Thailand Yacht Charter Planning Guide
Thailand Yacht Charter Planning and Destination Guide - including Phuket, Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand
The ancient kingdom of Thailand is a mystical land famed for stunning scenery, unique cuisine, colourful culture and the friendly nature of the locals. A yacht charter in Thailand will undoubtedly awaken all of your senses- from luscious jungles to tropical islands and ancient ruins, it isn't hard to see why over 12 million visitors arrive each year.
This stunningly beautiful country is located in the centre of South East Asia, offering a fantastic range of activities that such as sailing, snorkeling, diving and kayaking. Thailand provides amazing natural scenery and plenty of tropical islands and pristine beaches to explore.
As Thailand is new to many charterers, you will want an expert to help you plan your trip. We at Boatbookings pride ourselves on our knowledge of the region and will help you with your charter planning as well as finding you the perfect boat.
The main yacht chartering region of Thailand is Phuket due to it's vast amount of yachts and the splendor of the destination. However, the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand also have fantastic yachts available. Within each of these regions many stunning sailing locations can be visited and discovered from the comfort of your fabulous yacht. A Thailand charter offers so much variety, culture and adventure that you'll be constantly amazed!
With motor yachts, sailing yachts and catamarans all based in Thailand waiting to be let loose on the awe-inspiring turquoise waters for your personalised charter, you've got a fantastic choice of which vessel to take around the Thai islands. Motor yachts are ideal if you'd like to see as much as possible during your week in paradise. With that little bit of extra punch they can get you to destinations quicker, however if it's tranquility you're after then a catamaran might be for you.
The stability and peaceful nature of catamarans will not only provide you with an exquisitely comfortable charter but their ability to explore the shallowest of waters really sets them apart. Sailing yachts are a classic and stylish option in these waters, and are ideal for kicking back, relaxing and enjoying the view.
Sailing bareboat is all about exploration, taking control and creating your own adventure. Where better, then, for a bareboat expedition than Thailand - a nation famed for secret and hidden caves, coves and cliffs. With bustling towns to find a bite to eat and meet the locals, crystal clear water to glide across and stunning scenery to admire there are few places as breath-taking for bareboat chartering as Thailand. Add another level to your experience by trying out some snorkelling equipment in one of the secluded bays you've happened across.
Day Charters in Thailand are increasingly popular with so many locations available for your short but sweet mini-trip. Phang Nga Bay offers incredible limestone cliffs, including James Bond Island. Krabi's pristine white beaches and jagged cliffs are popular with local rock climbers while the Phi Phi Islands offer visitors some of the most breath-takingly blue waters in the area. On your luxurious motor yacht, you have the pick of the bunch while your crew help make your day a dream.
See below our favourite charter destinations in Thailand, from Krabi to Phang Nga Bay and the famous Phi Phi Islands.
Phuket | Phang Nga Bay | Krabi | Koh Lanta | Phi Phi Islands | Similan Islands | Surin Islands | Myanmar | Koh Samui | Koh Phangan | Koh Tao | Ang Thong National Park | Koh Chang | Koh Samet | Koh Kut
The island of Phuket, off Thailand’s west coast, is the country’s main tourist location. Phuket offers a wide variety of water sports plus fantastic beaches and world-class nightlife. It's also the hub for sailing in the Andaman Sea, providing the starting point for trips to Phang Nga Bay, Langkawi and Malaysia to the south as well as the Similan Islands, the Surin Islands and the Mergui Archipelago of Myanmar to the north. Chartering in Phuket offers you many amazing opportunities to explore the surrounding islands in luxury.
To the east of Phuket lie the 100 plus islands of Phang Nga Bay, with its incredible topography of rock formations and sheer-sided limestone cliffs climbing vertically out of calm turquoise waters. This area is a marine national park, so the scenery is unspoilt, the water is clear and the beaches are idyllic.
With the shelter provided by the island of Phuket, the sailing is safe all year round. Most of the islands are uninhabited and offer innumerable caves, creeks, hidden lagoons and mangrove swamps to explore in kayaks and dinghies.
The bay is also home to Ko Tapu, better known as James Bond Island, which shot to fame as part of the 1974 James Bond film, “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Hundreds of tourists every day come to stand in the same spot as Roger Moore and Christopher Lee.
Yachts can be anchored at nearby Koh Yang and a long tail boat can be taken to Sea Gypsy Island for lunch. This village is built over water entirely on rafts and stilts, with a huge rock monolith standing guard behind it.
Sailing southeast down the coast of the Thai mainland from Phang Nga Bay, you arrive at the town of Krabi. More relaxed than the tourist center of Phuket, Krabi retains the amazing sea mountain scenery and adds beaches and coral-fringed islands which offer superb snorkeling and diving sites.
Restaurants and shops are available at the two stunning beaches of Ao Nang and Hat Rai Le, if you fancy a spot of retail therapy.
Further south from Krabi lies the 70 island archipelago of Koh Lanta. Koh Lanta Yai is the main tourist spot, with many white sandy beaches to be found. This is closer to the “real” Thailand, with a more laid-back lifestyle compared to the nightlife of Phuket.
Nearby are several world-class snorkeling and diving sites. The coral reef at Koh Rok has its famous square kilometre of coloured coral, while less than 20 kilomitres away the twin underwater peaks of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang rate very highly among the world’s top dive sites.
One of the ‘must-visit’ destinations in the region, with its spectacular cliffs diving into the clear blue sea below, are the islands of Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. Maya Beach on Phi Phi Le starred in the film "The Beach" and the islands are considered the superstars of Thailand.
The snorkeling, swimming, and diving here can only be described as flawless and unrivalled. You can even climb to one of many limestone lookouts for an unforgettable view of the stunning beaches, palm trees and blue sparkling waters below.
About 50 miles northwest of Phuket lie the Similan Islands, offering a totally different landscape to Phang Nga Bay. The islands consist of huge granite boulders, which continue down to the seafloor to create a wonderful underwater world where the water clarity is breathtaking.
The coral and marine life here makes the diving the best in Thailand and is right up there with the best in the world – a true snorkeling and diving paradise!
Another 50 miles north from the Similan Islands are the Surin Islands, a group of five islands that make up the Mu Koh Surin National Park. These islands are uninhabited apart from a tribe of sea gypsies and the park rangers.
If you are looking to leave the tourist traps behind for excellent swimming, diving, snorkeling and game fishing then this is the place for you. Nearby, Richelieu Rock, a coral-covered pinnacle, has a reputation for attracting whale sharks.
Venturing yet further north, you can find one of the few remaining untouched paradises on Earth in Myanmar. This group of 800 islands is characterised by dense mountain rainforests rushing down to meet white sandy beaches. Hundreds of anchorages can be found in numerous natural bays, with superb diving and snorkeling to be enjoyed in total peace and tranquility.
Koh Samui was discovered by backpackers 30 years ago and is the largest island in a group of over 80, most of which are uninhabited. Filled with palm trees, unspoiled white beaches, coral reefs, clear waters and abundant marine life of course, but now with modern transport, communications, accommodation and entertainment facilities. Koh Samui is a great base from which to explore the Gulf of Thailand.
Heading north from Samui, you can see the island of Koh Phangan on the horizon. This island is more laid back than Samui, with less resorts and hotels to be found. If you do want to party, the world famous full moon party attracts thousands of people for an all night escapade every month. Like Samui, coconut trees fringe the white sandy beaches, with limestone hills, waterfalls and interesting rock formations aplenty.
45 km north of Koh Phangan you will find Koh Tao, or Turtle Island. This is the diver’s mecca, providing the best snorkeling and diving in the Gulf of Thailand. The island has more top-ranking dive sites than it has beaches!
There is still only one road on the island, so many of the best beaches and coves are best explored from your yacht. For such a remote island, however, it has restaurants offering culinary delights from over a dozen countries and a range of accommodation and nightlife options.
This is a group of 40 islands and hundreds of spectacular limestone monoliths springing out of the ocean, less than a day’s sailing from Koh Samui. Fantastic sailing is to be had exploring hidden bays, exotic beaches and uninhabited islands.
Established as a marine park in 1980, this area is totally untouched by any development, surrounding you with pure nature. A popular sight is the enclosed lagoon on Koh Mae Ko called Thale Nai (Inner Sea), which is surrounded by thick vegetation and overhanging cliffs.
A further day’s sailing southeast and you start to reach one of the up and coming areas for sailing in South East Asia, the Koh Chang National Park. This is an area just before the Cambodian border consisting of about 50 islands, the biggest being Koh Chang (Elephant Island) and Koh Kut.
Over 50% Koh Chang is covered with mountains, rainforests and beautiful waterfalls and is surrounded by sandy beaches and coral. Jungle treks are possible to explore hidden waterfalls and come face to face with the local wildlife – watch out for the monkeys! The area also has some interesting diving opportunities, with ship and airplane wrecks from the Second World War to be found nearby.
The Koh Samet National Park covers the mainland as well as Koh Samet and its surrounding smaller islands.
There are many coves and beaches to explore with good snorkeling possibilities and several bars and restaurants also to be found. The sunsets on Aow Phrao beach are spectacular, and there are several sheltered anchorages for overnight stays.
The final sailing frontier… Well, at least the final frontier before you get to the Cambodian border! This is the last group of islands in Thai waters and is truly pristine, both in the water and on land.
Over 70% is covered in tropical rainforest, and superb dinghy trips up mangrove-lined rivers are possible. The 3-levels of the Klong Chao waterfall, full of sparkling water, is another natural wondernot to be missed.
A video tour of a Thailand Yacht Charter Holiday
Bangkok is Thailand’s major international gateway, with Suvarnabhumi Airport just 25km east of the city. From there, it is a 2-hour drive to the sailing areas on the eastern seaboard of the Gulf of Thailand, Pattaya and Koh Samet and a further 2-3 hours to Koh Chang and Trat. Several flights a day operate from Bangkok to Koh Samui and domestic flights also operate between Bangkok and Pattaya (U-Tapao) and Trat airports.
Phuket International Airport is Thailand’s second busiest passenger airport. Direct flights from more than a dozen airlines from many destinations in Europe and around Asia give holidaymakers a direct flight to within 30 miles of their yacht marina!
Thailand has a predominantly tropical climate with high humidity and temperatures all year round in the southern tourist and sailing areas. April and May are the hottest months with temperatures of 35-40°C not being unusual. The sailing regions in the south of Thailand have two seasons, guided by the southwest and northeast monsoon winds.
On the west coast around Phuket and the Andaman Sea, the southwest monsoon is the key activity. It usually runs from about May/June through to October, bringing rain and rough seas in the unsheltered areas west and south of Phuket. Trips to places like the Similan Islands, the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are not really feasible during this period.
However, to the sheltered east of Phuket, the stunning scenery of Phang Nga Bay is accessible virtually all year round. Mid-May and mid-September are when the monsoon winds change direction, so you can get some more continuous rainfall for 2-3 weeks at these times. June to August often brings short sharp rain showers, but with plenty of nice weather in between.The east coast of Phuket is where all the marinas are located, allowing continuous sailing access to Phang Nga Bay.
The northeast monsoon season is usually November through February/March, bringing welcome cooler breezes from the north and a drop in humidity levels. However, this is all relative – it is only 'cooler' and 'less humid' compared to other times of the year in Thailand!
Neither Thai coastline is in a dangerous weather zone – the seasonal monsoons are not violent and there are no typhoons. Temperatures usually vary between 25-32°C, with the water temperature rarely budging from around 28°C.
Thai cuisine is loved worldwide and is famous for its unique combination of spicy, sour, sweet and bitter elements into fantastic currys, noodle dishes, soups and salads. This is enhanced in the charter regions with fresh seafood such as prawns and fish out of the sea for only a few hours.
Favorite Thai dishes are the beef salad, pad thai (thai noodles done in a wok), spicy chicken soup, green curry chicken, panang beef, all kinds of spicy grilled fish and prawns and a variety of desserts. Just be careful of the little green peppers - they pack a punch!
Any trip to Thailand is a culinary extravaganza as well as a charter holiday!
Thailand is one of the world's fastest growing charter destinations, for all the reasons above. Boatbookings knows the region and boats and can find you the ideal charter yacht, be it bareboat, crewed, sailing, motor or catamaran.