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diving thailand

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1. Posted by charnmike (Budding Member, 16 posts) 28 Jan '11 14:04

hi , so the first part of our trip we want to take a week or so out and learn to dive in Thailand, we;ve hear Koh lanta is a good island for it? any recommendations on the best places to learn ( my boyfriend already has is open water certificate) and dive... also would like some relaxation time aswel so any tips would be greatly appreciated! x

2. Posted by Dodger (Respected Member, 860 posts) 28 Jan '11 14:36

I guess we all speak of our own experiences and everyone experiences something different. So take what I say with that in mind. I really was un impressed with Koh Lanta. I liked it, but there were far better places. I did my open and advanced in Koh Tao. Its the smallest and furthest of the three islands on the eastern coast. Its more laid back and the prices were 3 years ago the best in Thailand. I did my open water with a main stream cheap company. You got what you paid for which was ok. Did my advanced with these guys Good Time Adventures Its owned by a fun Australian guy and they have a fast boat that can get you to the best dive sites around the island. Check the weather for your dates, as the east coast and west coast have their own monsoon season.

3. Posted by charnmike (Budding Member, 16 posts) 29 Jan '11 03:10

thanks for that, im gonna have a look at the link now. We want to avoid the really touristy islands as this is a big trip for us and want to try and experience as much of real thailand as possible...would you say Koh tao has become as commercialised as some of the other thai islands? char n mike

4. Posted by Dodger (Respected Member, 860 posts) 29 Jan '11 16:12

Quoting charnmike

thanks for that, im gonna have a look at the link now. We want to avoid the really touristy islands as this is a big trip for us and want to try and experience as much of real thailand as possible...would you say Koh tao has become as commercialised as some of the other thai islands? char n mike

yeah Im afraid there is very little beach area of Thailand that isn't developed. I guess I should qualify that my idea of developed is anything built on the beach. You still wont find anything over 2 or 3 floors in Koa Tao. Certainly Koh Tao is less developed than Koh Lanta and than the other 2 islands on the east coast. but that was nearly 3 years ago that I was there, and they were building fast! Good news is, its easy to travel there, so you can do your diving which I still think is the best place, then go off to other more remote area's to explore. Krabi is a great base to reach a number of islands and inland areas that will really give you a taste of Thailand.

Not sure how much Koh tao has changed since I was there, but there are a couple of bays on the east side of the island that are spectacular to snorkel in. I had more fun snorkeling those than diving. Looking on the map I think Ao Leuk is the name of the one I really liked. There are a couple of guest houses that you can rent a cabin right on the beach, or rent a scooter and cruise all over the island and stay over in the more touristy, but best choice of restaurants at Sairee Beach.

[ Edit: Edited on 29-Jan-2011, at 16:19 by Dodger ]

5. Posted by DocNY (Respected Member, 403 posts) 29 Jan '11 19:00

Kao Tao is the place to go to learn to dive - less developed, cheaper and more backpacker friendly than the other islands. Koh Lanta is nice, but is the epitome of commercialized. Same goes for Koh Chang, Koh Samui, and most of the other inexpensive Thai Islands.

There are tons of options for where to get certified from the big let's herd you like cattle organizations like Ban's to tiny little places where you'll be the only students like Seashell Divers. Some are right in the middle like Coral Beach Divers. Visit a number of the places either on the island or over on Kao Sarn road in Bangkok to see what kind of deals you can get.

Personally as a very experienced diver I really liked Seashell divers (one which you'd have to contact yourself or visit when you get to Koh Tao or work with Coral Beach Divers where the instructors were very impressive (and they certified my wife) and stay away from the biggest dive resorts on the island.

6. Posted by charnmike (Budding Member, 16 posts) 30 Jan '11 03:03

Brilliant, il check all of those out! thanks for all the info guys its really helpful. x

7. Posted by charnmike (Budding Member, 16 posts) 30 Jan '11 05:56

does going at the beginning of december change anything? ive heard that islands in the golf of thailand are in their rainy season then? west coast any better? x

8. Posted by DocNY (Respected Member, 403 posts) 30 Jan '11 12:12

absolutely. Thailand's diving and where you can do it is very seasonally dependent. December I believe is the windy monsoon season in the Gulf of Thailand. Might need to head to the east coast and somewhere like Koh Chang at that time of year, but off the top of my head I don't remember all of the monsoons. Certainly September is great in Koh Tao but lousy further south in Koh Lanta. Koh Chang is great in November and I think december - a lot more expensive though.

If the weather conspires against you, consider grabbing a ticket on Air Asia over to Borneo Malaysia and Kota Kinabalu, which is the cheapest place I've seen for certification. If you do that pop over and see peggy at Anchor Divers. She'll hook you up and you can say hello from me.

9. Posted by LittleT (Budding Member, 9 posts) 30 Jan '11 15:37

Hi charnmike

Just in agreement with some other posters here-I was in Thailand less than 12 months ago and did my open water diving in Koh Tao. I did it with Ban's dive school-probably one of the main schools on the island but for good reason-they offered great prices and fantastic instructors. I can't recommend them enough.I recall hearing while I was there that prices on Ko Lanta were double that of Koh Tao. Koh Tao was by far the least commercialised of the Thai islands I visited.

10. Posted by Dodger (Respected Member, 860 posts) 30 Jan '11 16:24

You can never totally predict the weather. December is considered high season and as such good weather all over. The Thai gulf is still experiencing the tail end of the south east monsoon so could be some rain, or could be perfect.

My suggestion would be don't book anything. Do your research online now and have names of places in both east and west coast, then arrive and make your decision based on the weather. You'll get a better price too by turning up and negotiating face to face.