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heading to HOT Thailand - Andaman vs. Gulf side in May!?

  • jkian

    Joined Travelfish
    9th April, 2011
    Posts: 3

    Traveling from COLD Canada to HOT Thailand 28 April - 13 May (~2 weeks).
    The plan so far...
    WEEK 1: EXPLORE the north (Chang Mai) or travel around Bangkok (Chanthabury)
    WEEK 2: PADI open water certification & RELAX on beaches down south

    To all you experiences travelers of Thailand, please enlighten me!

    - Andaman or Gulf side for PADI open water certification in May, for good visibility and quality instructors. Is Koh Tao really the place to be as most forums say? Any recommendations on dive companies and locations?
    - Is our plan realistic or is time tight to see everything!? Any recommendations?
    - Any considerations we should have with the recent rains last few weeks?

    Share your knowledge travelers, thanks!

    #1 Posted: 9/4/2011 - 21:59

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  • ayesha

    TF writer
    Click here to learn more about ayesha
    Joined Travelfish
    12th June, 2009
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 74

    Hi there !

    I live and work in diving here on Koh Tao. The conditions are good in May and the courses are cheaper here than on the West Coast.

    Feel free to message me if you want more information.

    Ayesha

    #2 Posted: 10/4/2011 - 10:19

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    You have 1 week before you head south. Actually you have NO real exploration time...that said you can fly up to Chiang Mai for a few days, see Ayutthaya on the way back to Bangkok, (a day) and spend a day seeing a couple of spots in the city before heading south. Just a thought.

    #3 Posted: 10/4/2011 - 10:27

  • Captain_Bob

    Click here to learn more about Captain_Bob
    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1606

    Two weeks will fly by pretty quickly, I think you'll be back home before you know it so use your time well. Either fly up to Chiang Mai or skip it and focus more on Bangkok and surrounds then get to Ko Tao for diving. May can be blustery down the Andaman coast while the lower gulf (east) tends to remain protected from the SW monsoon winds that usually kick in around then. Bear in mind though, this has been the weirdest weather year in recent memory so take the "usual" patterns with a grain of salt (e.g. the bizarre heavy rains of late March). Ko Tao has by far the most dive schools of any island especially considering it's small size, and fingers crossed weather should be favorable in May there.

    I'd recommend you do more than just the Open Water 1 course then wipe your hands - do some extra fun dives to practice basic skills to gain confidence - it simply makes diving a lot more enjoyable than the bare minimum required to get that plastic card. The ability to relax while knowing your equipment and your buddy's dive behavior, and controlling your bouyancy without the usual bicycle-kicking and arm-flailing leads to new levels of joy. BWRAF

    #4 Posted: 10/4/2011 - 14:43

  • CrankyCarrot

    Click here to learn more about CrankyCarrot
    Joined Travelfish
    24th March, 2010
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 662

    Just spend the whole time in Phuket. Works for me ;)

    #5 Posted: 10/4/2011 - 20:03

  • jkian

    Joined Travelfish
    9th April, 2011
    Posts: 3

    AYESHA: Nice to hear conditions are good in Koh Tao. I hear prices are cheaper there. Given that we have only one week, I feel we'll have to decide either the Andaman or the Gulf side. Really want to see Koh Phi Phi and surrounding islands, so kinda leaning towards that side now but we'll keep your contact close in hand!

    THOMAS: NO time to explore, I hear you! I'm thinking Chang Mai for a few days like you said. Wont be able to do everything but as long as I can get a good jungle trek and see some elephants I'm happy. I'll also look into Ayutthaya, what would you recommend to see and do there?

    CAPTAIN BOB: Don't remind me that two weeks will fly by! I know the weather this year has been unpredictable, which means we cannot really plan to much. As I mentioned, leaning now towards sticking to one side in the south and doing PADI course in the Andaman waters. Anyone recommend any reputable dive shops there (i.e. Koh Phi Phi)? By sticking to one side we can take more advantage of our short time and do some additional excursions and dives in the area.

    CRANKYCARROT: Thank you for your suggestion!

    Thanks everyone for your advice, please share anything else that may come to mind! Much appreciated!

    #6 Posted: 11/4/2011 - 01:58

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    Research your choice carefully. If you are paying for a PADI you want visibility. That is more important than being on Phi Phi. Phi PHi may dissapoint. It ain't what it was and it does not look like old post cards. Find recent pics. But base your dives on what has a better chance to be clear.
    As for Chiang Mai, do the elephants and the jungle stuff one day, see the town, and maybe Doi Suthep. Every night you can enjoy the social life.
    Ayutthaya is 2 hours or so from BKK. It is full of old temples and ruins. A 5 hour day touring will make great pics. That night you are back in BKK for something to do....

    #7 Posted: 11/4/2011 - 12:07

  • CrankyCarrot

    Click here to learn more about CrankyCarrot
    Joined Travelfish
    24th March, 2010
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 662

    mai pen lai - no poblem

    #8 Posted: 11/4/2011 - 19:49

  • guava_girl

    Joined Travelfish
    21st October, 2010
    Posts: 252

    If you go the the Andaman side (for example Khao Lak) it will be possible to do your course at the famous Similan and Surin islands. These are the best sites in Thailand. Yes it is a bit more expensive than in Koh Tao but worth it .

    Some companies shut down at the end of April because the islands close for the season but a few continue trips until the middle of May.

    #9 Posted: 12/4/2011 - 08:06

  • slapbreeya

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2011
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 50

    Koh Tao is in season now so the weather will be much better and as said the diving is cheaper but much lower quality.

    #10 Posted: 22/4/2011 - 14:06

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