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As the last leg of my 6-month journey, I will be stopping over in Kuala Lumpur from the 24th to 30th of January. I would like to fly out or take a bus from Kuala Lumpur to go to a place where I can do an OWD course.

However, I noticed that the east peninsula is affected by monsoon season, so Tioman, Redang and Perentian are not an option.

There are cheap flights available to Miri, so I am considering this. However, I am not sure about the weather there either. Is diving there a good idea in the end of January?

What are my other options? Which other good dive spots are easily reachable with a flight budget of about 150 EUR from Kuala Lumpur and are in season in late January?

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What budget do you have for a hotel? You will have to stay somewhere for 2-3 days while you do the OWD. –  uncovery Oct 17 '13 at 3:44
    
I'm traveling medium-low budget, so I intend to stay at a backpacker hostel for up to 10 € per night. Although I have no idea what normal hostel prices in this part of the world are. –  nerdy glasses Oct 17 '13 at 23:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

So I'm afraid all the best dive spots in Malaysia are out in Jan-Feb. As you've discovered, it's monsoon season on the east coast of the Peninsula, as well as at the famed dive spot of Sipadan in Sabah, Borneo. The weather is better on the west coast and in some bits of Sarawak, like Miri, but the diving is not that great any time of year.

The good news is that if you're got 150 euros for flight tickets and are already in Kuala Lumpur, the whole of Asia is your oyster thanks to Air Asia!

The obvious nearby option is the Andaman Sea coast of southern Thailand around Phi Phi, easily reached with flights to Phuket and Krabi, where it will be dry season, and you'll be just past the mad Xmas/NY rush so prices will have settled down as well.

Most of the Philippines and some off-the-beaten-track bits of Indonesia like Pulau Weh in Aceh are also dry as well. Bali and nearby will be wet though, as is the diving mecca of Bunaken up in Sulawesi.

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Thanks for the detailed answer and the Shakespeare / Murray Head reference! –  nerdy glasses Oct 18 '13 at 16:09
    
Are you 100% sure about what you are saying regarding Sipadan area? I did my open water certification at the beginning of January in Mabul island a couple of years back and the diving instructors (nor anyone else) did NOT mentioned having some mandatory break at the end of January. –  Adrien Be Jun 25 at 12:18
    
It's not a "mandatory break" (where did you get that from?), just monsoon season, so it rains more: dive-the-world.com/… –  jpatokal Jun 25 at 13:03
    
@jpatokal oh alright, fair enough, I misread your post. I just asked Scuba Junkie if they have any sort of break or slow down for that time of the year. I doubt though, weather was amazing when I went in January. This is their fb page btw facebook.com/pages/Scuba-Junkie/194941142120 –  Adrien Be Jun 26 at 2:24

I did my open water certification & advanced open water certification at the beginning of January 2015 in Mabul island. Yes, one straight after another.

The weather was incredible, 30 degrees Celsius every day, not a drop of rain. Note that at the exact same time it was raining a LOT on the north west side of the island (Kota Kinabalu area) every day from 14:00 until late in the evening.

The diving instructors (nor anyone else) did not mention having some mandatory break at the end of January (c.f. Jpatokal's answer).

I also dived in Sipadan around the 7th of January 2015. It was incredible, a must do, but you must have an advanced open water certification.

Just call one of the diving schools in Mabul island to have further details. I highly recommend Scuba Junky, very nice people, very professional, provides good accommodation (& different ranges), and they help the local community.

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