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Diving in Pattaya

Pattaya is famous for its shipwrecks and infamous for its nightlife. However, it does have some pleasing entry and intermediate level reef diving too.

Diving in Pattaya

Quick facts

Pattaya has become synonymous with wreck diving, but there’s certainly more to see underwater than metal. Diving is year around. Some sites do experience some strong current making them great drift dives but unsuitable for less experienced divers. Access to any site is by boat and focussed on three main areas locally known as the Near Islands, the Far Islands, and Samae San Islands.

As the name might suggest, the Near Islands are closest and, therefore, most frequently visited. Koh Larn, Koh Sak, and Koh Krok are the three islands that make up this group. They’re a great place to spot turtles and sharks maybe the only place in the world you can dive a submerged restaurant. Close by lies the HTMS Kood. This area offers some suitable entry level diving and much to keep the more advanced entertained too.

The Far Islands comprise of six islands. These are less dived and often experience better visibility than the sites closer to shore. They are worth the hour trip to get here. These sites are certainly richer in life and colour, but conditions can be unpredictable. The HTMS Khram lies here and is also richer than its Near Island sister wreck.

Koh Chuang and Koh Chan make up the Samae San Islands, these sites see fewer divers than the Far Islands. There's some good macro diving here. This area is probably most famous for being home to the Hardeep Wreck.

When to go

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HTMS Khram – Located off Pattaya, this Thai Navy landing craft was purpose-sunk as an artificial reef in 2003. It lies upright at about 30 metres / 100 feet with the uppermost part at about 15 metres / 50 feet. It’s easy to see into the bridge and radio room and divers can peek into the rest of the hull through large holes. A healthy population of reef fish have moved in and marine life highlights include blue spotted rays, resting bamboo sharks, large groupers, scorpionfish, batfish, sweetlips and passing hawksbill turtles. HTMS Kood / HTMS Khut - Originally a World War II U.S. landing ship which was purpose-sunk as an artificial reef in 2006, the deepest point of this wreck now lies at 30 metres / 100 feet below the surface with the decks in the 25 metre / 82 feet range and the tip of the conning tower at 12 metres / 40 feet. Common marine life spotted here include schools of barracuda, sting rays, scorpionfish, giant puffers and a plethora of reef fish. This is an excellent dive site for advanced and wreck divers. Hardeep Wreck– Originally known as the SS Suddhadib, the Hardeep was attacked and sunk by British Allied bombers in the latter part of World War II. This 64 metre / 210 foot long cargo ship lies on her starboard side at 30 metres / 100 feet and over the last 60 years has become a flourishing artificial reef, encrusted in coral. When diving the Hardeep expect to see numerous nudibranch and crabs, batfish, large groupers, angelfish, blue spotted sting rays, lionfish, sweetlips and a host of smaller, colourful reef fish. Koh Chuang – The southernmost point of Koh Chuang Island boasts a healthy fringing coral reef abundant in hard corals and small, colourful reef fish. Cuttlefish and turtles are occasionally spotted here, with dive sites offering relatively shallow and easy conditions. Other highlights include blue spotted sting rays, moray eels, fusiliers, angelfish and butterflyfish Shark Point – As one would expect from the name, shark point is a good place to spot sharks. In particular, juvenile tawny nurse and bamboo sharks. These shy and harmless species hide out under corals and rocks during the day, becoming more active at night. Shark point offers colourful soft corals, a variety of fish life and occasional turtle and cuttlefish sightings.

What to see

Pattaya offers a surprising range of marine life and both hard and soft coral. Both hawksbill and leatherback turtles frequent the area. Batfish shimmer in the blue, trevallies school and barracuda stalk. You’ll also have the chance to see blacktip, nurse, tawny and bamboo sharks too, and macro lovers will encounter seahorses, porcelain crabs and whip coral shrimp. The colourful reef dwellers like butterflyfish, angelfish, parrotfish and wrasse are plentiful and varied proving wrong the conception that Pattaya is just about shipwrecks.


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Prior to the Vietnam War, Pattaya was a simple fishing town. American soldiers on leave seem to be responsible for initiating its development as a resort area. Being just 90 miles (160km) south of Bangkok has most likely contributed to its vast development. It’s home to Asia's largest beachfront shopping mall; that nicely demonstrates the scale of its growth.

Pattaya is not like other Thai beach resorts areas. It’s synonymous with the seedier side of Thailand and certainly not for you if you are easily offended or embarrassed. There are more respectable parts of the area, but these are in the minority. Efforts are being made to change this reputation, but it’s a way off from being recommendable for families. The flip side of this is that the nightlife here is lively and plentiful, brash and bold.

Other attractions

Pattaya's nightlife has become an attraction in its own right. Experience the loud, neon-filled entertainment zone which centres on Walking Street. For more traditional entertainment, visit the floating market or Big Buddha Hill. There’s even a ‘Ripleys Believe It or Not!’ theme park in Pattaya and a Flight of the Gibbon ziplining experience too.

Getting there

You can reach Pattaya by road from Bangkok in under 3 hours. Buses run hourly from 7 am to 10 pm and connect directly from Suvarnabhumi Airport. You can arrange a private taxi if you wish. The closest airport to Pattaya is around an hour away by road, and there are no connections available from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. It’s only really worth flying if you are connecting from elsewhere in Thailand or Asia.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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