Traveling Sailsman
See the world by sailing

The Gulf of Thailand

Great sailing destination

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Sailing in the Gulf of Thailand is a relatively new thing. Tourism is more developed around the east coast of Thailand and in particular Phuket. The tsunami free waters of the Gulf contain some great islands to visit such as Koh Chang, Koh Samet, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Ko Kut and the Vietnamese Dao Phu Quoc. There is also the impressive karst rock islands of the Ang Thong National Park that still has a settlement of semi-nomadic Sea Gypsies.

The Gulf of Thailand is about 320,000 Km squared in size. It is a relatively new mass of water as it didn’t exist before the last ice age. This large body of water is also known to the Malays as the Gulf of Siam and to the Cambodians as the Shallow Arm of the South China Sea. The Gulf is bordered by Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Below the Gulf of Thailand is the South China Sea with Malaysia, China and Indonesia nearby.

The Gulf of Thailand is nearly enclosed by the countries surrounding it. Before the last Ice Age it was the river bed for the Chao Phraya River. The tectonic fault line runs on the over side of Indonesia. Consequently, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami missed the Gulf.

It is not a deep body of water. The average depth is just 45 meters. The maximum depth is 80 meters. The Gulf is low in salinity – just 3.05 to 3.25%. In contrast the Gulf is rich in sediments, most of which come from the Chao Phraya River, Mae Klong and the Bang Pakong.

The three great attractions for yachting in the Gulf are:

  • The warm waters and good conditions;
  • The great destinations for mooring in such islands as Koh Phangan, Koh Tao and Koh Samui;
  • The great diving opportunities.

The Gulf has good weather all year round and warm tropical waters. The only exception is during the monsoon which comes down from the north and usually hits the Gulf in October / November.

Some of the best tourist spots in Thailand are found in the Gulf of Thailand. You can sunbathe on the beautiful beaches of Koh Phangan such as Haad Salad, Haad Yao and Thong Nai Pan. It is also the home of the infamous Full Moon Party. Koh Samui offers several impressive 5 star and designer hotels including a Conrad. Koh Tao is an unspoiled paradise and one of the cheapest places in the world to learn scuba diving.

It is a great shame that the oil spill of summer 2013 damaged some of the beaches around Koh Samet, which is a popular weekend holiday spot for Thais living in Bangkok.

Although most divers choose the Andaman Coast the Gulf offers some great diving opportunities. The best of which are Sail Rock, Chumphon Pinnacles and Ang Thong National Marine Park. You can see reef sharks around Koh Tao. It is also possible to see the world’s largest fish, the Whale Shark in the Gulf.

With the growing popularity of Gulf cruises and yachting trips it is becoming more realistic to pick up work crewing. Thailand and Vietnam have experienced booms in their economies and as a consequence there are more millionaires looking to sail around the Gulf.

Possible places to moor include Thongsala, Thong Nai Pan (Koh Phangan), Bophut (Koh Samui) and Mae Haad (Koh Tao)

The tsunami free waters of the Gulf contain some great islands to visit such as Koh Chang, Koh Samet, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Ko Kut and the Vietnamese Dao Phu Quoc.