It is always very difficult to establish a ranking, especially in diving, where the experience and the expectations may be different. Asia is the richest region in the world in terms of fish diversity and density, you can find everything from reef sharks, turtles, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, schools of trevallies and barracudas, manta rays, eagle rays, napoleons, the best macro in the world, wrecks ... After 4 years in Asia, I can give you my ranking, between the spots I have already done (Raja Ampat, Tubbataha, Sipadan, Komodo, Banda sea, Apo reef) and those where I wish to go! 

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RANKING EXPLANATION 

  • I limit myself toSouth East Asia, so I do not take into account areas like Japan (Kerawa island), India (Adaman islands) or the Micronesia (Palau, Truk lagoon).
  • Can not say who is N ° 1 or N ° 10it will depend on your tastes, even if Raja AmpatSipadanTubbatahaKomodo and Layang layang are clearly above others (except if you're only a macro fan, and there Lembeh Strait is clearly above).

SOUTH EAST ASIA

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carte-top-10-sites-plongee-malaisie

  • THAILAND : perfect to start.
    > Best spot: Similan Islands
    > Article Islands Similan
  • MYANMAR (Burma): better than Thailand and less people.
    > Best diving spot: Mergui Archipelago
  • Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia : no destination that is worth it ...

WHERE TO DIVE IN SOUTH EAST ASIA?

#1 RAJA AMPAT (Indonesia): Top 10 in the world, the greatest biodiversity worldwide!
#2 SIDAPAN (Malaysia): Top 10 in the world, sharks and massive schools of fish!
#3 Tubbataha (Philippines): Top 10 in the world, the underwater Galapagos of the Philippines!
#4 KOMODO (Indonesia): Big, big, big pelagic and also some macro!
#5 LAYANG LAYANG (Malaysia): Hammerhead shark almost guaranteed!
#6 lembeh (Indonesia): The best macro dive spot in the world!
#7 ALOR (Indonesia): Shark, big pelagic and macro!
#8 BANDA SEA (Indonesia): Big and hammerhead sharks!
#9 APO REEF (Philippines): Shark and big pelagic everywhere!
#10 ARCHIPEL OF MERGUI (Myanmar): Manta ray and whale shark in season!

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 1 RAJA AMPAT (Indonesia): the greatest marine biodiversity in the world!

Articles on Raja Ampat:
The full articleMisool, Dampier strait and how to pay less

soft coral 3 & blue (nice color)2-minRaja Ampat in Indonesia is listed among the top 10 world divesSo, of course the most beautiful destination in Indonesia!! The dives at Raja Ampat are SPEC-TA-CU-LAR !! Located in the heart of coral triangle, the diversity and the fish density and of corals is just phenomenal! Shark on every dive, endemic species or very rare (wobbebong, walking shark, santa clause pygmy seahorse...), gorgonian fields and of soft corals, Verry much underwater action with some tuna or some giant trevallies hunting, ocean mantas rays who pass right over you, of the squads of mobulas rays... I made two trips there and I have never been disappointed, on the contrary I have only one desire, it is to return !! Raja Ampat must be in the "bucket list" of all experienced divers!

  • top-10-asie-raja-ampatCommon species manta ray, eagle ray, reef shark (gray, white tip, black tip ...), shark nurse, pelagic bank (barracuda, trevally, humpback parrot, snapper, fusilier, batfish, triggerfish ...), large pelagic (giant trevally, napoleon, tuna, grouper, sweetlips ...), turtles.
  • Common macro sea horse (several varieties and colors), pygmy hippocampus (denise, bargibanti and pontohi), frogfish (all sizes and colors), ghost pipefish (ghost fish), scorpionfish (leaf fish, rhinopias ...), nudibranch (different tens), mandarin fish (Mandarin fish).
  • Coolest encounters : black mantawhite manta, mobula line (often in squadron), wobbegong (a kind of carpet shark), walking shark (an endemic species, a genus of sculpin shark), pygmy hippocampus " santa claus«, blue-ringed octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish.
  • Best dive season : October to May
  • Best dive sites : Magic mountain, Four kings, Cape Kri, Blue magic, Sardine reef.

Top 10 Indonesia here

Diving video Indonesia Raja Ampat

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 2 SIPADAN (Malaysia): sharks and massive schools of fish!

The full article on Sipadan here

top-plongee-malaisie-sipadan-banc-de barracudas

The Destination No. 1 in Malaysia it's definitely Sipadan! Often cited among the top 10 diving and having dive 9 there, I understand why! Sipadan is a tiny island 1 hour from the coast (nothing to do with Raja Ampat, Komodo or Tubbataha, which are huge national parks). There is a wall all around the island which offers a dozen dive sites. It's for the big pelagics that come here and especially for its residents : a bench of more than 2000 trevally, a bench of more than 1000 barracudas and a bench of more than 150 humpback parrots ! There are also some sharks and turtles everywhere and a beautiful coral garden on the shallower part.

  • top-10-asie-sipadan-banc-de-caranguesCommon species reef shark (gray, white tip, black tip ...),large pelagic (giant trevally, napoleon, tuna, grouper, sweetlips ...), school of fish (snapper, fusilier, ballista ...), tortoise.
  • residents : school of jacks (+2000), barracuda bench (+1000), bench of hump parrots (+150).
  • Coolest encounters : hammerhead shark (must be lucky ..).
  • Best dive season : March to October.
  • Best dive sites : Barracuda Point, South Point, Turtle Cave, White-tip Ave.

Top 10 diving of Malaysia here

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 3 TUBBATAHA (Philippines): the underwater Galapagos of the Philippines

plongee-philippines-tubbataha-minConsidered to be by many experienced divers in the world's top 10 best diving, Tubbataha reef is without a doubt the most beautiful diving destination in the Philippines. Located in the waters between the island of Palawan and the Visayas, this marine park classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is only accessible in liveaboard between the months of March and June. There are more 600 species of fish, 360 types of coral, 11 types of sharks and 13 types of dolphins and whales. Dives at Tubbataha offer everything a veteran diver would like to see: turtles, beautiful coral, large pelagic (tunas, giant trevallies, groupers ...), barracudas benches and of trevally, sharks (white tips, black tips, gray ...), the famous hammerhead sharks and Fox sharks and even with a little luck of whale sharks as well as manta rays and eagle rays !

  • top-10-asie-tubbataha-reefCommon species : reef shark (gray, white tip, black tip ...), large pelagic (giant trevally, napoleon, tuna, grouper, mackerel ...), school of fish (barracuda, trevally, snapper, fusilier, ballista ...), tortoise.
  • Coolest encounters : whale sharks, manta rays, fox sharks, hammerhead sharks.
  • Best dive season : March to June. 
  • Best dive sites : Rock Amos (Southwest Rock), Shark Airport, Black Rock, Malayan Wall (Hammerhead Shark).

Top 10 Philippines here

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 4 KOMODO (Indonesia): Big, big, big pelagic and also some macro!

The article on Komodo here!

top-10-asie-komodo-requinKomodos remain among my most beautiful dives and are almost at the same level as Raja Ampat , the best destination for you from Indonesia! The dives are exceptional and varied with topographies of different sites. There is everything a diver dreams of seeing: manta rays, of the big pelagics, of the schools of fish (barracuda, trevally, snapper ...), sharks (gray, white and black tip, see rarer species such as fox or oceanic sharks)it's simple, everything is bigger in Komodo! And what about the coral, simply splendid! The islands of Komodos park are to be done in liveaboard and are more affordable than Raja Ampat, perhaps the best quality dives / prices in the world!

  • top-10-asie-komodo-raie-aigleCommon species manta ray (2 cleaning stations), eagle ray, reef shark (gray, white tip, black tip ...), pelagic bank (barracuda, trevally, humpback parrot, snapper, fusilier, batfish, triggerfish ...), large pelagic (giant trevally, napoleon, tuna, grouper, sweetlips ...), tortoisefrogfish (frog fish), ghost pipefish (ghost fish), scorpionfishnudibranchs (different tens).
  • Coolest encounters :  dolphin, dugongblack manta, white manta, pygmy hippocampus (denise, bargibanti and pontohi), blue-ringed octopus.
  • Best dive season : May to October.
  • Best dive sites : Castle rock, Batu bolong, The Cauldron, Manta alley, Crystal rock.

Top 10 Indonesia here

Diving video Indonesia Komodo

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 5 LAYANG LAYANG (Malaysia): Hammerhead shark almost guaranteed!

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This place is not very known and yet it is a small nugget! A small atoll in the middle of nowhere surrounded by a wall that goes down to 2000 m ! In season we are almost sure to see hammerhead sharks on any site !! The daily life of each site: reef sharks (gray, white and black tip) and large pelagic (giant trevally, tuna, fusilier, snapper, barracuda, napoleon ...) who wander and hunt. In recent years, there have also been a lot of pilot whales glimpses! The problem is that it is accessible only 5 months in the year  (from March to July). I have not done it yet, but I think it's as good, better than Sipadan!

  • top-10-asie-layang-layang-requinCommon species reef shark (gray, white tip, black tip ...), leopard shark, pelagic bank (barracuda, trevally, humpback parrot, snapper, fusilier, batfish, triggerfish ...), large pelagic (giant trevally, napoleon, tuna, grouper, sweetlips ...), tortoise
  • Coolest encounters : hammerhead shark (March to July), moon fish, fox shark, pilot whale.
  • Best dive season : March to July (closed the rest of the year).
  • Best dive sites : Dogtooth air, Gorgonian forest, Wrasse strip, shark cave.

Top 10 diving of Malaysia here

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 6 LEMBEH (Indonesia): the best macro dive spot in the world!

top-indonesie-lembeh-blue-ringed-octopusLembeh is considered by many to be the best destination ofmuck dive " in the world. I have not been able to go yet, but it is guaranteed to see very rare species, see endemic. What we are usually happy to see on a good macro site seems to be "classic" in Lembeh but in covering all variations : frogfish of all sizes and colors (like the very rare hairy), ghost pipefish (ornate, robust ...), all types ofseahorses (Pygmies ...) shrimp (like the beautiful ones harlequin and mantis shrimp), Mandarin fish ... and I do not even speak of the number of different nudibranchs! Even the very rare blue-ringed, wonderpus or mimic octopus and flaming cuttlefish seem to wander down! Lembeh is the underwater photographer's paradise ! Be careful, this place has become very well known among divers from all over the world and is not the most affordable in Indonesia!

  • top-10-asie-lembeh-frogfishCoolest species/ Lembeh endemic: octopus (blue-ringed, wonderpus, mimic, mototi, coconut...), shrimp (harlequin, emperor, mantis...), cuttlefish (flaming, spotted...), frogfish (frog fish, hairy, scarlet, painted, clown, giant...), pipefish (fish-pipe, ghost, robust, banded, hawaiian flame...), stonefish (stonefish), pygmy seahorse (denise, bargibanti and pontohi), scorpion fish (rhinopias, leaf, devil...), snake eel ...
  • Best dive season : March to November.
  • Best dive sites : Nudi fall, Hairball, TK 3, Air Bajo 3, Bianca, Rojos.

Top 10 Indonesia here

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 7 ALOR (Indonesia): shark, big pelagic and macro!

top-indonesie-Rhinopias-poisson-scorpion-alor.jpegI have not been to Alor yet, but all the echoes I've had it looks fantastic, perhaps at the level of Raja Ampat and Komodo. The currents are very strong there, so there is the "fat" who walks permanently : reef sharks, tuna, napoleon, barracuda bank, eagle ray... and even mola molas, hammerhead sharks or the very rare Fox sharks ! The macro fans will not be disappointed either, ghost pipefish, frogfish, seahorse, mandarinfish... but also the very rare blue-ringed and mimic octopus, and finally the emblem of Alor, the Rhinopias (a very special type of scorpion fish) that we find here in droves! I almost forgot that the coral is superb and preserved ! A little paradise far from the beaten track that will not stay long

  • top-10-asie-alor-requinCommon species : reef shark (gray, white tip, black tip), eagle ray, pelagic bank (barracuda, trevally, humpback parrot, snapper, fusilier, batfish, triggerfish ...), large pelagic (giant trevally, napoleon, tuna, grouper, sweetlips ...).
  • Common macro : ghost pipefish, pygmy hippocampus, frogfish, nudibranchs, mandarinfish, scorpion fish.
  • Coolest encounters : rhinopias, mola mola, fox shark, blue-ringed octopus, mimic octopus.
  • Best dive season May to October.
  • Best dive sites : Kal's dream, Cathedral, Current alley, Clown valley, Great wall of pantar.

Top 10 Indonesia here

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 8 BANDA SEA (Indonesia): big pelagic and hammerhead sharks!

The article on The Ring of Fire in the Banda Sea here!

photo-plongee-indonesie-mer-de-bandaThe sea of banda is characterized by beautiful drop-offs covered with splendid soft corals, sponges and sea fans. It is also home to the famous " ring of fire"Which is actually a group of small volcanic islands (Damar, Nila, Serua, Manuk, Banda neira ...) whose location in the middle of nowhere has given birth to a unique marine fauna! Besides the splendor of the coral, large pelagics can be seen, like the reef sharks, schools of barracudas or jacks, tuna, napoleons, huge grouper, batfish ... From September to the beginning of November it's also an opportunity to see hammer sharks benches that come up from cold waters. The ring of fire is to do only in liveaboard. The classic route leaves from Maumere, then Alor and the sea of banda to finish in Ambon (or conversely).

  • top-10-asie-mer-de-banda-requin-oceanicCommon species : reef shark (gray, white tip, black tip), nurse shark, eagle ray, pelagic bank (barracuda, trevally, humpback parrot, snapper, fusilier, batfish, triggerfish ...), large pelagic (giant trevally, napoleon, tuna, grouper, sweetlips ...), turtle.
  • Coolest encounters : hammerhead shark, fox shark, oceanic shark ...
  • Best dive season : March to May and of September to December.
  • Hammerhead shark season : September - November.
  • Best dive sites : Damar, Nila, Serua, Manuk, Banda neira

Top 10 Indonesia here

Diving video Indonesia Ring of fire in Banda sea:

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 9 APO REEF (Philippines): shark and big pelagic everywhere!

plongee-philippines-apo-reef-minUNESCO World Heritage Site (as Tubbataha), Apo reef is in my opinion the second best destination in the Philippines in terms of diversity (it is often called the "mini-Tubbataha"). We can see schools of fish (barracudas, trevallies, snappers ...), large pelagic (napoleons, hump parrots, giant trevallies ...) and reef sharks (white tips, black tips), gray sharks and sometimes Fox sharks. Along his vertiginous walls we can also have the chance in season to cross hammerhead sharks (rather December-January) and manta rays (rather April-May). We can dive all year, but the best season for Apo reef is from november to may. This destination is mainly in liveaboard of a few days (2 to 3 days) to a week when it is compiled with dives to Coron.

  • top-10-asie-apo-reefCommon species : reef shark (gray, white tip, black tip), pelagic bank (barracuda, trevally, tuna, grouper, snapper, fusilier, batfish, triggerfish ...), large pelagic (giant trevally, napoleon, tuna, grouper, sweetlips, humpback parrot ...), tortoise.
  • Coolest encounters : fox sharks, hammerhead sharks, manta rays, eagle rays.
  • Best dive season : January to May
  • Hammerhead shark season : January March.
  • Manta ray season : February - April.
  • Best dive sites : Apo 29, Shark airport, SE corner, wall Ego, Mabouti, Aladin

Top 10 Philippines here

Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# 10 MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO (Myanmar): manta ray and whale shark in season!

archipel de mergui smallIn place of the Archipelago of Mergui I almost put the Similan Islands of Thailand, but for doing them, it's not at the level of the top destinations. On the other hand, the advantage of the archipelago of Mergui (which is just above the Similans) and that it has only been open to the public recently and so his treasures have been preserved! The chance to see more types of sharks (reef, gray, nurse, leopard, guitard ...), a mantas cleaning station (North twin), from big on a lot of sites (trevally, trevally, grouper, tuna ...), from good macro on several sites (ghost pipefish, frogfish, nudibranch ...), and finally the great chance to see whale sharks!

  • top-10-asie-merguiCommon species : barracuda, tuna, reef shark, nurse shark, stingray, trevally, leopard shark, turtle
  • Coolest encounters : whale shark (fan forest), gray shark, guitar shark, manta ray (north twin), mobula line (tower rock), frogfish, harlequin shrimp, eagle ray, mackerel.
  • Best dive season : December to May
  • Best dive sites western rocky, black rock, shark cave (three islet), fan forest (whale shark), North twin (resort in manta).
Ranking # 1 Raja Ampat # 2 Sipadan # 3 Tubbataha # 4 Komodo # 5 Layang layang # 6 Lembeh # 7 Alor # 8 Banda Sea # 9 Apo reef # 10 Archipelago of Mergui

# SPECIAL MENTION FOR THE SIMILAN ISLANDS

Raie manta Similan 1-min.jpgThe Similan Islands are clearly the best destination of the Thailand. For doing it, it's good, but it's not at the level of other destinations Indonesia, from Malaysia or some Philippines and lArchipelago of Mergui looks above (I have not done it yet). If you are in Thailand, do not hesitate to do the Similan Islands and especially Koh Tachai (manta ray station) and Richelieu Rock (Great site and whale shark in season).

The full article on the Similan Islands

MY DIVING REVIEW ON SOUTHEAST ASIA

How to say ... I have not been everywhere, I miss to explore the Indian Ocean (Maldives, Madagascar, Mozambique ...) and the Pacific (Polynesia, Fiji, Galapagos ...), but in terms of marine biodiversity, it does not There is no better than Southeast Asia in the world! The beauty of its corals, the diversity of its fish, the rarity of its macro and the possible encounter of very rare specimens (whale shark, thresher shark, hammerhead shark ...) make Southeast Asia a must-see destination for all divers ! Go there ASAP!!!

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