From deep drop-offs and pinnacles to stunning reefs and wrecks, scuba diving in Thailand is a colourful and action-packed underwater adventure. Between the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea, the best Thailand liveaboard boats will help you make the most of experiencing the marine world in this region.
Thailand is home to a number of world class diving sites so it’s no surprise scuba diving is such a big industry, attracting divers from all over the globe. But that means it can be hard to decide where to go and what liveaboard to choose.
The Adventure Junkies is here to help make all of your diving decisions easier, so let’s take a look at the top Thailand liveaboard boats and how to choose the best one for you.
For more of our liveaboard recommendations, check out these popular articles:
QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST THAILAND LIVEABOARD TRIPS
- DIVA ANDAMAN
- THAILAND AGGRESSOR
- THE JUNK
- DEEP ANDAMAN QUEEN
- MARCO POLO
- MANTA QUEEN I
- MV BAVARIA
THAILAND LIVEABOARD REVIEWS
Photo Credit: Diva Andaman Liveaboard
The 35m Diva Andaman custom-built diving boat brings divers to the Similans, Mergui Archipelago and Andaman Islands. The vessel is described as a luxurious 20th century sailing schooner, so it is one of the more expensive dive liveaboards in Thailand. It has a photography and camera station, air conditioned cabins, massages available and snorkeling and kayaking for non-diving activities. The crew speak English, Dutch, German, Thai, French, Chinese, and Japanese. The Diva Andaman also offers Advanced Open Water certification for divers wanting to gain more confidence and experience. You’ll need to book this liveaboard 6 months in advance.
Photo Credit: Thailand Aggressor Liveaboard
The Thailand Aggressor is a 35m yacht which caters for dive cruises year-round, offering up to five dives each day as well as night dives around the Andaman Sea and Myanmar. A crew of 8 is ready to cater for up to 16 guests. Meals onboard are a mix of local and American cuisine with complementary soft drinks, iced tea, beer and wine. There’s a hot tub on deck, a camera station with separate camera rinse, entertainment area and air conditioned lounge. You can advance your dive training with course such as Advanced Open Water, Nitrox certification, Underwater Photography and Videography.
Photo Credit: Hallelujah Liveaboard
The spacious Hallelujah is a 35m meter boat catering for up to 25 divers around the Similan Islands and Richelieu Rock with the chance to see whale sharks, leopard sharks, manta rays and turtles. The boat features ensuite bathrooms in its cabin, camera stations, outdoor dining and a mix of local and Western cuisine. Courses on offer include an intro to scuba, Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certification. There are land excursions available for non-divers or divers wanting a rest out of the water.
Photo Credit: The Junk Liveaboard
The Junk takes divers to the Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon or Phi Phi Island. The 33m vessel has 6 cabins catering for up to 18 divers. The vessel was built in 1962 and renovated in 1998 and offers incredible charm – so much so that the boat has even been used in several films, including James Bond’s The Man With The Golden Gun! The Junk only offers short trips so it’s ideal for divers on a time constraint who still want to make the most of what Thailand has to offer. There’s an air conditioned salon, entertainment system and shaded sun-deck. The crew speak English and Japanese.
DEEP ANDAMAN QUEEN
Photo Credit: Deep Andaman Queen Liveaboard
The Deep Andaman Queen is one of the few dive liveaboards in Thailand which offer free wifi onboard – providing it’s not out range. This 28m custom-built dive boat was constructed in 2012 and has 9 ensuite air-conditioned cabins onboard catering for up to 21 guests. It has a large dive platform, and two rinse stations and a photography station. The crew speaks English, Dutch, German, Thai, French, Chinese, and Spanish. Courses on offer include a scuba refresher, Advanced Open Water, Nitrox, Underwater Photography, Deep Diver and Night Diver certifications.
Photo Credit: Marco Polo Liveaboard
Marco Polo recently undertook a major overhaul and renovation (2016) and now has 7 cabins with 7 crew and a maximum number of 14 guests. The yacht takes divers out to Similan Islands, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock. It’s ideal for Nitrox divers as there is no surcharge. The boat has a camera station, air conditioned saloon and cabins, sun deck, charging stations and the crew speaks English, German and Thai. Divers can train for their Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certification.
Photo Credit: Giamani Liveaboard
The MV Giamani is a small dive boat with only 10 guests at a time, ideal for those who want a more intimate dive experience. There are just five cabins on the 24 meter boat. This liveaboard is ideal of photographers due to the spacious dive deck with camera table and rinse tanks and takes divers out to Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon and Myanmar/Burma. The Giamana departs from Phuket and offers from 1 to 6 night itineraries. There are kids scuba courses available as well as intro dives, scuba refresher, Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certification. The crew speaks English, German, Thai, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
Photo Credit: Pawara Liveaboard
The Pawara is one of three dive boats on this list that offers internet onboard, as well as being one of the more affordable options, so it’s a good choice if you are a digital nomad. The 35m vessel is a custom built Similan Islands liveaboard offering 4-night itineraries. There are 12 air conditioned cabins catering for up to 24 guests. The entertainment area has TV, DVD, sound system, games and even karaoke for those keen to give those vocal chords a release. Meals on offer include Thai and International cuisine with cookies, fruit, tea, coffee and water available all day. Languages spoken onboard are English, Thai, French, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese.
MANTA QUEEN 1
Photo Credit: Manta Queen 1 Liveaboard
The Manta Queen 1 is an ideal option for those on a budget. The 27m boat caters for up to 22 guests for 4 day and 4 night liveaboard diving in Similan Islands, Richelieu Rock, Koh Bon. Each of the 10 cabins has air conditioning and shared bathrooms. There’s no camera or photography station, so keep that in mind if you’re an underwater photographer. Courses on offer include Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver, Divemaster, Nitrox and Deep Diver certification, making it ideal for all levels of diving.
Photo Credit: MV Bavaria Liveaboard
This 28m vessel is a new dive boat, built in 2016, catering for up to 24 guests. There’s free wifi available and Nitrox for a surcharge and air conditioning onboard and is another affordable option for those on a budget. Non divers get a 25% discount. But given there are plenty of courses for all levels – from intro dives and Open Water and a variety of specialties, there’s no excuse not to be diving! There are land excursions and snorkelling activities available. Languages spoken onboard are Thai and English. This boat needs to be booked at least three months in advance.
COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST THAILAND LIVEABOARDS
5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A LIVEABOARD IN THAILAND
TIME OF YEAR
Thailand enjoys a tropical climate which means it is hot and humid year-round, with temperatures rarely dropping much below 30°C/85°F. Like many tropical climates there are two distinct season – wet and dry. The wet season occurs between May and September while the dry season runs from November to mid-March.
While diving is good year-round, the most popular tourist season is during the drier months, with the latter part of the season ideal with calm seas and fewer crowds.
Gulf of Thailand is best during the from May to September, with April and May the best times to see whale sharks. However, the timing is a bit different if you want to dive the Andaman Sea or any west coast dive destination. Jill Studholme of SCUBA Travel suggests the best time to go for that area is during October and April.
One of the reasons scuba diving is so popular among many tourists in Thailand is because it is more affordable than in other countries. However there’s still a range of prices when it comes to dive boat liveaboards. If you want to cut costs, you may need to choose a boat with a higher number of maximum divers and fewer facilities. Those who want to splash out on true luxury and comfort may wish to choose a smaller dive boat for a more intimate and personal experience with all the bells and whistles.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE?
What marine life do you want to see? Or do you prefer to dive wrecks? Thailand is famous for its variety of tropical fish and creatures, from the majestic whale sharks down to the small but colorful nudibranchs. If wreck diving is your thing, dive sites off Koh Chang and Pattaya will be sure to excite you. Interesting macro life can be found around the Tarutao National Park. Koh Phangan is one of Thailand’s renowned whale shark sighting areas. Consider what you want to see the most when deciding on a liveaboard.
The great thing about Thailand is the diving is incredibly diverse so it’s not hard to find the type of underwater exploration you would like.
What level scuba diver are you? Are you looking to advance your dive training? Many dive boats offer training to their guests, so if you’re desperate to get your Advanced Open Water certification or just want to learn how to wreck dive safety, then look for liveaboards which offer dive training.
Do you need to stay connected during your liveaboard? If you’re a remote worker such as a travel blogger, then chances are you’ll need a liveaboard boat which has access to wifi. However most liveaboards in Thailand don’t have any internet available – so while for some, it must be nice to have an enforced social media holiday, if you are reliant on a wifi connection during your dive trip, or really need to brag to your mates on Facebook about your dive holiday, then be sure to choose a boat that offers it.
VIDEO – SCUBA DIVING IN THAILAND