The Bang Lamung district of Thailand is located in the Chon Buri region, right on the mainland coast and just south east of the capital city of Bangkok. The district is a popular tourist location, partly because of its close proximity to the capital, but also because of its historical ties with the ocean, making scuba diving a popular activity here. The city of Pattaya is at the heart of the district’s coastal length, a beach resort that attracts tourists and ex-pats to its white sands and vibrant city life. It’s a lively conurbation with a large population, and the second most visited city in the whole of Thailand.
Scuba diving in Bang Lamung is a popular sport, with direct access to the Gulf of Thailand. It lies in a geographical position that makes diving throughout the year largely accessible, despite any adverse weather conditions. Although Bang Lamung itself is a relatively large area, the majority of diving outfits are concentrated in the Pattaya area, and wandering around the streets that run parallel with the Bay, it’s easy to find plenty of independent shops and resort-managed dive teams.
Scuba diving here is exceptional. Although the majority of the most famous sites lie further south or across the mainland in the Andaman Sea, Pattaya has a reputation for superlative wreck diving, and the waters just off shore are littered with sunken vessels to explore. It may not have as many picturesque islands to visit close to home, but liveaboard operators resolve the problem by heading in the direction of Ko Samui, where outlandishly beautiful scenery awaits travellers wanting to spend time above the waves as well as below them.
What makes Pattaya and the Bang Lamung district popular is the ever-present opportunity for diving that doesn’t exist elsewhere in Thailand. Despite the monsoons hitting the east of Thailand during the winter months, and moving to the west during the summer, this northern part of the Gulf of Thailand is protected by the curving shape of the mainland. Its waters are fairly unaffected by a change in current strength, and the driving rains don’t put a halt to expeditions, so while Thailand has a vast number of interesting and unspoiled sites to choose from, Pattaya has the advantage of always being open.
Bang Lamung dives sites are plentiful and varied, and whether it’s reef diving or wreck exploration you’re interested in, it’s all available a short longtail boat ride away from Pattaya. A selection of islands lying close to land offer some wonderful reef dives to explore, while the deeper waters hold the mysteries of several sunken vessels, some accidental, and others scuttled on purpose.
The dive site at Koh Larn forms part of Pattaya’s Near Islands group. Off its shores are three dive sites, known as Koh Larn Vak, Shark Point and Laem Tong. This is a great site for novice divers, with most of the dives reaching just 15m deep; more advanced divers can head down further, with a range of up to 40m to explore. The dives here are reef and wall dives, and there are plenty of soft coral ledges dropping down the side of Shark Point, but the highlight of this island is the sunken restaurant at Larn Vak, a stilted building which sank before it was even opened, and which now forms an interesting dive site below the surface. Marine life is abundant here, as it generally is in Thailand, and as well as bamboo sharks and tawny nurses, there are elephant ear anemones and black and white clownfish to discover.
Pattaya’s Far Islands are five stretches of tropical landscape less than 20km off the mainland. Despite their proximity to the coast, these atolls are uninhabited by anything other than colourful marine life, and less visited by snorkelers and sightseeing boat trips. The Hin Khao, also known as North Rock, is a conical structure rising out of the surface. Beneath the waves, it drops to a depth of around 15m, and although coral hasn’t taken here too much, it’s home to some unusual fish species, including the razorfish, pipefish, barracuda, and reef sharks.
Hin Chalam, near the fishing port of Samae San, is a fin-like protrusion that doesn’t generally attract many divers. Those who do visit though, are usually impressed by its abundant marine life, but the lack of scenery above the water is sometimes what puts visitors off. Diving here varies between 3 to 25 meters, depending upon the entry point, and it lies close to the Hardeep Wreck, a coastal steamer sunk back in 1945. Currents at this location are strong and generally only suitable for advanced divers, but on days with good conditions, it forms a fantastic drift dive that allows scuba divers to explore its rocky walls with very little effort.
Finding a dive shop in the Bang Lamung region of Thailand is not a difficult task. The city of Pattaya is the main dive location, and its streets and beachfront roads are filled with various water sports providers and dive schools. Easy to get to, with Bangkok and its international airport a short drive away, this is one of Thailand’s most popular cities and a haven for scuba diving enthusiasts.
The Seafari Dive Centre, not far from the curving bay of the city, is a 5 star PADI outfit, and also the first dive school in Thailand to have registered with PADI. With over 40 years experience, they offer courses right up to technical diver with PADI, but also cover SSI and ANDI training if needed. They also still run general snorkeling trips for swimmers who aren’t so keen to disappear below the waves, so friends and family can come along on trips.
The Aquanauts Dive Center in the same location is a five star PADI Career Development Center, but they too offer technical courses from ANDI, DSAT and TDI. They also appreciate the benefits of being able to capture the moments you spend beneath the water, so budding photographers can enjoy their photography courses – the perfect way to bring home a souvenir of the visit – and that’s probably why they’re proud of their endorsement from the National Geographic, one of only three outfits in Thailand to hold the honor.
Almost right on the beach, cleverly named DiveSea (Dive South East Asia) is a five star PADI outfit with a difference. In addition to their classroom-based lessons, they also take some of their instruction right to the water onboard their 86ft Villai Samut vessel, equipped with video for onboard instructional and training programs. Offering scuba and snorkeling experiences, their day trips come with complimentary Thai lunches- freshly cooked on board- and their three decks can accommodate large numbers of divers for day and overnight trips. Striving to be one of the best dive schools in Thailand, they certainly have an excellent reputation with some great customer testimonials on Trip Advisor.
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I hadn't bee Scuba diving since I was 16 years old so I was nervous to start up again after so long. I called into the shop intending to do a refresher before a trip away and ended up signing up for the Advanced open water course. I was able to speak to the instructor at the shop and he explained clearly what my options were. I signed up to do my Advanced course and had a fantastic 2 days of diving. The visibility was terrible but Andy the instructor and dive center manager was able to make th...
Decent dive operation but this is not a luxury liveaboard. Tired decor in cabin, mattress on floor and badly leaking pipework in the bathroom. It is very basic. The crew are helpful though, the divemaster good and the dive deck well organised. The sites in Similan Islands are pleasant but average with the exception of Richelieu Rock which is very nice. All sites are very crowded with many boats around.
Bang Lamung dives sites are plentiful and varied, and whether it’s reef diving or wreck exploration you’re interested in, it’s all available a short longtail boat ride away from Pattaya. A selection o...
Finding a dive shop in the Bang Lamung region of Thailand is not a difficult task. The city of Pattaya is the main dive location, and its streets and beachfront roads are filled with various water spo...