Among divers, Thailand is famous for its ideal underwater conditions and spectacular marine life. The variety of macro life around the country is amazing, but liveaboard divers in particular are sure to enjoy the pelagic action. The best liveaboards in Thailand offer the chance to see manta rays and whale sharks.
While diving in Thailand, you’ll visit healthy coral reefs and pinnacles buzzing with life. There is so much going on that divers can just sit back and watch the action. Some dive profiles are drift dives, but many dives simply involve exploring the colorful world found beneath the surface at a relaxed pace.
There are opportunities to dive all over Thailand, but liveaboard diving is concentrated in the Andaman Sea. Here, islands and rock outcrops host the most fascinating marine life in Thailand. Some of the islands in the Andaman Sea are accessible from the mainland, but the more remote areas, like Richelieu Rock, can only be reached by liveaboard dive safari.
Liveaboards in Thailand usually depart from Phuket or Khao Lak on the west coast. The typical length of these trips is four to five days, but the best itineraries are those that last seven to 11 days.
The best time to dive on a liveaboard in Thailand is from November to April. During this time, the water is at its calmest, making it possible to reach the best sites. In addition, manta ray and whale shark encounters are most likely from February to April.
Keep in mind, Thailand is one of the best liveaboard destinations for beginners. A lack of strong current and great visibility make the country great for divers who are looking to practice and perfect their skills.
Best Luxury Liveaboard: MV Giamani
The MV Giamani is one of the top vessels in Thailand’s liveaboard fleet. This beautiful boat offers first class service and diving.
The yacht boasts a small group experience. With five gorgeously appointed cabins, 10 divers are catered to by the proficient crew. Of particular note is the Master Cabin, which is located on the upper deck and features a double bed, a sofa bed, a mini-fridge and an ensuite bathroom. While enjoying absolute luxury outside of the cabins, guests can catch some rays on the sundeck, watch a movie in the air-conditioned salon or grab a drink at the bar.
Guests will have ample room to gear up and store their equipment when preparing for dives. Diving is conducted from an easy enter-and-exit platform on the mothership. Onboard dive pros will also make sure dives are time matched with each season to observe the best marine life. Whether you are on a two-night or six-night cruise, three to four dives are offered each day. As an additional benefit, the MV Giamani is equipped for rebreather, Nitrox and Trimix diving.
You’ll have everything you need for a perfect liveaboard vacation on the MV Giamani.
Best Mid-Range Liveaboard: The Junk
Built in 1962, The Junk was originally a cargo-moving ship, designed to carry up to 60 tons. But in 1998, the boat was completely renovated and refitted as a dive boat. Today, it is a unique piece of cultural heritage still sailing the Asian seas.
The Junk can accommodate up to 18 divers in both private and shared cabins. The ensuite bathrooms and air-conditioned staterooms offered are uncommon perks at this price point. Furthermore, four dives a day and the incredibly experienced dive crews make this underwater adventure more full-service than budget.
Because Thailand is a great place to learn scuba skills, The Junk also offers a range of certification courses. From lengthy Similan Islands itineraries to short one-night hops to Koh Phi Phi, The Junk offers something for every ability, time schedule and budget.
Best Budget Liveaboard: MV Dolphin Queen
Built in 1999 (with a refurbishment in 2008), the MV Dolphin Queen is a liveaboard vessel with more than 20 years experience traveling the waters of Thailand. This translates into an experienced crew who use their expert knowledge of the dive sites to search out pelagic favorites, including manta rays and whale sharks, with surprising regularity. In addition to this, the Dolphin Queen‘s dive guides are more than happy to take requests for other marine life, such as seahorses, pipefish and nudibranchs. With the help of these underwater and onboard experts, you’ll enjoy every moment.
The MV Dolphin Queen is also slightly more affordable than most boats in Thailand. 24 guests are accommodated in 8 cabins, made up of 4-bunk rooms and double rooms. The common areas, including a sun deck and open-air entertainment lounge, ensure you always have space to relax during downtime.
If you want to visit Thailand and have a fun liveaboard experience, the MV Dolphin Queen is a great choice.
Best Liveaboard for Solo Travelers: MV Deep Andaman Queen
With it’s impressively large dive platform, roomy, air-conditioned cabins and numerous chill-out areas, the MV Deep Andaman Queen makes it easy to relax as you enjoy some of the best diving Thailand has to offer.
At 30 meters (100 feet) long and seven meters (22 feet) wide, the MV Deep Andaman Queen is one of the largest vessels currently sailing the Thai waters. And a 2019 renovation also makes it one of the most luxurious. Available cabins onboard the boat include a master cabin, which features panoramic view windows, deluxe and standard twins, and a standard quad and standard triple. This room variety makes the MV Deep Andaman Queen one of the best liveaboards for single travelers in Thailand.
During downtime, a sun deck provides an ideal place for divers to take in the idyllic surroundings and unwind. Alternatively, if time out of the sun is desired, an air-conditioned salon can be found on the vessel’s upper deck. Food-wise, three buffet-style meals ensure guests are always well fed.
Lastly, the MV Deep Andaman Queen offers itineraries ranging from three to five days. This means there are options to suit different budgets and different dive destination preferences.
The four liveaboards you’ve read about were all hand-picked by our scuba diving experts, but there are numerous other available boats. To explore the full list of liveaboards in Thailand, click below.