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From Koh Samui to Ang Thong National Park, the magic of the Gulf of Thailand.

Published on 20 july 2017 at 0h00

Cruising to discover the Gulf of Thailand is wonderful: the water there is of an incredible green, the anchorages are infinite and wild, and the welcome by the Thais is as pleasant as ever. What more could you ask for? A catamaran, of course!

LOGBOOK

For the majority of us, Thailand is a particularly pleasant exotic destination. The weather is fine all the year round, and sailing conditions are idyllic. Most cruisers therefore leave for Phuket in the winter, and the first cruises in Phang Nga bay will leave you with enduring memories, before you head for the perfect anchorages at Phi Phi.  But there is another side to Thailand, much less well-known and above all where you will be alone in the anchorage every evening: the Gulf of Thailand.

The Gulf of Thailand is a destination which offers numerous advantages, including that of being able to sail all the year round, as the monsoon period – in summer – here is perfectly tolerable, even though the wind is then either absent or a little stormy. But that never lasts for long. Koh Samui is the departure base for this superb region. And just arriving at the little airport, you will have the impression that you have changed universes! Here there are no ultra-modern marinas, but boats at anchor quietly awaiting the adventurous charterers from all over the world. But don’t worry: apart from the first night in Koh Samui Bay (at Bo Phut), there is no risk of having neighbors in the anchorages during your trip. There are actually very few boats available for charter in the area, and the number of anchorages is quite simply incalculable... The region in fact opens onto several islands – including the famous Koh Phangan, which owes its reputation to its ‘full moon party’, which attracts party goers from all over the world. Moreover, on full moon nights, it is best to avoid the anchorages within a radius of several dozen miles, as the music – which lasts all night – is...omnipresent! Koh Samui, Koh Katen, Ko Tao, Koh Phangan all offer little beach restaurants where you can discover the wonders of Thai cuisine. A delight at every meal! And then, in the middle of your cruise, you will discover the Ang Thong National Park. Consisting of six main islands and numerous islets, this national park is only accessible by boat (the famous long-tails), and while during the day it is really not crowded, in the evening there is absolutely no one. It’s here that Alex Garland originally set the action for his book ‘The Beach’, which later became the film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The grandeur of the place is impressive, and the number of anchorages is...endless! You could almost spend your week’s charter here without coming to the same place twice. In short, the place is really superb, and alone justifies the journey. You can reasonably stay here for at least two days, to explore the area... In the main anchorage at Koh Ang Thong – to be avoided between 10 am and 5 pm – it’s rush hour, with numerous boats landing tourists on the island. But from 5 pm onwards, this paradise is yours, and the monkeys come back down from the mountains to greet you, whilst you savor a well-deserved beer (Chang or Singha, of course) in the island’s bar/restaurant, where we recommend that you prolong the evening with an excellent meal (less than 6 euros - US$ 6.8 -  for the full meal, including drinks...). This island at the end of the world is really incredible. During your meal you must pay attention to the monkeys, who won’t hesitate to come closer and try to grab a little of what is on the table...

PRACTICAL THAILAND

- Formalities: Valid passport. No visa required if your stay is for less than thirty days.

- Weather: The north-easterly monsoon affects Thailand from November through April. But in the south, there is not too much rain. The rain can be intense, but doesn’t last long. Squalls can always be expected, with winds of over 40 knots. But even then, the sea remains manageable, as there is rarely more than a meter of swell.

- Temperatures: between 22 and 34°C.

- Sailing conditions: Be careful with your navigation, which although giving no problems with bearings, is made tricky through the strong currents, the many shoals and a large tidal range.

- Buoyage: Random. As is often the case, avoid sailing at night.

- Diving: World class sites. The waters surrounding the islands contain a large variety of corals and very many fish (as well as jellyfish – beware!); there is also a large number of wrecks to delight enthusiastic divers. But even the snorkeling is wonderful.

- Getting there:  International airports at Bangkok and Phuket. Numerous cheap inter-town flights in Thailand.

- Languages spoken: Thai, but English is spoken almost everywhere.

- Currency: Thai Baht (1 euro = 39 THB - 1 US$ = 33 THB). Most credit cards are accepted in the big restaurants and the hotels.... But in the small islands, it’s best to have cash with you.

- The charter companies in Thailand: Dream Yacht Charter – Kata Leisure Co Ltd. – Oceans Evasion – Sail On Catamaran – Simpson Yacht Charter - Sunsail – The Moorings

TYPICAL ITINERARY

A week to discover the Gulf of Thailand is good. 10 days is even better... The area is so vast – and the number of anchorages just incredible – that you can stay here for a long time without ever revisiting the same places...

 

Day 1

Arrival at Koh Samui, and after a long journey via Bangkok, you are bound to be exhausted.  So after a quick meal in front of Bo Phut beach, and purchasing provisions in one of the island’s many supermarkets, you will head for the boat. 

Day 2

After getting up early, it’s time to leave Koh Samui, and get under way for the 22 miles to the island of Koh Katen. On the way, we can have a couple of stops for swimming, at Koh Fan and Laem Nan (still on Koh Samui).

At Koh Katen, you will definitely be alone in the anchorage and can enjoy the restaurant at the Koh Tan Conservation Club.

Day 3

Early morning start to go to the famous Ang Thong National Park, passing via Koh Phuluai. Here you will discover the famous limestone rocks covered with vegetation which can be seen on all the most beautiful photos of Thailand. You are completely alone in the world, and only meet a few long-tails, the local fishing boats equipped with car engines on shafts as long as a day without wind... 

Day 4

You must spend more time exploring the National Park. The 6 islands and very many islets offer sumptuous anchorages, and each time a new wonder. Don’t miss the excellent snorkeling in the north of the park on the island of Koh Lao, as well as a cave that can only be reached by swimming... You can’t even land there in the dinghy!

Day 5

It’s time to leave the park. Destination Koh Tao, and an attractive anchorage in Ao Leuk bay. An anchorage where you will be surrounded by local fishing boats...

Day 6

25 miles to Koh Phangan, the island of the famous ‘full moon party’, a huge party which is held every full moon on Haad Rin beach, and which brings together thousands of party-goers from all over the world. But don’t worry, there are also parties on other evenings... Several nice anchorages on this island, including the one in Ao Thon Nai Pan Bay. But each little creek offers new scenery and a place to anchor your cat with no danger (be careful however with the tidal range, which is quite large in the region). 

Day 7

It’s time to return to Koh Samui, just 6 miles away. 

Cruising in Thailand really is the best. Samui is ideal in summer. In winter, you can also sail at Koh Chang, and above all leaving from the ultra-famous Phuket (to discover Phang Nga Bay, James Bond’s island, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi...). But reducing Thailand to its coasts, however beautiful they may be, would be a great shame, and travelling so far and not enjoying the other wonders the ‘Kingdom of Siam’ has to offer, inexcusable!

NEWS FROM THE CHARTER COMPANIES

 

Bahamas

Florida Yacht Group has just announced the expansion of its base in the Bahamas. The charter company, which has been present in the market since 1983, also has bases in the USA, at West Palm Beach, Miami, Key West and St. Petersburg. The company is also offering a charter-management program on Lagoons. Note that it is also proposing some nice special offers this summer (up to 25% if you leave before the end of September).

For more information: www.floridayacht.com

 

And why not cruise in Sweden?

Dream Yacht Charter has just launched a new base in Sweden, at Stockholm. With 24,000 islands of all sizes, the Stockholm archipelago is a natural wonder which offers incredible scenery and countless anchorages. The company is notably offering a brand-new Bali 4.0 at this base.

Discover it on: www.dreamyachtcharter.com

 

And in motor cats...

Dream Yacht Charter seems to be everywhere, as the company has also announced that several motor catamarans are going to join its charter fleet. From the 2017/2018 winter season onwards, several Fountaine Pajot MY 37 Maestros will thus be available for charter in the BVI, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Information: www.dreamyachtcharter.com

  

MarineMax’s new web site

The charter company has just put its brand-new web site on line. A comprehensive and above all very intuitive site which will let you find the boat and/or the destination of your dreams in the blink of an eye.

www.MarineMax.com

 

A world of escape

The Océans Evasion agency specializes in catamaran charter and is offering ‘all the most beautiful sailing destinations in the world’... The agency’s ‘plus’ lies in its consultants, who have a real knowledge of both the destinations and the boats available in them. Enough to get some good advice!

www.oceans-evasion.com

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