One of the best ways to explore South East Asia is by luxury yacht charter, so YachtCharterFleet takes a closer look at cruising the region's spectacular waters.
South East Asia is approximately three times the size of the Mediterranean and, a melting pot of exotic cultures and multiple island-chains, the captivating region offers a rich palette of cruising opportunities for the discerning traveller.
A relative newcomer on the superyacht scene, this vast area has seen an increase in the number of people chartering in its waters over the past few years as well the number of luxury charter yachts available.
These cruising grounds also serve as an alternative to the popular hotspots of the Caribbean. Both are best visited over the winter months, yet South East Asia is much more suited to those who wish to get off the beaten track for a more exclusive and exciting yacht charter experience.
THAILAND: The darling of South East Asia
A long-time favourite among the jetset, Thailand is leading the way for South East Asia’s burgeoning charter market and, laced with an abundance of beautiful beaches, secluded coves and azure waters, it’s clear to see why the country has transformed into the region’s yachting hub.
Lapped by the glittering waters of the Andaman Sea, Phuket is the gateway to superyacht charters on Thailand’s west coast. Discover the sheer limestone karsts of nearby Phang Nga Bay, sail south to explore hundreds of uninhabited islands or head northwest to the colourful archipelago of the Similan Islands before reaching the five Surin Islands that make up the Mu Koh Surin National Park.
The cruising options, however, do not end here. Less frequented by charter yachts, but similarly beautiful, is the Gulf of Thailand where the blissful islands of Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangnan and Koh Chang offer endless adventure and romance.
One of the top yachts available to charter in Thailand is the 73m/240ft superyacht TITANIA. Delivered by Lurssen in 2006 and refitted in 2012, she boasts multiple amenities such as a massage room and beauty salon, glass-panelled gym, oversized Jacuzzi with swim-up bar and a stunning Francois Zuretti interior.
The 68m/223ft Nobiskrug superyacht ‘Triple Seven’ is another great option and sure to impress with her minimalistic interior, chic beach club, steam room and expansive outdoor areas, while Oceanfast’s 40m/132ft superyacht ‘Lady Arraya’ is another luxurious platform from which to explore the region.
The eye-catching 41m/134ft superyacht ‘Ocean Emerald’, meanwhile, is dedicating her winter season to charters in the Similan & Surin Islands. Designed by Foster & Partners, her innovative design is unmissable on the water and promises guests the upmost comfort.
MYANMAR: An untouched oasis of natural wonder
The perfect destination for discerning sailors, the extraordinary waters of Myanmar present the rare opportunity to traverse unexplored territory and spend the duration of your vacation without encountering any other human life.
Superyacht activity here tends to centre on the southern Mergui Archipelago, home to a collection of 800 pristine islands characterised by rainforest-clad mountain ranges and white beaches. Truly off the tourist trail, the region is replete with fascinating underwater life as well as jungle-dwelling wildlife.
Truly off the tourist trail, the region is replete with fascinating underwater life as well as jungle-dwelling wildlife
Lacking the yachting infrastructure of Thailand, Myanmar charters often commence in Phuket, yet there is a selection of fine charter yachts with the appropriate licences. Take the 45m/148ft superyacht ‘Big Fish’, for example. Boasting a transatlantic range of 10,000nm and a whole host of cutting-edge features, she is ideal for uncovering the Mergui waters.
INDONESIA: Infinite adventures in the waiting
Indonesia, the world’ largest archipelago, stretches over 5,000 kilometres between Asia and Australia. The country’s 17,000 islands are home to some of the most unspoilt environments on earth and offer a diverse selection of charter opportunities.
An up-and-coming charter destination, the island-chain is gradually being recognised as a haven for those who wish to escape the tourist trail. The areas most suited to superyacht exploration are the Lesser Sunda Islands of Lombok, Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Sumbawa. All are resplendent in natural beauty and are endowed with their own unique character.
There is also the 1,500 island-strong archipelago of Raja Ampat, located in the West Papua province. Incorporating the four main islands of Misool, Salawati, Batanta and Waigeo, the region is also home to 75 percent of all known coral species and a magnificent range of other marine life.
Charter yachts in Indonesia will add to the authentic feel of your cruising experience as they take inspiration from traditional Indonesian vessels
What’s more, a number of charter yachts in Indonesia will add to the authentic feel of your cruising experience as they take inspiration from traditional Indonesian vessels known as phinisi and crafted by native boat builders using time-honoured methods and local materials.
Yet, these yachts are also equipped with multiple modern amenities and innovations to rival the luxury yachts of the Mediterranean. The very best example of what is possible in phinisi construction is the 51m/167ft luxury phinisi ‘Dunia Baru’, which offers smooth and reliable sailing, world-class marine systems, luxurious interiors and unique design features.
Other offerings from the Konjo Build Builders include the 50m/164ft luxury phinisi SILOLONA and the 40m/132ft luxury phinisi ‘Si Datu Bua’, and the 40m/130ft luxury phinisi ‘Mutiara Laut’ – translated as ‘pearl of the sea’ - will be cruising through the archipelago this winter too.
MALAYSIA: A cornucopia of spectacular contrasts
Malaysia is not so well known for its superyacht opportunities, but this is not to say that they don’t exist. In fact, a number of world-class marinas call the country home and, in recent years, there has been a sharp spike in tourism with the charter industry expected to follow suit.
A luxury yacht charter in Malaysia is most likely to centre on Langkawi, a collection of 99 islands synonymous with paradise. Located off the northeast coast of the peninsular, the archipelago boasts modern facilities and is in easy reach of the colourful, cultural and cuisine-centric island of Penang.
Not to be forgotten are the less well-known islands of the east coast laced in the turquoise waters of the South China Sea, while the waters of Kota Kinabalu and Sipidan in Malaysian Borneo are ideal for sailing and, on land, guests can come face-to-face with Orangutans and other spectacular wildlife.
Jump on board the 36m/116ft Azimut motor yacht ‘Hye Seas II’ and be one of the first to explore these captivating cruising grounds by superyacht. Based out of Marina One 15 in Singapore, she is in easy reach of Malaysia and also charters in the Indonesian Riau Archipelago.
SINGAPORE: A multicultural melting pot of opportunity
An island-nation located off the southern tip of Malaysia, Singapore offers a unique charter experience. At its hub is the main island of Pulau Ujong, which is well-suited to host day charters as well as corporate yacht charters around the waterways of Singapore City.
Take in glittering cityscapes of the urban playground or venture further afield to take in the country’s other 62 islands. Featuring gleaming Buddhist temples and an exotic array of flora and fauna, it is well worth adventuring beyond the city.
In close proximity to Malaysia and Indonesia, a visit to Singapore is easily incorporated into a larger itinerary of South East Asia and, as a modern metropolis, is equipped with the appropriate superyacht facilities and hosts the annual Singapore Yacht Show in the spring.
THE PHILIPPINES: An island-hopper’s paradise
The second largest archipelago on the planet, the Philippines is a yacht lover’s paradise with 7,600 islands to explore. Much of the charter activity takes place in the south of the island-chain, rife with sun-kissed gems such as Puerto Galera, Boracay, Coron, Puerto, Princesa and Cebu to explore.
Dive aficionados will love the rich marine life and world-class dive sites on offer and the waters are well suited for a variety of water sports, while all will be mesmerized by stunning vistas of fine, white sand beaches and jungle-clad mountain tops.
The north of the Philippines are worth a visit too as intricate rice terraces carved into mountainsides are one of Asia’s must-see sights. In fact, the Banaue Rice Terraces are often dubbed the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’.
Other charter yachts available throughout South East Asia this winter include the colourful 69m/226ft superyacht SALUZI from Australian shipyard Austal. Styled on a modern beach house theme, her interiors are extremely chic, and her long list of amenities includes two Jacuzzis on the sundeck, a spa and gym, open air cinema, karaoke bar and dive centre.
Engineered as a go-anywhere explorer, the 209ft/64m expedition yacht SuRi will also be gracing the Asian waters over the upcoming months. As well as a helicopter, seaplane and diverse range of water toys, she boasts a, Jacuzzi, cinema and, spa and massage room for the very best in excitement, relaxation and luxury.