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best places to take classes(cooking, scuba,etc.) in SEA

nurseandrea

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  • Added on: January 18th, 2013
Hello! Im planning a trip to south east Asia in the fall, for about 6 months. Were hoping to travel to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. My boyfriend and I are very much interested in taking classes while were there...cooking, yoga, scuba, meditation, etc.

So, please! Share with me your experiences!! good, bad, AMAZING?! and where, so maybe we can find a little bit of the same magic.

crazyal

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  • Added on: January 18th, 2013
nurseandrea wrote:Hello! Im planning a trip to south east Asia in the fall, for about 6 months. Were hoping to travel to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. My boyfriend and I are very much interested in taking classes while were there...cooking, yoga, scuba, meditation, etc.

So, please! Share with me your experiences!! good, bad, AMAZING?! and where, so maybe we can find a little bit of the same magic.


Easy to sign up for cooking classes in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Google check will you several schools. Same for meditation retreats and yoga. Massage courses are also popular with some tourists.

For scuba classes you have to work around the weather.

Six months is a long time, you probably know to research your visa requirements for each country. Don't leave Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos with their currency because no one wants it and hard to unload.

Have fun.
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T.Sar

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  • Added on: January 21st, 2013
nurseandrea wrote:Hello! Im planning a trip to south east Asia in the fall, for about 6 months. Were hoping to travel to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. My boyfriend and I are very much interested in taking classes while were there...cooking, yoga, scuba, meditation, etc.

So, please! Share with me your experiences!! good, bad, AMAZING?! and where, so maybe we can find a little bit of the same magic.


I did two SCUBA courses last year during my Southeast Asia trip; my PADI Open Water in Ko Tao and my PADI Advanced Open Water in Sihanoukville.

If your itinerary is flexible enough to allow this, I would recommend signing up for a SCUBA course after you arrive and have had the opportunity to ask around the dive shops and speak to a few of the dive masters. (And see if the weather and dive conditions are nice, and if you feel like diving at that point, and if you think you'd want to spend 4-7 days where you are etc.)

I booked my open water in advance because it fell over Christmas and I wasn't sure if everything would be booked out or not. While I had a lot of fun with the people I met on my course, I wouldn't dive with the company I trained with again because I felt they were pretty unprofessional (dive masters showing up hungover and vomiting off the boats, letting us cheat on the final written exam, skipping certain compulsory skill demonstrations etc.). Some people might be fine with that kind of laid back approach to things but I am the sort of person who feels better when things are done 'by the book' (particularly when those things include learning how not to die 18m under the sea). If I had sorted out my course after I'd arrived on Ko Tao I would probably have been able to find a dive shop that was a better match for my personality. I still had a good time on the course though.

I had the complete opposite experience when I did my Advanced Open Water. I wasn't sure if I wanted to dive in Cambodia or not because I was a brand new diver and wasn't sure how safe it would be. I went and talked to some of the dive masters and I was so impressed that I ended up signing on for the advanced course. Before I had paid any money or even agreed to go the instructors had talked me through everything and made suggestions for the types of dives they thought would be best for me. My instructor on the course was awesome - he made me do everything over and over until I had it down perfectly! This might drive some people crazy but my attitude is that if I'm paying to learn something then I want to learn it right! He also corrected all the mistakes that I'd been practicing since I'd picked up some bad habits on Ko Tao.

I did some fun dives on Koh Chang, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lipe too and I would say those experiences were somewhere in between the two PADI courses.

Overall I had a great time diving and I'm so glad I took the courses. It wasn't something I'd thought of doing at all before I set out but now I can't wait to get back into it in a few months when I'm back in Southeast Asia.

I think that people's experiences of dive courses vary depending on how much far it pushes them out of their comfort zones. In my first course we had a couple of people who had no problems at all and took to it naturally and we also had one person who was really freaked out and panicking the whole time (but she still made it through which was awesome). I think I probably fell somewhere in the middle. :)

EMH

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  • Added on: January 21st, 2013
crazyal wrote:
nurseandrea wrote:Hello! Im planning a trip to south east Asia in the fall, for about 6 months. Were hoping to travel to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. My boyfriend and I are very much interested in taking classes while were there...cooking, yoga, scuba, meditation, etc.

So, please! Share with me your experiences!! good, bad, AMAZING?! and where, so maybe we can find a little bit of the same magic.


Easy to sign up for cooking classes in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Google check will you several schools. Same for meditation retreats and yoga. Massage courses are also popular with some tourists.

For scuba classes you have to work around the weather.

Six months is a long time, you probably know to research your visa requirements for each country. Don't leave Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos with their currency because no one wants it and hard to unload.

Have fun.


I'll second Chiang Mai as a great place for cooking and meditation classes. Plus it's a pretty awesome city and a lot easier to navigate than Bangkok.
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Lucky Luke

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  • Added on: January 24th, 2013
I'd also recommend the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia for diving - I did my open water there and the quality of dive sites is fantastic. The place I did the course with was one of around 8 operators on Lonely Beach (there's probably more now) and they were not only very professional but all the schools on the beach seemed to have quite good relationships with each other(sharing tips on which sites were good each day, etc) which was nice.
I won't bother naming the school I went to as I know my instructor has since moved on to the Andamans and I can't vouch for the staff there now but the island itself I definitely recommend.

About seven years ago I did a cooking class with Baan Thai in Chiang Mai and had a wonderful day. Since then, nearly everyone I'd spoken to who has done a cooking class in CM also did it with them and also raved about it. They must doing something right!

Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: January 24th, 2013
My personal experiences, all excellent:

-Nusa Lembongan (just east of Bali) for diving certification. World Diving was outstanding.
-Chiang Mai for Thai cooking and Thai language (at AUA) courses.

busman7

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  • Added on: January 24th, 2013
While I didn't much care for Vietnam (with the exception of HCMC) I did like their cooking the best.

Maybe check around a smaller city such as Hue for cooking classes.
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