Historically, the British pound has been very strong against the Thai baht and this has made Thailand a very affordable holiday destination. The pound has taken a dip over the past year, but it is slowly climbing back up against the baht and this is making a big difference to the cost of Thailand holidays.
The recent political unrest has also had an understandable impact on Thailand’s tourism numbers and the knock-on effect of this has meant cheaper flights and hotels for travellers who are willing to make the trip to Thailand’s exotic shores. The combination of cheaper holidays and a strengthening pound has meant that there isn’t a better time than now to visit Thailand and get yourself PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified while you are there.
With crystal clear, warm waters and an abundance of exotic marine life, including whale sharks, turtles and beautiful coral reefs, Thailand is a scuba diver’s paradise. You can often pay up to £500 in the UK the PADI Open Water Diver course, which runs for about four days and is the most popular dive programme in the world. In Thailand this same course can cost around £170 and with average sea temperatures of about 28oC – much better than around 16oC on the UK’s south coast.
Once you have your PADI Open Water Diver qualification, you can go for more advanced qualifications or just go scuba diving for fun. Again, Thailand has some of the cheapest fun diving and liveaboards in the world. You can find fun dives around the island of Koh Tao for as little as £12 per tank or £10 if you bring your own equipment.
Liveaboards can be found for all budgets and can last from two days to two weeks. Staying on a boat and diving each day is definitely a good way to expand your diving skills and get a wide variety of dives in during your holiday. A typical four day/four night liveabord trip in Thailand starts at around £400 and will often include multiple destination dives, accommodation and diving equipment.
There are many different dive locations around mainland Thailand and its islands, such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Phi Phi. One of the most recognised is the Similan Islands National Park, a group of small islands in the Phang Nga Province of southern Thailand. There are plenty of spectacular dive sites in this region, with sightings of whale sharks not uncommon. Visibility is around 30 to 40 metres in good weather conditions and the sheer abundance of marine life makes diving there something very special.
Thailand holidays are usually associated with relaxing on a beach or hunting a bargain in a busy Bangkok market, but learning to dive in Thailand is something that will make you holiday even more memorable. Scuba diving is a fun experience and will give you skills and memories that will last a lifetime and have a huge impact on where you will want to spend your holidays in the future.