Diving In Thailand
Pattaya is a vibrant coastal city with all modern conveniences, excellent shopping and spectacular nightlife. The city, less than
rwo hours southeast of Bangkok by road, was the first place in Thailand to become developed as a tourist destination. Every
imaginable kind of water sport and seaside activity is available here. Water-skiing, wakeboarding, jetskiing, sailing, windsurfing,
fishing and parasailing are easily organised. Back on land, why not try go-carting, golf, bowling, archery, target shooting, tennis
or horse riding? Pattaya was also the birthplace of the diving industry in Thailand and there are dozens of dive shops offering
courses and tours to any 1evel and in any language.
Ko Larn ( Larn Island )
Ko Larn is the most popular offshore island, with quiet picturesque beaches and its own accommodation. This,
together with Ko Sak and Ko Krok are the most popular dive sites for beginners. Further from the mainland, Ko
Rin and Ko Man Wichai have better visibility and stronger currents suitable for more experienced divers. Further
southeast are the wreck diving sites that Pattaya is most famous for
This small island, off Rayong on the southeastetn sea- board, is one of the seven national marine parks in Thailand. It is a
favourite of Thai visitors, although far fewer foreign visitors have discovered it, and famous for its soft white sands. Favourite
activities on Ko Samet -apart from relaxing on the beach -include windsurfing and diving. Several of the guesthouses on the
island arrange trips for swimming and snorkelling and exploring nearby uninhabited islands.
Ko Chang in Trat Province near the Cambodian border is the largest island in Thailand after Phuket But although
it is big, beautiful and only 400 kilometres from Bangkok, it remains serene and undeveloped, Almost 70 percent
of Ko Chang is undisturbed island rainforest, some of the best preserved in Thailand. Its pristine beaches and
unhurried way of life make it the perfect destination for those looking for an idyllic tropical island getaway.
Because of its unspoiled interior, walking is one of Ko Chang's most popular activities, with trail, allover the island
for any level of skill and ambition These rontes can also be travelled by mountain bike, available at Hat Kaibai and Hat Sai
Khao beaches. Ko Chang is becoming increasingly popular as a water sports centre, with dive shops on Hat Kaibai and Hat
Sai Khao and excellent diving and snorkelling sites allover the island The area's topography is also perfect for sea-canoeing,
and these, as well as sail boats can be rented from many guesthouses and hotels.
Mu Ko Chang National Park
Mu Ko Chang National Marioe Park comprises 46 islands apart from Ko Chang itself, 192 square
kilometres of land in 450 square kilometres of sea. The park offers some fantastic diving and snorkelling,
as well as pristine islands, beautiful seascapes and idyllic beaches and coves that can be visited by boat or
sea-canoe from Ko Chang. Ko Kut and Ko Mak are the largest after Ko Chang, with simple accomodation.
Ko Mak you can rent jeeps and motorbikes to explore the island's wild interior and organise diving trips to uninhabited islaods.
The small islands of Ko Rang and Ko Rayang oear Ko Kut are renowned for their colourful coral. For perhaps the best diving in
the park, check out the smaller islands of Ko Wai and Ko Lao-ya.
The town of Chumphon is the gateway to the golden South. Many visitors know it as the departure port for the
dive haven of Ko Tao, two-and-a-half honrs away by speedboat. Bnt in fact Chumphon has more than a few
attractions of its own. It too has a thriving diving industry, thanks to the picturesqne islands in the Chumphon sea,
and some beautiful beaches along its 222- kilometre coastline. The most famous of these is Hat Thung Wua
Laen; extremely attractive and boasting a wide range of tourist facilities plus an annual windsurfing competition
in March or April. South of Chumphon is Hat Arunothai, a six-kilometre, palm-fringed beach that houses the shrine of HRH Prince
Chumphon, the father of the Thai Navy.
Chumphon Sea islands
Ko Mattra is a large island with spectacular rocks, a coral reef and a rare crab called poo kai - or chicken
crab - which climbs trees and cheeps like a chick. Ko Raet also has an extensive and colourful coral reef.
Great diving and snorkelling spots are to be found around the islands of Ko Ngam Yai, Ko Ngam Noi, Ko
Samet, Ko Rang Kachiu, Ko Maphrao and Ko Chorakhe. The undersea landscape of the Chumphon isles is
remarkably varied, with caves, rock piles and large coral colonies. Look out in particular for the famous black coral with shades
of white, gold and yellow, and several species of marine flower.
Surat Thani, meaning "City of the decent people", is known to many visitors as an embarkation point to the famous islands of Ko
Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao. But the mainland town, and the eponymous province boast some unforgettable attractions of
their own. Khao Tha Phet Wildlife and Nature Education Centre is just six kilometres from the provincial capital From the summit
of Khao Tha Phet, there are fantastic views of the Tapi River and the town of Surat Thani. The park also has a well-managed
zoo. To the west of Surat Thani Province is Khao Sok National Park, boasting more than 100 islands in its vast Cheo Lan
Reservoir. The park shelters a huge variety of wildlife; from leopards to wild elephants, tigers and the Malayan sun bear. Khao
Sok is also home to the highest flower in the world, the wild lotus, whose bloom can be up to 80 centimetres in diameteL Hiking
trails in the park lead to many waterfalls
visits to Ang Thong National Marine Park. Ko Samui's main beaches are Chaweng -a long and
stunning golden crescent framed by rocks and green hills -and its neighbour Lamai. There are
scores of attrac-tive resorts on these and all over the island. There are many good diving sites
off Samui, the most famous being Hin Bai, or Sail Rock. Jutting out of the water 18 kilometres
offshore, it is covered below the surface in beautiful green and yellow coral and frequented by
large marine animals such as sharks and rays. Because of its size and reputation, Samui
boasts all the facilities and activities you could wish for; scuba diving is available on the main
beaches, as is windsurfing, wakeboarding, sailin and jetskiing.
The third biggest island in Thailand, Ko Samui is tamous as the archetypal tropical island paradise. It was, along with Phuket,
one of the first of Thai-land's islands to be discovered by tourists a mere 20 years ago. Despire the addition of an airport, the
isle remains relatively undevel-oped for its status as a premier international tourist destination -the island's regulations prevent
structures rising higher than the palms. As well as a destination itself, Ko Samui is an embarkation point for Ko Pha-ngan and
The island has developed a reputation as a quieter and less developed alternative to Ko Samui, and still has many deserted
beaches. The live coral formations around the island make snorkelling perenially popular, and scuba diving trips to some of the
best spots in the Gulf depart from the islandis main beach, Hat Rin. Tours leave the main port, Thong Sala, for excursions to the
Ang Thong National Marine park, and there are four pictur-esque waterfalls in the islands interior, one of which, Than Sadet,
bears the royacinsignia, carved into the rock, of three of Thailand's kings. Mountain bikes are available at Thong Sala and Hat
Rin to explore the island.
The tiny, undeveloped gem of Ko Tao or Turtle Island is just 21 square kilometres, yet it is the beating heart of diving in the Gulf
of Thailand and home to an incredible 20 diving schools and more than lOO professional instructors. Ko Tao's proximity to
under-water classrooms" makes it ideal for beginners. There are dive sites just one kilometre from the
island where you can see pelagics, large schools of great barracudas, big-eyed jacks, tuna and giant
travellys. There are also clown fish, shark whales and swordfish. Ko Tao.s is also a departure point for
trips to the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park, and its coral makes it great for snorkelling as well
Ko Nang Yuan
Just one kilometre north of Ko Tao is the beautiful island of Ko Nang Yuan, the only place in the
world where three islands are joined together by a sandbar. The island is worth exploring by foot,
but is also home to a variety of great dive sites. If you are diving at White Rock, look out for a local
personality, Trevor the Terrible Trigger Fish. Trevor vigorously guards its nest and its favourite trick
is to ambush unsuspecting divers from behind a rock.
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