View Full Version : Hoi An, Vietnam - Dive/Trip Report

07-18-2009, 10:00

'Cattle-call' departure from Hanoi, Vietnam via Vietnam Airlines at about $120USD return. Flight is quite empty on the 777 aircraft, so you can probably score an empty row, but will have to entertain or be entertained by first time Vietnamese fliers. Arrive Denang, Vietnam. Will need to arrange taxi/transport w/ either your hotel in Hoi An or the dive shop (Rainbow divers). Ground transportation will run you $20 roundtrip in a sedan w/ A/C.

According to Lonely Planet, this place has the cheapest place in Asia. However, all the cheap places were already booked by European backpackers, therefore I ended up at a 4/5 star resort which I'm very very very please with. Please see tripadvisor report for Ving Hung Resort. $60/night, fully stocked bathroom, spa on site for very cheap, free incredible breakfast, wireless internet, free happy hour food - basically dinner (very nice). Newspapers, flip flops, water, exotic fruits free. Super duper nice staff. $1 bicycle rental across the street, $0.50 local beer across the street.

Dive Site
Dive shop will pick you up from your hotel and drop you off at the boat dock about 4km or 30 mins away since you are one of several divers that day. Driver will honk his horn like a mad man and swear obscenities at other drivers, motorcyclists and pedastrians. Best to keep your eyes shut or suffer narcosis while in transit. Transportation part of dive arrangement: $75USD for 2 dives, all inclusive (equipment, guides, hotel transfer, snacks, water). $3 additional for credit card.

Water 81degrees F. Calm and about 90 degrees ambient, humid. Very mild currents. We had 3 paying customers (divers), 3 dive guides, and one spouse of dive guide. Also had boat captian, deck hand, and another guy who just hung out. Most number of staff to customer ratio I have experienced. Recent rains created very noticeable thermocline at 20ft. 81F and 83F. Vis about 20-30ft, cloudy due to fresh water from rain screwing things up.

Flora Fauna
Nice soft and hard corals, big nudibranchs. School of squids. Some fish, probably more, but couldn't see due to low vis. Largest frog fish, I've ever seen, about the size of a halloween pumpkin...not kidding. 2 lionfish, large cuttlefish, 3 lobsters, some weird local echinoderm (will find out and edit in later).

This dive was what I expected from asking around. However, very satisfied w/ seeing the frogfish.

Dive Operator
Run by Rainbow Divers, one of several shops throughout the country. British guy signed me in (waited late until 10pm when my flight got in, just to make sure i have the right size.) Aussie Couple were leading the dive. Super nice Vietnamese staff. $10 nice shirts. $1.50-ish large beer at their dive shop bar. Great location. Not so sure about their dive guides, mine was good, but the guy on break for the day was obviously a lunatic. Luckly it was his day off. Thoroughly satisfied, and great price. Nitrox available w/ prior arrangement. Rumors that they are trying to establish shop in Burma!

Vietnam may not be Thailand, but you also don't have tons of other divers. Food and lodging super cheap. I got a 2 custom tailored shirts and 1 short for $35USD. Silk neckties (nice) at $7 a pop, probably less w/ some persuasion. 1 hour massage for $20. Please don't be too cheap w/ haggling, people make a lot less, but they are hard workers and they too have a family to feed. Wonderful culture. Will dive Vietnam again.

07-18-2009, 10:08
Great information - I have Vietnam on my list of places to go. Hope I get to make it. Sounds like you had a great time.

christopher neely
07-18-2009, 10:55
This is chris and i am seriously thinking about getting certified and wanted to know where in asia would be great to dive at,i been wanted to dive where wrecks are and doing just simply recreational diving.

07-18-2009, 10:58
I haven't considered viet nam as a diving destination, but you've provided plenty of reasons to change my mind! Thanks for that very useful report!

Don Wray
07-18-2009, 16:35
Nice report, definantly on my 'To Do' list now...Thanks

07-19-2009, 06:46
thanks for the report. was in vietnam a couple of times but never thought of diving. word was it wasn't worth it.

well, a few pics would change my mind ;)

07-20-2009, 13:27
Good reading....Thanks for the report.

07-20-2009, 17:58
Interesting read, thanks!

There was a big article on diving in Vietnam in Dive Training Mag (I think? may have been a fluffier mag like Sport Diver, I still have it at home somewhere for reference) about 6 months ago. Made me really happy to see that there was diving worth doing, as my wife and I have been considering hitting Vietnam on our next big vacation together, instead of doing Thailand again.

07-21-2009, 01:39
Thanks for the report, beenerachi. In Vietnam, Rainbow Divers is probably the best known op with a good rep. It's nice to see that information verified here.

When people ask me about diving in the neighboring region beyond Thailand with the idea of doing some touring in other interesting countries, my advice is always tempered: yes, it is possible to do some dives in Vietnam and Cambodia, but the topside aspects in both countries are far superior to the diving aspects, which involve low viz and overfished reefs. These countries are fascinating, with wonderful cultural and historical identities; definitely well worth the time to visit.

OTOH, if a diver is there anyway (either touring or on business) it doesn't hurt to get wet, I suppose, but IMO neither place is worth planning a dedicated dive vacation around. Most of the divers there are budget travelers on the backpacker highway (note beenarachi's comment that all the budget accommodations were full up) and these kids are in the area anyway, with no fixed schedule or itinerary, which makes it easy for them to do some pretty cheap, if rather average, diving.

I live a stone's throw away, and I have always given priority to topside activities in Vietnam and Cambodia (as opposed to Malaysia and Indonesia, where I spend most of my days underwater). I've never personally felt the diving in Vietnam or Cambodia was a big enough draw to go to the effort to reach the jump off point (note that beenerachi had to FLY to the place in order to do some merely pleasant dives).

Having said that, if I were to find myself at Hoi An for whatever reason, I'd most likely find the time to dive, but with low enough expectations that I would be satisfied rather than disappointed with the experience.

07-21-2009, 08:19
Quero thanks for the enlightened view. I had heard similar things about the diving in Vietnam. With so many places to dive one needs to really do their homework and learn about the places. I may dive Vietnam one day but its not anywhere near the top of my list.

07-21-2009, 13:24
I'm sure it won't compare to the best Thailand has to offer, but it should still be quite an interesting experience, alongside a nice vacation focused more on topside activities.

07-21-2009, 18:36
I'm sure it won't compare to the best Thailand has to offer, but it should still be quite an interesting experience, alongside a nice vacation focused more on topside activities.Compudude, for your needs, with a non-diving spouse and (as you say) a focus on topside touring, it is WELL worth visiting Vietnam. While I haven't made it to Hoi An yet, the town is listed as a UN World Hertage site. But for any diving in VN, I would personally recommend that you save it for Nha Trang instead. That area in particular is a stunning beach resort and national marine park. It is the key destination in VN for scuba.

10-30-2009, 09:05
Nha Trang is a great area, I've caught the train from HCMC to Nha Trang (A memorable expereince) and dived with Rainbow Divers. I've only done a couple of dives there but I get the feeling the area is heavily over fished.

Vietnam is great. And I would definately visit again