Following extensive lobbying by the superyacht industry the Thai Temporary Charter License has received the Royal Decree. The new Charter License laws permit visiting foreign flagged superyachts (only those 30 metres and above) to apply for a one year license allowing them to cruise and operate commercially in Thai waters.
Until now, this was limited to Thai flagged yachts, with an import tax of 7% of the yacht's value and compulsary employment of a Thai captain and engineer, with severe penalties in case of breach. With this new license, foreign flagged yachts can now operate a complete charter in Thai waters with licenses valid for 365 days (non-extendable or transferrable) during which time the yacht may freely leave and re-enter Thai waters.
Applications for the license must be made to the Ministry of Transport through an appointed Thai agent.
Further good news is expected around crew visas, with the Thai Government announcing proposed changes in regulations later this year. It is advised that you check with your local superyacht agent for updates and to apply for a charter license.
Key attractions for superyachts visiting the Gulf of Thailand
Captain Charlie Dwyer of Asia Pacific Superyachts has been assisting visiting superyachts in the region for over 20 years and would be happy to assist in logistics and itinerary planning. Here are some of the highlights he recommends as you prepare a cruise around these beautiful islands, each with its own unique character.
Koh Samui: For superyachts visiting the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui is the perfect base with easy access for exploring the surrounding islands. Renowned as a backpacker island 30 years ago, this volcanic island is now a high end destination with 5 star hotels, private villas and superb dining, in a haven of natural beauty.
A key attraction for visitors is the religious landmark on Samui, Wat Phra Yai – Big Buddha Temple, with stunning views to the north of Samui and Koh Phangan beyond. Right next to Big Buddha is Wat Plai Laem, a colourful Buddhist Temple featuring ornate décor, artworks and statues set on the lake.
The Secret Garden (or ‘Magic Garden’) is hidden away up in the hills amid lush jungle, with majestic views and an unusual collection of hand-crafted statues. Nearby are two Na Muang waterfalls, the most picturesque of Samui’s many waterfalls where you can take part in jungle treks and cool off in the lagoon. For the more adventurous there's also ziplining through the treetops with magnificent aerial views.
For a taste of the local culture there's Fisherman’s Village Samui with its rustic buildings, boutique stores and trendy restaurants, coming to life at the weekend with market sall lining the street at the ‘Friday Night Walking Street’ market. Another popular attraction is Chaweng Beach located next to the Central Festival Mall, renowned for its vibrant nightlife.
Koh Taen (Koh Tan) is the closest island from Koh Samui across from Taling Nam fishing village, a small, unspoiled island with no roads or cars. Known for its rich coral and marine life in and around the protected reefs you can leave the yacht and explore from a local long tail fishing boat out of Thong Krut Fishing Village.
Koh Matsum sits south of Koh Tan opposite the cultural attractions of the Laem Sor Chedi and Pagoda, where there's a long sandy beach for picnics and drinks around campfires.
Five Islands are protected by Sea Gypsy guards as the rare birds' nests found here are used in the famous Chinese bird-nest soup. The Five Island restaurant is a fabulous place to enjoy views over the islands and enjoy the colourful sunsets with a chilled drink.
Ko Chang is one of Thailand's most beautiful islands with long white sandy beaches, many half-deserted. The island is also home to a wide range of wildlife and the many small islands around it are the perfect setting for snorkelling, diving and kayaking.
Ko Samet is the largest and westernmost of a cluster of islands, a haven for immersing yourself in nature and jungle trekking. Most of the island is in the Khao Laem Ya–Mu Ko Samet National Park, established in 1981 under the protection of the National Parks Division of the Thai Government.
Koh Tao is Thailand's numer one scuba diving destination boasting some of Asia's most famous dive sites as well as stunning beaches and secluded bays. A true tropical island paradise, Koh Tao is reminiscent of Koh Samui several decades ago and is unique both above and below the water. Offering hard and soft coral reefs, pinnacles and large pelagics, in crystal waters at 24 degrees, divers can also swim with the huge whale sharks that frequent the coast at certain times of the year.
Mu Ko Ang Thong is a marine national park in the Gulf of Thailand, an archipelago covering 42 islands of 102 km². It is almost entirely uninhabited, and consists of limestone mountains between 10-400 meters above sea level. Over the years the limestone has been altered and eroded by weather conditions to produce strange-looking caves and cliffs visible from the sea and a great adventure by sea kayak.
For more information and assistance with itineraries please contac Charlie Dwyer:
Tel: +66 77 430 099 / +66 80 166 122