Yacht Charter Thailand
A Thailand yacht charter is a great way to experience Southeast Asia at its best. From the bustling tourist resorts of Phuket to the almost undiscovered yacht charter grounds of the eastern Gulf of Thailand, a sailing holiday in Thailand is going to be an unforgettable experience.
What do you want from a longhaul sailing holiday? To see the deserted islands made famous by Hollywood in the Andaman Sea such as the east coast of Phuket, Maya Bay or James Bond Island on a Phuket yacht charter? To visit the popular but still under-developed islands near Koh Samui or go where few other charter yachts go from Koh Chang?
Thailand has a rich culture and history which is why so many young backpackers go there to 'find themselves'. The topography of its coastline and islands are just out of this world, and in many cases you will find the sailing is just perfect almost year round. Dig deeper and you will be introduced to food that will blow your mind (just be careful of the chillies) and an ancient culture of a kingdom that can trace its roots back thousands of years.
Let's just focus on a Thailand yacht charter in all its forms. The Thai government has recently changed its law to permit foreign flagged superyacht charter possible in an attempt to draw in the luxury yacht industry. At the other end of the scale, there are growing numbers of charter companies offering bareboat charter and crewed yacht charter in the three main sailing areas we'll focus on - Phuket and the Andaman Sea, north-eastern Gulf of Thailand (Pattaya and Koh Chang) and southwestern Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui).
Have a look around Borrow A Boat today to begin your Thailand yacht charter experience in whatever form it will take, be it an escape to a different world or just to see in real life what you've seen in the movies!
Hiring A Yacht In Thailand
If you are on a crewed yacht charter in Thailand you will just have to concern yourself about getting to the boat and then once aboard, focus on forgetting life ashore and having fun.
For those on a flotilla charter or bareboat charter you will find that for the most part, navigation is simple and the climate fair. You will need proof of your sailing qualifications and then pay the remainder of your charter fee on the dock after inspecting the boat and off you go!
Getting to Thailand
For the three yacht charter areas we look at here there are two airports:
Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok) - Pattaya and Koh Samui
Being the Thai capital's international airport it has flights coming in from all over the world and a large number of airlines offering flights in.
You can take a bus to Pattaya and Koh Chang from Bangkok. This takes two hours and costs around $4. A Koh Samui yacht charter will likely start from Pattaya or nearby Koh Chang.
Phuket International Airport for Phuket and Andaman Sea
This is one of the busiest tourist airports in the region. Many international airlines fly from a number of European and US cities. From there you will take a bus to the charter base.
Best Areas To Charter in Thailand
The four main areas for a boat rental in Thailand are Phuket and surrounding islands, Northeastern Gulf of Thailand (Pattaya and Koh Chang) and southwestern Gulf of Thailand (Koh Samui and surrounding islands).
Phuket and Andaman Sea
In terms of sailing destinations, a Phuket yacht charter is on an area almost as well developed as Greece in terms of island hopping and beach resorts. Let's touch on some destinations you may wish to visit on your sailing holiday.
- Phuket is Thailand's largest island with its own international airport. You will find many a white sand beach and fairly quiet coves. The yacht charter bases are on the east coast of the island where you will begin your Phuket yacht charter.
- Phang Nga Bay is the bay between Phuket and the Malay Peninsula. This is renowned for its limestone spires and jawdropping scenery, and much protected as a national park. The James Bond movie The Man With the Golden Gun was filmed here, as was Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. You can even sail to 'James Bond Island'!
- Krabi is the mainland province to the east of Phuket and includes the major tourist destination of Ao Nang. Do try to get to Rai Leh Beach - a more refined tourist resort well away from the mad crowds of Ao Nang.
- The Phi Phi Islands have two sides to them - Phi Phi Island's Phi Phi Don's no limits nightlife on its sandy beachesand nearby Ko Phi Phi Lee where you will find the exquisitely beautiful Monkey Bay where monkeys come out of the forest to feed on crab and Maya Bay made famous in the Hollywood movie The Beach. This is all a protected national park.
- The Similan Islands and Surin Island, northwest of Phuket on the Andaman Sea are a forgotten paradise that you will visit to enjoy nature at its best. Many reckon the scuba diving is some of the best in the world. This is a national park well worth the trouble of visiting on a luxury charter!
- For a longer trip with a little more culture, consider a skippered yacht charter to Langkawi, Malaysia's northernmost island on the Malacca Strait and south of Phuket. If you're in the region you may as well explore!
Koh Samui and Gulf of Thailand
Famed among backpackers the world over, Koh Samui is the one of the largest islands on the Gulf of Thailand. Compared to Phuket it is quiet, relaxed and has a laid back atmosphere that you might crave instead of full on tourist destinations. The islands are harder to get to than the ones on the Andaman Sea (you'll sail from Koh Chang or Pattaya) and for that you can go on a yacht charter where you may see other westerners but in not such a frenetic environment.
Like the Andaman Sea you will find nature reserves and stunning, untouched environments with coral reefs and excellent snorkelling/scuba diving opportunities, only without the swarms of tourists that you will find across the Malay Peninsula.
Northeastern Gulf of Thailand - Koh Chang
Fancy being a curiosity on your charter yacht? Where you're the unusual sight and someone to be welcomed? 200km SE of Bangkok is an area of Thailand where yacht charter companies are just starting to recognise as an important new territory.
The Ko Chang archipelago is one of those places in the world where you be welcomed as a curiosity and will soon see Thailand as it is - not as a caricature of what it wants you to see. Do bring cash as there are no ATMs on many islands and credit cards are a thing of the future. That said, if you want to go somewhere without 10 million photos already on social media, this could well be your destination of choice.
Best Towns To Charter A Yacht In Thailand
A nation of islands, it seems there are a million boat rental opportunities in Thailand! Focusing on our three main sailing areas, let's look at Phuket, Pattaya and Koh Chang.
For all Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca yacht charters. The four main marinas are on the east coast - Ao Po Grand Marina, Yacht Haven Marina Phuket, Royal Phuket Marina and Phuket Boat Lagoon.
Pattaya and Ko Chang
Pattaya and Koh Chang are a couple of hours from Bangkok by bus. Pattaya's Ocean Yacht Club has around 300 berths and can accommodate luxury yachts. There is just one marina on Koh Chang - Siam Royal View - but charter companies have their own piers on the north coast of the island.
Types Of Yachts To Hire
Where it comes to chartering you can hire a motor yacht, a monohull sailing yacht or a catamaran. Each have their benefits.
From US $100 or so a day up to whatever you can afford, monohull sailing yachts are fun to sailat all points of the wind, whether nose into a building sea breeze or blasting under all canvas downwind. A luxury yacht charter at an affordable price!
Far more luxurious than a sailboat these often have en suite toilets and showers in the staterooms as well as ample entertaining space in the saloon and on deck. They have twin engines to compensate for their lack of windward ability but are great sailing with wind abaft the beam. Crewed catamaran charter yacht holidays are a big thing in Thailand, allowing you to relax while someone sails it for you.
Luxury Yachts and Superyachts
Want your own personal superyacht charter for you and your group to leave the world behind? A luxury yacht in Thailand with crew to look after you from breakfast to bedtime could be just the ticket. Often carrying scuba diving equipment and in some cases even a diving guide, you can get the very best from a sailing vacation in the in Thailand.
Whether a motor yacht with cabins or a day boat for a fishing trip / blasting up the bay, these are comfortable seagoing boats with a kick of speed should you want to cover a bigger distance on the day or just for the fun of having a 10 metre wide wake and 10 tons of steel flying along at 30 knots!
Very much day boats for fishing and day cruising, RIB boat charter can be a lot of fun for a day afloat. They can be very quick and are great should you be in a town on holiday and fancy seeing the coast or finding secluded white sand beaches from another perspective.
Skippered Yacht Charter or Bareboat?
Where it comes to a yacht charter in Thailand you have two choices - bareboat hire or skippered yacht charter. Both have their own advantages.
Skippered charter in Thailand
Fancy going on a sailing trip yet have no sailing qualifications or lack the confidence to go it alone? A skippered yacht charter gives you the advantage of being able to get afloat without having had to invest in getting sailing qualifications beforehand. You will pay over $100 a day extra for the skipper, as well as their food and a tip at the end but they will show you the best that the area has to offer with their local knowledge.
You will also be able to explore further afield than the traditional cruising grounds of bareboat sailing vacations. Two destinations are possible on a crewed catamaran charter that aren't necessarily in reach of a bareboat charter - the Similan Islands and Surin Island north of Phuket, and Koh Samui out of Koh Chang.
Bareboat charter in Thailand
For those who seek a bit of adventure off their own back without the expense of a paid skipper aboard, a bareboat charter could be just the ticket. Thailand's waters are well surveyed and the charts accurate. Sailing is line of sight, so as long as you remain within the cruising limits set by the charter company (no overnight sailing etc) you will be able to sail comfortably with an RYA Day Skipper qualification or equivalent.
Do you need a licence to charter in Thailand?
If you want to bareboat charter you will need an approved boating qualification. Below is a list of relevant qualifications:
ASA 104 Bareboat certificate: The American Sailing Association skipper minimum qualification for hiring bareboat yachts in the Seychelles. BoatUS and US Sailing also offer bareboat charter qualifications, as does CANsail.
RYA: The Royal Yachting Association's qualifications (minimum Day Skipper level) is necessary for bareboat charter hire, it's also worthwhile seeing do you need to have done a VHF radio course, as well as some boat owners, will require this.
There are also many other European national boating qualifications that are accepted here too, it's worthwhile checking these details before hiring.
If you want a skippered boat rental as a charter yacht then you don't need any sailing certification at all, you just turn up and off you go.
Best Times To Hire
Unlike Europe, the sailing season in the Thailand runs from November to April - perfect for a dose of winter sun. The winter monsoon is settled and you will encounter weather between 25-35 degrees C.
Within this period, between November to March you will find the winds are from the NE and rarely get over Force 4.
If you can get to Thailand outside of school holidays you will find the sailing weather at its best and the resorts less crowded. Could you consider doing a Thailand yacht charter early in the Southwest Monsoon? Though the Similan Islands are out of reach (as is anything west of Phuket) it is quieter in May-July, though this is the beginning of the rainy season that intensifies in July and runs right through til October.
North East Monsoon: Thanks to being on the Equator the winds in Thailand never get too strong in the sailing season. Expects winds of F2-4 from the NE and it to be generally dry.
Southwest Monsoon: This runs from May to October and is the rainy season in this part of the world. Between May and July, expect winds up to F6 and changeable, and rain anything from every afternoon (or none at all) to solidly for your two weeks. Between July and October this is storm season with cyclones hitting the country and rain being almost guaranteed.
How much does it cost for a Thailand Yacht Charter
There's almost a yacht for every budget when it comes to chartering. For US $120 a day - $840 a week - you can take a sailboat monohull out with five other adults. That is going to be cheaper than a week in a hotel for everyone.
Catamarans cost a lot more - expect to pay anything from $500 to $2,000 a day depending on the season.
Motor yachts taken on a bareboat basis can cost as little as $500 a day if they have sleeping acommodation - much less if they are day boats.
RIBs can cost as little as $50 for an afternoon.
In each of the examples above you can take on a skipper starting at $150 a day depending on what the vessel is and their required qualifications to sail it.
Superyachts and luxury yachts are a different league - expect to pay $15,000 a day and up to $100,000 a day if your budget can manage it.
Explore Thailand By Renting A Yacht
Whether the relatively unexplored Gulf of Thailand or the tourist meccas of the Andaman Sea, a Thailand yacht charter is going to be one of those you remember for years to come. Hidden sandy beaches, wildernesses with all sorts of creatures great and small, Thai food and culture all combine to make a sailing holiday here one of a lifetime.