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New Member & Request for Advice/Info Re: Thailand

Discussion in 'Introductions and Greets' started by Kellie Arnold, Oct 13, 2019.

  1. Skulmoski

    Skulmoski Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Gold Coast, QLD
    410
    192
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    That's correct; you can expect monsoon weather in December. (However, I really enjoyed the more difficult monsoon conditions under which I did my Divemaster training in Koh Tao!) The benefit of diving in December is that it is low season and a bit less expensive and crowded. And, you will have days with reduced visibility. Pros and cons!
    Take care and have a great trip!
    GJS
     
  2. SharonY

    SharonY Angel Fish

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Richland, WA
    5
    1
    3
    Thanks drk5036 and lowwall! I am going to look into both your suggestions! I will book through a dive shop and cut out the middle man!
    I am heading to Cambodia on Friday with "a referral", so I am completing my 4 open water dives in the Southern islands there. Possibly a few more dives. Then I am heading to Thailand. Would a short trip liveaboard be ok for me as a beginner? And are the Similian island liveaboards in particular OK for those that just got certified? I have read some people that say it is not a good idea, but my dive master here said it would be great for me, and I can always skip a dive if it is too much for me.
     
  3. lowwall

    lowwall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    523
    330
    63
    I would not go straight from OW to a liveaboard. Many of the dives will be deeper than the 18m/60" depth limitation that is now suggested (required?) for OW divers. Conditions in the water may be more difficult than you are used to and there might not be anyone around to help you out. Also, at least on the two Similans trips I've taken, things move fast when getting geared up and into and out of the water. It might get frustrating trying to keep up.

    I'm going to suggest the same thing I suggested for my friend who got certified in Phuket. After he got certified, we did a couple of one day trips together and then he went back later to get his AOW (from stevenl) before his first liveaboard. If you don't have an experienced buddy to dive with right away, then maybe pay for an instructor or guide to go with you. An alternative if you are really pushed for time is to take an instructor with you and do your AOW on a liveaboard. The first trip I went on to the Similans I only had a couple of days, so I went on one of the South Siam boats. These boats stay on the islands and a speedboat ferries divers back and forth from the port every day so you can start and end any time you want. Of the 15-30 divers that were on board with me at various times, there were only a handful of us using the boat's guides. Everyone else brought their own instructor or guide and most were doing their AOW course.
     
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  4. SharonY

    SharonY Angel Fish

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Richland, WA
    5
    1
    3
    I am so glad I asked! I do not want to be out of my depth, both literally and metaphorically! I am overcoming what I thought was a lifetime phobia of having my head underwater, so I want to take it slowly. I doubt I will be that fast getting my gear together until I have had more practice. And I will feel more comfortable with a guide near me at all times.

    I will be heading to Thailand from Cambodia, I will have two weeks before flying home from Phuket. Perhaps I should pick an island (I'm thinking Koh Lipe or Koh Lanta), do some day trips like your friend did and save the idea of a liveaboard for my next trip. If I am feeling up for it, maybe I could start the AOW with Stevenl during my last few days in Phuket. I don't know if I will be there long enough to complete it.

    I'm not sure I understood why many divers were bringing their own guides or instructors with them, is it because they were doing their AOW?
     
  5. lowwall

    lowwall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    523
    330
    63
    Mostly. A couple of the groups brought their own guide because they didn't speak any of the languages offered by the boat's guides.

    Phuket has an unusual setup compared to the owner/operators you find in most places. Dive sites are not close, so you take big boats out for a full day, usually 3 tanks, or do a multi-day trip. Thai laws require that the boats be owned and crewed by Thais. Any dive staff will mostly be foreigners on temporary visas. On the longer liveaboard trips, the boat dive staff will do most of the guiding, although there may be larger groups - usually Chinese - that bring their own guides or instructors. But the day boats may have 1 or 0 guides, with most people going with a guide or instructor from one of the local shops that speaks their language.
     
  6. Fibonacci

    Fibonacci Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
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  7. divinh

    divinh Photographer

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco
    808
    346
    63
    If they were doing their AOW, then they would be bringing an instructor with them. For guides, perhaps they have their own that they're comfortable with (language, as posted)? Sometimes, dive ops start consolidating trips to dive sites during low season. One boat will host groups from multiple dive ops.

    I haven't done diving from the Phuket area, but twice from Koh Lanta. The dive sites, Koh Ha and Bidas, are over an hour away by boat, which means that the gear set up is really relaxed. (You have at least 45 minutes after breakfast!) The dive ops I've been with Andaman Dive Adventure, Lanta Divers and Koh Lanta Diving Center, are full service, in that they'll set up the gear for you; all you have to do is dive. Being a new diver, I would suggest that you ask to set up your own gear with supervision, just to better your set up skills, so it'll be second nature. Andaman Dive Adventure is the smaller of the three outfits, so the boat isn't packed.

    Here's a typical day out:

    ~7-7:30 AM free pickup from accommodations
    ~8 AM board boat and depart
    boat briefing
    breakfast
    relax, chat with other people, set up gear
    ~9:15 AM dive briefing
    ~9:30 AM 1st dive
    ~10:30 AM surface interval, fresh fruit, cookies
    ~11:30 AM 2nd dive
    ~12:30 PM start heading back, lunch is served
    ~2-3 PM dive logs and payment at dive shop
    drop off to accommodations

    There are dives out to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, which will add an extra hour earlier to get there, i.e. 6-6:30 AM start, and an hour later, i.e. 3-4 PM finish. Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are deeper sites, prone to currents, so either have AOW or dive a few days first, to let the dive op check you out, to make sure you're good with buoyancy and air, before attempting on OW certification. The appeal of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are mantas and whale sharks and now is indeed the season for them. There's an extra fuel surcharge to these sites due to the extra distance, in case you're on a budget.

    From Koh Lanta, there are ferries that will take you to Phuket, though I haven't researched. Flying would require backtracking to Krabi, then flying to Phuket.

    From Bangkok, you can get to Koh Lanta via a few airlines. Back in April, I flew NokAir to Krabi from DMK, then took a shared minivan to Koh Lanta. The minivan was 600 THB, direct from the airport to your accommodations. I didn't need to book ahead, just arrived, picked up my bags, and there are quite a few travel agencies right there. The first minivan will be pretty nice, then you will be taken to a depot where you'll be switched to another minivan that's not so nice. The ride can be fine or really cramped, depending on how many people go at that moment. It's about 1.5-3 hrs, depending on traffic.

    To get to DMK, you can take a taxi but an airport link might be operational now. It was under construction back in April.
     
  8. SharonY

    SharonY Angel Fish

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Richland, WA
    5
    1
    3

    I will be leaving from Cambodia, I just don't know the best way to get to Thailand... if I am in the Southern Cambodian Islands (Koh Rong Sanloem), do you know if I can easily make it to Koh Chang or Koh Kood? When I say easy.... I mean in a day or less! Ha! I assume I would go back to mainland Cambodia then go to the nearest border crossing. I was hoping to avoid Bangkok unless I really need to transit through there.
     
  9. SharonY

    SharonY Angel Fish

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Richland, WA
    5
    1
    3
    Hi divinh!

    Thanks for explaining a typical day out! As a complete beginner, that was very useful. I agree, I should resist the temptation to have the gear set up for me so I get used to everything! The Andaman outfit sounds great! So do the mantas and whale sharks! After I have done my four open water dives in Cambodia and got my actual OW, I will be able to see how my skills and buoyancy are doing. Here we were only in the pool so it was hard to do it! I did two "discovery dives" in Brasil in August, but my guide was adjusting my BC etc.

    I leave this Friday for Cambodia with my boyfriend. We end our two weeks traveling together (he flies back to the US) in the Cambodian capital on December 16th, then I have two weeks of traveling by myself with nothing booked or planned out so far.... I don't yet know if I will fly into Bangkok and head to Koh Lanta from there, or cross over by land... I was tempted to skip Bangkok, and try to make it to Khao Sok National Park. It looks gorgeous. I think you can even dive there! Any experience there by chance?

    If I head to the national park, then from there I would like to head to Koh Lanta. Then eventually I have to get to Phuket (I could take the ferry you mentioned), as my flight leaves from there on December 30th.

    All of these responses from you guys have been very helpful! I really appreciate it!
     
  10. divinh

    divinh Photographer

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Francisco
    808
    346
    63
    You shouldn't need to adjust the BCD much. It's not an elevator switch. Hopefully you didn't get the impression that the BCD is meant for going up and down from your Discovery Dives.

    You'll be directed to put some air into your BCD before jumping in, then you'll purge the air to go down. Once you get to a depth you're interested in, you'll use the BCD to get to neutral buoyancy, i.e. neither go up or down, just level. After that, you don't really touch the BCD again. It's about breathing. A deeper inhale to go up. A longer exhale to go down. It's doing it slowly and calmly. You're not going up and down very fast. Be patient. The BCD can be adjusted again once you pick another depth and want to be neutrally buoyant again, but it's very slight. Just one or two quick pushes on the inflator or releasing some air. Your instructor will show you all this. I just want to make it clear that the BCD is not an elevator device.

    I haven't been to Khao Sok Nation Park. Sorry, no advice to give there.

    For Thailand in general, the tourist industry is pretty well developed. There are plenty of travel agencies that can book your travel and you can have the accommodations book something for you. I've found that it's not necessary to shop around for the best price. Unless you're staying at expensive hotels, the price will be the same everywhere. Two travel caveats in Thailand are taxis and tuk-tuks in Bangkok - they will try to overcharge you. You can read up on all that.

    For the ferry to Phuket from Koh Lanta, make sure to book at least a few days in advance, just to be sure you will be able to leave on-time. During high season, sometimes ferries book up. On a different island, Koh Tao, I've met people who were stuck for two days due to not booking ahead during high season.
     

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