farikede, about 15 minutes from the harbour by dive boat. In terms of the marine life, I think it must be one of the top dive sites in the Maldives! We had approximately 30 oceanic manta ray sightings, 26 of which the amazing Manta Trust team managed to ID for us and we added 22 new mantas to their database. Read here for more about Manta Trust and the work they do. We also saw 3 whale sharks, one of whom was new to the Maldives Whaleshark Research Programme and we got to give her a name. On our last day we scuba dived with the biggest whale shark I have ever seen (approx 8-10m) and 2 thresher sharks. The dive site depth ranges down to about 40m and we saw oceanic manta rays near the surface from the moment we jumped from the boat, all the way down to 40m.  The marine life here seemed extremely curious and many of these sightings I would deem encounters, as the mantas and whale sharks seemed just as interested in us as we were in them. Many of the mantas and 1 curious whale shark circled us several times, looking and trying to work out who we were. We wonder if we may be the first humans they had ever seen? 

Cheap diving in the Maldives with whale sharks
A curious whale sharks circles us during one of our dives in Fuvahmulah


Maldives Diving Boat

We scuba dived from a slow traditional boat, Maldivians call a ‘Dhoni’. We were very happy with this as I don’t enjoy diving from speedboats. The boat returned to the harbour after every dive so you can have breaks on land in between dives. Personally we preferred staying on the boat as long as possible and requested to do so after we had ordered snacks from the local cafe near the harbour. Not paying for a liveaboard or an expensive speedboat also kept the diving cheap.  Click here for my recommendations of what to take on a dive boat. 

Cheap diving in the Maldives with tiger sharks
Big fans of our dive boat


The best time to dive the Maldives – when to dive in Fuvahmulah

Diving is possible year round in Fuvahmulah. However, most people agree that diving between November and April is the best season for diving because of the chances of oceanic manta rays, whale sharks, thresher sharks and hammerheads. In rainy season, from June onwards the sea gets rough but the chance of hammerheads increases. The tiger shark dive is available year round because they are fed. More on that to come.


Restaurants and Places to eat in Fuvahmulah

We loved Real Breez restaurant because of the large balcony and good food. Everyone enjoyed the local food and also the Indian cuisine. The cafe by the harbour we also ate at and it serves good local food. We all got obsessed with Kottu Roshi – I definitely recommend trying this Maldivian twist on the traditional Sri Lankan dish. If you’re vegetarian make sure you say so and make it very clear that being vegetarian includes no meat and no fish as vegetarians are still a relatively new concept to the fish-heavy Maldivian diet. 

Maldives Local Island Travel Tip: Be prepared to wait a LONG time for food. This is not a resort island and we often had to wait over an hour (occasionally 2 hours!) for our food to appear. I recommend adapting to the slower pace of island life and also don’t wait until you are hungry to find a restaurant!


Things to Do in Fuvahmulah

  • Visit Thondee – a large pebble beach on the island which includes a nearby restaurant
  • Visit the lakes – Fuvahmulah is unusual because it has freshwater lakes. You can visit and kayak or pedalo one of the lakes as part of Fuvahmulah Nature Park.
  • Go to Addu – take the boat to Addu – somewhere I would like to go in the future as we didn’t have time.
  • Hot Spring with Mud Baths – near one of the lakes

Maldives Liveaboard Diving

It is possible to dive on a liveaboard around Fuvahmulah. As I haven’t dived on a liveaboard I cannot comment on the experience. I will say that we loved being on the island and as the dive sites are all located near the shoreline, it was not necessary to pay for a luxury liveaboard when we could stay in a cheap guesthouse and do budget dives. 

Night Diving in the Maldives

Most dive centres do not offer night diving for safety reasons. The currents can be strong and I’d rather not meet a tiger shark at night time!

For what to pack for a Maldives trip read my Maldives Packing List guide here

Have you visited Fuvahmulah yet? How was your experience? Have you found any other islands for cheap diving in the Maldives? I welcome any recommendations for future affordable dives here in the Maldives!

Interested in diving in South East Asia? I spent 4 years living in Thailand diving all around South East Asia so click here for my list of the best dive sites!

For what to take on a scuba diving holiday or dive boat trip read my blog post here

Pin Me for Later

pin me to pinterest diving in the Maldives on a budget pin me to pinterest diving in the Maldives on a budget

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!

Activities To Avoid in Thailand

Read on to find out what activities to avoid in Thailand and what ethical experiences you should do instead. Having lived in Thailand for 5 years and travelled here extensively, this Thailand travel blog is to help you find out the dos and donts in Thailand and a better way to travel without harming wildlife, the environment and to be careful where you spend your money so it doesn’t harm local people too.

Is it possible to have ethical animal experiences 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 tourists 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 activities involving both people and wildlife.

For other  wild animal experiences in Thailand, read my blog post about how and where to see wild elephants, dolphins, monkeys, gibbons, whales, whale sharks, turtles and more

The truth about elephant riding in Thailand

Many tourists want to ride elephants when visiting Thailand but first hopefully they can ask the following questions and do some research into elephant abuse in Chiang Mai and Phuket. Is it ethical to ride an elephant in Thailand? Where can we ride rescue elephants in Thailand? Is riding an elephant bad for its back?

Riding an elephant is animal abuse. Tourists ask me where to ride an elephant in Thailand, where is the best place for elephant riding and about elephant riding costs and please just stop there. The truth about elephant riding is that it is animal abuse. All elephant riding with seats is a widespread form of animal abuse in Thailand, it deforms the back of the elephant and elephant riding is cruel.  Alternatives to elephant riding include visiting an ethical elephant sanctuary (my recommendations for no riding, the best ethical elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai are here)

Ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand

When I first visited Thailand in 2013 I could only find 2 elephant sanctuaries that refused to offer elephant riding. Nowadays many sanctuaries are refusing to offer elephant riding and it is the tourist demand that has made this change. Your actions can make a difference so let’s make decisions that will help protect elephants rather than harm them. My favourite alternative to elephant riding, and I recommend as even better than a sanctuary is to see wild elephants in Thailand which is, after all, where they belong. Seeing wild elephants in the jungle is one of my bucket list experiences and you can see them in a national park just a few hours from Bangkok – Khao Yai National Park.  Read here for more details  about Khao Yai National park – one of my favourite national parks in Thailand that has a good chance of seeing wild elephants in the jungle.

If you want a more luxury experience to see rescue elephants near Bangkok then my favourite is the I Love Phants Lodge, a rescue centre not only for elephants but many other Thailand animals who were taken from the entertainment industry or the pet trade. Read my I Love Phants Review here and find out why I always recommend this ethical elephant sanctuary near Bangkok which helps elephants in Thailand.

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

The truth about tigers in Thailand: Ethical Tigers Thailand?

Is it ethical to visit Tiger Kingdom in Thailand?  Where can I take photos with tigers in Phuket or Chiang Mai? Are tigers drugged in Tiger Kingdom?

The cruel truth is that there is no such thing as an ethical tiger experience. Tigers are wild, dangerous animals and belong in the jungles of Thailand, not in some sort of petting zoo. Visit a tiger temple in Thailand or take pictures with tigers means you are participating in animal abuse.  The infamous tourist temple “Tiger Temple” fortunately has now been closed down but there are many other “sanctuaries” appearing. When Tiger Temple 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 and therefore I believe the drugging theory is likely. Read more about the truth about Thailand’s tiger temple on the BBC website.

The dark side of Thailand’s sex tourism industry

I strongly recommend avoiding going 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, men and even children 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.

Dos and Don’ts in Thailand: Culture

Respecting Thai culture should be an important consideration when visiting on vacation or backpacking. Sunbathing in the nude, women going topless on a beach and males riding around on scooters without shirts is not considered appropriate or respectful behaviour by the majority of Thai people. 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. I have always felt it is important to be respectful when visiting other countries where the culture is very different to our own.

activities to avoid Thailand

Enjoy beautiful beaches in Koh Lipe

Dos and Donts in Thailand – The Ocean

Another important rule in Thailand is about being respectful to the ocean. Standing on coral reefs damages them and coral reefs are already under severe pressure from climate change and rising ocean temperatures. 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 and inform any other visitors of the same. I feel many tourists stand on coral because they are ignorant of the fact they are damaging it. Please spread the word and don’t be shy about letting other tourists know not to stand on coral! I also think tour operators should be informing tourists so make sure to include them if their boat of tourists are not behaving respectfully towards the ocean.

activities to avoid Thailand

Dos and Donts in Thailand: 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

Dos and Donts in Thailand – Photo Opportunities with wild animals

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

Dos and Donts Thailand – 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

Pin Me for Later

avoid thailand activities avoid thailand activities

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

Pin Me For Later

best diving thailandbest diving thailand

 

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

Pin Me For Later

Adventures Activities Thailand