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“if you're a diver, avoid this place”

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Uncle Chang's Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge
Reviewed January 12, 2011

uncle chang is an average place to stay. the staff is friendly and the atmosphere is quite nice. if you plan to dive there, it's nothing to recommend. we did 5 dives with uncle chang and several aweful things happened which were related to poor diving gear and careless instructors.
once a bottle leaked underwater and had to be fixed at 25 meters depth.
then some of the regulators don't work properly and the wetsuits are in a horrible condition.
my friend, a diving amateur ran out of oxygen due to his careless diving buddy, who also was an instructor.
i also ran out of air during my safety stop, but the meter still showed 30 bar. if this happened at 20 meters and not at 5 then this would've been deadly serious.
once, a bottle broke, while still on the boat.
also, the fins are in a poor condition and some sizes are simply missing.
overall, i have to say that this place is totally not recommendable for people that care about safe diving with proper gear and skilled instructors.
uncle chang himself seems like a grumpy chinese guy, who, like many chinese, doesn't care about quality that much. it's all about profit here.
if you wanna risk your health, go for uncle chang.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled with friends
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11  Thank timbotravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 2, 2011

We just came back from 10 memorable days at Uncle Chang's - ringing in the Xmas festivities with a rocking band, a complete buffet table of food (fresh tuna - sushi!!!!!!), and free flowing firewater courtesy of Uncle Chang himself.

The facilities themselves (rooms) are basic, but functional. You won't spend much time in the rooms anyways. You'll be perched upon a sun chair or hanging in the common area with the staff/other guests sipping on tea/coffee or Tiger while breathing in fresh sea air & taking in the beautiful sunset each night. Common areas were always impeccably clean, welcoming and pretty laid back.

We dived 3X a day, EVERY day for the 10 days we were there. I suppose you could say we love diving, but the dive sites speak for themselves. Uncle Chang's always has Sipadan permits (Uncle Chang himself is some sort of community icon, so he has good relationships with the who's-who's in Semporna/Mabul/Sipadan) and we managed to go 5 days out of the 10 days we were there.

But, not to be missed are some great dive sites in Mabaul itself (muck diving, macro-lover's heaven), Kapalai, Sibuan & Mantabuan (I dreamed of places like these gorgeous, tiny deserted islands) ... the Dive Staff were enthusiastic every day, and knowledgeable about the sites. Admittedly, the breifings could have been more thorough, the equipment better (wet suits all had holes in them) but the organisation was impeccable. Everything was always punctual, the dives were well planned and nothing went amiss in at least the time that we were there.

Quality of food served every day was a treat. We ate like Kings & Queens - having fresh seafood almost every day. I expected the run of the mill, backpacker-type food (note: bland), but was pleasantly surprised when every day was a feast. Great cooking staff.

Overall, I would highly recommend Uncle Chang's. It's a hostel/backpacker place - so don't expect hotel-quality facilities but there lies it's charm. It's for the chilled out traveller & avid diver and if you go with a relaxed mindset, are open to meeting people from all over the world (including the friendly staff & locals) - then you'll have a blast.

Prices are worth it. We managed to negotiate a rate of 140RM (approx 35 euros) for a double room, inclusive of 3 meals of day. Rates for diving depend on location with Sipidan being the most $$$. But worth it - there's no words to describe being circled by a school of hundreds of Barracuda, musically swimming around you. Awe-inspiring. Not to mention the countless sharks, turtles, moray eels and the weird, wacky & often hard to find frog fish, mantis shrimp, beautiful nudibranch, ghost pipefish, scorpian leaf fish and sooooo much more.

Excellent work Uncle Chang!!! We are pretty laid back travellers who delight in meeting unique characters just as much as visiting different places in this world. We had a fabulous time.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank AngelaB_2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 27, 2010

This is my 4th trip to Mabul Island and with Uncle Chang. the worst management, if you checked in, at any time when the staff told you must pack your stuff and check out, you must do so! No life jacket on the Boat, if you not good swimmer, Uncle Chang Life jacket can drown you because it is not suitable and very very old. I recommend you others agency like Sipadan Mabul Resort, Arung Hayat, Billabong, Sipadan.Com, Scuba Junkie but if you choose Uncle Chang.. you make your holidays turn worst!!

  • Stayed: November 2010
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7  Thank fredoline_gal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 26, 2010

Are we locals not the tourist?...This was our first time to Mabul Island. Unlucky we picked the wrong operator.... our rate for Uncle Chang (is Terrible!) the site is very nice...i can see why sipadan mabul is one of the best diving site in the World...but lets me advise those big groups who wanted to come here...Don't use Uncle Chang His dream come true services and what so ever... they can't manage the big groups...one sigaporean and johorean guest said "best place but worst management!" it cause us unable to enjoy the beauty freely...what a bad experience! Any way the staff is very good and they work hard to recover our loss from the bad management! I'll come back but never to this operator anymore...

  • Stayed: November 2010
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6  Thank TG_Achemah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 8, 2010

We had a great time at Uncle Chang's. We were recommended by a friend who went 3 years ago and described it as a fun and friendly place to stay. He was exactly right. We both did our PADI Open Water Course there and our instructor was very professional and experienced. He was also very patient and very helpful with all aspects of our trip. We also did a trip to Sipidan with other divers and snorkelers. Uncle Chang's provided a divemaster for the divers and a snorkelmaster for the snorkelers so everyone was well looked after. There was a live band one of the nights we were there and in our opinion it was one of the best nights of our trip. The staff and guests as well as Uncle Chang :) all had a great time and made for an amazing atmosphere where you almost feel at home!

  • Stayed: November 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank FeasBeg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2010

Staying with Scuba Junkie which was really nice, but couldn't get permits for Sipadan, so we walked over to find out if we could get them from Uncle Chang's, no problem. A little more expensive, but at least we got to go. Just check your gear before you leave the dock, which they suggested we do. Get yourself an SMB, and enjoy the diving. We had no problems and had a great day, despite mixed reviews.

Stayed: October 2010, traveled with friends
Thank amk1197
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 10, 2010

Great value for money. Uncle Chang will get you to Sipadan almost anytime especially if stay with them, where other places like Scuba Junkie has no guarantee and you have to wait for days to get to Sipadan and sometimes not at all.Rooms are very simple - make sure you take your own blanket as they don't provide any - strange but true.Also if you planning on staying at Uncle Chang's for few days make sure you stock up on some snacks at Semporna as all you will eat is rice for breakfast, rice for lunch and rice for dinner.No milk available either only condensed milk. Otherwise we had a great experience and will definitely come back!

  • Stayed: September 2010, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank DedenyShanghai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Uncle Chang's Sipadan Mabul Dive Lodge

Address: 91307 Causeway Road, Pulau Mabul, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Semporna District > Pulau Mabul
Hotel Style:
Ranked #9 of 11 Specialty Lodging in Pulau Mabul
Number of rooms: 29
Also Known As:
Uncle Chang`s Sipadan Mabul Dive Hotel Pulau Mabul

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