All of the trips and boats that we offer are safely and professionally run. The operators we promote in Thailand are all well established and extremely experienced. Many have been operating in excess of 15 years.
The differing prices for diving trips mainly reflects the distance the various boats travel in order to get to the chosen dive sites. The further the sites are the more costly it is. The cheaper vessels also manage to keep prices lower by not offering luxurious En-suite cabins, and sharing bathroom facilities. Safety however is never compromised.
We work with a small number of Phuket & Khao Lak Hotels from budget to luxury. These hotels are all well established and reputable.
You are welcome to book your own hotel however many people find it convenient to book everything together dealing with one point of contact to keep things more straightforward. Your priority however should be to secure your Liveaboard Diving trip first. Many trips and boats are extremely popular and spaces fill fast. It is far more likely that you will miss your space on the boat than not be able to find a vacant room in a Phuket or Khao Lak Hotel. . .
On a Liveaboard Diving trip it is possible to do a whole variety of continuing education courses if you wish. Most operators offer PADI or SSI or both. The Advanced Course and Nitrox, Multilevel and Naturalist courses are particually popular on the Barrier Reef. There is a vast amount of marine life to identify and Multilevel Diving with Nitrox gives you more bottom time to do it.
One further option if you are learning to dive before you go and are pressed for time or don't wish to dive at home is to do your certification dives on the trip. This is called a Refferal Course. You complete all of the confined water training and theory before you depart and then complete the open water training dives on the trip. If you have the spare budget then why not further your education ?
Packing the correct things for your liveaboard trip will make it all the more enjoyable. Most operators allow you to store your main holiday luggage on-shore so take a smaller bag that you can use on board. This is far more convenient and also often neccesary on the fly-dive trips with light aircraft weight restrictions.
We suggest the following as a good start: If possible take your own basic personal diving or snorkeling equipment - Mask, Snorkel and Wetsuit (3 to 5mm is fine for the Similan Islands. Full length or shortie as you prefer). Your own mask and exposure suit will generally fit with more comfort than rental equipment. The remainder you can rent to save weight if you wish. It is usually best to take all personal toiletries. Some boats operate exactly like hotels but not all. If towels are not supplied then take two. You will be spending a lot of time in the water and drying yourself on a wet towel is not fun! Take two bathing costumes also. Clothing should be kept light with a heavier top or jumper in case the a/c is a bit cool or it cools in the evenings. Shoes are not usually required on board - some flip flops or light footwear is fine. Finally dont forget sunglasses and sun block / tan cream.