If you are travelling to Thailand and are planning to do as many others do and take part in some scuba diving then you will need to know where to start. Thailand is surrounded by wonderful dive sites with a range locations to choose from.
Once a person has decided that they want to go scuba diving in a particular place, the next decision is which dive centre/shop/operator to give their business to. Scuba divers in Thailand are extremely lucky for several reasons. There is very little regulation limiting the number of dive shops in any particular area, most are the same price as each other, and it’s absolutely fine to let one’s heart rule one’s head on this matter.
Dive shops around Thailand
Around Thailand there are dozens of separate and different diving locations. The Gulf of Thailand has Pattaya and Koh Chang up near the mainland and Koh Tao and Koh Samui further south. The west coast, which is on the Andaman Sea, has dive destinations all the way from the border with Burma (Myanmar) down to the border with Malaysia in the south. Each spot will contain as many dive centres as is physically possible, and the maximum that the market will tolerate. Only in very few situations will there be a limit enforced by the authorities or locals. Therefore, customers wishing to dive in any popular dive location are often spoilt with the choice of several, sometimes many, dive operations.
Dive Prices in Thailand
Secondly, in most of Thailand’s dive destinations the dive centres agree to fix the price of diving in Thailand. The west coast is generally a little more expensive than the east, and there are several reasons for this. Why do they take part in price-fixing? Some would argue that they all agree to keep the price of diving artificially high, but we disagree. Having fixed prices takes away a bad factor for potential customers’ decision making. When buying a product from a shop, the product is often exactly the same in different outlets and choosing the least expensive is normal and sensible. However, scuba diving is totally different and price should not be a deciding factor. Opting for a cheaper alternative when placing your own safety in an unnatural environment could end up being a very dangerous thing to do. Having all of the dive centres in a particular place offering diving for the same price almost forces them to compete for custom with quality of service, new, clean and quality diving equipment, and friendly and helpful staff.
So which should you choose?
Finally, with there being so many dive operators in any particular spot, and them all offering the same prices, the customers are in the fortunate position of being able to let their hearts rule over their heads. Several factors would come into play here. Some people choose the dive shop which is nearest to their hotel, guest house or resort, while others choose the one which is nearest to the beach or pier. Another factor would be language. Most dive centres in Thailand offer tuition in several languages. English is obviously the most popular, but French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and others can easily be found in most diving areas of Thailand. The final factor to help you choose a dive shop in Thailand is the friendliness and helpfulness of their staff. Although scuba diving is a serious and potentially dangerous activity, people choose recreational diving for fun and enjoyment. All PADI and SSI scuba instructors and Divemasters are trained in all the necessary safety aspects of scuba diving. They are aware of potential problems and how to avoid them and solve them. This being the case, choosing a dive centre based on liking the guy(s) or girl(s) who work there is absolutely fine.
To conclude, choosing which dive centre to give your business to in Thailand is quite a simple thing to do. There should be more than enough choice and they are usually all the same price, so why not let your heart rule your head and enjoy the experience.