Guide to Dive Sites, PADI Courses, Diving Trips and Prices
Anyone interested in learning to dive in Thailand or taking a dive trip will find a lively scuba scene with well-run dive centres on Koh Chang. Plus a range of dive sites suitable to novices and beginners, one of the largest wrecks in Thailand,the HTMS Chang, and a multitude of types of fish and marine life including Whalesharks, the world’s largest fish.
In addition to good wreck diving, Koh Chang offers rock pinnacles, reefs with living hard & soft corals plus abundant marine life. For the most part, scuba diving on Koh Chang is in relatively shallow, calm seas and so is ideal for novice divers or children who want to learn. There are of course more exciting dives on offer and at present there are over 30 dive sites in the archipelago. These include the sites in the Marine National park, which is centered around Koh Rang island. Here you’ll find some great pinnacle dives.
Dive trips run throughout the year. But the main scuba diving season is from November until May. You’re usually guaranteed pretty good visibility, around 10 – 15 metres, and calm seas. ( The ocean can be particularly clear in early November, at the end of the rainy season, when visibility reaches 25 metres. ) Whilst Koh Chang will never compete with the Maldives as far as the visibility and ease of seeing larger sealife goes, you will see far more living coral here and loads of colourful reef fish. And if you take a dive trip from Koh Chang t is possible to see reef sharks in some locations and, if you are lucky maybe a whaleshark.
There are dive courses and dive trips available for both kids & adults that will meet your needs without breaking the bank.
There’s also no need to rush out and buy a lot of expensive equipment, as this is included in the price of a dive course and can also be rented on subsequent dive trips. However, it is handy to at least have your own face mask, as this can also be used when snorkeling and is easily packed in your luggage.
PADI Courses are the staple of all dive schools. But don’t start a course thinking that it will make you into a proficient diver within the space of 3-4 days. It won’t. But it will ensure you know how to breathe underwater and that you won’t be a danger to others.
PADI is ‘the way the world learns to dive‘. Which means they are the McDonald’s of diving. So the instructors teach the basic, required knowledge to get you to pass a a particular certification and no more.
Think of the Open Water course as the starting point, and not the end of your scuba diving training. You can learn to dive and get PADI certified in just 2 or 3 days. But that doesn’t make you a good diver.
Koh Chang’s Best Dive Sites
Here are some brief reviews of the dive sites south of Koh Chang which are regularly visited on scuba diving trips.
Hin Luk Bat.
‘Hin’ is the Thai word for a lump of stone and Hin Luk Bat is a very large rock pinnacle. It’s located 30 minutes boat journey southwest of Bangbao pier on Koh Chang. Due to it’s convenient location it is also one of the more popular dive sites. The pinnacle drops down to over 20 metres and an hour can easily be spent underwater circumnavigating the pinnacle at differing depths. You are almost certain to encounter large schools of fish, these range from barracuda and grouper to butterfly and angel fish.
This site is a couple of kilometres further south of Hin Luk Bat. Another rock pinnacle where Staghorn corals and an abundance of smaller reef fish are the main attractions. This isn’t an area for deep water diving as the southern side drops to a maximum of 16 metres.
The main reason Koh Wai is included as a dive site is that this area offers the best chance of seeing reef sharks basking on the seabed. Leopard sharks have also been sighted here as have rays. But overall it’s a location for snorkellers as there is a coral reef, in shallow water, just off the beach. This makes it an ideal spot for kids to learn to snorkel. ( More on Koh Chang snorkelling trips )
This island of the north coast of Koh Rang provides a gently sloping reef upon which gardens of staghorn coral and the usual wide variety of lively reef fish are seen. The coral lies less than five metres from the surface. This makes it an ideal fun, shallow dive for anyone beginning their life as a scuba diver. Rays are also often seen on the seafloor.
The small islands and rock pinnacles surrounding Koh Rang offer a good variety of diving & snorkelling. Many snorkelling trips make a beeline for this area as well. The depth of most dives in the Koh Rang area is between 10 and 15 meters. Well known dive/snorkelling sites in the Koh Rang area include:-
What underwater life will I see?
The Koh Chang Nature site contains a good section with photos and info on fish and marine life that snorkelers and divers can spot. Including Whalesharks, which can often be spotted around the wreck of the HTMS Chang from January – April. You may also be able to spot sea turtles, colourful nudibranchs plus larger fish such as Moray Eels, Trigger fish and Barracuda. This in addition to the multitude of common reef fish.
A small island off the north east coast of Koh Rang. Although the coral reef isn’t as good as it once was – due to this locations popularity with snorkellers as well as divers. There is some great underwater scenery and are guaranteed plenty of opportunities for underwater photography in the shallow waters surrounding the island.
‘Yak’ means ‘giant’ in Thai, but giant is the one word that doesn’t come to mind when you first see this small rocky outcrop of an island. However, size isn’t everything and this is a great shallow dive. The sea floor lies under less than 10 metres of water around the island. A wide variety of corals are found here as are many colourful anemones and the clownfish that lurk within them. Stingrays and Moray eels can be found hiding under rocks and in cavities.
These two rock pinnacles drop down to almost 30 metres making this one of the deepest dives in the area. Turtles are relatively common here and even reef sharks are occasionally seen. However, rather than keeping an eye out for rare creatures, divers should simply enjoy the wide variety of both hard and soft corals and profusion of marine life.
Wreck of the ‘T11’.
The HTMS Chang wreck drew a lot of good publicity to the island and so the Navy decided to scupper a second vessel close by. A type of tug they found they had no use for. The T11 was formerly the USS PGM-71. It is now a 30 metre long home for fish that sits in 16 metres of water close to Hin Rap. The smaller size and much shallower depth make it a great dive for first time wreck divers.
Wreck of the ‘Thonburi’.
The Thonburi was sunk by the French in 1941 in shallow waters close to the southeastern tip of Koh Chang. The wreck now serves as an artificial reef, that is if you can see it. As the visibility is next to zero here due to the amount of silt. If your swimming along 20 metres down and smack your head on something metallic, you’ve found it. No dive companies run trips to this wreck – as there’s no point.
Wreck of the ‘Chang’.
The HTMS Chang was sunk by the Thai Navy in November 2012 to act as an artificial reef. It lies in 30 metre deep water although the captain’s cabin and mast are around 12 metres deep. The ship is 117m long, one of the largest shipwrecks in Thailand. You can expect to see a wide diversity of marine life with everything from Barracuda, Grouper, Squid and Octopus to a multitude of reef fish which have now made the wreck their home.
And if you have good luck you’ll see a whale shark. They often visit the wreck during High Season. This 60 second video shows what it is like to swim with one of these 6 metre long fish.
A Day Out on a Dive Boat
If you want to know what to expect and get a better idea of where you’ll be diving on holiday, then this video does a great job of setting the scene.
Koh Chang Dive Schools
If you’re wondering, where to learn to dive on Koh Chang, the good news is that there are no scammy dive companies here. There are a relatively small number of dive operators, who all know each other and work together to help keep the ocean clean and provide divers with a good standard of instruction.
Most dive schools offer the same range of courses for a very similar price and go diving in pretty much the same spots.
Scuba diving prices are around 3,000 Baht for a couple of dives around Koh Rang and 15,000 Baht for a 3-4 day Open Water Course.
So the main reason to shop around is to see which dive operator you feel most comfortable giving your hard earned cash to. A few of the main dive companies on Koh Chang are: BB Divers , Ocean Academy , Scandinavian Chang Diving and Dolphin Divers. All equipment is provided for your course or dive trip.
But if you want to buy your own there’s also a wholesaler on the island. Dive Supply, located on White Sand beach, north of White Elephant pub, have a wide range of diving equipment and accessories. Everything from technical gear to masks and snorkels.
It would be impossible to list all the courses and prices from them all. So, to get you started on your search for a dive company I partnered with the PADI 5 star IDC centre, BB Divers. Here’s some information about what they offer:
PADI Courses, Dive Trips & IDC Training with BB Divers
A lot of people visit Koh Chang and go diving so it seemed only right that I provided some more detailed info on scuba diving trips and courses here and also partnered with a dive centre that I knew had a long standing reputation for providing a high standard of customer service and dive course training. .
BB Divers is a Belgian owned dive school that was established on Koh Chang in 2003. Their main office is Bangbao. The training pool, rooms, restaurant and lounge are in Lonely beach and they also have other offices in the centre of White Sand beach, Koh Mak & Koh Kood.
They offer all PADI courses, daily fun dives and snorkeling in a relaxed atmosphere and with a personal approach. Prices all include full insurance, free pick-up island wide, food, coffee, tea and soft drinks, use of all equipment, licensed dive guide for fun dives, licensed instructor for courses plus PADI certification and manual on courses. In short, prices include everything, there are no hidden extras.
Whilst is isn’t 100% necessary to book a dive course in advance, it does make planning your holiday easier if you know when your course will start and end. Arriving on the island and then rushing around contacting tour agents and dive schools and trying to get something sorted out isn’t a good way to start a holiday. Far better to plan in advance, take your time to ask all the questions you want and then book your course with a dive operator you already know.
The BB Divers Team
All instructors are PADI licensed, and speak several languages. Every instructor or dive master works at BB Divers out of passion for diving, not just as a job.
Most ‘BB-ers’ are travelers who started their dive training with BB Divers and found their place on Koh Chang. It became their second home, and every year more and more familiar faces show up again. The boat staff are local Thais and they will take care of your safety on the boat.
Koh Chang Dive & Snorkelling Trip Prices
If you already have your Open Water certification book a dive trip in the Marine National Park, where you will enjoy the clear waters and pristine coral reefs of this protected area. Most places are good for diving and snorkeling. You visit two spots, and on the Koh Rang trips, also have lunch close to a beach where you can take the time to relax between dives.
Divers are guided by the Divemaster. You will dive in small groups and use of full equipment is included. A camera can be hired or a photo memory card or CD of the day’s diving can be provided for you.
Snorkelers get full equipment; there is a snorkel briefing before you enter the water and a local snorkel guide to show you the best spots.
Diving and snorkeling is from the same boat, 80% of the dive sites are very good snorkel sites. If you like to dive the deeper ones then the divers are taken there with our small tender while the big boat stays with the snorkelers for safety.
( Prices are correct at the time of writing – Feb 2023 )
Koh Rang Diving and Snorkeling (Daily Trip)
08.00-08:30 Pick up from hotel
09:00 Boat departs from Bangbao
10:15 Dive/snorkel coral site
11.30 Lunch near a beach and snorkeling
13.30 Dive/snorkel coral site
17.00 Back in Bangbao and transport to hotel
Diving 2 Dives – 3,500 Baht
Snorkeling 2 or 3 stops – 1,000 Baht
Discover Scuba Diving (2 Dives) – 5,000 Baht
Discover Scuba Diving (1 Beach Dive) – 3,000 Baht
Bubbles maker 8-10 year (1 Dive) – 3,000 Baht
HTMS Chang Wreck dive and Two Coral Sites (Daily Trip)
08.00-08:30 Pick up from hotel
09:00 Boat departs from Bangbao
10:00 Dive/snorkel at “HTMS CHANG”
11.30 Lunch on the boat
12.45 Dive/snorkel coral site
14.15 Dive/snorkel coral site
16.00 Back in Bangbao and transport to hotel
Diving 2 Dives – 3,500 Baht
Diving 3 Dives – 4,500 Baht
Snorkeling 2 or 3 Stops – 1,000 Baht
Fee for Koh Rang National park is not included. This is paid at the BB office on the day of activity. Foreign divers 400 Baht, Thai divers 240 Baht, foreign snorkelers 200 Baht, Thai snorkelers 40 Baht
Afternoon and Night Dive Trip
Diving trip, not for snorkeling
12.00/12.30 Pick up from hotel
13.00 Boat departs from Bangbao
13.40 First dive “HTMS Chang”
15.00 Break, snacks
16.00 Second wreck dive or coral dive
17.00 Dinner on the boat with sunset
18.00 Night dive
20.00 Back in Bangbao and transport to hotel
Diving 2 Afternoon Dives + Night Dive – 5,000 Baht
Dive Course Prices
You can be taught in English, Nederlands, Francais, Deutsch and Thai and have the learning materials (books and video) in additional languages including Swedish, Danish, Finish, Norwegian, Spanish and Italian.
The prices include all, food, drinks, pick up from hotel, use of equipment, as well as the books and the certificate. The classrooms are in Bang Bao village or at the training pool at Lonely Beach. Confined water is taught in the BB pool or from the beach. For the diving we go out on the dive boat.
PADI Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) Course – 1 Day
2 Dives – 5,000 Baht
1 Beach Dive – 3,000 Baht
For non-divers who want to give diving a try, there is no previous diving experience required.
The daytrip includes 2 dives. On your first dive you will get used to the underwater environment and diving techniques, the second dive you will already feel like a diver and enjoy the underwater world. On the second dive you can take pictures as well if you would like to take some memories home.
First we give you an introduction to diving and safety. Then you are ready to get geared up and we start in shallow water with a few exercises. After completing these you are ready to dive, we guide you for 2 nice dives on the coral reef. DSD is a great introduction to the beauty of the coral reef and to see if you would want to continue to get a PADI diving license, this day can be used as the first day of ow course, which means you can get certified with 2 more days of training.
There is an option to make just 1 dive, however most people need this first dive to get used to the diving techniques, so we recommend to join for 2 dives. If you join for one dive we can do this of the boat and the rest of the day you can snorkel, or we can do this dive off the beach on the island.
PADI Open Water Dive Course
2 or 3 days – 4 Dives
This is the the most popular course. The open water diver course is your pass to the diving world. You will get a full scuba diving certificate. You will make 4 dives in total spread over 2 days on the coral reefs around Koh Chang or Koh Rang. On every dive you will practice some skills and enjoy the beauty of the reefs.
Regular schedule: 15,500 Baht
Day 1 : Theory in classroom and underwater skills
Day 2 : Go on the boat make 2 dives (full day trip)
Day 3 : Go on the boat make 2 dives (full day trip)
E-learning schedule: 16,500 Baht
Day 1 : half day underwater skills
Day 2 : Go on the boat make 2 dives ( full day trip)
Day 3 : Go on the boat make 2 dives ( full day trip )
E-learning/ Time saver schedule 16,500 Baht
You do the theory on the PADI app at home/hotel before the practical course
Day 1 : Short review of theory, underwater skills and 1 dive from the beach
Day 2 : Go on the boat make 3 dives (full day trip)
PADI Advanced Open Water Course
2 days – 5 dives – 14,500 Baht
Improve on your diving skills and become a confident diver. With the PADI advanced diver course you will become a more skilled diver, able to dive deeper and have better control of your diving technique and your buoancy control.
The course includes five specialized training dives. The 2 core dives are the deep dive and the navigation dive, for the other 3 you have a choice out of: wreck dive, digital photography, naturalist, multilevel, peak performance buoyancy, search and recovery, night dive… you can discuss the best option with your instructor once you’ve started the course. Some choices for the optional dives will depend on weather conditions.
In addition there are numerous smore specialised courses available at BB Divers. These include Freediving, Emergency First Response and Rescue Diver – for example.
How to Book
For more details of PADI courses or to book a dive or snorkelling day trip, contact Kristel at BB Divers using the form below.