Photo: Getting ready to dive near Komodo National Park.

Scuba diving in Asia forum

Beginners wanting to learn to dive on a budget.Where too start,Cambodia,Thailand or Malaysia

Posted by kernowfixing on 21/2/2010 at 17:27


My girlfriend and i are travelling across SE Asia and want to learn to dive somewhere on our route. We will be travelling across the whole of Thailand and Cambodia and the East coast of Malaysia. We really want to fit diving into our trip but are concerned about costs firstly and safety secondly.

Our budget will restrict where and what we can afford to choose to do surrounding diving, but we are concerned that comprising in price can lead to our instruction being unsafe.

Please could you feedback the cheapest places to learn to dive in Cambodia,Thailand and Malaysia, plus safety information surrounding diving there.

thank you all in advance!!! All help with this will be very apprecaited!!!! cheers

#1 kernowfixing has been a member since 21/2/2010. Posts: 12

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Posted by ayesha on 24/2/2010 at 12:38 TF writer

Hi there!

I live and work on Koh Tao as a dive instructor. Your open water course here will cost you 9800B and last 3 and a half days. This is your first certification. I can tell you that Koh Tao is one of the cheapest places in the world to dive.

If you do not have time or funds to do your full course then you can complete half of the course - called a Scuba Diver Course. This is a limited licence which restricts your depth to 12m and restricts you to always diving with an instructor or divemaster. This costs 6800B and takes 2 days. You can top this up to the full certificate whenever you choose anywhere in the world.

The last option that you complete something called a Discover Scuba Dive which is essentially a taster dive. Its completed in less than a day and will cost you 2000B. Extra dives cost 1000B each. This is not a certification though but a good way to see if you like it before committing to the whole course.

Its interesting in your post that you put cost before safety as a concern. If I could give people one bit of advice I would not choose a dive course based on price alone. You wouldnt choose to bungee jump with the cheapest operator would you? Choose the dive centre that suits you. Pop in and have a talk to the staff there -are they enthusiastic and professional and helpful ? What are the facilities like and what is the equipment like .....I know its difficult to know what to look for in equip if you have never dived before but just see if it looks like its 'look after'. Look for what sort of accommodation you want too - remember its wise to choose a quiet area as you will want a good nights sleep while learning to dive.

If you want some more specific information then do not hesitate to message me.


#2 ayesha has been a member since 12/6/2009. Location: Thailand. Posts: 74
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Posted by kernowfixing on 19/8/2010 at 14:24


Thank you for the information, I was wondering if there was any place in particular that you could recommend? We are heading back to Thailand in a weeks time and hoping to head to Ko Tao first or second stop. I have been looking on websites and we are hoping to have a look around when we get there too.

Any more information you could give us is much appreciated, as was your first reply.


#3 kernowfixing has been a member since 21/2/2010. Posts: 12

Posted by ayesha on 20/8/2010 at 10:32 TF writer

Obviously I could say " Come dive with us " and you can have a look at our website on the link below.......however it might not be what you are looking for......

We welcome many travellers to Koh Tao weather diving or not and even those diving somewhere else. We are very close the the piers and its a convenient location to come and drop your bags, get some island info and have a wander around unhindered and choose for yourself. No obligation whatsoever. I know how nice it is to arrive somewhere and have somewhere to go and hide from the touts and taxi drivers alike ! So hopefully this will help.

We live here so we usually manage to match each person with what they are looking for and help them get there too. We're happy to help you settle in.

Dont hesitate to message me with more questions.....

#4 ayesha has been a member since 12/6/2009. Location: Thailand. Posts: 74
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Posted by viajero2011 on 21/8/2010 at 02:28

Hello all -

Looks like we are all fairly new to the Travelfish community. What a great site!!

@Kernow: I am in the same situation as you. I will be in SEA for 6 weeks starting in Sept. and was wanting to get scuba certified. I've been doing some research, but nothing beats "in-field knowledge". Best of luck to you guys and I would be curious to see how your experience turns out.

#5 viajero2011 has been a member since 13/8/2010. Posts: 22

Posted by VonWOOTER on 26/8/2010 at 22:45

Hey guys/girls, I'm landing in Bangkok first week of October and plan on getting certified on Koh Tao before November ( I know a lot of outfits shut down at this time due to weather ) I'm keen on knowing how you make out and where you end up getting your certification. Best of luck!

#6 VonWOOTER has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Canada. Posts: 6
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Posted by DivingVietNam on 16/4/2011 at 16:14

Aloha from Viet Nam

While checking These areas also Give Viet Nam as shot For Your Diving Education.
In Nha Trang we offer fantastic Training and Good Diving Year round so if looking Give us a shout and Come Explore Viet Nam..

Aloha Mark.

#7 DivingVietNam has been a member since 29/3/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 13
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Posted by keng02 on 16/4/2011 at 16:56

Hey guys/girls, I'm landing in Bangkok first week of October and plan on getting certified on Koh Tao before November ( I know a lot of outfits shut down at this time due to weather ) I'm keen on knowing how you make out and where you end up getting your certification. Best of luck!

#8 keng02 has been a member since 16/4/2011. Posts: 1

Posted by slapbreeya on 25/4/2011 at 12:57


This will upset some i think but just know that although Koh Tao and the other islands in the Gulf of Thailand are cheap, the quality of diving and of many dive shops are not as good as what i have experienced on the west coast such as Koh Lanta and Khao Lak.

The Gulf is in season now and then the Andaman Sea on the West coast will be in season in October. It depends on when you want to do it. My dives in the Gulf were poor in visibility, sea life and dive masters. I know this isn't the whole of Koh Tao but something to think about as they do have a bad rep on the West coast.

Lastly, i actually qualified in the Perhentian Islands with Turtle Bay Divers and it was ana amazing experience with good quality instructors. The course cost 1000RM which is around 10,000THB. On my first two dives i saw a turtle on each dive, something you wont get on Koh Tao in the Gulf.

It seems like i am against Koh Tao but i have had bad experiences there. The only one thing good about a dive there is i saw a Whale Shark!!!!! So, something to bear in mind also :)

#9 slapbreeya has been a member since 22/4/2011. Location: Thailand. Posts: 50

Posted by lainey on 3/7/2011 at 21:15


I'm also trying to decide where to learn to dive, in either Thailand or Cambodia. I'll be there in the wet season unfortunately (6 to 12 September). Does anyone have any suggestions, taking into account the season?

In Thailand I've been looking at Koh Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Krabi (and surrounding beaches, including Ao Phang Nga and Hat Phra Nang / Railay). I've been told that Khao Lak, Ko Mak and Ko Ngai are beautiful too.

I'm having trouble working out where I can get PADI certified and where is the best for the season.

Cambodia is an alternative option.


#10 lainey has been a member since 3/7/2011. Posts: 2

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