BY Gordon Fernandes on 22 Jan 2023

The ‘Land of Smiles’ welcomes back superyachts across its peninsula and islands

Thailand beach

Thailand, specifically Phuket and the surrounding provinces of Phang Nga, Krabi and Phi Phi, and the entire eastern Gulf of Thailand, is an increasingly popular superyacht cruising destination.

On July 1, the government lifted all restrictions, and the country changed its status from pandemic to endemic. This change also approved Bangkok and 76 provinces to allow the resumption of normal businesses and activities nationwide.

Now, more than ever, Thailand is back as a must-visit destination thanks to the lifting of pre-arrival registration, entry requirements and Covid-19 restrictions. With flat seas, warm temperatures and spectacular scenery, the Thai coast is an ideal backdrop for superyachts waiting in the wings to visit Southeast Asia.

Thailand’s appeal has been on the rise for the last decade or more as a superyacht destination due to infrastructure investments from the public and private sectors

There is no longer a need for a time- consuming ‘Certificate of Entry’ (COE) or ‘Thailand Pass’. Now check-in of yachts will return to the pre-pandemic system, and yachts are allowed to stay for three years, requiring customs extensions every six months.

The mood in Phuket and throughout Thailand regarding the superyacht industry is very upbeat. In the eastern Gulf of Siam, Asia Pacific Superyachts co-founder, captain Charlie Dwyer, taking care of superyachts in Koh Samui for the past two decades, reports: “Koh Samui is the hub of the Gulf and the best and easiest port of entry. Returning to the island, I’m reminded each time of what brings the owners, captains, and crew to Thailand: the beauty of the islands and the culture and people, with their welcoming smiles and gracious nature. You won’t find this in many other international destinations superyachts visit”.

Meanwhile, the government is talking about supporting the industry by allowing more marinas to be constructed throughout the country. In Phuket, marinas are expanding, and the full-service ones and professional yacht and superyacht services make for an inviting, stress-free holiday or a base for yachts staying the season. All located in the northeast of the island, four marinas are operated by private companies and can serve a large number of yachts, both at sea and on the ground.

On the edge of the gateway to the Gulf of Thailand is Ocean Marina, a modern 455-yacht- capacity state-of-the-art floating marina. The Gulf of Thailand has two major cruising regions – one based around the island of Koh Samui with its luxury resorts, tropical beaches, the famed Ang Thong Marine Park and vibrant nightlife.

The Transport Ministry will conduct a feasibility study into a marine development project in Chon Buri with Tambon Bang Sare of Sattahip district [Pattaya] chosen by the Marine Department to become a new harbour for luxury vessels. Expected to be completed in August, the final phase involves beach replenishment plans and an environmental impact assessment, reports the Bangkok Post.

Thailand beach

The Bang Sare marina project is in line with government policy to improve the country’s maritime transport and logistics system, which will help bolster the country’s efforts to become the region’s transport and logistics hub and raise its competitiveness. According to Marine Department figures, Thailand has 13 tourist ports that can be classified as marinas, including eight situated along the Andaman Sea.

The Marine Department was urged to coordinate with state agencies to improve boating regulations and promote the marina industry. With a world superyacht fleet now estimated at between 6,000 and 9,000, and the Asia-Pacific net worth having risen some $165 trillion from 2000 till the end of 2021, Asia is a significant market for those wanting a superyacht charter or to purchase their yacht.

Thailand’s appeal has been on the rise for the last decade or more as a superyacht destination due to infrastructure investments from the public and private sectors. The country’s natural attractions, easy-flight connections from around the globe, a new private jet terminal, and a selection of first-class marinas and other facilities and services are bringing back foreign-flagged superyachts.

Thailand, rich in history, culture, charm, delectable cuisine and great cruising, is a must-visit destination for superyachts that is back in business.

About the author

gordon fernandes

Gordon Fernandes is co-founder and GM of Asia Pacific Superyachts, a leading superyacht services network of agencies in Southeast Asia. Fernandes is a strong advocate of Thailand, building its domestic and visiting inventory of superyachts, and is devoted to helping make Phuket the leading ‘superyacht hub of Asia’.