Thailand offers a rare combination of history and tropical beauty. The best time of year for yacht chartering in Thailand is from November to August.
There is more visible historical evidence of past eras in Thailand than in any other south-east Asian country; ruins, temples and deserted cities, idyllic islands and palm-fringed beaches are Thailand’s stock in trade. The most popular islands are Phuket, Ko Samui (off south-eastern Thailand), and Phi Phi. Perhaps first among the boating attractions of the Andaman Sea, however, is Phang Nga Bay, famed for the stunning sea-mountains that rise vertically out of calm, turquoise waters. This staggeringly beautiful scenery continues around the coastline to Krabi where some of the most attractive beaches in the world can be found.
by Kim Kavin
Yacht charter in Thailand centers on the region around Phuket, which is the name of both an island and a city on the country’s Andaman Sea coastline. Phuket is a bustling and still-developing city with about 75,000 local residents and thousands of visitors who arrive each year to vacation at gated resorts and beach clubs. Since the mid-2000s, yacht charter has become popular here, too, with international yachts coming from cruising bases in the Mediterranean and Caribbean to set new standards for on-the-water holidays in this part of Southeast Asia.
A charter-yacht vacation in Thailand is a chance to experience cruising in a dramatically different locale. The waters in coves throughout the region can look nearly emerald green—that is, when they don’t appear to be aqua blue. Huge limestone cliffs rise overhead, creating a backdrop that seems hand-carved in its intricate beauty. And all around, local wooden fantail boats zip to and fro, carrying fresh fish, local vegetables, and day-tripping snorkelers through coastal boating scenes that simply can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
You can divide your days on a Thailand yacht charter between enjoying water sports in eye-popping locales and exploring the local culture. For instance, it’s not uncommon to see ladders reaching high up on the limestone cliffs to where birds nest. Locals live there in hand-built lofts, waiting for the birds to complete their nests, which they then gather and sell at high prices to Asian gourmet distributors as the base for a delicacy called bird’s nest soup. Sometimes, the “nest watchers” will climb out of their wooden perches to wave at passing yachts, just like the way a man on an Italian balcony might lean out and wave hello in Portofino.
Another cruising experience in Thailand is arriving at a small shopping village built on stilts, rising out of the water in what seems like the middle of nowhere. Charter guests can step off their yacht and walk up and down the aisles of a covered outdoor market, haggling for everything from silk scarves to wooden bowls.
The best weather for yacht charter in and around Phuket is typically from November through March—when, surprisingly, it’s still possible to find an unspoiled white-sand beach on one of the hundreds of small islands that stretch south from the city. Longer charters, those of 10 days to two weeks, can take guests far deeper into the region than day-trip boats will go, providing a feeling of remote seclusion while also offering the pleasures of five-star onboard amenities.
Nowadays, charter guests can find all kinds of options in Thailand, everything from small sailing yachts to superyachts topping 200 feet. As continued development provides dedicated marinas and more, Thailand shows all the promise of becoming one of the finest yacht-charter destinations on Earth.