I was wondering what the actual prices of taking the diving courses was and also what type of certification it is. Can I then go to say Australia and be able to dive by myself? or do I have to be diving with a divemaster or an instructor.
I live and work on a small island in Thailand called Koh Tao. Im a dive instructor and underwater photographer.
The prices here for your Open Water Course are 9800B and for your Advanced Course (which you can take straight after) 8500B.
This is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn to dive - you do not say where you are thinking of learning - prices do vary quite alot the world over and even in Thailand. In most other places in Thailand you will pay 13000-15000B for your Open Water Course.
PADI is the most popular certification agency and the one you are more likely to have heard of but there are many more ...SSI, BSAC, CMAS, SDI etc... they are all internationally recognised and you can dive with any dive centre even if they are not the same agency that you have learnt with.
Your licences will be internationally recognised so yes you can dive in Australia. It will depend on the dive centres policy though as to weather they will allow you to buddy up with another diver to conduct your own dives or weather you will have a guide. Its quite likely that you will be given a guide however as most places like you to have a certain amount of logged dives and expereince before buddying you up and letting you off on your own. A guide is nice to have - I have done 1000s of dives and can take care of myself no problem but local guides know where all the cool stuff hangs out - so you will see far more !
Hope this helps !