Thailand’s attractions lure around 16 million visitors per year to the most successful (in terms of visitors) country in southeast Asia. Visit the popular and exciting sites such as the Gulf of Thailand, the capital city Bangkok, with its 14 million inhabitants, and the northwestern province Chiang Mai, where most vacation resorts are located along with many islands just off the 2600 kilometer long coastline. From the eastern border with Cambodia to the western one shared with Myanmar, as well as the southwest border with Malaysia, there is an international feel and varied nightlife in Thailand and its many areas. Pattaya and the Chonburi province are especially nice regions – they are much calmer and more rural, and have not had as much contact with the tourism industry as many other parts of the country. The Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces in the east are quite close to Bangkok, as are their long coasts and the regions Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Cha-am in the Phetchaburi province in the center of the country. Their proximity, along with the islands Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Ko Tao, part of the south Surat Thani province, to the capital city makes them heavily influenced by tourism. However, further south becomes calmer and quieter again. In the eastern border provinces of Songkhla, Pattani and Narathiwat, agriculture still dominates the local economy. The southwestern provinces on the Andaman Sea – Satun, Trang, Krabi and Phang Nga – feature higher levels of tourism, especially on the many small islands. The island group Ko Phi Phi is especially well known, as is Khao Phing Kan, due to its role in the James Bond films. There are also many national parks in the area, which are impressive and breathtaking, and certainly worth a visit. The important role and official appreciation of the sea and maritime fauna and flora in Thailand are evident through the country’s 21 marine national parks, which prioritize the protection of coral reefs, mangrove forests, sea grass meadows, and beaches, but which are still meant to be used as recreational and water sports areas, just with the compliance of the rules and regulations of the preserves. For those who are seeking a little thrill, the cliff diving off of the island Ko Phi Phi Leh, part of the Krabi province in southern Thailand, is spectacular and highly recommended. Against the majestic backdrop featuring towering limestone cliffs reaching to the sky, a trip to Ko Phi Phi Leh shows you the beautiful landscape included in many films. If you have less enthusiasm for doing a cliff dive yourself, the view from Maya Bay lets you simultaneously enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful landscape and wonder at the divers’ courage.
Relatively central on the isthmus where Thailand and Myanmar meet lies Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park with its two famous beaches, Hat Laem Sala and Hat Sam Phraya. Further south, Mu Ko Ang Thong National Parks awaits, featuring wonderful sites including the islands in the Samui archipelago, mentioned above. Khao Laem Ya/Mu Ko Samet National Park in the east is home to Ko Samet, which is known for its highly praised dive sites. There are more and even smaller, sometimes uninhabited islands in the territories around Ao Phang Nga and Tarutao National Parks on the Andaman Sea. The latter offers large coral reefs and many turtles. Another national park, Mu Ko Phetra, whose islands Ko Lao Liang, Ko Lao Liang Nuea, Ko Lao Liang Ta, Ko Phetra, Koh Lidi, Koh Khao Yai and Koh Bulon are popular vacationing spots for natives and foreigners alike. Above all, the islands have amazing beaches and dive spots. The best known vacation destination in Thailand is on the northern part of the Andaman Sea, Ko Phuket, which is the country’s largest island at 543 square kilometers. The municipality Patong Beach, on the west coast, is also a popular destination among divers, but is also known as one of the most expensive places in the country. Additional well-known dive sites include Koh Tao, the Ang Thong archipelago near Koh Samui, the Similan Islands, the Surin Islands, Richelieu Rock near Koh Tachai, Hin Daeng, Koh Rok, Koh Ha, Hin Muang, and Koh Tarutao on the Andaman Sea. For canoeing and kayaking, the best places to paddle are Phuket, Krabi, the Similan Islands, and Ang Thong Marnine National Park near Koh Samui. Good rafting in the region can be found on the Mae Taeng River in the Mae Hong Son province, the Kok River in Chiang Rai, on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, and in Khao Sok National Park. Though surfing only started getting popular in Thailand in the 1990s, and despite not having waves like those in Bali, Hawaii or Sumatra, the country’s beaches are fun places to surf and especially good for beginners and for both long- and body boarding. Some surfing-beach options are Surin Beach and Laem Singh on Phuket, Nai Harn Beach, Kata Noi Beach, Kata Yai Beach, Kalim Beach, Kamala Beach, Nai Yang Reef, and Pakarand Point on Khao Lak.
Koh Tao in the Ang Thong Marine Park is a popular area for skippers to sail, as well as around the island Ko Chang near Pattaya, and the nearby islands Ko Lan, Ko Phai, Ko Khram, Ko Samet, Ko Kut and Ko Mak also offer delightful sailing opportunities. If you dont know where to go with your boat you will find a route suggestion for a sailing holiday around Phuket already put together for you. The sailing conditions in and around Phuket are generally best between November and April, when the winds tend to be from 2 to 5 on the Beaufort scale and coming out of the northeast, and when there is relatively little rainfall in the region. Have a look at the route suggestion and be inspired by the beautiful sites to have the best sailing holiday possible. Fishing in Thailand’s water can be a very fun and fruitful activity. With the blue shimmering sea, wind swept grasses and countless marine species, as well as some worthwhile inland lakes, the potential for a good catch is great. The area is particularly well known for its large populations of carp, rays, giant arapaimas, alligator gars, and red tail catfish. Some internationally known and proven fishing spots are the artificial lake at the Gillham’s Fishing Resort near the city Ao Nang on Krabi, Bungsamran Lake Fishing in Bangkok with 50 types of fish with an average weight of 15kg, and the luxurious fishing park Greenfield Alley in Hua Hin in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province in central Thailand, where three large lakes are packed with big fish just waiting to be caught. The 17,000 square meter Predator Lake/IT Lake Monsters Thailand near Kanchanaburi also deserves a mention, where you can fish for arapaimas, arowanas, red tail catfish and alligator gars with natural or artificial bait. Further north is the Dream Lake fishing resort, just eight kilometers away from central Chiang Mai and with accommodation available directly on the water, and with moderate prices. TopCats Fresh Water Fishing Resort sits on the well known island Koh Samui near to the island’s capital, Nathon, and in Pattaya you can do some diverse types of fishing, such as reel fishing, fishing in the jungle, fishing on Barramundi, or even a several-day fishing trip on the high seas.
All told, 82 yachts and boats are available in Thailand with Yachtico, 37 of which are sailboats, 41 catamarans, three motorboats, and one Gulet. Many sailors with a penchant for maritime excursions use the innovative international platform featuring boats of all kinds, YACHTICO.com, to find their perfect boat for a sailing holiday. The majority of the vessels were built between 2005 and 2012, and the best bang-for-your-buck boat available is a Hanse 315 sailboat, docked in the Yacht Haven Marina Phuket, which books for 1260 euros per week. The yacht SY Asia is also available from Phuket, with weekly packages from 33,500 euros. No matter which boat you choose for your vacation in Thailand, a very popular and worthwhile route out of Phuket runs from there via Phang Nga Bay, Ko Phanak, Krabi, Phi Phi and Maya Bay on to Ko Rang Yai.