When people think of Vietnam, scuba diving isn't usually the first thing to cross their mind. They may have images of tropics, the rainforest, and even small, quiet, peaceful villages. While diving is relatively new to this long country that borders the South China Sea, it is far from scuba lacking in any way.
PADI opened the first dive shop in Vietnam in the mid 1980s, and ever since it is quickly becoming a hot spot for diving tourism. Most of the dive sites in Vietnam are located in Nha Trang, but other areas are quickly opening up, offering even more options for diving. Vietnam offers some of the most pristine dive sites, as the sport is so new to this area. For any diver looking for a new dive spot, this may be the place of choice. Diving in Vietnam offers a glimpse at rarely seen reefs with an incredible amount of biodiversity. Half of the world's coral species can be found in Vietnam as you dive mildly-slanting reefs or sheer walls.
When you decide on where you'd like to start your diving adventure, you can begin making travel arrangements. As Vietnam is mostly an agrarian country, tourist facilities can be lacking in some areas other than major cities. A valid passport is required along with a visa or visa exemption document. Visitors to the country will need to get either of these documents from the Vietnamese consulate or embassy prior to their arrival. Vietnam has fees associated with these documents but there is no clear-cut fee structure and different fees can be charged at different entry points. The country takes its visas seriously and you are required to stick to your original plans and to not travel into what is considered border areas with other countries. While crime comes mostly in the form of pickpockets, thieves have gotten bolder in recent years and there have been reports of them using weapons such as knives and razor blades.
Vietnam is considered tropical, but the climate can be diverse. Light snow can often be seen in the northern part of the country while the southern part can get up to 104° F. There are two monsoon seasons in Vietnam, one from May to October, and one from October to March. The first season brings hot and humid weather to most of the country while the latter monsoon season brings cool and wet winters. The best months to plan diving in Vietnam are typically between April and September.
There are some truly amazing dive sites in Vietnam. Depending on what you're looking for you can find a wide variety of spots to choose from (beginners to advanced). There are gently sloping reefs, walls that drop off, drift diving, and even a couple of wreck dives. One of the most unique spots is The Black Tunnel. This site is for advanced divers who will find an out-of-this-world scene with three caves in an almost space-like setting. Joining divers on the volcanic bottom are lobsters, shrimp, and Nudibranchs.
Whale Island is a scenic spot for beginning to advanced divers. Although not really an island, this long-standing resort offers diving with frequent visitors such as whale sharks and eels. There is a variety of coral and fish in a diverse underwater arena, which you can view from a gently sloped reef or a wall with steep drop offs.
Hon Trau Nam is known for its variety of Sting Rays and Manta Rays. Divers can also spot rare, and seldom seen, black coral, as an array of fish swim by.
While there are many spots to dive in Vietnam, the most popular place to find both dive shops and dive sites is in Nha Trang. Hon Mun Marine Park, which is located there, has recently been established and includes the central coastline islands. This typically draws a large crowd, so check with your dive shop for best times to go if you prefer to avoid the crowds.
The beautiful Con Dao islands, which are serviced by Dive! Dive! Dive! shop are a former penal colony prior to 1975, and to date, the islands have only 5,000 residents. Here you can see the Con Dao Archipelago where there is ongoing work to protect dugong and sea turtles.
Regardless of your destination in Vietnam, you will be a witness to dive spots that are unique and bursting in their natural beauty. Many of these rarely seen dive spots are full of life, intact, and pure unlike many other dive sites around the world.
The beauty of Vietnam is everywhere you look, but few people have also experienced the wondrous views below the surface of the ocean. With visibility up to 130 feet and virtually untouched reefs, this relatively new diving area has lots to offer. Many of the small islands in the South China Sea are untouched and pristine, offering a view only few have seen.
There are over 13 airports in Vietnam but the largest is Tan Son Nhat International Airport, which is in Ho Chi Minh. Although you can book dive travel with many companies, it is best to stick to those that have been around for some time and have good reviews. As residents of the country see the potential travel dollars coming their way, many have taken the opportunity to advertise their companies that offer less than adequate services, so travelers should be wary. There are also companies that will advertise they are PADI or SSI certified when they really aren't. Divers need to pay special attention when traveling by boat, as many of the lesser-known companies operating boats are unsafe and not properly equipped at times. Be wary of companies offering 'bargain' pricing.
On the other hand, westerners own some companies in Vietnam, and planning travel with them may put some more at ease about what to expect. If your travel arrangements require an additional flight from a major airport to an island, you can expect to pay anywhere from USD $75-$150 in additional fares.
For divers looking for a small, quiet island, Con Dao Islands in Vietnam offer a PADI dive shop called Dive! Dive! Dive! This western owned shop offers traditional diving, wreck diving, lessons, and diving on 16 different islands. There are dive sites for all levels of divers from beginners to advanced.
Sailing Club Divers is located in Nha Trang and offers dive trips every day of the week. This Five Star Dive Center has employees on board who are PADI certified instructors, assistant instructors, or Dive masters.
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