From the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea, there’s really no better place to experience life on a yacht than the Land of Smiles. Thailand’s become quite a destination for putting up the sails, and with good reason: beautiful expanses of calm water, postcard-perfect islands and impeccable ground service on marinas are just a few of the draws of docking here.
Also thanks to prestigious boat shows in Pattaya and Phuket, yacht enthusiasts from around the world are heading to Thailand for sailing adventures. Whether it’s for racing, a weekend getaway or even the most luxurious stopovers, there’s a little something for everyone. That’s why we decided to round up the best destinations in Thailand for getting out on a yacht.
1. Koh Samui
Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s top tourist destinations, popular for its white sand beaches and luxury five-star resorts. Naturally, yachting fits right into that equation, with plenty of luxury boats up for charter. Don’t miss sailing through the archipelago of Ang Thong National Marine Park, and its distinctive shores from Sleeping Cow Island to Three Pillars Island.
Phuket’s is a big star on the global yachting map, thanks to the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta. It’s Asia’s biggest and most popular regatta, a jam-packed week of yacht racing on the Andaman Sea coupled with mega-parties on the island. Plus, the Regatta attracts several world-renowned names from the yachting world. Phuket also plays host to a prestigious consumer’s Phuket International Boat Show, where big deals for most high-end yachts are brokered right on the marina.
It’s easy to fall in love with yachting in Pattaya, the home of the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show. The event offers up a first glimpse into the luxurious yachting lifestyle with free cruises and demonstrations of all the latest and greatest industry technology. It often spurs people to go out and rent a motor yacht of their own. The Royal Varuna Yacht Club, Thailand’s premiere sailing club and the prestigious organizer of the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta, is also located nearby, between Pattaya and Jomtien.
In Krabi, yachting is quickly becoming one of the latest attention-grabbing attractions for tourists who want to see southern Thailand from a whole new perspective. At Krabi Boat Lagoon, the island’s premier marina complex, it’s easy to rent a boat or hop on-board one as a passenger. Krabi leads into another gorgeous yachting destination, Phang Nga Bay, where it’s also easy to charter a fabulous, luxury ride to other must-see islands like Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Koh Kai.
5. Koh Phi Phi
With lots of small islands to discover, each one as breathtakingly unique as the next, Koh Phi Phi is the perfect location for a yacht cruise. The two biggest islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh have spectacular cliffs and dives for those who are interested in a snorkel and a swim, but there are lots of other uninhabited islands to explore in between.
6. Surin and Similan
The Similan and Surin Islands are among the world’s top dive destinations, and that’s what makes it prime territory for sailing too. This group of nine islands northwest of Phuket boasts beautiful coral reef and a superfluous amount of fish species below the water. An absolute must for those who think that dropping anchor and diving into this underwater world is the ultimate adventure.
7. Koh Chang
Koh Chang offers up perfect yachting experience for those who want to go off the beaten track and get away from the tourist crowd. Unlike in Koh Samui or Phuket, you’re likely to cruise for quite some time without seeing any other bareboats. There are also plenty of coves and remote beaches in the Koh Chang archipelago to discover.
Hua Hin is a well-known laidback beach town. Plenty of families come here seeking good seafood and a memorable sailing adventure. It’s not as much of a yachting destination as nearby Pattaya, but does offer a wide range of boats to sail the Gulf of Thailand, whether your style is bareboat or crewed.
9. Phang Nga Bay
Nestled between Phuket and the western coast of mainland Thailand, this bay contains perhaps the most beautiful and famous group of islands in the Land of Smiles. Phang Nga Bay is a wonderful sailing destination and a World Heritage Site, with many unique characteristics to discover from a 200-metre long cave tunnel from Koh Phanak to Khao Phing Kan, to the island where the James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun” was filmed years ago. Unfortunately, these days James Bond Island, as it’s now called, is over-crowded with tourists, but that’s what makes charting a boat the perfect way to explore the bay – you feel as though you’re escaping the crowd, and embarking on unchartered waters.
10. Koh Lipe
The Butang Archipelago, the group of 51 islands that Koh Lipe belongs to, is simply divine. Taking off from Koh Lipe, you will very quickly get the full experience of being away from civilization, sailing past uninhabited islands covered in lush tropical rainforest and foliage. It’s also a great spot for fishing, and all kinds of kingfish, red snapper and tuna are fair game in these crystal blue waters.