Brunei is not a very famous destination, possibly also due to the absence of booze, cigarettes and beaches. However, it actually does offer amazing wrecks and some nice reef diving.
The diving in the warm waters off Cambodia is fairly shallow (up to 15 meters) and provides a great opportunity for backpackers travelling through the country to learn how to dive without the crowds. A lot of the diving further off the coast has yet to be explored.
Even though East Timor is a bit more expensive than its neighbour Indonesia it is definitely worth a visit. With only 3 dive shops in the whole country you won’t ever encounter other groups during your dives. The reefs are pristine and the macrolife diverse. Around the island Atauro big animal encounters are possible all year round and during the season many different species of whales can be seen migrating past this small country.
Indonesia is a huge country consisting of about 18’000 islands and it offers countless worldclass dive sites. The highest biodiversity of the world can be found in the reefs of Indonesia. It also offers some of the best muck diving in the world, the craziest currents in Komodo with almost guaranteed manta encounters as well as the most beautiful reefs. It is my personal favorite and I think it is not possible in a lifetime to visit all of its incredible underwater miracles. The most famous might be Komodo, Raja Ampat, Bali, Wakatobi, Lembeh, Bunaken and the Gili islands. Many dive sites are still to be discovered.
Sipadan, an island off the Malay part of Borneo, makes it into almost all of the top dive site lists. However, besides this marine reserve Malaysia has a lot more to offer around the islands of Mabul and off Semporna. From the main land the Perhentians and Tioman are famous mainly amongst weekend tourists from Singapore.
So far Myanmar’s underwater world can only be visited via liveaboards from Thailand. While the pristine reefs have been untouched by divers until only a decade ago fisheries have been active in the Andaman sea. Still visitors report of huge schools of fish, mantas, whale sharks and some reef sharks.
The waters around the over 7000 islands of the Philippines offer the highest variety of world-class diving besides Indonesia. The best destinations are possibly Malapascua with its thresher sharks, critter heaven Anilao, the best wrecks of Asia in Coron and big stuff in untouched Tubbataha.
Singapore is not too famous for its diving. However, it is an awesome place to find your new dive gear and all the amazing diving in Southeast Asia is only a short flight away.
Thailand is the most dived country in Southeast Asia. Also all of the open water certifications in the area are issued on the island Koh Tao. The best diving is found in the Similan islands which can be reached via short liveaboards. Due to the high numbers of visitors the dive sites can get a bit cramped.
Even though the coastline of Vietnam is massive, most of the diving is found in only a few areas, some of which have become marine reserves. On the dives it can be expected to see various tropical fish and nudibranchs. Vietnam is a great place to learn how to dive without the crowds or to sneak in some diving while traveling through this fascinating country.