You can spend hours on the secluded beaches and snorkelling through clouds of exotic fish, before dining in restaurants that serve aromatic fresh food. Whether you want serene islands or the lively capital, Thailand has a place for everyone.
Start in the capital, Bangkok, and be enthralled by the spectacular temples and bustling pace of life, then enjoy some well-earned downtime in picturesque Phuket.
Popular ports in Thailand
Bangkok (Laem Chabang)
With its grand temples, ornate palaces and lively markets, Bangkok is a city like no other. Once you arrive in Laem Chabang, you’ll need to head straight off to the city or on to an excursion, as there’s very little to do at the port itself. It’s a two-hour drive to Bangkok and there are plenty of taxis offering set fares if your cruise line doesn’t have an excursion set up. Once you arrive in Bangkok, prepare to be amazed. The fascinating city has everything from huge skyscrapers to ancient monuments, with tranquil temples and bustling markets. Try the delectable Thai street food as you explore the city, and get to know its labyrinth of canals on a boat tour. There’s a huge number of temples to explore, but the most incredible are Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
On the south-west of Thailand is Phuket, popular for its laid-back vibes, clusters of caves and incredible snorkelling. Ports vary depending on the time of year you visit. During monsoon season, cruises dock at Phuket Deep Sea Port, just 20 minutes to Phuket Town. Otherwise you’ll moor off Patong Beach and boat into shore. Even if you dock at Phuket, a trip to Patong Beach is a must – the sunsets are famous there, as is the spicy, flavoursome food served up in beachside shacks. Also known as ‘the pearl of Thailand’, Phuket is the biggest of all the islands, and has everything from luscious tropical forests to Hollywood-style beaches. While lazing around sipping fruity juices or delicious cocktails on the beach is fantastic, don’t forget to explore Phuket’s surroundings. You can kayak around the majestic limestone caves, snorkel in coral reefs and take speedboat rides around the islands.
Koh Samui is known for its pristine beaches, tropical jungles and serene atmosphere. It’s Thailand’s third-largest island and lies south of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand. Cruise ships anchor off Nathon Pier, sending passengers to the jetty via boats. Once on the pier, you’re a 15-minute walk from the town centre, where you’ll find incredible restaurants serving fresh seafood, shopping complexes and market stalls. Whether you want adventure or luxury, Samui has plenty of variety. You can dive or snorkel around the brilliantly coloured tropical reef, swim in inland lagoons, and explore jungles and temples by bike. You’ll also find an equal number of luxury resorts with indulgent spas, clubs and bars, and Thai cooking classes. There’s enough to do in Samui to fill any amount of time – from an afternoon to a couple of days.
What are the best cruise ships for a cruise to Thailand?
A cruise to Thailand is full of exotic adventures and paradisiacal relaxation, so start your trip in the best way with one of these cruise ships.
Is there a more fitting ship to take you to the sunny islands of Thailand than Sun Princess? With her huge range of amenities, facilities and activities, this ship guarantees world-class entertainment, gourmet dining and luxurious settings. Sun Princess has recently welcomed an exclusive, indulgent spa on board – The Sanctuary. Passengers can enjoy massages and relaxation while taking in lush greenery and a cool sea breeze. The formal dining rooms serve exquisite meals, with new menus every day. From handmade pasta to premium meats, dining on Sea Princess is an experience in itself. During the evening, you can watch theatrical shows, sip drinks in cosy lounge bars, have a go in the casino, or watch films under the stars on the upper deck.
Launched in 2018, the new and incredibly modern Seabourn Ovation has everything you need for a totally luxurious cruise to Thailand. Once you’ve finished exploring the tropical jungles and deserted beaches, head back on board to spacious rooms and plush furnishing, as well as fine wines, glorious hot tubs and Michelin-starred dining. The Spa & Wellness centre has a gym and spa treatments, as well as wellness programs created by the world-leading Dr Andrew Weil. Once you’ve finished working out, you’ll love trying out the food. The gourmet cuisine rivals anything you’d find onshore, and the variety is second-to-none. Make sure to head to the Observation Bar for drinks and a spectacular view, as well as sipping bubbly in the indulgent hot tubs.
Shore excursion ideas
With islands galore, historical and culture hotspots and more gorgeous scenery than you can imagine, excursions on a Thailand tour vary wildly.
Snorkelling and diving
The coastline around Thailand and its islands is truly spectacular, and the best way to see it is from underwater. From Phuket Town, take a boat to Coral Island. You can snorkel or dive, and you’re guaranteed to see the most beautiful exotic fish and underwater creatures. If you’re planning a trip to Krabi, pack your swimming gear too. Ao Nang, just off the Krabi shoreline, is heaving with marine life: more than 200 species of fish and 80 types of coral make their home here. If you’re a first-time diver, join the boat tours out to Koh Poda Nai and Koh Poda Nok.
If you still want to see the incredible sights of the Thai coastline but don’t want to go underwater, book a sea kayaking tour. You can get into places inaccessible to vehicles or on foot, like the dense mangroves, spectacular river canyons and beautiful tidal lagoon tunnels. It’s not as relaxing as the boat tours, but you can get closer to the attractions – and to the wildlife. You could see anything from kingfishers and sea eagles to gibbons and monitor lizards. The limestone sea caves and emerald waters are unforgettable.
Thai cooking classes
If you’re looking for something less strenuous and more cultural, a Thai cooking class is a must. Once you try authentic Thai food, the version at home won’t be the same – so learn to cook it yourself. From Bangkok to Phuket, every major town and city in Thailand and its islands have specialist cookery schools, catering for wannabe-chefs of any ability. You’ll learn how to turn traditional Thai ingredients – like lemongrass, fish sauce and kaffir limes – into delectable dishes.