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Old 06-15-2007, 07:04 PM   #1
 
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Default Where would you go?

I'm working in S.Korea at the moment, and have just found out I get a week vacation next month.

I'm debating between
Thailand, Vietnam and The Philippines.

I want to get scuba certified, see some sights, enjoy some good food, relax, but not party too too hard.

Thailand's always been at the top of my list, and I know I can dive there, but I'd be going pretty much on my own. I've travelled alone before (7 months), so it isn't a dealbreaker, but I tthink some cpompany would be nice this time around.

Vietnam's also somewhere I've wanted to see, although not as much as Thailand. There are some co-workers going, and willing to hang around a beach and wait for me to get certified. What's the diving like there?

The Philippines are somewhere I've never really thought about, but the dude who's going also wants to get his scuba certification, but I don't know too much about the country, or what there is that I'm dying to see there.

I know this is kind of sketchy and vague, but this is all kind of sudden, and there are no bookshops to go sit and browse though the LPs.

So. Thoughts on any of these countries? How close are the diving beaches to the cities? Where would you go if you had one week?


Cheers.
Dana
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Old 06-15-2007, 07:58 PM   #2
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If you really want to have a buddy to travel with, between Vietnam and the Philippines, the lattest would be my choice. Not because of the diving, but Vietnam is too "artificial" to visit, too organized. From all the countries I've visited (15) it's the only one I was happy to leave ! However, since you've only got one week, maybe the transport is easier from South Korea to Vietnam, but I'm only guessing here...

In Thailand, it's pretty easy to meet travellers, especially since you would be heading south. But you can save it for another time, when you have more than a week.
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Old 06-16-2007, 12:17 AM   #3
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the important thing to look at is for professional dive shops, and how logn the course will be. i think to get qualification its usually 4-5 days in malaysia (correct me if im wrong) and similar through out SEAsia. thailand and the phillipennes are yoru best choice - the diving will be much more developed and orgsanised there (and easier to research)

in thailand some of the places will be really packed though - depends if you also like smaller groups in more private areas.

i take it you are intending to fly? distance wont really matter in that case - thailand will be an extra hour or so from vietnam, and the phillepennes probably a bit longer. remember that the phillepennes is a large collection of many islands, and manilla (the capital) is the transport hub. ask your mate who is travelling there where his course is - there might have to be another filght to the right place to get the course.

one last thing, a plug for my second home, consider doing a course in malaysia!! the east coast has the most amazing dive and snorkelling spots (so im told amny times over by many people)

the most important thing is your health and safety though. look for a place with decompression chamber, check how quick the local hospital is and how many of the staff have dive and underwater first aid skills.

i think theres a lonley planet book along the lines of "diving and snorkelling in asia" check that out as a base for research. good luck!!
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Old 06-16-2007, 06:24 PM   #4
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There's supposed to be great diving in all three countries. Your open water certification can be done in three days, and I know I could've done it in Malaysia for less than 200 USDs (I got mine for free).

As atchoum said, Vietnam is rather organized, but if you're doing a dive certification, it's going to be organized anyway. The diving at Nha Trang is supposed to be great and I had a lot of fun bar-hopping in that town, although it was chill bar-hopping. If it's the monsoon season however, stay away, although now should be a great time. I hear that the island of Phu Quoc down south is also great for diving, and less developed if you want that kind of thing.

I unfortunately didn't get to go diving in the Philippines, but I hear it's good too. As for the country, it's amazingly affordable (more so than Vietnam/Thailand IMO), and the people were really nice.

I'll also put in another plug for Malaysia, my home...I went to the Perhentian Islands at the tail end of the monsoon season and only went snorkeling, but that was where I saw my first turtles and sharks - you always remember your first turtle and shark. If you can get out to Borneo, do that. I got my license in Sabah at this place called Kapalai which is built out in the middle of the sea on stilts, a short boat-ride away from the island of Sipadan. I haven't done much diving yet (only three countries), but nothing has come close to the abundance of sea-life that I saw there.

Good luck making your decision! Google up some sites that are specifically related to scuba, and those should help you too - there are a bunch of them around.
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Old 06-16-2007, 07:23 PM   #5
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in tioman last weekend i saw my first shark and turtle also. amazing <3
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Old 06-17-2007, 03:24 PM   #6
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If diving is your main focus, Thailand or Malaysia should be your primary choices. Vietnam is not generally considered to be as good, but I have never been diving there. However, given your trip is in July, you need to do your homework because the best time for diving Thailand is October to May, and the best spots are in the Similan Islands. That said, you can still dive out of Phuket this time of year, just not to the Similans. The diving is still pretty good out of Phuket. Just bear in mind that visibility can be hit or miss, but I have had great dives this time of year and crowds are way down which is actually a bigger benefit. Malaysia I think may also be touchy this time of year, but do some research and I am sure you will get the scoop. Koh Tao is also another big diving destination in Thailand, but I have not personally gone diving there.

A great diving company out of Phuket, Thailand that I would highly recommend for classes and dive trips is: See Bees Diving

I have been diving with them several times and they are a top notch, very professional and well run organization. No matter what you ultimately wind up choosing I am sure you will have a great time. Good luck!
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Old 06-17-2007, 07:20 PM   #7
 
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Thanks for all the help so far.

I've pretty much ruled out Vietnam, and am now down to Thailand or The Philippines.

Thing is, I'm dying to see some of the country, not just spend it all on a beach diving. I wish I had more time. But back to reality, where I only have a week...

I know you can't fly for 24h after your last dive, but can you fly into somewhere and start diving right away, or do you need 24h before you start too?

What's transport like between Bangkok and Phuket? Is it possible/realistic to do both in an 8ish day trip?

Does anyone have any thoughts on The Philippines? Same questions re: beaches and cities.. is is possible to do both? Is there even any diving there, or is my friend talking out his arse?

I'd love to visit Malaysia, it's just that I've always had this thing with Thailand, and Vietnam's always been a close second The Philippines thing is only an option because of the company...

Anyway, thanks tons.
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Old 06-17-2007, 07:36 PM   #8
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no its too far - unless you fly. your better of flying then stay for a night then fly back. even if you fly there and back in a day its too much (IMO)

if your considering those places, why dont you get an open jaw ticket - fly into phuket, dive, rest for a day then fly to bangkok chill there for a few days then fly home? also if your really stretched for time get an overnight train from hat yai (bus from phuket i think) to bangkok. this will save you time where you cant fly after diving if you really want to explore the rest of the coutry.
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Then heading east to NZ & Aus for a few years! Via Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

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Old 06-17-2007, 07:39 PM   #9
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oh yeah and your mate isnt chatting shit -= the phillipenes is apparently beautiful to dive. but its difficult to get around in such a short time, and youll have to fly in to manilla. if the dive places arefar from there its a bit of a trek. but i havent been there so i am only speaking of what i have heard. \\if i see my phillipeno freinds this week i will ask them for you

youll find lots of company in thailand. its the best place out of the list, although youll have to slect the place carefully due to rains.
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Old 06-17-2007, 07:43 PM   #10
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There shouldn't be any issues with diving right away after flying - just no flying after diving.
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Old 06-26-2007, 06:31 PM   #11
 
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Thanks guys!

Okay... I'm going at it on my own. But so many people have talked up Malaysia that now I'm back to being torn again! So these are my 2 potential plans.

1 - Thailand
Day 1 - Fly into Bangkok, spend day there.
Days 2, 3, 4, 5 - Overnight travel to Ko Tao Island, where the diving is in season. At the end of day 5, overnight it back to Bangkok
Days 6, 7, 8 - Bangkok

2 - Malaysia
Day 1 - Fly into Kuala Lumpur, spend day there.
Days 2, 3, 4, 5 - Overnight travel to Tioman Island. At the end of day 5, overnight it back to Kuala Lumpur
Days 6, 7, 8 - Kuala/wherever

Ahh, okay. Thoughts? I guess I'm just back to "where would you go"?
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