Cruising in the Eastern Gulf of Thailand.
A report to encourage cruisers to explore this “Pearl of the Orient”. A report from Karin and Tony Stubbs who have recently visited this little known corner of the world.
Published 9 years ago, updated 4 years ago
It is a shame that so few yachts venture out to this region because it offers the best cruising in SE Asia with good constant winds, fine weather in the NE monsoon, very good sheltered anchorages in <10m and no typhoons!
There are more than 80 islands in the Thai region alone and more in Cambodia. Now that formalities in Cambodia have become easier to accomplish and the costs are manageable there is no reason anymore to stay away from this “Pearl of the Orient”.
We hope to encourage cruisers with this up to date information (January 2014) to think seriously about this excellent cruising ground and please: Visit!
The best time to arrive in the Gulf of Thailand’s East coast is by the end of October as there is still a bit of West in the wind. The most favourable sailing course is from Kho Samui but to depart from Terengganu in Malaysia is also possible but there can be more wind on the nose (NW). In November the wind becomes light and variable and you can use this weather to sail more north to Kho Samet and the top of the Gulf (Sattahip, Pattaya and lovely Kho Si Chang).
Be on the lookout for remnants of typhoons which can pass over Vietnam and then go over the Gulf. There are excellent protected anchorage all the way along the coast and the islands of Thailand. Around the beginning of December the NE monsoon should be felt and when there is a monsoon surge it can blow hard for up to 20 km for days but again there is good shelter on all the islands.
In January the monsoon is established and it can blow hard for more than a week. The strongest winds (20-25 knots) are at night and the early morning till around 11-12 am and then the wind can go down to 8-10 knots. That is when you can move around and hop to another island.
Look at www.maybagyo.com/t2kgraphsat.gif for typhoons and monsoon surges. Take into account that there is almost always a bit of swell, mostly from the NW or the SW and at times it can be very rolly.
There are still thunderstorms in October and November but by December they have disappeared and then it is cool, sunny, dry and ideal sailing weather.
Clearance Custom and Immigration at Pattaya
Clearing in/out in Thailand at Pattaya: The Immigration office is at Jomtien beach, close to the Post Office. Clearing in and clearing out cost 200 Baht each way.
Customs is miles away to the North at Leam Chabang Port where the Port Authorities are. You have to take a minibus direction Si Racha and then ask to be dropped off at “the port”. Immigration can explain this. With a motorbike taxi, you get there. Cost clearing in and out Customs: 220 Baht.
1. Water can be bought in 20 Liter bottles. Tap water can be used for washing etc.
2. Fuel on Kho Chang at the north top of Chai Chet Bay, just a short walk on the main road there is a pump.
3. Money: there are everywhere ATM’s often in combination with a 7-11 mini-market.
4. Laundry: there are many places for laundry, prices vary.
5. Cooking gas: Thai gas bottles can be exchanged or bought, but not hired on deposit. Other gas bottles cannot be filled. Best is to go to Gulf Charters or Dieter at Island View Resort in Salak Phet and ask if you can borrow a bottle.
6. Shopping: Shopping is basic on the islands. There are many Tesco Lotus mini-markets and 7-11 stores on Kho Chang but not on the smaller islands where there are a small family owned shops. There are also some independent supermarkets, especially on Kho Chang which sell things liked by Westerners, like cheese, sausages, bacon, wholemeal flour, muesli, etc. Alcohol is expensive compared to duty-free islands in Malaysia or to Cambodia (where alcohol is very cheap). For anything luxury, you have to go to Trat or Pattaya. Latest news: there just opened (1 Feb 2014) a big Tesco Lotus supermarket on Koh Chang.
7. The Internet is expensive (900 Bth for one month) for both AIS and True Move (3G). Unfortunately, on some islands, AIS works good but not True Move and vice versa. You will end up with two sim cards.
Two places rarely visited but recommended:
This is a lovely area with many islands around Samea San and a very protected bay around Sattahip town. Sattahip is a Navy Base and there are restrictions on anchoring. The two best anchoring spots are:
1. Town N 12′.39.6 E 100′.54.0)
2. Ao Chuk Samet (N 12′ 38.5 E 100’55.4).
3. Lovely beach anchorage when there is no swell: N 12′ 37.17 E 100′ 55.02
Samea San Town has an interesting museum of Natural History which is worth a visit. It is also the only town with a coin laundromat.
KHO SI CHANG (photo above)
This is a small but lovely island with an interesting town with a big temple. Unfortunately, the waters around this island are used as a transfer point for cargo. Hundreds of barges with sand/flour/sugar from the Plains around Bangkok are emptying their cargo to bulk carriers here. In one way it is interesting to see how this part of the economy works, it is very busy with the coming and going of ships, tugs, tows and small supply ships. There are not many tourists on Kho Si Chang because there are hardly any beaches but it is absolutely worth a visit. The anchorage West of the lighthouse near the ferry docks is away from all the hubbub and when you are eventually on the island everything is far away. There is a ferry every hour to Si Racha from where you can take a bus to Pattaya.
We hope this information is useful and that you will choose to visit this superb cruising area and have as much fun as we had.
Karin and Tony Stubbs
SV “Amber Nectar” a Sweden Yachts Comfort 34.
(All photos © Karin Stubbs)