South East Asia

Share This Page:


S.E.Asia is one of the cheapest places in the world to learn how to SCUBA dive. Some popular places to get an Open Water certificate include:

  • Ko Tao, Thailand (excluded from this trip)
  • Tioman, Malaysia (excluded from this trip)
  • Borocay and Puerto Galera in the Philippines

In these places the price of Open Water courses will typically be in US$250 – $350. You will also easily find affordable course packages in other locations in these countries. More developed countries may still offer good prices but you won’t find the truly rock-bottom offers.

Bargaining can sometimes get you better prices, and many medium / large size dive schools are usually happy to offer you some discounted or free accommodation for the duration of your course.


  • PADI or SSI are the world’s two main diving certifiers, recognised globally.
  • Do your research – it’s important to ensure your instructor is legally certified and their dive gear is up to scratch. Also check where the closest decompression chamber is located in case of emergencies.
  • It’s recommended you don’t fly for at least 24 hours following a dive to prevent decompression sickness.
  • Check if your preferred dive outfit offers an e-learning component of the course you can complete before your visit, to free up more diving time.
  • Strike a bargain – many outfits offer free or discounted accommodation if you dive with them.

The very best reefs and wrecks are often beyond the 12m Open Water maximum depth limit; so they are only available to Advanced divers. With the Advanced course you can dive up to 30m.

The cheapest place is almost certainly Thailand, in particular Ko Tao, the PADI factory of the world. An end-to-end course that gets you the standard PADI Open Water license will set you back roughly 9800 baht (~NZ$365).

Chuck in food and accommodation for around 1000 baht / day all-in for 3-4 days (=4*NZ$40), and you can complete your course for under NZ$550.

A close second is Malaysia, where diving is about the same price due to furious competition, but food and accommodation are generally pricier.

Equal second is the Philippines. See Bohol (and then get lessons or dive in nearby Balicasag), Malapascua, Dauin and Dumaguete where the last one is the cheapest. NZ$325 is the price of an Openwater course in Dumaguete. Dauin was voted as the best muck dive in Southeast Asia by PADI mag 2009. It is being touted in European dive circles as the next big thing. …whether you base yourself in Dauin or Dumaguete, your location is central to other great destinations in the Phil like Siquijor, Bohol, Cebu, Bacolod. Easy to go to other places fr this area. And Dumaguete is a university town which means cheaper accommodations and food.

All that said, diving is one of those things where you definitely don’t want to look for price alone, this is life support equipment we’re talking about here and you want to make sure it’s properly maintained. So do your homework and pay a little extra to find a dive shop with a clue, here’s a handy article with some tips. (Check online reviews, go visit, chat with the instructors and look for certifications, general cleanliness, gear appearance and maintenance schedule.)


Numerous reports have named South East Asia as one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change.South East Asia Vulnerability Map

This diagram combines different elements that contribute to vulnerability – climate-related hazards, capacity to adapt and human and ecological sensitivity – using data from organisations such as the Center for International Earth Science Information Network and the World Wildlife Fund.

Landlocked Laos and its neighbour Cambodia have a relatively low exposure to climate hazards but figure among the most vulnerable countries because they have such a low capacity to adapt.

Mega-cities such as Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta are at extreme risk from the effects of climate change, mainly due to their high population densities and significant exposure to hazards.

All regions of the Philippines are at high risk from tropical cyclones, floods, landslides and droughts, but Jakarta is the most vulnerable city in the region – a victim of the intersection of all climate-related hazards except cyclones.

Other regions regarded as most vulnerable include Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta and Bangkok, due to their exposure to sea-level rise.

Share This Page: