Since the 1st of March 2022, Thailand has opened its borders to international tourism, allowing flight, border crossings and entry by water so that luxury yacht charters can once again resume. To be granted entry, fully vaccinated visitors must apply for a pass under the TEST & GO scheme or the sandbox programme. Visitors who are not fully vaccinated can still enter Thailand through the Alternative Quarantine entry scheme.
Under the TEST & GO system, visitors need only stay one night at pre-paid accommodation on land or aboard a luxury yacht, with an RT-PCR test and one self-ATK test required to show that the visitors are Covid-19 free. After a negative result has been confirmed, visitors are free to roam Thailand at their leisure.
Motor yachts and sailing yachts are considered the best way to travel along with coastal destinations and to archipelagos, negating the reliance on public transport with a seasoned Captain and crew who will look after all of the details while you relax in comfort. As such, they are a popular choice for couples, families and friends groups who want to experience the finer things in life while visiting untouched natural wonders along the shore.
Destinations around the Andaman Sea
The tourism hotspot of Phuket is an amazing destination for high-end shopping, cultural attractions and daytime and evening entertainment – the latter ranging from exclusive rooftop cocktail bars to the notorious Go Go bars that will certainly make for an interesting tale back home.
Phuket Old Town is a vibrant destination built during the tin mining boom around the late 19th Century. Shops, coffee houses, bars, Chinese shrines and Buddhist temples fill the streets for a destination that becomes even more enchanting after nightfall. Visit the Sino-colonial mansion of Baan Chinpracha for a look into how a Chinese tin baron and his family used to live, or for a more adrenaline-fuelled experience for the whole family, try the ziplines at Hanuman World Phuket. Watch a show at Siram Niramit and learn more about some of the Thai myths through the fantastic performances.
If you ever want to escape the heat or a rainy day while still stretching your legs, the Jungceylon shopping centre at Patong Beach has 200,000 square metres of retail space offering eateries, cinemas, department stores and souvenir shops where you are sure to find something as a memento of your holiday.
Back in the sunshine, Phang Nga Bay to the east of Phuket is replete with nature’s wonders, and a trip to at least one of the national parks should not be missed: The Ao Phang Nga National Park is a mesmerising tour of karst islands and mangroves home to riotous birds, monkeys and more, and Than Bok Khorani National Park has absolutely picturesque limestone caves and waterfalls.
Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai
If you wish to stay and explore around Phang Nga Bay longer, the islands of Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai are great places to escape the city and reconnect with nature. The soft sand beaches are quiet and perfect for water sports, and island trails are ideal for hiking and cycling.
The Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi Islands are only a short cruise south, where visitors will find yet more picture-perfect beaches and forests awaiting them. One of the stand-out features is Viking Cave on Koh Phi Phi Leh, where the cave drawings look like Viking ships. Watch blacktip sharks and leopard sharks, snorkel and Scuba dive the reefs and relax with some well-earned cocktails on the warm sands at sunset.
Similan Islands National Park
Farther west, the Similan Islands National Park offers one more spectacular destination which is often rated as one of the world’s 10 best dive sites. Witness unusual species like the shovelnose guitarfish and the blue-spotted ribbontail ray as they glide effortlessly past hard corals and soft coral reefs. On land, the verdant rainforest and pale beaches are part of paradise on Earth.
Destinations around the Gulf of Thailand
The Ang Thong National Marine Park should be a top priority for luxury yacht charterers in the region: 42 islands of lush jungle and white sand beaches await, and beneath the glassy waters, snorkelers and Scuba divers will uncover colourful reefs teeming with marine life. Swim with turtles and other marine life at Koh Tao (literally ‘Turtle Island’) and rest up, on sunbeds in the afternoon sun aboard your luxury yacht or on a white sand beach and let the world drift by.
Mix the harmony of nature with the tranquillity of Buddhist temples on a visit to Hin Lad Waterfall Temple or the Secret Buddha Garden.
In comparison, Koh Chang is a much quieter choice with a rustic charm that is not to be dismissed: Rural fishing villages and local cuisine is contrasted by high-end restaurants and luxurious spas. The islands are clustered together to easily hop from one to the next while rewarding visitors with new sights and encounters at every destination.
Other incredible destinations in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia is an amazing place for explorers to discover incredible, secluded coves with crystal clear waters, white-sand beaches and unique flora and fauna. From Phuket and the Andaman Sea, groups can cruise south to Penang and other destinations in Malaysia, then on to Indonesia for what is considered one of the most biodiverse Scuba diving regions anywhere in the world. Cambodia and Vietnam can also be conveniently accessed on a cruise from the Gulf of Thailand, making possible a multi-national cruise for those who want to see as much of the region as possible.
Trina Howes is a Director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates outstanding vacations with excellent yachts at amazing prices – worldwide.