Thailand isn’t exactly known for it’s spectacular dive sites, but it does have several things going for it on the dive front. The most important being that you can get certified to learn how to dive on the cheap. In comparison to the U.S. or Australia, the cost of a PADI open water dive course can be almost 40% cheaper.
Getting PADI certified on Koh Tao Island
The island of Koh Tao is located next to the island of Koh Phangan, which is synonymous with full moon rave parties. Both places held little appeal to us- getting obliterated and sprayed with paint while dancing in sea water/pee water isn’t my style anymore. But, we did want to get our dive certifications and Koh Tao is perfect for this.
After arriving and scouting out several dive centers, we settled on Bans Dive Resort. Most dive companies offer discounts on their rooms if you dive with them, and we wanted something with a/c & Bans had the right type of room for us. Bans Dive Resort was also friendly, accommodating, and gave us the best price for our money.
We decided to do our open water class & the advanced dive course, which would give us the chance to do a night dive. When you sign up for the basic open water course, the class is 4 days long. This does seem short, but we were given our books and started learning right away. The first afternoon is in a classroom setting where you watch videos and take short quizzes after. The next 3 days are filled with pool/ocean training.
We compared Bans Dive Resort to a factory- a well oiled factory. The resort was bursting with students from all over the world who had come to learn to dive. It was incredible how many people were pumped in and out every day. With dozens of instructors, they were certainly one of the larger resorts on the island. This did not faze us at all. We came for the cheap lessons and we got what we paid for.
As Mike had been previously certified, I was the one freshly learning all of the basics, but we continued on after our open water course to our advanced course and then decided to splurge and get the Nitrox certification as well. Nitrox is just breathing with a different mix of air and it does allow you to stay down longer for deeper dives.
After 7 exhausting days of diving & 3 new certifications we were ecstatic to have become certified advanced divers so we could start exploring the underwater world together.
If you’re looking for a slow, small school with loads of personal attention then Bans Resort might not be right for you. I am somewhat of an attention seeker and they were very patient with all of my questions so for me it was a good fit. If you want to get certified to dive cheaply and quickly, then this is the perfect place to do so. The only thing that we had a problem with was the amount of noise the other people staying in the resort made- I could not understand the need for drunken screaming at 3am when we had to be up at 6am to prepare to dive, but hey, for the price, we sucked it up.
We paid about 17,000 Baht each for Open water, Advanced, and Nitrox certifications.
We stayed at Bans Dive Resort for 8 nights. We calculated that for our accommodation, food and the 3 dive courses it cost about $700 dollars each. You can do your research- this is a really good price for all 3 courses, plus food & board.
We did not receive any discounts on anything to write up this review. It is way overdue and I am glad we got certified in Thailand, since it saved us a lot of money.
Where did you get your dive certification? Share your experience with us.
If you have any other questions about getting certified in Koh Tao, leave us a question in the comment box below!