8 Best Scuba Diving Courses in Southeast Asia

Mermaids, come hither!

Swim deep where the wifi, traffic, gossip, and pressure of human life will never exist.

I’ve got 8 Best Scuba Diving Courses in Southeast Asia – all of which are located in the best destinations for solo female travelers.
Becoming Scuba Certified sounds intimidating…but the courses are just 4 glorious days of learning, practice, and diving which anyone with two legs (and zero inner ear problems) can do.

As Southeast Asia is a tropical region with islands and beaches…you can obviously expect to find hundreds of dive schools in Asia where you can get PADI or SSI certified.

But wait! Not all scuba schools are created equal!

Beware of Scuba Schools that are “the most popular”. I made the mistake of diving at the trendiest scuba school in Koh Tao where they valued quantity over quality. This resulted in improper instruction + me having a busted eardrum that stopped me from diving for years (don’t worry, it’s all better now).

From the most cost-effective and SAFEST courses that offer some seriously gorgeous dive spots, get scuba certified with one of these highly-reputable scuba diving schools in Southeast Asia.

Let’s dive right in … (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

#1 –  The Cheapest – Bali, Indonesia

No surprises here – Bali is one of the most fun/beautiful/tropical islands in Southeast Asia…which also offers cheap open-water diving courses.

Adventure Divers Bali, located in Amed, gives you the opportunity to dive amongst some of the most gorgeous corals I’ve seen in Asia + WWII shipwrecks. Enjoy the underwater coral gardens and the abundant marine life where new species are discovered each year!

Called “the island of a thousand temples,” there is so much culture and history to absorb – both on land and in the water.

Bali is located in the heart of the Indonesian archipelago, with an easy-to-access international airport!

And Bali is one of the safest places for solo female travelers.

How Long is the Class:  4 days
How Much:  4,661,000 IDR ($330 USD)

Before you go to Bali, get your copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide: Bali

#2 – The Second Cheapest – Koh Tao, Thailand

Crystal Dive

Koh Tao Island in Thailand is famous for offering the lowest prices for scuba diving courses + stunning dive spots. This is where I did my Scuba Training, and I loved it!

Crystal Dive offers a certification course which won’t cost you an arm and a leg – just $352 for the Full 4-Day Beginners Course.

Koh Tao is home to an abundance of marine life and kaleidoscopic of corals with a diverse collection of dive spots meaning…every dive is different! Koh Tao also offers frequent sightings of the largest fish in the world – the whale shark!

With clear water, white-sanded beaches, cheap food, and tons of shopping… spending 4-5 days on Koh Tao is a dream come true!

Once your scuba course is finished, you’ll want to blow off some steam! Move on to nearby Koh Phangan or Koh Samui, which are the better party & nightlife destinations (Koh Tao nightlife I don’t recommend for solo girls anymore – read my Thailand Islands and Beaches travel guide for more on that).

How Long is the Class:  4 days
How Much:  11,000 THB (352 USD) + 400-800 THB ($6-$26 USD) /night for accommodation


Before you go to Thailand, get your copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide: Thailand 


#3 – The Most Exotic – Lembeh Island, Indonesia

Lembeh Straits is a resort located on Lembeh Island and operated by Two Fish Divers. Popular for being the muck diving capital of the world, Lembeh Straits will take you on an unforgettable underwater journey that won’t break the bank.

Muck diving features sandy slopes and limited visibility for a thrilling adventure. Get a peek of what to expect via this amazing underwater documentary here!

Lembeh Island is one of the rare spots with sightings of critters like pygmy sea-horses, hairy frogfish, and dazzling cuttlefish PLUS shipwrecks.

The resort is located on a private beach which opens up onto breathtaking tropical vistas. The bungalows are spacious and comfortable. The dive sites are nearby.

All of this makes Lembeh Straits an idyllic and relaxed spot to learn to scuba dive + is one of the best scuba diving spots in the world.

How Long is the Class:  4 days
How Much:  5,250,000 IDR (369 USD) OR 7,500,000 IDR with accommodation (526 USD)


#4 – The Most Convenient – Phuket, Thailand


Thailand is one of the best countries to travel alone; and Phuket is one of the most convenient islands to reach from the US.

The island of Phuket is the biggest in Thailand with an international airport, making it an easy island to fly in and dive ASAP.

Racha Noi Island and Racha Yai Island are the most visited islands for rookie drivers. Both of these islands swarm with wildlife – you can see manta rays, stingrays, garden eels, and many more.

In Siam Bay, in the north part of Racha Yai, you can also spot some statutes beautifully overgrown with sea-weed and marine life. A truly eerie and mystical experience!

Sunrise Divers is one of the best dive shops in Phuket, offering a wonderfully-balanced 3-day and/or 4-day dive course for beginner open-water divers.

How Long is the Class:  3 or 4 days
How Much: From 14,900 THB (477 USD) for a 3-day course to 17,900 THB (573 USD) for a 4-day course.

The above prices vary depending on the number of open-water dives. The prices mentioned are the lowest and the highest for both courses.

Before you go to Phuket, get your copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide: Thailand Islands and Beaches

#5 – The Least Tourism – Nha Trang, Vietnam


Nha Trang has been gaining popularity in recent years but it’s still not as densely crowded with tourists as other diving destinations in Southeast Asia.

The coastal city of Nha Trang is home to some fascinating on-land history – so fascinating that most tourists don’t even think about jumping in the water. This is great for you if you want a more personal dive experience.

Rainbow Divers Vietnam will offer you a unique and intimate dive experience in their Nha Trang Dive Center.

Newbie divers can expect to see cuttlefish, octopi, and lionfish during their course.

Your PADI Open Water Diver course makes for a refreshing escape away from the big crowds, while giving you the pleasure of hanging with super cool and friendly dive instructors.


How Long is the Class:  3 or 4 days
How Much:  Starts from 400 USD

Before you go to Vietnam, get your copy of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide: Vietnam

#6 – Best for a Quick Trip – Singapore + Tioman Island


If you’re looking for a quick and easy course to wedge in between other traveling, ScubaDo has you covered. They organize shorter diving courses in Tekek Jetty, Tioman Island; an area you can access from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.

Tioman is the biggest island in the Malaysian Peninsula which is regarded as one of the most beautiful destinations in Southeast Asia. Its rainforests, beaches, and crystal water will give paradise a new dimension.

Ps. Singapore is also one of the safest places for solo female travelers (on this planet)!

How Long is the Class:  2 ½ days
How Much:  From 459 SGD (337 USD) without accommodation OR SGD 589 (433 USD) with accommodation.

The price with accommodation also includes 5 meals a day. The price without accommodation has no meals included. Transport services can be purchased additionally.



#7 – Most ‘Off the Beaten Path’ – Mojo Island, Indonesia

Davy Jones’ Locker

One of those solo travel vacations that you’ll tell your kids about.

Pulau Moyo Island is a mostly uninhabited island with a rugged coastline. It is home to pristine beaches, lush forests, and dramatic waterfalls. The life on the island is extremely simple and self-sufficient and you can truly enjoy your escape from a bustling city routine.

Davy Jones’ Locker can offer you exclusive diving courses in this best-kept secret of Indonesia. You will enjoy encounters with macro critters and splendidly colorful coral seabed. Pulau Moyo is an experience that not many have tasted. The diving center can also offer transfers from Sumbawa airport to the island and back. Accommodation is not included in the prices.

How Long is the Class:  3 days
How Much:  5,700,000 IDR (400 USD) without accommodation and transfers
Transfers:  1,600,000 IDR (112 USD) in each direction
Accommodation:  Starts from 200,000 IDR (14 USD) per night in Maleo Moyo resort; free breakfast included

YES. You do need travel insurance.


#8 – The Best Instructors – The Gili Islands, Indonesia

Blue Marlin Dive

The Gili Islands are one of the best diving destinations in Indonesia. Located in the famous Coral Triangle, they are also home to the largest diversity of marine creatures on the planet. The Gili Islands are called “the turtle capital of the world” as you can spot green and hawksbill turtles on almost every dive.

There are also more rare creatures to be seen, such as reef sharks or ghost pipefish. Whale sharks, mola mola, and manta rays are also known to swim around, so keep your senses sharp.

With Blue Marlin Dive you’ll be in safe hands since they sport award-winning instructors who teach in multiple languages. As a popular diving spot, The Gili Islands attract only the best in their field.

Accommodation is not included in the price, but Blue Marlin Air can offer dive & stay packages at discounted prices for students.

How Long is the Class:  3 days
How Much:  5,500,000 – 6,000,000 IDR (385-420 USD) without accommodation

*Accommodation varies between 550,000 IDR (39 USD) and 950,000 (67 USD) per night depending on the season.


Conclusion – 8 Best Scuba Diving Courses in Southeast Asia

You can easily spend under $500 for your Scuba Diving Course + accommodation in Southeast Asia by diving with one of the 8 scuba schools listed here! Each scuba school is located in a safe area, staffed by licensed professionals, offers the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful nature in the world…and has you walking away with a Scuba Diving Certification which you can use to scuba dive all over the world – forever!

Psst. Don’t pay cash/debit for big-ticket items like Scuba Courses!

Read my “3 Best Travel Credit Cards & Travel Debit Cards” before you spend on travel!



***Disclaimer*** Every time you book through a link in this post, The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide gets a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support keeps this site alive! Xoxo

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I'm a bestselling author, hotel reviewer and pickleball player. I teach women how to travel the world solo without going broke or getting kidnapped.
In 2011, I left Seattle with just $200 in my pocket to travel the world solo. Today, I'm the founder and creator of The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide, the #1 travel guide book series for women - and the author of The One-Way Ticket Plan. 

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