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Sailing In Thailand At Christmas
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Sailing In Thailand at Christmas

If you’re up-to-the-gunnels with Jingle Bells and shopping crowds, tinsel and turkey, worrying about which in-laws will be least offended if you don’t spend The Day with them… then sailing for Christmas in a tropical Buddhist country might seem a perfect escape.

A fine plan – but if you really want to get away from it all, you’ll have to try somewhere like Tibet these days. Santa’s already arrived in Thailand, he and his elves have been busy little bees there for years now !

Seriously – even though Thailand is over 90% Buddhist, fairy lights and sleigh bells will still be adorning shopping centres and bars by December. The Buddhist culture is very easy-going about celebrating other religion’s events – and the Thais love any excuse for a party ! Of course, it is also an excuse to boost the great western traditional of Retail Therapy; but at least without a lot of the family expectations and stresses of home.

The Thais are very practical when it comes to mixing and matching traditions. Buddhism being such a tolerant religion, there’s no issues with dressing up their (non-Buddhist) household spirit houses with Santa hats and Christmas lights. Why not adopt any celebration of joy, peace and compassion – it’s what religion is supposed to be about after all – isn’t it ? It’s also instructive to remember that the origins of a December party-time weren’t 2000-odd years ago – the ancient roots lie in the old pagan winter solstice, with traditions of gift-giving, holly, mistletoe and lots of decadent feasting!

So if getting-away-from-it-all totally is your goal, then Thailand probably isn’t the escape you’re looking for. However, if you still love all the fun, party aspects of Christmas – without the stress and hassle of home - you’ll have a blast !

New Year’s Eve is a big deal too - the Thais love fireworks, and this is a one super-dooper excuse for them to let off steam and sparks in a huge way ! On the bigger islands, the firework displays are very impressive, rivaling those of any major city in the western world.

On our sailing trips, we always make sure to time our Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve on islands where we know there’ll be a fun party atmosphere – but not TOO big, to be lost in crowds and commercialism. If you’re sailing around the Phuket area, we’d highly recommend Ko Lanta and Ko Muk - some of the greatest beach barbies (yes, including turkey for those who can’t live without it !), fireworks - and a really fun, everyone-talks-to-everyone-else atmosphere. It feels like the Christmas celebration of peace and joy that it should be.

If you’re planning to stay on the land in hotel accommodation over Christmas and New Year’s – be warned about an odd hotel tradition in Thailand - they have compulsory “gala nights”, where you are obliged to eat dinner at their restaurant; at vastly extravagant prices ! (OK, so you can eat where you like – but you’ll still find your “gala dinner” on the bill). If you’re lucky enough to be sailing around for Christmas - go ashore early and check on the gala dinner scene – some places will do it Christmas Eve, some Christmas Day and some Boxing Day – so you’ll always find somewhere at the usual (great!) local prices.

The weather for sailing at Christmas is perfect - it is well into their dry NE monsoon season. You may get the occasional tropical downpour, so still pack those lightweight waterproofs! - but on the whole, you’ll have sunny skies and mellow breezes. (This applies to sailing around Phuket and Ko Chang, which share the same NE monsoon season - you don’t want to be sailing around Ko Samui at this time of year).

Sailing companies around Phuket/ Langkawi and Ko Chang have mushroomed in recent years – there will be plenty of choice between bareboats for experienced sailors, or a crewed yacht for sailing newbies / those who prefer a little more luxury. Or - forthe smart experienced sailor, who knows the value of local knowledge ! In some parts of the world, it’s crazily expensive to charter a crewed yacht – but in Thailand, it’s well worth considering. With local costs being still relatively low, crewed yacht operators can afford to stay well within the budget of Joe Sailor. And the luxury of having your very own Thai cook on board is a tongue-tingling decadence which is simply off the planet !!


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