Thailand Travel Advice: What To Bring
What a Diver Should Bring
Try to pack as lightly as possible, as the climate is very agreeable–except in December and January up near the northern borders (warm clothes are for rent there if you are planning a trek). All diving equipment is for rent for about $20 US per day no matter where you dive and the equipment is almost always in very good shape as the diving industry is thriving in Thailand. Dive shops use all the major brands.
Batteries are available most places and keep in mind that we use 220 volts power. 110 volts is available on some dive boats (the more expensive ones, naturally) but it is probably good to bring an adapter. The power points in Thailand generally accept both straight and round-pin plugs, although straight-pin are the most common.
Spares are available, but are not always convenient to purchase; it is best to bring things like mask straps, O-rings, etc. A 3 mm wet suit (shorty or windsurfing style) or a Lycra suit is adequate for diving all year-round. Keep in mind, however, that Lycra suits offer little or no thermal protection and when diving often three or more times per day, they are usually not adequate. Most, if not all dive centers have shorty wetsuits for rent.
Liveaboard Considerations (FAQ)
Keep in mind that liveaboards, no matter how large, do not have a lot of space for luggage storage. Most dive operators recommend soft-sided luggage on the boat but will allow you to store extra bags at the dive center. Since liveaboard diving is casual, only a few T-shirts, shorts, and possibly a sweatshirt for the evening are necessary. Generally, the less you bring the more comfortable you will be.
Also, take care to remember your arrival times from the boat when you make your return airline reservations. Remember the 24 hour no flying after diving rule! (DAN recommends 12 hours, but after a long diving trip, 24 hours is much better if you can swing it).
Although shorts and T-shirts are appropriate for dive boats and the beaches, Thai's will tend to dress more formally and are actually offended by revealing clothing, especially when worn by women. Try to be aware of your surroundings and avoid offending. Although topless and nude sunbathing are officially against the law, it is widespread, especially in backpacker's hangouts. Thai people are very forgiving but if you are on a beach with a majority of Thai's, do cover up with a costume or bikini. And, don't walk around town without a shirt, male or female. Always wear long pants in a Thai temple.
Weather (Seasonal Patterns)
Thailand has three seasons; cool, hot and rainy. The best time to visit (for consistently great weather if you love the sun) is between October and May. The summer months of July and August are customarily very pleasant, although it tends to rain in the evenings. September is not usually the best time on the islands, as the seas are usually too rough for swimming (or diving) and rain fall is widespread.
With regard to water clarity, rain makes no difference in most offshore areas. See the Dive Sites section for dive site descriptions.
Diving is usually equally good in the summer months, but it may be a good idea to carry some rain gear like a poncho for transportation between the boat and the car.
Underwater photography equipment in general is difficult to find in Thailand. It's better to find that at home and bring it with you. There are a few dive shops which sell point and shoot cameras and housings, but it's not common, there are few choices and you pay more than you generally would at home (or through the Internet). If you're still using film, you can of course get it processed here. Digital camera stores are common here and you can get your pictures burned onto a CD almost anywhere you go.
For camera housings, you can try and contact this company, they are near our office in Chalong, Phuket and they may have what you need in stock.
Batteries for your diving computer can generally be changed here in Thailand, but it depends very much on the brand. If you are not sure, contact us. Computers can be rented sometimes, but it's not as common as it should be, so it's best to bring your own.