If you are planning your next dive trip and have decided on Thailand, you will need to decide where to base yourself – and Thailand has plenty of excellent options to choose from. If you’ve already done some Googling around “diving in Thailand,” the chances are that you will have heard of both Krabi and Phuket, two of Thailand’s most popular diving destinations.

In this blog, we will look at the differences and similarities between scuba diving in Krabi and Phuket to decide which one is the best fit for you.

scuba diving in Krabi or Phuket

Dive Sites

One of the plus points of scuba diving in Phuket is the variety of dive sites on hand. You’ll find everything from extensive fringing reefs to dramatic drop-offs, impressive granite walls, wrecks, caves, and tunnels. Regardless of your experience level Phuket has something for everyone.

Phuket dive sites include some local reefs, though many divers head to the Racha Islands – Koh Racha Noi and Yai to have big pelagic sightings. For macro action, the best bet is to visit Koh Dok Mai. Many Phuket dive centers visit Koh Phi Phi for two or three dives around Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Phi Phi Leh, and the Bida Islands. Three dive safari trips to the King Cruiser, Shark Point, and Anemone Reef trio are also offered by many Phuket dive resorts and dive centers.

From Phuket, it’s possible to dive the world-famous Hin Daeng and Hin Muang in search of mantas – be aware that some dive centers require a minimum number of divers to make these trips due to the distance and additional fuel costs. Day trips to the Similan and Surin Islands are also available from October to May but expect to pay a surcharge for the fuel.


Scuba diving around Krabi is characterized by spectacular rock formations combined with tropical waters that attract leopard and blacktip reef sharks.

Divers staying in Krabi will dive many of the same sites as those in Phuket. Manta rays spotting trips to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are also available from Krabi, as are trips to the King Cruiser, Shark Point, and Anemone Reef – although the boat rides to these three are shorter from Phuket.

From Krabi, you can also dive around the Phi Phi and Bida Islands. These stunning islands boast beautiful corals, huge schools of yellow snapper, turtles, blacktip reef sharks, and the occasional leopard shark. There’s also a Thai navy shipwreck – the Kled Gaeow – home to schools of pufferfish and lionfish. Plus, you’ll get to take in topside views of the famous Maya Bay, where “The Beach” was filmed with Leonardo Dicaprio.

whale shark

Marine Life

When you decide between scuba diving in Krabi or Phuket, you will, of course, want to consider the marine life spotting opportunities. The good news is that because many of the dive sites visited by divers staying in Krabi and Phuket are the same, the marine life spotting opportunities are very similar. Both Krabi and Phuket divers have the chance to spot the majestic manta rays at Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Whalesharks are also possible for divers in both regions from December through to February.

Krabi - Thailand - Water - Boat - Beach

When to Visit

Scuba diving in Phuket is available all year round, with comfortable water temperatures that rarely drop below  77ºF/25ºC. The National Marine Park is open for diving from November-May, and the best chances of spotting manta rays and whale sharks are from December to February, making these the most popular months. Visibility ranges from 25-40m.

Scuba diving in Krabi is also a year-round affair with the same peak months as Phuket, as this is when the conditions are at their calmest. Water temperatures around Krabi are relatively constant and average between 80-86°F/27-30°C year-round.

reef-coral-underwater-scuba diving


When deciding between scuba diving in Krabi or Phuket, it’s not only the diving you’ll want to consider but also where you plan to stay. Phuket has a wide range of accommodations, from budget rooms to luxury resorts. Patong is a popular area due to the numerous hotels, bars, restaurants, and dive operators that are located there. Karon beach is also popular – everything is on hand, but it is quieter than bustling Patong beach. If you are looking for a more peaceful getaway entirely, try Rawai, which is just a few minutes away from Chalong Pier.

Krabi also offers a good range of accommodation (not as extensive as Phuket) but is generally less crowded than Phuket. Ao Nang Beach is one of Krabi’s best beaches, making Ao Nang a popular place to stay. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options, shopping, and tempting restaurants in the area. Railay Beach is another superb spot with white sand beaches and seafront luxury resorts. Railay Beach is a good option for combining diving with rock climbing and other outdoor and adventure activities. For those who are more budget-minded, Krabi Town is a vibrant option with night markets, excellent local restaurants, and very reasonably-priced accommodation options.

thailand scuba travel

On Land

Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, and it is a busy and bustling tourist destination. On land, Phuket is famous for its exotic beaches, non-stop nightlife, hidden temples, colorful night markets, delicious seafood, and white marble Big Buddha. If you are a night owl and want to experience dancing until dawn, Phuket can definitely cater to your needs!

Krabi is famous for its stunning sea views of the famous Phang Nga Bay – which has been featured in multiple Hollywood movies. Breath-taking beaches are surrounded by lush mangrove forests and eye-catching limestone cliffs, making it a mecca for rock climbers and not just scuba divers! Krabi has an adventurous feel, yet there’s still a very chilled-out and bohemian vibe.

Airplane flying away from a town on the coast


Phuket Airport is a major international airport with flights arriving and departing to and from all over the world. Check with your chosen hotel or resort and ask if they include airport pickups in their prices. Otherwise, there is no shortage of taxi drivers directly outside.

There are daily direct flights connect Krabi to Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur. Krabi’s airport also receives international arrivals, but it is much smaller than Phuket. Airport pickups are also provided by some hotels otherwise, taxi cars and buses are available outside.

So, which destination is the right one for you? Are you planning to go scuba diving in Krabi or Phuket? Whatever decision you have made, you can check out Thailand’s best destinations, including Phuket and Krabi, on PADI Travel!

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