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Thailand is an up and coming destination for yachting

Characterised by warm, vibrant seas and beachfront hospitality, Thailand has piqued the curiosity of yacht owners for decades. But the country’s infamous bureaucracy has posed a barrier to superyacht growth in the past. Foreign-flagged yachts were previously only able to visit Thailand as part of a multi-country itinerary and, upon arrival in Thai waters, had to pay a hefty import tax on the value of the yacht.

With the country’s new Foreign Charter License (2022), however, superyachts are now only expected to pay VAT from the revenue they generate during their stay. Combined with the removal of all COVID restrictions at the end of 2022, 2023 marked a promising year of growth for the region's marine tourism – with this summer season set to continue on this trajectory. This is what Thailand has to offer the visiting superyacht...

The best beaches in Thailand for superyachts

Pattaya Beach, Chon Buri

Unfurling along the edge of Thailand's second most-visited city, Pattaya Beach is a nightlife haven that's drawn international tourists since the Vietnam War. The promenade is home to Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall – Asia's largest beachfront mall – while those looking for cultural sights can set sail for the Sanctuary of Truth. An unfinished castle-come-museum, its ornamental towers of takien and teak make it the largest wooden structure in Thailand (and a spectacular sight from the water).

Pansea Beach, Choeng Thale

While this beach may technically be free for public use, there's no public path to be seen. Fringed with coconut trees, the 250-metre stretch of sand is only accessible through the grounds of luxury resorts Amanpuri and The Surin. A yachting excursion, therefore, is probably the most convenient way to experience it – so anchor nearby and enjoy. While visiting, you're also likely to spot a group of local masseuses on shore, known to offer traditional massages right in front of The Surin's cottage-style suites.

Railay Beach, Krabi

This small, secluded bay can only be reached via boat, stranded as it is at the tip of the Railay Peninsula. But those who decide to venture on will find Thailand at its best, replete with coconut trees and jade-coloured waters. Unsurprisingly, rock climbing is incredibly popular here, with visitors often spotting a daredevil or two clinging to a cliff face. Nearby, the Phra Nang Cave is a sacred site to the local fisherman, worth visiting for its saw-toothed stalactites and shrine strewn with incense, flowers and fertility lingams. 

The top hotels in Thailand for superyachts

The Racha, Phuket

The Racha is a collection of white-washed villas that barely peek above the resort's twenty acres of jungle. Facing the everclear waters of Batok Bay, its Sunset Restaurant serves unpretentious Thai food complemented by the gentle thrums of live music. Dishes include Northern-style minced chicken and steamed white snapper, all flavoured by herbs from the resort's own hydroponic farm. Visit the Anumba Spa for their cooling aloe vera body wraps – the perfect remedy to a day spent on a sundeck. 

Nearby Marinas: Ao Po Grand Marina, Royal Phuket Marina, Phuket Boat Lagoon

Barcelo Coconut Island, Phuket

Just off the coast of Phuket is the thick-foliaged Koh Maprao (or Coconut Island), after which this village of villas is named. Their softly-lit restaurant, Koko, serves several twists on Japanese cuisine. Expect tuna tartare dressed with feta cheese and capers, or a surf and turf with wagyu as its centrepiece. Koko also pride themselves on their creative cocktail menu, with the Castaway – made with flor de cana rum, homemade syrup and pineapple juice, among others – being highly recommended.

Nearby Marinas: Royal Phuket Marina, Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket Boat Lagoon

Mason Pattaya, Chon Buri

Mason Pattaya rests on the tipping point between Pattaya's city centre and a local fishing village, offering visiting superyachts easy access to both worlds. Designed by award-winning Thai architect Vasu Virajsilp, the hotel's infinity rooftop (and 12-metre pool) is worth the climb for its far-flung views of Na Jomtien beach. The Zila stone massage is their spa signature, chosen for the mineral's reported healing properties. The stones themselves are sourced from Angsila, an artisanal rock-carving community known as "the stone basin" of the Chon Buri Province.

Nearby Marinas: Ocean Marina Yacht Club

Ana Anan Resort and Villa, Chon Buri 

This high-rise resort is favoured for its sheltered location and yoga-centric Dhyãna Spa. Their wellness offering is everything you'd want from a Thai treatment, from singing bowls and local botanicals to hot stones that stimulate your chakras. A treatment worth trying is the Social Media Tension Release Massage, which, unusually, focuses on the muscles around the eyes. Afterwards, withdraw to Over the Moon, the resort's chic rooftop bar serving oyster platters alongside planetary cocktails – from a rose-and-pomegranate Mercury to a syrupy, apricot brandy Neptune. 

Nearby Marinas: Ocean Marina Yacht Club

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