BY APB Staff on 8 May 2024

International yachting visitors are bringing a new era to the Thai holiday islands of Phuket and Koh Samui.

Gulf of Thailand Nat'l Marine Park

Thailand’s tranquil beauty, stunning cruising, friendly people and ancient culture are all helping to grow the country’s reputation as a worldwide yachting destination amid the Southeast Asia region’s superyacht visitor growth.

Phuket and Koh Samui lead Thailand’s yachting wave, with both islands offering a blend of relaxation, indulgence, tropical beauty and adventure cruising.

Phuket is more developed and busier, yet it offers more to do. Koh Samui is roughly half the size of Phuket and the more laid-back of the two islands, though there is plenty of action and luxury.

While Phuket is known as one of Southeast Asia’s leading superyacht hubs, Koh Samui is also developing into one of Asia’s leading luxury yachting destinations.

Ko Phi Phi

There is an array of high-end beach resorts on Phuket and Koh Samui for those who wish to explore them, a lively nightlife scene and a wide choice of dining options. Both islands offer adventure voyages to nearby islands.

Most yachts first arrive at Phuket, and its marinas report an increasing number of superyachts.

“The region is building more marinas that can berth superyachts; we can berth a 130-metre yacht in Phuket’s marinas,” says Gordon Fernandes, co-founder of Asia Pacific Superyachts. 

“The infrastructure for owner visits is already in place with four modern and well-equipped marinas, a new ‘private jet terminal’ for superyacht visitors, and international airports.

“Thailand’s yachting industry has undergone significant expansion and the Thai government is working with the country’s yacht services providers in easing restrictions to welcome more affluent visitors to Thailand.”

Ao Po Grand Marina

Ao Po Grand Marina

Along with the main island, Phuket comprises 32 smaller islands, including Phang Nga Bay, a location in the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, filled with limestone karsts and hidden lagoons.

The Phi Phi Islands gained global attention as a setting in the 2000 hit film The Beach, set in the stunning Maya Bay. 

Meanwhile, the Similan Islands offer adventure and whale sharks, manta rays and leopard sharks. When seeking culture, Phuket’s lively Old Town has colonial-era buildings housing chic coffee houses and boutique hotels. There are Chinese shrines and 29 Buddhist temples, including Wat Chalong, where a 60-metre-high stupa houses a bone fragment reputedly from Buddha himself.

PHUKET THAILAND - James-bond-island

Yachting in Koh Samui

Although Koh Samui started as a popular beach getaway for backpackers, the island has become a popular destination for affluent travellers. It offers five-star resorts, white sand beaches, waterfalls, spectacular viewpoints, ancient temples, a lively Fisherman’s Village, and the nightlife of Chaweng Beach.

High-end dining, luxurious beachfront resorts, and world-class wellness spas are spread throughout the island. The Four Seasons Resort Samui is filming the third series of HBO’s White Lotus.

To the west is Ang Thong National Marine Park, which offers impressive cruising on 42 deserted islands. To the north is Koh Tao, rated among the world’s top dive destinations and a habitat for whale sharks.

“Superyacht visitors can immerse themselves in a world of comfort, luxury, and cultural richness,” says Captain Charlie Dwyer, co-founder of Asia Pacific Superyachts. Koh Samui is a favoured destination for those seeking the quintessence of island elegance and amazing Gulf cruising.”

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