What kind of weather and temperature can I expect and is the climate suitable for diving? - JJ
Tioman, located off Malaysia's east coast in Mersing Marine Park, is a famous spot for scuba diving and has a constant year-round temperature of around 27-29 degrees Celsius. The best time for a holiday is between April and November, which is considered the dry season in Tioman. It is said that the best visibility for diving in Tioman is from March to May and from September to November. During these times, the visibility ranges from 15 metres to 30 metres. From June to August, the visibility is less good, ranging from 8 metres to 12 metres. However, even at the end of June, the diving is still fantastic, and lucky divers have reported sightings of big sea creatures like manta rays and whale sharks. Hotels and dive resorts on the island are usually closed during the monsoon season from November until February. But outside the monsoon time, there are great diving opportunities with more than 25 dive sites plus good wreck diving such as the Soyak Wreck. The waters around the island abound in rich coral reefs with canyons, swim throughs and wrecks. Among the favourite dive sites are Pirate Reef, Renggis Island, Tiger Reef and Chebeh.
Tioman Island can be busy during the high season. It rose to fame in the 1950's Hollywood favourite "South Pacific", showing to the world its crystal clear waters with beautiful palm-fringed beaches and lush rainforests. I am sure you will have a wonderful time there.
I've heard that there is a scenic journey to be enjoyed travelling on the road and river from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, going via Fang and Tha Ton. Can you give more information? How long does it take to do this trip? - Wolfgang
The trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai via Fang and Tha Ton certainly can make for a very pleasant holiday. It’s even possible to take a bus from Bangkok to Tha Ton. That's a 14-hour trip and the operator is New Wiriya Tour.
If you are starting the trip in Chiang Mai, simply go to Chang Puek Bus Station, and you will easily find a bus travelling to Fang and Tha Ton. The ordinary Chiang Mai-Tha Ton bus costs Bt60 and is the slowest of all, while if you go for the orange Chiang Mai-Fang bus at Bt55, the journey is a little faster. The next and more comfortable step up is the Chiang Mai-Fang shuttle van, which costs Bt100, and takes 2.5 hours. This van operates from 7.30am to 4.30pm daily.
Once you are in Fang, there are yellow songthaw, which travel the Fang-Mae Ai-Tha Ton route. These will take you to the Tha Ton Bridge within half an hour. Not far from the bridge, there is a pier from where you can board a boat to Chiang Rai. It usually leaves Tha Ton at 12.30pm, a ticket costs Bt350, and the trip takes about four hours. Besides the boat trip, many people also travel from Tha Ton to Mae Salong in Chiang Rai by a yellow songthaw that waits for passengers near the bridge.
You can do the journey in a day providing you leave Chiang Mai very early in the morning to ensure you catch the boat to Chiang Rai. However, if you do this, you will miss out on several sights in Chiang Mai's north. For a more leisurely journey, I would suggest spending a few nights at Doi Ang Khang in Fang district then a night or two by the Kok River before taking the boat to Chiang Rai.
Have a pleasant trip!