With options aplenty, Vrit YongSakul who also happens to be the Managing Director of Boat Lagoon Yachting and Princess Yachts Southeast Asia picks out several islands that best represent the what Asia has to offer. Better still, all these destinations can be reached with the help of an explorer yacht — which one can charter from Princess Yachts.
From the sun-drenched beaches of Thailand to the stunning dive sites in Malaysia, we sail off with YongSakul to find out what the beaten track has to offer. “There’s no better way to see the world than from the ocean. Cruising around exciting charter destinations on board a superyacht offers new horizons while having the opportunity to enjoy elite levels of service and absolute luxurious comfort,” says Vrit Yongsakul. “All these South-east Asian destinations offer wonderful, all year-round temperatures welcoming each visitor both on land and sea. A superyacht charter vacation will also provide destinations that are lesser travelled by traditional tourists, giving visitors the opportunity to be among the first to explore the destination.”
Phuket/ Krabi, Thailand
Considered to be the best sailing destination in Southeast Asia due to its extensive coastline, lush islands and beautiful rock formations, the islands of Thailand may each offer a unique beach but they share the pristine waters and tranquillity. Phuket is perfect for sailing enthusiasts who want to escape the busy life and enjoy exotic fauna and flora, hidden coves and bays, while Krabi is perfect for its famous sea-mountain scenery and amazing clear waters for fine snorkelling and diving.
Phang Nga Bay, Thailand
Made up of topography of rock formations and sheer-sided limestone cliffs that climb vertically out of the calm turquoise waters, Phang Nga Bay is also known as a marine national park. Accommodation can be found on Phuket, as most of the islands are uninhabited. Sailing is an activity that is safe all year round while kayaking and dinghies allow you to explore the innumerable caves, creeks, hidden lagoon and mangrove swamps. The bay is also home to Ko Tapu, better known as James Bond Island, which shot to fame as part of the 1974 James Bond film, “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Yachts can be anchored at nearby Koh Yang and a long tail boat can be taken to Sea Gypsy Island for lunch. This village is built over water entirely on rafts and stilts, with a huge rock monolith standing guard behind it.
The Similan Islands, Thailand
Situated approximately 50 miles or 80 kilometers north-west from the popular holiday destination known by many as Phuket, is the Similan Islands. The islands that are made up of massive granite boulders, offer a different landscape to Phang Nga Bay. Apart from the boulders that continue down to the seabed and make for a magical world underwater, the Islands are also known for the clear water that surround it. With the coral and marine life that call the area home, the Similan Islands are lauded as the true snorkelling and diving paradise in Asia and one of the best in the world.
The Andaman Islands, Thailand
If you thought the waters around the Similan Islands was impressive, then the pristine surroundings of Andaman Islands will take your breath away. Just a little further from Phuket, the extra time needed to reach this tropical island is well worth the trip. Time spent there will allow you to get closer to nature thanks to the diverse wildlife and clean sailing waters that will leave you with memories for years to come.
Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Made up of two islands — Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le — this happens to be a destination in the region that cannot be missed. The stunning cliffs that dive into the clear blue sea have even had a starring role in the film “The Beach”. On land or by sea, the Phi Phi Islands offer a host of activities to those who visit it. Snorkelling, swimming and diving around the islands are described as nothing short of flawless and unrivalled while those who climb the limestone are able to catch a view of the stunning beaches, palm trees and sparkling waters — truly a sight one has to see to believe.
Ang Thong Marine National Park, Thailand
Made up of 40 islands and hundreds of limestone monoliths that spring out of the ocean, the park is less than a day’s sailing from Koh Samui. The marine park was first created in 1980 and remains untouched by developments, allowing visitors to connect with nature that surrounds them. A popular attraction is the enclosed lagoon known as Thale Nai or “Inner Sea”. Surrounded by thick vegetation and overhanging cliffs, this is one for the nature buffs in search of pristine locations that have not seen the effects of human advancement.
One of the must-see places in Bali is Ubud, which is located a couple of hours north of Kuta. The town is littered with restaurants, art galleries, art works and hand crafts that can be bought and shipped home from most galleries. On the road between Kuta and Ubud lies the village of Celuk famous for its gold and silver smiths. The town offers a multitude of jewellery, with designs ranging from tribal to modernistic with a mix of western and eastern influences.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
As a designated National Park, this is yet another treasure that Indonesia has to offer. Sitting in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago — between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores— the island is also home to the famous Komodo dragons. The UNESCO World Heritage site is blessed with secluded beaches, beautiful coral reefs and clear waters for days that make this the perfect destination to relax in.
Boasting untouched beaches and surrounded by sleepy fishing towns that one can explore, the island that lies to the west of Bali also captivates tourists for another reason. Home to the active volcano called Rinjani, one can enjoy the captivating view of the crater lake within after a challenging trek to the caldera. The journey to the crater is also a chance for visitors to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna, some of which are native to and only found in Lombok.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Not far from the coast of Lombok — off the northwestern tip to be precise— lies the Gili Islands. Made up of three islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, the location has several operators who provide scuba diving courses and excursions to dive sites around the islands.
Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Located around ten nautical miles from the north-eastern coast of West Malaysia, the Perhentian Islands are populated by an abundance of sea turtles and placid sharks. With a visibility of 10 to 20 metres, diving conditions are generally fantastic. For less experienced divers, the waters fringing the beaches are just as ideal for a spot of snorkelling. With plenty to see in shallower waters, charterers of all ages are sure to be mesmerised.
The cruising grounds off the coast of Sabah offer something for everyone – from West to East, the state is surrounded by idyllic and picturesque islands. On the West coast just off Kota Kinabalu lies Tanjung Aru, a small tranquil island where one can find few high-end resorts with relaxing beaches. One of the main attractions in Sabah is the world class diving found off the state’s East coast, namely Sipadan, which has gained worldwide recognition due to its unique geographical features, incredibly diverse underwater ecosystems. The surrounding islands of Mabul and Kapalai also offer excellent diving conditions, countless tropical fish species and well-conditioned soft and hard corals.