If you’re looking for your dream yacht charter vacation, then look no further than the “Land of the Smiles''. Here you will find a seascape studded with lush emerald islands surrounded by sheer limestone rocks that rise majestically out of the sea and secret caves that open out onto sugary sand beaches kissed by clear jade waters. Not to mention a kaleidoscopic underwater world of tropical marine fauna intermingling against a backdrop of soft corals and rocky atolls. It's no wonder Thailand has become one of the most popular yacht charter destinations in the world.
Boasting an exotic coastline of over 3,200km, medley of lush rainforested islands and a cultural heritage that stretches back to the bronze ages, Thailand is not a destination to be missed. Over the last few years, Thailand has been gearing up to become a serious superyachting hub, attracting people from across the globe looking for a unique yacht charter adventure where they can experience all that Thailand has to offer, including some of the finest cruising grounds to rival anywhere in the world.
thailand yacht booking guide:
- Thailand Yacht Charters: At a Glance
- Popular Destinations for Yacht Rentals in Thailand
- Highlights of a Thailand Yacht Charter
- Don't Miss:
- Who Goes on a Thailand Yacht Charter?
- History and Culture
- Types of Yacht Charters in Thailand
- How Much Does it Cost to Charter a Yacht in Thailand
- VAT for Yacht Charters in Thailand
- When is the Best Time for Thailand Yacht Charters?
- Where Should I Begin My Yacht Charter in Thailand?
- Popular Marinas and Anchorages in Thailand
- Local Insight
- Most Popular Superyacht Hotspots in Thailand
- Neighbouring Regions
- How to Book Your Yacht Charter in Thailand
Thailand can be divided into two distinct yacht charter regions: the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, where there are countless tropical forest-clad islands with pristine beaches, as well as a good number of vibrant towns and cities to explore. The region is also conveniently close to Burma, Malaysia and the Indonesian archipelago, as well as being home to several National Parks and some of the best dive sites in the world.
- Year-round cruising conditions
Lying just 8º north of the equator, Thailand enjoys year-round tropical climate conditions, with its monsoon winds offering up champagne sailing throughout the year.
- Amazing cuisine
Thailand is famous for its culinary dishes, from flavorsome soups to spicy curries and luscious rice dishes, there is plenty to tease your tastebuds wherever you choose to visit.
- Stunning beaches
You are never far from paradise in Thailand, where picture-perfect coral-sand beaches and crystalline waters adorn its myriad islands and vast coastline.
- Spas and massages
Thailand has become synonymous with massages, from no-frills affairs on the beach to luxurious treatments at 5-star resorts, you will always be able to find a heavenly pampering session wherever you go.
- Short distances
Thailand is an eminently easy destination to cruise, where the average distance between the islands is 22nm (approximately 20 minutes).
- Ancient culture
Thailand has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, from ancient prehistoric monuments to exquisite Buddhist temples, there is plenty to see and experience in this fascinating kingdom.
- World-class dive sites
Thailand has an abundance of tropical marine life from colorful reef fish to megafauna such as dolphins and whale sharks – offering some of the most spectacular diving experiences to rival the best in the world.
Whether you are looking for the ultimate party scene or prefer a more relaxed and tranquil island vibe, Thailand has a whole host of magical locations for you to explore and experience on your yacht charter. To make it a little bit easier, we have compiled a list of some of the best places to visit:
Andaman Sea (Phuket, Phang Nga, Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, Tarutao National Park)
Best for: festivities, yacht regattas, luxury resorts, secluded white-sand beaches, rocky monoliths, volcanic seascapes, hidden turquoise pools, world-class diving, whale shark spotting,
Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Ang Thong Marine National Park, Pattaya, Koh Chang, Bangkok)
Best for: full-moon parties, five-star resorts, waterfalls, diverse wildlife, tropical rainforests, hiking, fantastic diving, secluded coves
North Thailand (Similan Islands, Surin Islands)
Best for: scuba diving, fishing, nomadic inhabitants, tropical jungle, crystal waters, ranger-protected areas for tortoises
A Thailand yacht charter vacation offers a mesmerizing selection of things to see and do. Here is our small selection of some of the most outstanding:
- Wat Tham Suea (Tiger Cave Temple): located north of Krabi. This Buddhist temple is a sacred site, accessed by a steep flight of stairs to reach its summit where the views alone are worth it.
- Maya Bay, Phi Phi Le: made famous by the Leonardo di Caprio movie The Beach, where powdered sugar-white sands fringe a utopian turquoise lagoon.
- The Big Buddha, Phuket: located on the west coast, this vast white-marbled statue is perched upon the hills looking out over Ao Chalong Bay, and can also be viewed from the water.
- Ko Poda: a tiny Andaman island encircled by coral white sand and emerald green waters, great for anchoring in its shallow waters and swimming or snorkeling straight off the yacht.
- Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, Pattaya: head inland to experience the 500-acre botanical garden, which is also a major scientific center dedicated to cycads, tropical palm-like native plants.
- Tarutao National Marine Park: consisting of a group of Arcadian-esque islands in the Straits of Malacca, to the south of Thailand’s Andaman Sea, which also hosted the American reality TV series, Survivor.
Thailand’s vast scattering of islands means that there is something to suit everyone; from modern bustling cities to deserted paradise retreats. The region is also ideal for diving enthusiasts, notably the islands of Koh Samui, Surin and Similan, which are widely considered to yield some of the best dive sites in the world.
Phuket on the Andaman Sea is a major superyacht hub, drawing visitors to its golden shores, and is also ideally situated close to Myanmar, Malaysia and the Indonesian archipelago which opens up another world of charter itinerary options.
Thailand has a rich past with evidence of rice cultivation and bronze casting dating back over 5,000 years. Modern Thai’s have their ancestral roots in Southern China, whose people mitigated over between the 10th and 13th centuries.
A succession of tribal groups, notably the Khmers, established powerful kingdoms, with the kingdom of Ayutthaya becoming the dominant tribe from the 14th century. After a series of conflicts over the centuries with the Burmese and their subsequent expulsion by national heroes Taksin and Chakri in the 18th century, the Chakri Dynasty was established, with Bangkok as the main capital. Chakri became Rama I, the first king of the Chakri Dynasty, which has held power to this day.
As well as its beautiful islands and swathes of beaches, Thailand is widely known for its exquisite silk products and popular dishes such as Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong, with seafood, tofu, lemongrass and coconut milk being the main ingredients.
Thailand’s religious, political and cultural ideas have also been influenced through its proximity with South Asia which have been instrumental in the development of Thailand’s culture and national identity we see today, with Buddhism as the major religion.
With its ever-increasing popularity as a yacht charter destination, Thailand has plenty of yachts available for charter that should more than suit your needs. If you’re unsure about whether you want to book a motor yacht or a sailing yacht charter for your Thailand getaway, there are a few things you should consider first.
Motor yacht charters are a fantastic way to explore all that Thailand has to offer, and with the extra punch that you get from the high-powered engines, you can cover much greater distances in a shorter amount of time, allowing you to get the maximum out of your yacht charter.
From large superyachts to sleek smaller models, and everything in between, there is sure to be something to suit your needs.
If it’s a more tranquil and serene experience you’re after, then perhaps a sail yacht might be the best fit; allowing you to kick back, relax and enjoy the view. The northwest monsoon during the months of November through to March offer light to moderate north-easterly winds, fantastic for sailing around your chosen destinations. You should note though there may be greater wind inconsistencies either side of these months.
Catamarans are also a very popular choice in Thailand, offering greater stability, ample space and larger cabins, as well as being perfect for navigating the shallow waters and picturesque lagoons.
With a good array of options available, there’s something to suit every type of budget. For convenience we have listed the average prices for motor yacht and sailing yacht charters in Thailand below;
- For motor yacht rentals in Thailand, prices can range from $69,000 to $1.6m per week, plus expenses
- For luxury sailing yacht rentals in Thailand, prices average around $65,100 weekly, plus expenses
In a bid to boost its burgeoning status as a international superyacht hub, The Royal Thai Government has removed the Value Added Tax charge levied on all foreign-flagged yacht charters, welcoming yachts to cruise its waters throughout the season.
Thailand is a year-round cruising destination with temperatures ranging between 25-35 degrees. There are two distinct seasons in Thailand which run concurrent with its northeast and southwest monsoons.
The northeast monsoon is the most favourable for yacht charters as it is generally drier and the winds tend to be more predictable. This season runs from November through March, which coincides with the northern hemisphere winter.
The best conditions for sailing can be found in the Andaman Sea region, which experiences light to moderate winds, with drier conditions and cooler temperatures.
Most yacht charters begin in Phuket, Thailand's main superyacht hub located in the Andaman See – famous for its energetic club scene, high-end luxury resorts and beautiful beaches. It also boasts four yacht marinas and numerous pretty anchorages, including the stunning Nai Harn Bay situated on the southwest corner of Phuket.
There are plenty of reliable transport links to the island, including Phuket International Airport, Thailand's second busiest airport, which offers a number of international flights from a wide variety of countries, as well as several domestic flights from Bangkok.
From here, most yachts venture over to the breathtaking Phang Nga Bay, home to the towering finger-like rock monoliths that rise out of the sea, where you will find an abundance of top dive sites, beautiful lagoons and white sand beaches. From here head to the stunning Phi Phi Islands, then travel north towards the tranquil beauty of the Similan and Surin islands.
For yacht charters commencing in the Gulf of Thailand, you can meet your yacht near Bangkok, which offers plenty of transport links and direct international flights.
Head over to the hedonistic pleasure island of Koh Samui to kick off your yacht charter with a bang. Don't miss sailing through the beautiful Ang Thong National Marine Park, popular for its hidden bays and exotic beaches.
Pattaya is another popular stop in this region, where you can enjoy its lively shores and luxury five-star resorts. A day's sail away will bring you to the breathtaking Mu Koh Chang National Park covered with dense mountains rainforests, magical waterfalls and good hiking trails.
Thailand enjoys convenient proximity with a number of neighboring countries, providing alternative options of where to start or finish on your yacht charter itinerary. The beautiful island of Langkawi in neighboring Malaysia is a popular destination for yachts – and only a stone's throw from the Thai border, near Phuket. For more advice please speak to your yacht charter broker.
Thailand has some of the most high-tech marinas in South East Asia, boasting a multitude of fantastic amenities and facilities.
For yacht charters in the Andaman Sea on Thailand's east coast, you'll find plenty of options. Phuket, Thailand's main yachting hub, offers 4 marinas:
- Royal Phuket Marina - Centrally located, and home to the King's Cup Regatta. It has 100 berths for yachts up to 144ft (35m) in length.
- Yacht Haven – a quiet and sheltered marina located in the far northeast of the island. This marina has 320 berths and caters for yachts up to 100+ meters.
- Ao Po Grand Marina – a great launching post to the spectacular Phang Nga Bay. It offers 300 berths and can also accomdate large yachts up to 100+ meters.
- Phuket Boat Lagoon – located on the island's north-east coast, and boasts the monika 'Phuket's Most Lively Destination Marina'. It has 180 berths for yachts of up to 120ft (32m)
Marinas outside of Phuket include:
- Krabi Boat Lagoon – located on the mainland, only 15 minutes from Krabi International Airport, it has 80 berths that cater to yachts of up to 80ft (24m) in length.
- Royal Langkawi Yacht Club, Malaysia – with easy access to Thailand's waters on the Andaman Sea. This marina is perfectly equipped to handle superyachts, with 205 berths catering for yachts of up to 197ft (60m).
For yacht charters in the Gulf of Thailand:
- Ocean Marina Yacht Club, Pattaya – the largest marina in South East Asia, less than two hours drive from Bangkok, has 455 berths and can accomodate yachts of up to 213ft (65m) LOA.
- Racer Marina, Hua Hin – located on the west coast of the Gulf of Thailand, has 120 berths.
With thousands of miles of coastline and countless islands there are plenty of lovely yacht anchorage spots to be discovered in Thailand. Some of the best can be found around the myriad lush islands in the Andaman Sea.
For yacht charters commencing in Phuket, there are some gorgeous anchorages to be found, especially along the west coast, including Patong Beach, Karon and Kata. The busiest anchorage is at Ao Chalong, which incidentally is the only place you can register to cruise outside the borders of Thailand. Located on the south-west peninsula of Phuket you’ll find Nai Harn, one of the most beautiful havens on the island.
Other recommended anchorages in the Andaman Sea;
- Phi Phi Don, Ton Sai Bay: located on the south side of the two islands. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, the north side is quieter. You can anchor at Phi Phi Le however the water is deep, and the bays are usually quite busy with tour boats.
- Phang Nga National Park: some easy anchoring can be found in between the sheer rocks. Another splendid anchorage can be found off the east side of Koh Hong.
- Koh Planak: a popular anchorage spot for exploring the spectacular caves.
- Krabi: there are two good anchorages on the north and south sides of Koh Hong Krabi, plus a pretty anchorage at nearby Koh Pak Bia, off the west coast.
- Koh Lanta: the best anchorages can be found in the bay at Klong Dao Beach in the north and Kantiang Bay in the south.
- Koh Rok National Park: you can find good anchorages between the islands, equipped with mooring buoys, but take care as the waters are quite shallow.
Further afield, you will find some of the most sublime anchorages can be found in the Surin and Similan Islands to the north and Tarutao National Park, near the Malaysian border, to the south.
With more than 80 islands to explore in this region, there are plenty of magnificent anchorages to be found in the Gulf of Thailand:
- Koh Chang Archipelago: National Park with over 50 tranquil islands and plenty of spectacular anchorage spots.
- Ko Mak: an island located to the south of Koh Chang, where there are some lovely anchorages to be found, especially in the northwest.
- Ko Kut: Further south lies the breathtaking island of Ko Kut, where you can jump off and hike or kayak to the stunning Klong Yai Ki waterfall.
- Ko Samui: for an energetic buzz, head to this beautiful island and drop anchor in some of the lovely bays around here, although it does tend to get busy, especially around Christmas and New Year. The southern end of the island is quieter. Head across to Koh Pah Nyang and tie up to a mooring buoy right on the beach.
- Ang Thong National Marine Park: an absolute must for those cruising the Gulf of Thailand, with the most sheltered anchorages found off the bay at Koh Ang Thong.
- Credit cards are only accepted in the large resorts. The Thai Baht is the local tender used throughout the kingdom.
- Both the Surin and Similan Islands in the northern Andaman region are closed to visitors from May to October during the southwest monsoon season.
- Thailand experiences two high tides per day ranging from half a meter to just over three meters which you should be mindful of, especially in some of the marinas.
- Avoid daytrippers around popular hotspots by arriving either first thing in the morning or late afternoon when they all head back to their resorts.
- For sail yacht charters, you'll find optimum sailing conditions tend to be during the evening and in the morning, with winds dying off in the afternoons, especially during the northwest monsoon season.
Lying just 8 degrees north of the equator, with clear emerald waters, deserted beaches and world-class diving, the Andaman Sea is a popular year-round destination for yacht charters.
Most yacht charters begin on this vibrant island, which boasts four marinas, a plethora of luxury resorts and spectacular night-life with live music and international DJs, along with an array of beautiful secluded beaches and lagoons. It is no wonder this island has become the superyachting hub of the Andaman Sea.
Anchor off the exquisite Nai Harn Bay, located on the southwest peninsula, and watch the sun set into deep verdigris waters. The next day, head north to Karon beach, where you can grab a bite at Mom Tri's Boathouse, with its extensive wine list and delicious Thai and western dishes.
Asia's biggest and most popular one-week sailing event, the King's Cup Regatta, is also held annually here in Phuket, attracting the world's glitterati and yachting elites – definitely not an event to be missed!
You can't deny the unbelievable beauty of these islands, clustered around the Ao Phang Nga National Park. Their majestic elegance is unrivaled anywhere else in the world, where limestone cliffs climb vertically out of tranquil cerulean waters.
The National Marine Park boasts unspoiled powder-fine beaches, hidden lagoons and mangroves, perfect to explore by kayak. Take the long tail boat over to Gypsy Island, a floating village built on wooden stilts.
Head south towards Koh Hong, where you can discover secluded beaches only accessible by tender, before moving on to the Phi Phi Islands: one of the most famous locations in Thailand.
About a 20 minutes cruise from Phuket, you will find the islands of Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le, characterized by sheer cliffs, stunning beaches and sultry jungles. Phi Phi Le is also home to Maya Bay, the ravishing white-sand beach lagoon made famous by the homonymous Hollywood film. Both islands are interconnected by a sandy isthmus where you will find Ton Sai Bay, a lively hub for restaurants, shops and bars and the beating heart of this small archipelago. For something a bit quieter check out Monkey Bay, a beautiful sandy promontory, abundant with wildlife and tropical birds.
If you're looking for a little extra luxury on your travels, then pay a visit to the islands of Koh Yao Noi where you can treat yourself to a heavenly massage in one of the luxury resorts. Don't miss a trip to Koh Yao Yai, a tiny island, otherwise known as James Bond Island, where they shot scenes from Man with the Golden Gun.
Head to Krabi for amazing snorkeling and diving around beautiful coral reefs where you can discover over 200 species of fish, as well as a host of resorts and good rock climbing areas around the headland.
If it's more serious diving you are after, then cruise south to the remote tiny islands of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, respectively known as Red Rock and Purple Rock, so-called because of the vivid soft corals that cling to each vertical underwater outcrop. Here you will find shimmering shoals of trevally, redtooth triggers, reef sharks and big morays, as well as the majestic whale shark. Purple Rock is Thailand's highest underwater vertical wall, representing a slightly more challenging dive, especially for novices.
Another must-see destination are the Surin and Similan islands to the north, a beautiful group of islands that offer some of the most superlative diving in the world, thanks to their series of underwater volcanic seascapes, including Richelieu Rock. This coral-covered pinnacle, located 10km east of the Surin National Park, is undoubtedly one of the most incredible dive sites in Asia, where you will find an abundance of fascinating marine life, such as barracuda, frogfish, manta rays, octopus and whale sharks.
Bordered by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, the Gulf of Thailand on the kingdom's east flank has always been a popular destination for backpackers. However, with its surfeit of paradise islands, resplendant national parks and exquisite powder-fine beaches, not to mention fantastic diving, excellent cruising areas and international transport links, this region is fast becoming a popular region for yacht charters too.
Koh Samui is the largest and most popular island in this beautiful archipelago, characterized by dense mountainous jungle, coral reefs, coconut groves and picturesque white-sand beaches. It is also a great base from which to explore the Gulf and boasts a range of luxury five-star resorts and entertainment.
Head north to the beautiful palm-fringed Koh Phangan, Koh Samui's sister island famous for its full moon parties which attract thousands of tourists every month.
Explore the jaw-dropping Ang Thong National Marine Park, a group of 40 heavenly islands, offering fantastic sailing, exotic beaches and tucked away turquoise-blue lagoons.
Located on the east of the gulf, the Mu Joh Chang National Park is a breathtaking archipelago where you will find everything from hiking trails and waterfalls, to sandy beaches and exquisite aquamarine waters hosting an abundance of tropical marine life. Visit the largest island Koh Chang, also known as Elephant Island, which is covered in steep lush jungle rainforests, unearthly waterfalls and a host of native wildlife, especially monkeys! There are also some fantastic diving opportunities around WWII wrecks nearby.
To the north, you'll find Pattaya, a popular mainland destination and home to the Ocean Marina Pattaya, Thailand's largest marina. Here you can enjoy everything from boutique shopping, deluxe spa treatments, vibrant bars and clubs, along with plenty of tranquil sheltered bays perfect for anchoring.
To the far north in neighboring Myanmar you will find the breathtaking Mergui Archipelago, an untouched paradise characterized by pristine white beaches and dense jungle rainforests. There are 800 or so islands to explore, however the destination is so exclusive visitors will need to arrange a permit before they arrive.
This location is completely off the grid, with no WiFi reception to be found anywhere – your cue to switch off, lie back and soak up the tranquility and primitive beauty of this stunning region.
Also in the Andaman sea, you will find the lovely island of Langkawi, located in northwestern Malaysia, bordering Thailand in the south. This island is a popular destination for yacht charters and boasts several marinas, including Royal Langkawi Yacht Club. There are also a number of exclusive resorts on the island, as well as a raft of watersports, entertainment and excellent dining options.
Thailand is a popular yacht charter destination, especially during the winter season, therefore we recommend that you book your yacht charter well in advance of your trip to secure your perfect yacht. It is also useful to book early in order to secure a date when everyone in your charter party is available as the longer you leave it, the more challenging this will be.
Your yacht charter broker will also need plenty of time to tailor an itinerary to suit you, including securing any nights that you wish to spend in marinas. Advance booking will allow your broker the optimum time to organize everything down to the last detail to ensure your yacht charter goes smoothly.
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