Behan and her husband Jamie, who first met racing in Long Island Sound, dreamt of a life on a sailboat traveling the world with their family. They gave up their fast-paced and chaotic lifestyles and chose a nomadic life where they could raise their children in harmony with nature aboard their cruising boat, Totem. Today we would like to share with you one of Behan’s review about sailing in Thailand. You can read more about their adventures and stay updated on Totem’s whereabouts on Behan’s blog, Sailing Totem.
Thailand is a popular cruising destination, well covered by charter businesses and frequented by private boats. We spent six months over two seasons sailing the Thailand’s Andaman coast: how did it rate?
The best of cruising Thailand may send you booking a ticket with your next click! Here’s what we loved:
Stunning natural beauty
Diverse attractions provided picturesque anchorages, from the limestone spires of Phang Nga bay, to the sparkling clear water in the marine parks offshore.
Local cuisine is a treat for the senses, artful balance between sweet, salty, spicy and sour; restaurants on shore offered delectable meals for lower cost than we could cook on the boat.
Local prices are good, and wages are low, so it was affordable to do more on shore. Whether that was a restaurant meal, a taxi ride, or a ticket to the movies, prices were relatively inexpensive.
Provisioning your boat before going farther afield is a snap in Phuket! Produce in local markets is exceptionally fresh. When we craved the familiar, imported food was easy to find, and western-style bulk stores are a provisioning dream.
Bangkok is a major international hub, and a little patience can score affordable flights with easy domestic connections to wherever your boat is.
Unlike most of Southeast Asia, where equatorial latitudes turn trade winds into doldrums, there’s great sailing to be found along the coast of Thailand.
These are all reasons to consider Thailand for a cruising or charter destination, but a few aspects detracted from our experience overall:
Mediocre underwater environment
Tourist sites proclaim Thailand as a top dive destination; that was probably true years ago. While water clarity is good, pollution taints the experience and overfishing leaves you wondering: where are all the finned friends?
It’s very touristy
While it’s handy to have an established service infrastructure for visitors, there are few unique experiences. Clueless tourists on jet skis, raucous booze cruises, and locally-driven daytripper boats recklessly hot-rodding around made it hard to enjoy some days.
It was difficult to engage Thai people in conversation unless they were trying to sell us something.
Thailand is just one among more than two dozen countries we’ve experienced as cruisers. Although the reasons we loved it are more numerous than those we didn’t, they nonetheless leave Thailand with a mixed review on our list. We’d happily revisit and surely enjoy ourselves, but find other places more appealing.
Behan Gifford has been cruising with her family since 2008, and enjoyed Thailand but misses the South Pacific much more than Southeast Asia.