When you’re planning to charter a yacht there are many areas that tick the right boxes; the Greek Islands, Turkey, Croatia, the Caribbean. But few destinations can offer the diversity of cultures which are to be found in the countries of Southeast Asia.
The wealth of history and mystery to found in these beautiful and exotic locations, some of which have only become accessible to tourists relatively recently, can overwhelm the senses. It would certainly take more than one lifetime to discover all of its secrets.
Exploring the coastline by boat gives you the advantage of being able to access areas that are all but impossible to access by land. You will find fantastic deserted beaches, hidden temples and, if you snorkel or scuba dive, you can interact with the stunning variety of marine life to be found in these waters.
In Thailand the tropical climate is matched by the warmth of the smiles and the genuine welcome you will receive from the Thai people. With more than 3000km of coastline, sailing across the turquoise water you will discover awe inspiring rock formations, white sand beaches and some of the best diving areas in the world.
On the west coast, starting your charter at the tourist centre of Phuket, you have access to the coast and many islands of the Andaman Sea, including Ko Tapu which has become better known as James Bond Island after Roger Moore’s stand-off with Christopher Lee in The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed on the beach here.
Nearby is Koh Yang where you can anchor your yacht and take a ride in one of the long-tail boats to Sea Gypsy Island which is a village constructed entirely on stilts and rafts. Standing guard is a huge limestone monolith rising out of the sea behind it.
In the Gulf of Thailand the sailing takes you to diverse extremes from the wild party town of Pattaya, where you can really let your hair down, to the Koh Chang National Park which consists of around fifty islands. Here you can take jungle treks into the rain forests to find hidden waterfalls and where you’ll meet the local wildlife.
Indonesia, with over 18,000 islands, is the largest archipelago in the world. Many of the islands are uninhabited so dropping anchor in a secluded bay is a heavenly and peaceful experience.
You can sail through the Banda Sea or around the islands of Raja Ampat but the most popular location is the Komodo National Park. Here you will find deserted beaches, stunning lagoons and some of the most unique wildlife in the world including the famous Komodo Dragon.
Under the water the scenery is also spectacular with amazing marine life which makes for fabulous diving and snorkelling. If you prefer to stay above the water you can explore the coastline in a tender or kayak.
Burma, or Myanmar, has only been accessible to foreigners since the late 90s and there are some fabulous sailing areas here. The Mergui Archipelago is a group of mostly deserted islands in the Andaman Sea in the south of the country. Beautiful white palm-fringed beaches backed by dense jungle and with glassy turquoise water lapping at the shore.
If you’re lucky you might spot monitor lizards and gibbons at the edge of the trees while eagles soar overhead.
For those who like a bit of isolation you can go for days without meeting anyone other than an occasional fisherman in a dugout canoe. The local natives are known as sea gypsies and live a simple life. You can go ashore to their villages, see them making the dugout canoes and barter for some fish.
This is your opportunity to explore a world that very few people get to experience.
Cambodia is another recent sailing destination and is a country of deeply rooted religious significance. The coastline has pristine beaches and a little exploration will lead you to waterfalls and Buddhist shrines.
It is well worth taking an excursion inland to visit some of the finest temples in the world. Angkor Wat, covering an area of 400km2, is the largest temple in the world. Also, Ta Prohm temple, where the roots of the trees have wound themselves around the monument, has an eerie mysterious atmosphere which will stay in your memory for ever.
Chartering a yacht in Southeast Asia will leave you wanting to come back many times with each country seducing you with its own unique charms, history, customs and cuisine.