Southern Thailand is a wonderful place to sail, swim and snorkel, although many attractions have become victims of their own success and are very busy.
Perhaps the best way to experience this part of the world is by boat, making the journey as big a part of the adventure as the actual destination, and avoiding crowds in the process.
We’ve picked three very different types of cruises to give you an idea of just how much choice there is when it comes to Thailand and cruising.
When you are planning your next getaway, why not combine all three into an ultimate Thailand cruising holiday?
1. Star Clipper seven-night Andaman Sea cruise from Phuket
The Star Clipper may look like she’s from another age, but she was completed in 1992, one of a trio of tall ships built for Swedish cruise company Star Clippers Ltd. You can read more about the history of the clipper, her owner and his dreams here.
Star Clipper was the first ship in this class built since 1912, so any journey on her is, in its own way, a journey in time.
A word of warning: Star Clipper plies her trade far and wide, and has room for only 170 pampered passengers. There are plenty of alternative cruises from Phuket … but this one is particularly special.
She’s a four-master and looks imposing. But, compared with the behemoths that make up the bulk of large cruise ships, she’s a baby. As a result, she can slip into places that those big beasts can’t.
A seven-day cruise from Phuket will take in islands, national parks, mangrove forests, craggy limestone outcrops, and beaches – lots of beaches.
Some passengers don’t leave the vessel during the trip, losing themselves in nostalgia and the noise of 16 singing sails.
2. Nautiness in a marine park
If the Star Clipper is too much of a commitment, there are countless private charter options.
On Koh Samui, Thailand’s second-largest island, you’ll find Nautiness Sailing. Their catamaran, the Nautiness II, carries up to six passengers, on day-trips or for longer jaunts.
Head for Angthong National Marine Park and beyond, enjoy snorkeling or diving and just chill. There’s a discount for children so this is definitely one for families to consider.
3. River cruising: Bangkok to Ayutthaya
If the bustle of Bangkok is getting too much for you, the perfect antidote is a two-day trip up the Chao Phraya River to Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya was the Thai capital until the 18th century, and one of the first things you will see as you approach is the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, or Summer Palace.
In fact, you’ll cruise past another palace, the Grand Palace, and may stop at Arun Wat temple.
A great option for this trip is a converted rice barge, which is such an elegant and intimate way to travel.