I really did not like diving on rental equipment, as you say quality and familiarity are important. I would at least want to use my computers and regs. Would not bring cylinders and weights and the dry suits can stay in the UK
So what are the best dive sites near SG? We have dived Thailand ( have around 40 dives logged there, but that was almost 10 years ago!!!)
- in Singapore you can dive at a small Island called Hantu. last time I went there the viz was so bad that I did not see my fins... and that is normal there (and I won't go into details on the nice view looking at a Shell refinery...)
- Weekend trips on liveaboards leave Singapore either in direction of Indonesia (typically to the 7skies and Igara wrecks) or Malaysia. So far I have only done the Indo trip and I would recommend it only for experienced divers. 7skies was a super tanker and the TOP of the wreck is at 30m... that was my first dive after a couple of months and that was a bit too much of a challenge to be honest.
- the best part of Singapore is its location between some of the best diving in the world. When I lived in Europe, we always went to the Maldives. I personally find South East Asia so far much more interesting as it has so different diving on offer. I spent the last week at Lembeh in Indonesia looking at the most amazing macro stuff I have ever seen. Thailand is great, have been on a liveaboard in the Similans, prettiest corals I have seen so far. Where else is on my todo list? Raja Ampat, Sipadan, Layanglayng, Phillipines,... the list goes on forever.
- buy everything you can in Europe! I know buy now my local dive shop in Singapore pretty well and get discounts cause we spend so much on tripswith them, but they are pricewise nowhere near the price tags in Europe... they simply cannot compete as their shop costs was sometimes higher than the "street price" back home: my BCD on special offer in Germany was one third of the price of the same one here locally (yes, yes, it is a $cubapro, but I like it...). One shop targetting expats seems to even ADD 20% or so on the suggested retail price. Too many people are earning too much money here...
- the biggest trend of the last years was light weight travel friendly equipment... go for it if you want to use the local budget airlines. I swapped my top of the line big BCD to a travel one half its weight and am completely ok going basic.
- I have not used anything more than a 3mm shorty. I'll probably get me 1mm long suit now as there is lot of stuff that stings in these tropic waters... but temperature is really a non-issue.