Chartering a yacht in Thailand

Thailand – The Land of Smiles – is resplendent with tropical islands, crystal clear water, friendly locals and ideal sailing conditions. Wooden houses on stilts, sleepy little fishing villages dotted along the shore and the colorful fauna and flora cannot fail to delight anyone who takes the time to visits this wonderful area.

Although the large Phang-Nga Bay is connected to the south by sea, it offers all round protection which means it can be sailed throughout the year. Every year, from late November to early December, Pukhet hosts The Kings’s Cup Race, which is open to all.

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Charter a yacht in Thailand

For anyone who has previously sailed around Thailand, there are some delightful new sailing areas, including Ko Chang, the Elephant Island (off the Cambodian coast), the Ang Thong National Park in Thailand’s Bay, as well as the palm tree fringed island of Koh Samui.

You also have the option of extending your expedition with a one-way trip from Phuket to Langkawi in Malaysia.

Sailing in the Gulf of Thailand

The sailing conditions in the Gulf of Thailand are pretty much perfect and cover two excellent areas:

The archipelago to Ko Samui – or Coconut Island – is made up of more than 80 small islands. Ko Samui is located approximately 550 km south of the Thai capital, Bangkok, and is actually closer to Malaysia. For that reason the two sailing areas – with their expansive, white sandy beaches, palm groves, waterfalls and turquoise water – look and feel very similar.

The Ang Thong archipelago stretches for about 20 nautical miles from north to south. Along with 40 other islands, it has been declared a maritime national park.

Roughly 35 nautical miles northwest of Ko Samui, you’ll find Koh Tao or Turtle Island, home to some of the best and cleanest dive sites in the whole of the Gulf of Thailand.

Also highly recommended is Elephant Island or Koh Chang, just off the east coast near the border to Cambodia.  Around Ko Chang and its neighbouring islands, you’ll find a truly jaw dropping underwater world, with excellently preserved coral reefs that are perfect for snorkelling and diving.  But perhaps even more spectacular than the water is the view, which is utterly breathtaking. Miles of sandy beaches, jaw-dropping sunsets, cascading waterfalls and the best tropical rainforest in the whole of Southeast Asia.

The fauna in the National Park is very diverse, with well over 40 reptiles and amphibians, and 60 species of birds. There are also several types of pythons and other snakes such as king cobras, monitor lizards, monkeys, anteaters, armadillos, wild boar, bats and lizards. Not forgetting of course the Ko Chang frog – Rana Kochang – which only lives on this island. In short, this is an exotic yacht chartering area that promises a genuine voyage of discovery.

Area characteristics ;

Wind & Weather: In the Gulf of Thailand there are both wet and dry periods.

Ko Samui: (reverse to the Andaman Sea’s  northeast or southwest monsoon). Southwest monsoon is the dry season and lasts from April to October, with 2 to 6 Bft winds from west-southwest. The weather is dry with occasional tropical rain. This is the perfect sailing time, with the best months being from May to September.

In April and in October, the weather conditions are changeable. Northeast monsoon is the wet season and lasts from November to March, with wind from the northeast. Sailing is practically impossible during the northeastern monsoon in this area. For this reason, we don’t charter yachts during these months.

 

Ko Chang: Northeast monsoon season, October to April, is the dry season with plenty of sunshine, calm seas, winds between 2-6 Bft and occasional rain showers. This is the best time for sailing. Southwest monsoon is the wet period, same as the Andaman Sea. The rain comes from the direction of the Indian Ocean and usually starts in the late afternoon.

The direction and speed of emerging winds mean anchorages on the west coast are unprotected, insecure and uncomfortable. August is the wettest and December, with no precipitation, is the driest month. The hottest month of the year is April, which can reach an average of 34°. The coolest months are December and January, with an average temperature of 22°.

Difficulty: easy to medium, however you should have sailing experience in tidal waters. Reading tide table is essential.

Navigation: Eyeball navigation. The difference between high and low tide is 1 – 2 m. The tide takes place every 12 hours; the flood time differs every day by about 1 hour. The biggest sailing event in the Gulf of Thailand is the Koh Samui International Regatta, which takes place in late May each year.

Ports and anchorages: Both areas have numerous anchorages, which are safer than mooring buoys which tend not to be maintained and are therefore unsafe. The only marina in the area is the Ko Chang Trat Marina and there are no ports. There are plenty of colorful markets on offer to find mouthwatering, local ingredients. Good and reasonably priced restaurants can be found everywhere.

Regulations and authorities: There’s a cruising tax of 400 Baht per person per day for sailing in Thailand’s National Parks and there’s a departure tax for domestic flights (paid locally). For international flights it’s already included in the fare.

Getting there:

Various international schedules airlines offer daily flights to either Bangkok or Singapore, with internal connections into Phuket or Koh Samui.

Recommendation: A visit to Bangkok before or after the trip – including the Golden Buddha – is not to be missed. 

Andaman Sea / Thailand

Beautiful beaches, tropical islands and great sailing conditions, the Andaman Sea includes the island of Phuket, Phang-Nga Bay, the Krabi coast and the archipelagos of Koh Phi Phi, Similan, Butang and Tarutao.

The Phang-Nga Bay off Phuket offers a sailing experience unlike any other. This Maritime National Park is connected to the south by the sea, but is as well protected as an inland sea and the archipelago can be sailed throughout the year.

As well as quaint little fishing villages, lush vegetation and white beaches, you must make sure you explore the limestone islands of Ko Phanak and Ko Hong.

If you anchor off Koh Yang, a visit to the typical sea gypsy villages is not far. It’s also worth visiting the James Bond Island, which has become world famous as a film location. Sail along the east coast of Phuket and you’ll discover dazzling white, sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. You’ll also find a lot of smaller islands with good anchorages and diverse wildlife.

Just 34 nautical miles from the west coast of Thailand are the Similan and Surin Islands, which both offer world-class diving. The waters are abundant in fish and the coral is breathtaking. You can sail in this Marine Park from November to April (northeast monsoon) for a fee. During the southwest monsoon, on the west coast of Thailand, you can get very strong winds, due to the lack of sheltered coves we don’t recommend sailing at this time.

Area characteristics :

Wind & Weather: The Andaman Sea is a monsoon area with year-round temperatures above 18°C. There are three seasons, which are determined by the amount of precipitation.

From November to February, the predominant north to northeast winds are dry with cool air  (northeast monsoon).

In the pre-monsoon period from March to May, the highest temperatures are around 30°C.

From June to September is the rainy season and the monsoon comes from the southwest. During the south-west monsoon sailing is possible, but be prepared for showers (1-2 hours per day) and some fairy muggy weather.

Best Sailing time: October to April (2-5 Bft wind)

Difficulty: Easy, but we recommend you have sailing experience in tidal waters.

Navigation: In good conditions, you can use eyeball navigation. Best to avoid anchoring during thunderstorms as visibility is poor. In some anchorages due to the waters not being very clear you only see reefs late. The tidal range is approximately 2 meters. The current runs with 1-2 knots northwards, and ebbs equally strong southward.

Ports and anchorages: Boat Lagoon in Sapam Bay and the Yacht Haven Marina in the north of Phuket Island are on a par with European standards in terms of service and atmosphere.  However, we feel it’s safer to anchor as, although there are mooring buoys, they’re not regularly maintained. There are plenty of lively markets for fresh ingredients and good, affordable restaurants are plentiful.

Regulations and authorities: Cruising tax in the Phang Nga National Park is  400 BHT per person per night. In Similan National Park it is 400 BHT per person per night plus 400 BHT per boat (Similan National Park is only open from December to April).  For a one-way trips between Thailand and Langkawi, you also pay further fees when clearing out (the amounts depend on the day of the week from) which are paid on the spot.

Caution: The possession of illegal drugs is punishable by death in Thailand.

Getting there: There are direct flights from most major European airports with Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines to Bangkok.  You can also fly with Emirates Airlines via Dubai or with Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi, or with Qatar Airways via Qatar. From Bangkok to Phuket, use Bangkok Airways.

Limitations: You can’t visit the Similan Islands during the southwest monsoon. Make sure you leave time, either on the outbound or return journey, for a trip to Bangkok.