Phuket the hub for yacht charter
Called the Riviera of the East, the Phuket/Krabi area hosts a total of six marinas with a total capacity of about 1,000 yachts including superyachts. Most marinas are under development and the total capacity could double within five years.
Currently over 150 charter yachts from bare boats to crewed yachts are permanently based in Phuket and operate 12 months of the year. This number is increasing each year.
Some say Phuket is victim to its own success and mass tourism has degraded the image of the destination. This is partly true ashore and in some of the most visited day-tripping landmarks. But outside the range and schedule of an average speedboat, anchorages are pretty much deserted. Larger yachts have access to further nearby destinations: the Similan, Burma and the Mergui Archipelagoes in the north and the Butangs and Langkawi Islands in the south.
Mergui: Myanmar (Burma) opened to the world some three years ago and tourism is developing very fast. The Mergui Archipelago is 120 miles north of Phuket and is now accessible by yacht. There are no tourism activities ashore and yachts must be autonomous. Cruises are generally seven to 10 days and start from Thailand though access from Yangon by air is now possible.
Langkawi: Tax-free and port of call 120 miles south of Phuket, the Langkawi Archipelago is a duty-free zone and the base for a lot of yacht charters. Langkawi is a mediocre charter destination but is only 25 miles from the first coral reefs of the Butang Islands in Thailand.
Day tours charter
A large fleet of speedboats, power yachts and traditional sailing boats or large catamarans offer a wide range of products to go on one-day sea trips to visit tourism destinations such a Phi Phi Island.
Overnight Charter Boats available
Bare boat charter:
On the same principle as renting a car without driver, the bare boat charter is generally a sailing boat, with a majority catamarans and where a group of friends or family spend their holidays, generally one week. No service is attached. The skipper of the group must have a license or proven experience. Established in Thailand since late 1990s, about 10 companies with fleet from five to 25 boats operating bare boats. Prices vary from 200 euros/day for 30ft monohull to over 1,000 euros/day for 50ft catamaran.
Crewed Charter Yachts
Are boats from 55 to 70ft and are rented with a crew. The crew can be from a skipper alone to a crew of four: Captain, hostess, deckhand and cook. Prices vary from 1,500 euros/day to 6,000 euros/day.
Are boats over 25 meters and come with a five-star luxury services. Their prices vary from 60,000 euros per week to several hundred thousand per week. So far very few superyachts operate permanently in Thailand as the marine regulations are yet to be clarified.
Yachting in Thailand is probably one of the fastest-growing cruising markets worldwide, but its growth is still limited by regulations that are often not adapted to its activities. However, several working groups are conducting studies and consulting with authorities to adapt the national marine laws to yachting.
Lately the Thai government announced a series of measures that will help boost the activities; including possible licenses for foreign charter yachts, extended stay for yachts under refitting, a large worldwide marketing campaign aiming at all boat shows worldwide.
For more information, see the Asia Marine display at the Phuket International Boat Show, open from January 7-10 at Royal Phuket Marina, visit PhuketBoatShow.com.
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