SCUBA Equipment considerations for your Thailand diving holiday
You need SCUBA gear to go diving and if you are a keen diver you will probably have your own gear. But airlines are getting stricter and stricter with baggage weight limits. So should you bring your gear or just rent it here?
For many the decision will probably be a compromise between being comfortable while diving and inconvenienced while travelling. The more days diving you do, the more beneficial it will be to bring your own.
A few boats provide free equipment rental (included in the price of the trip anyway), but that is not the norm on the Andaman sea side of Thailand like it is in the gulf where more divers are beginners.
Disadvantages and advantages of bringing your own dive gear
Actually if you already own a set of dive equipment there are only two disadvantages of bringing it with you:
- Cost. Some airlines may charge.
- The inconvenience of lugging it around and taking care of it. (Rental gear gets cleaned by the crew).
The advantages are many:
- You save on the cost of rental. Equipment rental in Thailand costs between 500 and 800 baht per day for a set that includes BCD, Regulator, Mask, Snorkel, Fins and Wetsuit). A dive computer and a dive light are extra.
- You can be sure it’s well serviced and maintained. (Although the quality of rental gear is high in Thailand. Main brand equipment is serviced regularly).
- You know if fits. Especially important with a mask.
- You get to dive with the gear you know and are comfortable with. You won’t spend the first dive adjusting everything. What you get with rental gear is the basic models. A BCD will have a couple of plastic d-rings and velcro pockets, it will not have lots of attachment points and zip pockets. Rental BCD’s do not have integrated weights.
- Wetsuits are 3mm shorty style. Fine for most people but if you chill easily you may prefer to bring your own long suit.
- Rental fins are usually the full foot variety. Not as powerful or comfy as open heel fins with booties.
Regulators and tanks in Thailand use yoke valve / A clamp fittings. DIN adapters are available.
Pressure gauges use BAR measurements not PSI.
Standard tanks are 12 litre aluminium.
Bring spare mask and fin straps. Spares may not be available on the boat.
If it’s been a year or more since you last dived test your gear first.
A couple of dive shops in Phuket offer regular servicing but it’s not a same day service, in fact they have a backlog of school sets to service, and they close on Sundays. Expect it to take them a week to service a reg. Better to get it done before you arrive.
Prescription masks are difficult to hire in Phuket.
Underwater cameras are also difficult to hire, they are too prone to leakage and loss. You will also find it hard to get spare parts for underwater cameras and housings here.
If you bring your dive computer check the battery. Also bring the manual because all brands are different and dive staff can’t know how to set every model. Even with your own dive computer we still recommend staying with your guide and following their profile. Otherwise a computer failure means the end of the dive and being locked out of diving for 24 hrs.
Buy dive equipment in Thailand
Fancy a souvenir of your Thailand diving holiday? You can buy pretty much all top brand recreation scuba equipment in Thailand although photography gear can be hard to find. In general prices are the same as Europe and more expensive than the US, but it depends a lot on the exchange rate at the time. Wetsuits can be cheaper here, many are manufactured in north Thailand.
There is no one size fits all answer. Ideally bring all your own gear, especially if you are liveaboard diving. If you are just doing one day trip then leave the big stuff at home. It’s always worth bringing your own mask, fins and computer. If you travel regularly for diving invest in one of the new lightweight travel BCD’s that rolls up small.