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Scuba Diving trip from Bangalore

Trip details:

Hi Aravind,


I'm thinking of going on a 1 week solo holiday myself and want to combine it with learning Scuba-diving. Both timing and budget are flexible - I can go anytime between June-Dec and am willing to pay more for a significantly better experience. I'm thinking Philippines might be a good bet since I want to see that country anyway, but I'm open to suggestions.


Also, I will need guidance on which dive school to opt for, what's a reasonable amount to pay, and what kind of course to go for. FYI, my swimming skills are basic - but I understand that that's not a deal-breaker for Scuba.


Thanks,


Aashish

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Hello By Aravind Murali
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Aravind Murali wrote:  

the Philippines are a world class scuba destination and you can't go wrong.

thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are also other great options for you.

as for the diving part, as a beginner, the first course you need to do is called the Open Water course and it typically takes 4 days out of which the first two are theory and confined water sessions( like a pool).

i would recommend that you get this part done with in Mumbai itself a week before you go on your trip. All dive centres will offer what is called a referral which means that you can get this first bit signed off by your instructor in Mumbai and then finish the course on your trip.

this way will give you more time o do additional fun dives on your trip 

you don't need to be an advanced swimmer. As long as you are half decent it's ok.

the course will have a swimming test where you need to complete 200 m using any stoke at any pace and also you need to tread water or float for 10 mins.

if you can't achieve this currently I would highly recommend some swim classes before you go as a higher degree of comfort in the water will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the sport.

I will give you a small overview of the destinations in a bit and we could probably first zone in on one and you could go into details from there

cheers

 

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

FYI, I live in Bangalore - I'm guessing there must be instructors I can get the confined water sessions done here. How long can the gap be between the referral course and the Open Water part?

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Oh. For some reason I thought it was Mumbai.

theres a place called planet scuba in Blore who should do it

http://planetscubaindia.com

ideally you should do it as close to your trip as possible. Say the weekend before. If the gap is too long it will beat the purpose. A month tops I would say


Trip details By Aashish Gupta
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Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Your questions from the email:

> Is 1 week a strict limit or can it extend.
 
Up to 10 days max.
 
 
> Do you have at least a vague budget in mind..like an upper limit?
 
No specific upper limit. I'd like to pay whatever is reasonable for this kind of trip.
 
> Also how would you like to travel and stay? ( for instance is air Asia ok or do you prefer full service.
And style of hotels etc
 
Any Airline is fine. Cheaper the better.
 
Hotels: I like places that have some authentic character about them, not the resorty kind of places. Small family-run places or boutique establishments. Hostels, only if they're really good. I'm not particularly fussy about the kind of stay, but would like good location, availability of food (I'm vegetarian), and cleanliness. If I get to meet interesting travellers, that's a plus.


Some options to consider By Aravind Murali
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Aravind Murali wrote:  

if you're thinking of late august, Philippines might be a challenge because you might encounter bad weather and typhoons. Although diving is possible in general year round, oct to may is generally preferred. The other couple of things you need to consider for Philippines is that you will definitely need 10 days because getting there and travel times within will be more

I'll give you a few great options for you to consider that time of the year

1 Indonesia (either Bali or the gili islands). 

2 peninsular Malaysia ( either perhentian islands or tioman island)

3 Thailand (gulf of Thailand islands ,ko Tao )

youll have a great diving experience in any of these places. And most of these places are great for learning as well.

Bali of course would offer you the best other things to do when not diving in this group.

veg food should not be an issue in any of these places. 

Would you like the whole trip to be a full dive trip or would you do diving days in one place and then a few non diving sight seeing type thing?

 

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

I only said late August onwards because it will give me time to brush up on my swimming skills. The timing is otherwise flexible, so Oct/Nov/Dec is also fine.

I can do 10 days if I time it in the first week of October since there are a few holidays at the time. So we can think about Philippines for first week of October. In that case, my family (wife + 2 kids - ages 11,7) might also join me for part of the trip, so we can plan it as diving days and then non diving sight seeing.

Of the other options, I went to Thailand (Ko Samui area) just last December, so it doesn't excite me to go there again. Bali or Peninsular Malaysia sound good. If Bali, then again, I'd like to do both diving and sight seeing. If Malaysia, then maybe just diving. How much time will be needed for Bali or Malaysia?

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Bali has loads to see and do other than the diving so I would say at least 8-10 days. You could even consider gili islands and Bali

Malaysia you could do a week all put. Say five days in the island .the diving and courses in both those Malay islands is super cheap compared to most other places so if it's a pure dive course finishing trip this is a great optiion

once you go into October the Malaysian weather turns for the worse.so you could consider Philippines as you said. Bali you'll pretty much find places to dive year round I think

Aravind Murali wrote:  

If you get your 2 days of OW referrals done in Blore, then you can finish the course in 2 days when you go.

after that you can either fun dive for 2-3 days or even go ahead and do the advanced open water course if you feel comfortable.

 

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Ok, lets finalize Malaysia since it will fit into a week and will be much cheaper. Also flights to Malaysia are likely to be much cheaper. So how should I time this to avoid chances of bad weather? And will it be more or less the same weather situation in Tioman and the Perhentians?

 

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Based on some preliminary research, it sounds like Perhentians are better than Tioman for diving, snorkeling and less commercialized too. If that's the case, then I'll definitely go for the Perhentians.

Ok, so what's the best way to time it right - would Oct 1st week be really bad weather?

Aravind Murali wrote:  

That would be a good choice for a cheap and best dive trip.

oct will be pushin it for tioman/perhentian. You should really try and do august because conditions will be great usually. Sept middle onwards the weather starts to turn

ive been to both places and  would say that the diving is pretty much similar on both.

perhentian has better beaches(beautiful white sand)but is actually the more touristy of the two.also has more of a party scene than tioman

tioman has a more village atmosphere, much more laid back. So more local flavour and also a jungle scene

you can't go wrong with either

flights are super cheap on AirAsia .for perhentian you need to fly to Kota Bhanu and then road and ferry.

for tioman, its Johor Bahru then road and ferry

Yes but definitely do it in august

 

 

 

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Hmm, I don't care much for party scene but better beaches is definitely a plus. Also, Perhentian seems easier to get to. So lets zero in on that. We can plan for the Aug 15 week since I can combine it with the Independence Day holiday.

 

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Great...will shoot out details later today

Aravind Murali wrote:  

seems AirAsia doesn't have a fly thru booking to Kota bahru from blr so you will have to book separate tickets for blr kul return and then kul Kbr return. Which is ok. Only bummer is that you'll have to pick up your luggage and re check in at klia .theres one flight from blr to kul and it reaches at 610 in the morning. So you should look at booking the 1035 flight so that you'll have enough time to get luggage, clear immigration probably freshen up and then check in again. Would you like to spend a day or two in KL on your way back? That might be worth considering. Accordingly you can plan your return from kbr as well. Definitely worth it I would say

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Blr kul flights are not every day btw 

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

I've already seen KL, so no interest in spending time there. Also, looks like for my dates Malaysia Airlines has better fares than Air Asia - and they do book through to Kota Bahru.

But the return flight is at 6:45am, so I'm guessing it will be difficult to get to KB from the islands at that time. Which means I might have to arrive in KB at least the previous night. Is there anything else I can see there - looks like Taman Negara NP may not be too far from there? What do you think?

Once we finalize, I'll go ahead and book the flights.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Taman negara is at least a 5 hour drive one way from kb...definitely not a day trip...I would think if you're going to taman negara you would need to spend a couple of days there .dont think that will work into your week plan

yes...you would have to come in the previous evening to catch the morning flight. I've not spent time in KB but from what read there is enough and more interesting stuff there so you could easily spend half a day there and be entertained. There are some good museums and a famous Buddhist temple as well if you're interested.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

if you do have the extra days you could even consider a couple of days in Penang if you haven't been there.

its such an atmospheric city. Firefly and mas fly from Kb to there

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Lets stick to the 1 week plan, so I'm thinking I'll spend the last day in KB, and the rest of the time on the islands. In any case I will need to keep a 24 hour gap after my last dive and the flight, right?

So I'm considering booking the following flights. Let me know if this seems fine.

Bangalore (BLR) to Kota Bharu (KBR) — Sat, Aug 12
 
Bangalore (BLR) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) — Sat, Aug 12
Malaysia 105
Dep: 12:00 pm
Arr: 6:45 pm
4h 15m
Boeing 737
Economy (V)
 
 
Layover in KUL
 
3h 45m
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Kota Bharu (KBR) — Sat, Aug 12
Malaysia 1426
Dep: 10:30 pm
Arr: 11:30 pm
1h 0m
Boeing 737
Economy (V)
 
 
Kota Bharu (KBR) to Bangalore (BLR) — Sat, Aug 19
 
Kota Bharu (KBR) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL) — Sat, Aug 19
Malaysia 1427
Dep: 6:45 am
Arr: 7:45 am
1h 0m
Boeing 737
Economy (N)
 
 
Layover in KUL
 
1h 15m
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Bangalore (BLR) — Sat, Aug 19
Malaysia 104
Dep: 9:00 am
Arr: 10:40 am
4h 10m
Boeing 737
Economy (N)
 
Mileage
  • 4,060 total miles
CO2 Emissions
  • 546 kg (estimated by ITA).
   
   
   
   
Cost per passenger (including taxes & fees)
Rs.21,085.00
Total cost for 1 passenger

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Pasting in a better format:

Malaysia
12:00 pm
Aug 12
11:30 pm
9h 0m
BLR to KBR
KUL
 
6:45 am
Aug 19
10:40 am
6h 25m
KBR to BLR
KUL
 

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Yes...you'll need minimum 18 hrs between last dive and flight.

also by that itinerary you'll have to spend a night in kb onward as well and get to islands only the next day.

 

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Hmm, there's also this option but it's about 5k more. Worth it?

Malaysia
12:35 am
Aug 12
12:25 pm
9h 20m
BLR to KBR
KUL
 
6:45 am
Aug 19
10:40 am
6h 25m
KBR to BLR
KUL
 

Also, looks like it will be peak season so hotels are also almost fully booked. If there is a specific place you recommend, I think we should look into that as well. If all the decent places are booked then I can opt for Tioman instead.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

That will get you in time for the last ferry so you will save that extra travel day.have you checked air Asia as well. That timing seemed perfect

most of the smaller places on the islands are not on any of the booking sites so you should just write to the dive centre and they will get you a place. I doubt if they would all be booked.

i dived with turtle bay divers on perhentian kecil in 2011

https://turtlebaydivers.com/home/

Pretty good dive centre and fun place. If you write to them they'll give you options to stay as well.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Are you planning to finish referral in blr? Or doing the whole thing there

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Hmm, the Air Asia deal is turning out to be about 25k and with much better timings. I'll go ahead and book that.

I'll get in touch with the turtlebay folks. I'll be doing the referral course in BLR. I've joined a swimming course already and it will be done by Jul 29. So I can do the referral course in the week after that.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

When you write to them let them know that you'll do the referral and come.  

Theyll give you rates accordingly


Flights booked By Aashish Gupta
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Aashish Gupta wrote:  

The following flights are booked on AirAsia:

BLR-KUL

Departs: Aug 11 23:30 

Arrives: Aug 12 06:15

KUL-KBR

Departs: Aug 12 10:35

Arrives: Aug 12 11:35

KBR-KUL

Departs: Aug 18 17:30

Arrives: Aug 18 18:35

KUL-BLR

Departs: Aug 18 21:10

Arrives: Aug 18 22:45

Let's plan around this now.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Great ...that gives you 5 clear diving days...so you could even consider finishing the advanced open water if you get the referral done in blr.

Otherwise you could just have 2-3 fun diving days

the other this is getting to kuala besut and then the ferry. There are counters at the kb airport where you can buy thru tickets which are usually return tickets. Otherwise you could just take a cab from the airport to the kuala besut jetty and then get a ticket from there. 

If you write to turtle bay they will probably give you options of fan and ac rooms nearby. Go for an ac room because it could get pretty humid some days

Aravind Murali wrote:  

http://www.easybook.com/en-my/ferry/booking/kualabesutjetty-to-perhentianislandjetty

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Should I book the ferry in advance from the site you linked to above or are tickets easily available on the spot? Booking in advance I run the risk of not getting there in time in case of any flight delays etc.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

I think you can just go there and book. Or at the airport stalls. Not really necessary to book in advance 


Accommodation By Aashish Gupta
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Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Hi Aravind,

So I've been in touch with the Turtle Bay Divers and regarding stay, the AC options they have are both on Long Beach - one for 180MYR (Mamas Chalet on Long Beach, not the main one on the bigger island) and another for 220MYR (D'Rock Chalets). Based on my research it seems like Long Beach tends to get noisy with the party crowd and also I'm skeptical about the quality of the places as I couldn't find both of them listed on TripAdvisor or anywhere else.

On the other hand, I found a place on Agoda that has decent reviews "Bayu Dive Lodge" and it's on the bigger island which is quieter. This one is for 236MYR, and the Turtle Bay Divers had already said that they offer free pickup and dropoff from anywhere on the Perhentian islands. So I've gone ahead and booked this (since they have free cancellation till Aug 11).

Just wanted to get your inputs on this in terms of location etc. Do you think staying on Long Beach or somewhere on the smaller island is a better experience, or do you have any inputs in terms of the general quality of the places on Long Beach?

Let me know.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

Long beach is definitely more of a party place than any thing else on the islands..besar is definitely quieter.

if you're on besar and staying at bayu, you might as well consider using their dive centre , Alu alu.

it will be more convenient for you if you're staying and diving at the same place. From what I've heard they are pretty good as well so you should have no issues regarding quality of instruction and gear.

only concern is I think they do SSI ,which is another organisation like PADI. So you will have to ask them if they will accept the referral. I think there should not be an issue but check anyway.

having the stay and dive centre at the same place is always good so check that option out

Aravind Murali wrote:  

The only disadvantage in staying on besar would be lesser choice in terms of bars and restaurants I guess.If that's not a concern and you want quieter anyway, go for it

Aravind Murali wrote:  

When I did make the trip there I stayed on long beach, but that was younger days and I wanted at least i mild party scene. If I do the trip now, I most likely would choose the big island as well

Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Ok cool. They also do PADI apparently based on their website. Or I could just do the referral course here in Bangalore with an SSI centre. I'm guessing there's no real difference.

How hard is it to go back and forth between Kecil and Besar? Like for restaurants, etc.

Aravind Murali wrote:  

It shouldn't matter..PADI or SSI. Just make it clear to the dive centres involved so that there are no surprises.

water taxis are there so getting between the islands is not an issue. Only thing might be an issue is if it gets late at night. I think they have a shut down time. Also it's not like there is nothing on besar .so you don't need to regularly make the trip. You could just do it one evening or two for a change


Insurance By Aashish Gupta
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Aashish Gupta wrote:  

Hi Aravind,

Is there a preferred travel insurance that covers for scuba diving? I see that World Nomads offers the option but their premium is $65. I'm hoping one of the Indian insurance companies have a better deal. Do you have any idea about this?

Aravind Murali wrote:  

I have not seen any off the shelf dive insurance from Indian companies. I usually take world nomads for the days I know I'm diving and then som basic thing for the rest of the days.

they are expensive but it's comprehensive so I would say just go for it at least for the diving days.

uou could try talking to any local company and as them if they would give you a custom deal but then that seems a bit of a stretch

i