Review of The Junk Liveaboard in Thailand-Open Water Divers

The Junk Liveaboard Dragon Head

Review of “The Junk” Liveaboard in Thailand – Are Open Water Divers Invited? – An Excellent Pass!

Can new and novice certified divers do the dives offered from “The Junk” Liveaboard? Are you looking for budget prices?

This review will give you an in-depth picture of everything you need to know for new and novice divers. Find out why I gave “The Junk” Liveaboard such a high rating.

There is also an amazing video of the crew members and a couple of guests hoisting the sails. It will give you a taste of what the much-talked-about diving is like in the Similan and Surin Islands of Thailand offered by “The Junk” tour guides.

Product Name: “The Junk” Liveaboard (Similan and Surin Islands – Thailand)

Price: $400 to 1695 USD per person and depends on the itinerary and number of nights (2, 4, 6 to 8 nights)

Best Suited For:  Certifed Scuba Divers of all levels and snorkelers

Overall Rank: 97 out of 100

Recommended: Yes

“The Junk” boasts to give you the ‘best liveaboard diving vacation’ experience due to their ‘high standard of service’. This also means having the best food on a liveaboard, awesome diving, and their guarantee that you will never go hungry. They also say you will enjoy their ‘exceptional value on your money’.

Will “The Junk” Liveaboard take you to dive destinations suitable for your dive skills as a certified Open Water Diver?

Let’s find out…

Ready for a Safari Dive Adventure in Thailand?

Beautiful Sunset of Island in Similan National Park Thailand

The exotica remote Similan and Surin Islands in Thailand is rated among the top 10 dive destinations in the world.

Some beautiful sea creatures you can see diving from “The Junk” Liveaboard are Tiger tail seahorses, large schools of barracudas, eels, Bumphead Parrotfish, large Napoleon wrasse, frogfish, tiny nudibranchs, giant manta rays, friendly whale sharks and much more.

This is a trip I did years ago and it’s one I hope you will put on your bucket list. There are 3 ways to this in the Islands, small dive boats, day boats and liveaboards.

Day boats, as the word implies, means the divers return to the mainland or an island for land accommodations. These boats can still do the trip to remote dive sites but are just out for the day.

Watch the weather, if you book your dives going out on small dive boats. It’s a long boat ride and you still need to come back to the mainland.

In case you’re not familiar with what a liveaboard is…

What Is “The Junk” Liveaboard?

The Junk June Hong Chian-Liveaboard-Thailand

“The Junk” is a beautiful and unique historical sailing vessel liveaboard. Built in Malaysia in 1962, it’s original name is June Hong Chian Lee (meaning ‘respect wind, travel forever’).

During the 60’s, this vessel’s purpose was used as part of a merchant fleet trading along Burma to the Malaysia coastline. Then in 1998, in the hands of a new owner, it was converted to function as a liveaboard vessel for divers and snorkelers so they can live on it and dive from it.

“The Junk” liveaboard measures a stunning 33m long and 8m wide with impressive sails that are 330 sq meters. It’s my favorite desirable liveaboard in Thailand when it comes to getting the aura of a romantic safari dive adventure.

When I first saw this unique sailing vessel, I fell in love with the wood. This vessel is mostly constructed out of Takien Tong, hard teak wood. (Off the topic here, this vessel always makes me think of my historical home, built in 1875, in Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands because it has original wood inside the house that comes from a ship.)

“The Junk” comes with 12 experienced crew members who are English and Thai speaking and I must add, quite friendly and entertaining.

“The Junk” claims to give you service with a smile and this they do well. You are welcomed the moment you step onto this vessel and made to feel safe like it’s your home.

It’s simply different… this is a 140 ton three mast junk and if you go back in time, you might envision yourself as a pirate. The dragon’s head is fascinating to look at too!

A movie tidbit… part of the filming of the James Bond movie, The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) and the Swiss Family Robinson (1960) took place on this world-famous sailing vessel.

Who Is “The Junk” Liveaboard For? 

“The Junk” liveaboard offers all 5 exciting and well-organized itineraries for new and novice certified divers.

Depending on the number of nights you book for, you can get anywhere from 8 to 28 dives. What a great way to get more diving experience from “The Junk”! The dives are very suitable to your dive skills because there is very little current.

All you need is your Open Water Diver Certification card. This is your minimum requirement. In fact, some itineraries will say ‘no minimum logged dives required’ so you don’t have to prove your total number of dives done to date.

TIP: Even though the itineraries say “no minimum logged dives required”, my advice is to bring your dive log book and write your memories and log all your new dives.

Thailand’s well-known dive destinations in the Similan and Surin Islands or in Chalong, Phuket are…

  • Koh Bon, Koh Tachai, Richelieu Rock and Khao Lak Wrecks, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Haa, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, Similan Islands with Elephant Head Rock

You will get your safari dive vacation on “The Junk” liveaboard and if you go in the right season, you will hopefully get opportunities to see large pelagic sea creatures like the giant manta rays and the friendly whale sharks.

There is just one itinerary, the “Best of Thailand Manta Trust special Expedition”, for 8 nights where your tour guide will let you know on board if there is current that may not be suitable for novice divers.

What Features Does “The Junk” Liveaboard Have? 

So we all know now that liveaboards are going to be our home for the next 2 to 6 nights and even 8 nights. What will life on “The Junk” be like?

The Most Notable Features of “The Junk” Liveaboard:

The Cabins

The Junk Liveaboard Double Bed Cabin

If “The Junk” was fully booked, you might think 18 guests sounds like a lot of people on board, but this one is really quite different. I find it quite spacious and professionally designed so you don’t feel like you’re squeezed in.

“The Junk” is nicely laid out with a total of 6 air-conditioned cabins encompassed with clean ensuite washrooms and showers. Bath towels and soap are conveniently provided for you.

  • Private double cabins with double bed (sleeps 2 per cabin).
  • Triple cabins with 2 single beds and 1 berth (sleeps 3 per cabin). The 2 single beds can be made as 1 double bed.
  • Quad cabins with 4 berths. These are bunk beds and can be changed to shared twins. Perfect for a family.

The Boat

The Junk Main Deck

The Junk Lower Deck

The boat has a decent sized sundeck with sunbeds for you to lay on and have a leisurely nap or read a book in the ocean breeze. Their other activities on board are:

  • Watching movies, visits to the library room where you can find other books to read, and games to play in their nicely air-conditioned salon.
  • Enjoying their dining area, both covered outdoors and indoors.
  • Filling your belly with their well-known first-class meals.
  • Snacking and yes, more snacks.
  • Lounging around with air-conditioning and watching TV.
  • Alcohol $

The Diving

Diving near Coral Reef in Thailand

How much diving do you want to do?

Some divers are happy doing 2-tank dives a day from small dive boats and call it a day.  Why not take advantage of the option of 4 dives a day that is offered on “The Junk” liveaboard?

“The Junk’s” standard service features for the water guests that come with the itineraries are:

  • Snorkel tour guide
  • DiveMaster for every 6 divers
  • Pre-dive orientation
  • Night dives
  • Tanks – compressed air
  • 12-liter aluminum tanks, weight belts, and lead weights
  • Surface marker buoys (SMB)
  • DIN/INT Adapters
  • Motorized dinghy
  • Station to charge your batteries
  • Roomy dive deck shaded
  • Deck towels
  • Showers (warm)
  • Dive books and fish identification cards
  • Crate to store your dive gear and accessories and setup area


It’s true when “The Junk’s” crew say you will never go hungry!

The Junk Liveaboard Mouth Watering Thai Seafood

You get 2 breakfasts, before and after the first dive in the morning.

  • Lunch is a lovely mixture of their first-class Asian affair.
  • Dinner is seafood, meats and veggies and fresh salads before your night dive
  • Snacks/desserts between meals (always open)
  • Water, coffee, tea, juices, and sodas
  • After dive drinks at the bar

If you are a vegan or have allergies to certain foods, just let the cooks know and they will look after you.  They will prepare extra vegetarian dishes and ensure you have a choice of a variety of dishes that will work for your body.

Other Activities  and Services From “The Junk” Liveaboard 

A crew member will pick you up at the airport, take you to the liveaboard and look after you on your return.

You will get a dry run on their emergency procedure.

In addition to scuba diving, all of “The Junk’s” itineraries offer you snorkeling, kayaking, and land excursions so you can walk along the beautiful white sandy beaches of the Similan and Surin and other Islands.

If you are prone to seasickness or have ear issues, they have tablets and ear drops to help you. (I suggest you still bring your own, in case they have a small inventory).

They also help you get fitted with your rental dive gear if you don’t bring your own and help carry your tank onto the tender.

Options Are Payable On Board (Per Person)

They take  VISA, Cash, USD, THB, and EUR.

  • Rental gear
  • 15-liter tanks
  • Nitrox
  • Advanced Open Water Course
  • Nitrox Course
  • Tips (I highly recommend tipping the crew members, they work hard)
  • Beer and wine are at a price.

How Can You Book “The Junk” Liveaboard?

If you’re a diver, I’m sure you have heard of PADI, in fact, you may be a PADI certified diver like me.

In January 2018, Diviac, the #1 dedicated dive travel experts became PADI Travel, your ultimate dive travel agency worldwide.  Yes, they are now part of the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) family. Their professionally trained consultants, who are also divers, provide guidance in finding and booking your liveaboard AND/or dive resorts/dive centers worldwide.

Booking your dive and snorkel vacation on “The Junk” thru PADI Travel is quick and easy with only 4 steps.

Step 1: Go to PADI Travel’s website.

Step 2: Choose your desired itinerary.

Step 3: Select your cabin.

Step 4: Fill out the simple form.

Booking With PADI Travel

Click Here to Read PADI Travel Review

How To Cancel & Change “The Junk” Liveaboard Booking

PADI Travel understands that unexpected things can happen and so they work with you and give you time when you make your booking.

While you still have to give them your credit card information, the good news is they give you 48 hours before they process your card. They also give you a friendly reminder of the expiration date of your FREE cancellation at the time of your booking.

Changes to your booking can be done via email or thru their LIVE CHAT.

At the end of the free cancellation, “The Junk’s” Payment And Cancellation Terms come into play (see below)

“The Junk” Liveaboard Payment And Cancellation Terms

The Junk Payment and Cancellation Terms

“The Junk” Liveaboard payment schedule and cancellation terms is what I consider standard with liveaboard operations and acceptable in the diving industry.


A down payment deposit of 30% of the total amount of your booking is required at the time you book your itinerary. The remaining balance must be paid 74 days before you arrive.

NOTE:  All payment is with PADI Travel.


For cancellation taking place over 60 days before your arrival, you must pay 30% of your total booking amount.

For cancellation taking place less than 60 days before your arrival, you must pay 100% on your total booking.

What I Like About “The Junk” Liveaboard

  • Feeling of freedom and adventure.
  • Safari diving.
  • Rental gear is in excellent condition.
  • Dive from dinghies.
  • Excellent service with a smile.
  • Everything is clean.
  • Comfortable beds.
  • Tasty and eye-appealing meals.
  • Never go hungry.
  • Safety is their #1 priority.
  • Pricing is cheaper than staying at a resort and booking from a dive center.
  • Impressive real testimonials.

What I Don’t Like About “The Junk” Liveaboard

I was honestly 100% happy with everything I did and received from “The Junk” liveaboard but hey, not everything is perfect. For instance, they have:

  • No Internet.
  • No rental full-length wetsuits.

How To Get On The Junk

Phuket International is your arrival and departure airport leaving no complication or confusion.

If you’re staying in a hotel in Patong, Karon, Rawai and Chalong area, “The Junk” has transfers to and from the boat.

NOTE: You will be required to fill out a standard diver’s Medical Statement, Liability Release and Express Assumption of Risk Agreement and Safe Diving Practises.

My Final Opinion

Overall Rank: 97 out of 100

Does The Junk deliver on its promises? YES, ABSOLUTELY!!

I didn’t miss the internet and had more time to socialize with other guests.

I got cold wearing a shorty the first couple of days because of a good rainfall but after that, the sea warmed up nicely.

The dives are excellent for certified new and novice divers.

The sailing masts are amazing and if you have never been on a sailboat, “The Junk” liveaboard will give you a safari vacation.

Did I get my exceptional value on my money? YES, ABSOLUTELY AND MORE!

The Junk Liveaboard gets my 97 out of 100. I deducted 2 points for not having full-length wetsuits and 1 point for not having internet.

Name: “The Junk” Liveaboard

Website: PADI Travel

If you have been on “The Junk” Liveaboard and would like to share your experiences or have comments or questions, I really would like to hear from you.

Click Here to Find Out More About The Junk Liveaboard and PADI Travel

I hope you found this review useful and thanks for reading!


24 thoughts on “Review of The Junk Liveaboard in Thailand-Open Water Divers”

  1. Wow this was a very interesting review. I went scuba diving a few times to Cozumel where I went and explored there. It was kind of the same thing but everything was a lot different since it was a trip I did myself. I learned to Scuba dive before going and did not buy my own equipment. Just used the equipment that was provided but it was one of my favorite experiences ever. 

    Thailand has been on my wish list for a long time and I see that diving in the Similan and Surin Islands from The Junk would be good for a new diver like me. I’ll definitely be reading this again. Thanks!

    I would like to see a review of Cozumel too.

    • Hey Chris,

      Thanks for reading! Cozumel eh? That’s a great place to dive! I was there a couple of years ago. Nice easy drift diving. All my dive trips, I do on my own, lol… my friends who dive are now too busy.

      I know you will absolutely love diving on The Junk in Similan and Surin Islands of Thailand. I hope you will do that trip. Glad you have it in your wish list. 

      Sure, I’ll definitely write up a review on Cozumel and it is in my To Do list.


  2. I remember when I was a kid, my parents took me and my brother to Mexico. We went sNuba diving. It is where you’re under water but instead of the tank being on your back it is connected to a raft on the water’s surface. I remember it being so fun.

    We went snorkeling around sunken ships around Aruba as well. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the gigantic ship and wanting a closer look. 

    After that, I got hooked into scuba diving! I have never lived on and dived from a liveaboard.  I just recently started doing some research on this which is how I stumbled onto your site. My family and I are thinking of making a trip to Thailand or maybe to the Caribbean this winter.

    I’m quite intrigued on your review of The Junk liveaboard. They seem to be very professional and take pride in their services. I’m going to discuss this further with my family and see what they want to do.

    If this is what they want to do, then I’ll be in touch. I’ll keep this bookmarked.

    Thanks very much.

    • Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for reading my review!

      I have never tried sNuba diving. I have friends who have and they definitely had a lot of fun doing that. Sounds like I really need to do this!

      I can definitely see how you got hooked into scuba diving… there’s a lot of history and great stories on sunken ships. Sometimes, I get this eerie feeling when I’m down exploring them.

      I’m happy to hear you and your family are thinking of Thailand for your next winter vacation. Please let me know if you have any questions.

      I also have an articles on diving in the Caribbean, in case you’re interested in reading it:

      Thank you for bookmarking this review and I hope to hear back from you.



  3. A very entertaining and informative website. I really liked the tips section, in particular maintaining buoyancy when diving. 

    You really were helpful with the different courses that are available and that is where I’m at. I’ve been doing researches to see what kind of things I can do when I become a scuba diver. I have a friend who is a diver and she mentioned she usually dives from liveaboards when she goes to Asia.

    I’m wondering what is the first thing I need to know?  I can definitely swim.


    • Hi Dell,

      Thank you and I’m glad you enjoyed reading my review and found some of my other articles helpful.

      I’m not sure if you read this, but I suggest taking a quick read on my article:

      This will give you a good insight to what is required to learn how to dive. 

      I hope this helps you. Please let me know if you have any other questions.



  4. What you say is really interesting me. I go to Thailand a few times. I didn’t hear any about The Junk Liveaboard. I go to dive by traveling by ship. But you provide me a different way to enjoy a vacation and all the details about the junk and the price. If I go to Thailand next, I will consider having a nice vacation on The Junk Liveaboard.

    • Hi CT,

      Thank you for reading my review and I’m very happy to hear you found it interesting.

      Living and diving from a liveaboard, especially The Junk liveaboard, will definitely give you a wonderful and memorable experience. It takes you away from large crowds and takes you on a beautiful and scenic safari journey to the remote Similan and Surin Islands. You will love those gigantic sailing masts.

      It’s definitely worthwhile putting The Junk Liveaboard in your To Do list for your next vacation.

      Thank you for mentioning you will ‘consider having a nice vacation on The Junk Liveaboard’, the next time you go to Thailand. That’s AWESOME!


  5. The different packages look great! The junk looks very comfortable. Years ago I did some island hopping and day trips out of Hong Kong on junks and was always impressed with the roominess. It looks like you’ll get great Thai food on these liveaboards.

    One question, are any of these making it up to the Burma Banks? There used to be great stories of diving with the silvertip sharks there.

    Thanks a lot for a beautiful presentation!


    • Hi Joe,

      Thank you for reading my review.

      The MV Bavaria liveaboard does the trip along the Burma. They take divers out to the Mergui Archipelago, Black Rock where they can see sharks like the silvertips, black tips and whitetips. 

      I must admit, the Thai food was excellent… and I think of it quite often. The dives were too, enough to actually me put this vacation back on my bucket list.


  6. I’ve never been scuba diving, only snorkeling and it was fun. I’ve been thinking of learning to dive and want to do this first before I go to Thailand next year. I hear the Similan Islands are the best places to dive there and I’m excited to know the dive sites are good for new divers.

    I looked at PADI’s site too. Is there anything I need to know before I do this? Scuba diving seems a bit scary to do, you never know what can happen in the water.  I want to do this trip on the liveaboard after I am a certified diver.

    • Hi Ty,

      I’m really happy to hear you are going to do the scuba dive course. PADI is excellent and their training is for recreational divers which is what I am. I’m sure you already know about their eLearning and so you can easily do the theory study at home and in your own time. 

      Because you are already a comfortable snorkeler, learning to dive will be easy for you. You just to have relax.

      I recommend reading my article… because it will give you lots of great tips on what is expected to learn how to dive. This will get you started. The entry-level PADI Open Water Diver Course is lots of fun.

      You will definitely enjoy diving on “The Junk” Liveaboard. The crew members will really look after you. You will get lots of dives in from just one dive vacation so remember to bring your new dive log book and write up your stories.

      Let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to hearing about your dive stories.

      Thanks for reading my review!


  7. Hi Monica, I love this review. You covered every detail to make it simple for me to understand.

    I am not a diver but my friend is and we travel a lot so I’m always looking for vacation places to go. Thailand happens to be on our bucket list.

    A great review and very informative. Thanks, I’ll keep this bookmarked.

  8. HI Monica,

    I really enjoyed the reading!

    The whole family just did the 2 stars diving course, and now we are planning to go diving in Thailand. We still didn’t book anything, thank God:) I would have missed this beautiful trip on the Junk Liveaboard. I will show this article to my family so we can take a decision and book our diving trip. It may be a bit late for September. Do you think there will still be places available in this period of the year?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Daniella,

      Congratulations to your entire family for doing the Open Water Diver Certification Course.

      Thank you for reading the review and I’m excited to hear you are interested in diving from “The Junk” Liveaboard. Your family will absolutely love the diving and the experience of being on this huge sailboat. Service is excellent and their Thai food is the best… seriously!

      I just checked the itineraries and this is what I found:

      September 2, Oct 5, Oct 12 are only 2 nights which is the Southern Explorer – the Chalong, Phuket itinerary.

      If you want the Similan and Surin itinerary (there are 4 spots still available):

      October 15 – 6 nights 

      October 21 – 4 nights 

      October 25 – 6 nights

      November 1 – 6 nights is all booked

      November 12 – 4 nights

      November 16 – 6 nights

      November 23 – 6 nights

      November 30 for 4 nights is all booked

      I hope this helps you and your family make a decision. Let me know if you have any questions.


  9. I’ve been looking at doing some diving with a liveaboard in Thailand. The Junk looks like a lot of fun.

    I’ve been to Thailand once before but did my dives with a dive resort which I enjoyed very much. This time I want to do something different. Liveaboards are new to me.

    My problem is I get seasick easily and I worry about being on a boat for a long time. Do you think I will have feelings of seasickness on this liveaboard?

    • Hi Terri,

      I’m glad you’re interested in The Junk liveaboard. This one is really different because of all the large sails and unique wood structures.

      About the feeling of being seasick… it depends on the weather.

      I’m like you. I always feel seasick even on a small boat and liveaboards are no different for me, even in relatively calm waters.
      I take the chewable non-drowsy Ginger Gravol or some other seasickness tablets. Just make sure to take the seasickness tablet at least 30 minutes before you board the boat.

      Hope this helps and thanks for reading.

  10. Wow awesome post! I didn’t realize vacations like this existed. I really want to dive, but I’ve never tried it. I love snorkeling, but diving scares me a little. Do you have any advice for a beginner that would love to try this? I think the junk liveaboard is over my head but would love to do that someday!

  11. Great site! I love snorkelling, but I’ve always been afraid to scuba dive. My Wife is begging me and The Junk liveaboard seems awesome! Do you think it’s over my head, if I’ve never dove before? Any suggestions to get over my fear? 

    We plan on taking a trip to Honduras next Summer, do you know any good locations out there?

    • If you love snorkelling, it’s like the next step to learning to scuba dive.  There are of course differences… 

      I have included some articles for you to read. The first one is why divers love diving so much.

      This second article will give you tips on what you need to know to learn to scuba dive and receive your Open Water Diver Certification.

      The third article is if you are still uncertain but want to give it a try, then I suggest doing the PADI Discover Scuba which you can do at any dive resort anywhere in the world. You can do this in a day.

      If you decide you want to learn to scuba dive, my suggestion is to do this with PADI (Professional Association of  Diving Instructors). I am a PADI diver myself.  

      There are 2 parts to getting your entry-level Open Water Diver Certification. The first is your theory learning and this you can easily do online with PADI’s eLearning. You have a year to do this. So you learn the theory online, do some quizzes and the final exam. The best part is you can do this at home and any time.

      The 2nd part is to either book with your local dive shop and meet up with a PADI dive instructor there. Your instructor will explain the scuba gear and how to breathe, etc. and demonstrate all the skills in shallow water or pool. After you are comfortable in shallow water, your instructor will take you to open water where you demonstrate the skills you learned.  You do 4 open water dives with your instructor.

      Or… you can get a referral from PADI after completing your eLearning and do the 2nd part at a resort in Roatan, Honduras next year. You meet with an instructor there.

      Located on the south side of Roatan, Honduras is a dive resort and you can find it here…

      There is a liveaboard in Roatan, Honduaras and they take snorkelers and entry level certified Open Water Divers.…?tap_a=16170-775a1a&tap_s=130919-20b080 

      I hope all this information helps you make some decisions.


  12. This is a great article for people who love the ocean like me. I have been to Phuket once during my honeymoon and can’t wait to go back. My wife and I love snorkeling. We have never done scuba diving before but we love to try. Do they offer PADI open water dive certification course too for first timers like us? The video of what we can see during a dive is awesome!

    • Hi Ian,

      The Island of Phuket is very beautiful with lots of things to do there and a great place to go for a honeymoon.

      Because you and your wife enjoy snorkelling, I’m sure you will both enjoy diving. The entry level, PADI Open Water Diver certification course is not offered on The Junk Liveaboard. They offer the Advanced course.

      I think you will be interested in reading this article below and it will give you lots of information on how to get your entry level certification..

      Please let me know if you have any questions on it.



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