Thai style

Thailand is growing into a global yachting hub, with Phuket and Koh Samui at the centre of the action.

10 May 2024


International yachting visitors are bringing a new era to Phuket, Thailand’s largest and most developed island, and Koh Samui, the country’s second-largest island.

While Phuket is known as one of Southeast Asia’s leading superyacht hubs, Samui is now, too, developing into a luxury yachting destination.

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 wider Southeast Asia region’s dynamic 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 busier, yet it offers more to do. Koh Samui is half the size of Phuket and the more laid-back of the two, though there is plenty of action as well as luxury.

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


Most yachts first arrive at Phuket, and its marinas are reporting 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, Asia Pacific Superyachts co-founder.

“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.”

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 adventure drama The Beach, which was partly filmed in Maya Bay. The bay has reopened to visitors after being closed for years to restore its ecosystem.

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 that is reputedly from Buddha himself.

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

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