Set a course for adventure: Sailing in Thailand

This month Forbes magazine listed its top 7 trips for adventure travelers. I don’t know if playing golf in Scotland or doing yoga on a Mexican beach counts as “adventure travel” (in fact both sound pretty much the opposite to me) but kayaking in Hawaii and hiking the Inca trail no doubt qualify.

Only one trip from Forbes’ list takes place in Asia and at least it was mentioned at the top of the list – sailing in Thailand, starting at the island of Phuket.

This ocean adventure will take you cruising on the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean, past pristine white sand beaches, soaring limestone cliffs and deserted islands. Whether you’re a lifelong sailor or not, a once-in-a-lifetime journey on the Andaman Sea is a must.

–Forbes

King's Cup Regatta, Pic: Ashley Lourey (Flickr CC)

Thai as well as foreign adventure travellers are catching the Southeast Asian sailing bug. A press release by the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta uses the phrase “dinghy fever” to describe the 2012 Phuket Dinghy Series, aimed at young Thai sailors. I guess it’s acceptable to make humorous puns about tropical diseases if they are not deadly.

At the opposite extreme from young Thai sailors in dinghies is the Asia Superyacht Rendezvous, Asia’s largest superyacht event of its kind.

From sail-world.com:

Held annually in December (this year, 16th-18th) on the island of Phuket, Thailand, the tropical on-and-off water event will take place at the stunning Angsana Laguna Phuket and Xana Beach Club, Host Hotel Sponsor of the Asia Superyacht Rendezvous.

OK, neither of these (dinghy nor superyacht) are exactly for the holiday sailing adventurer, unless you’re a pro or young aspiring pro, but they provide some scope about what is going on in Thailand sailing-wise.

A press release from Sunsail, a yacht chartering company, aims to attract sailing enthusiasts to Thailand with a bit of 007. That’s right, you can sail through terrain where parts of the 1974 James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun” took place.

Charterers visiting Phang Nga Bay, and particularly Ko Khao Phing Kan, will spy the rock which Scaramanga used to hide his energy collector, along with other spectacular rock formations. It’s a stunning destination with a striking gallery of giant limestone islands, tunnels and caves. Bareboat and skippered yacht charters are available from Phuket or Koh Samui with Sunsail.

Phuket scenery, pic: iriskh (Flickr CC)

If you’re not a sailor or a fanatic James Bond fan, but would still like to “sail” – meaning you’d like a relaxing holiday at sea, but not a lot of hard work – a cruise on the South China Sea might be the thing for you. Such a luxury trip includes stops in Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, ancient Hoi An and Hong Kong.

From the Daily Mail:

We took the easiest way to explore a strange country – by luxury cruise ship. We had the comfort and the fun of the Azamara Quest every night, while visiting these wonderful destinations by day. The cruise started in Singapore and we set sail in steamingly hot weather for Bangkok in Thailand.

Sounds like a bit of adventure mixed with a lot of being spoiled.

Suffice it to say that Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is emerging as the sailing capital, not only for Thailand, but for perhaps all of Southeast Asia. With four marinas and two yacht clubs, options for a wide range of budgets and sizes, from “cheap” to luxury, small to large, not to mention beautiful beaches and stunning scenery, this prosperous part of Thailand is a great choice for a sailing holiday. And you can combine your sailing with a bit of diving, snorkeling, kayaking, beach combing and fishing!

Hobie cat, Phuket, Pic: Michael Zimmel (Flickr CC)