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Sumptuous Sailing: Southeast Asia’s Top Luxury Boat Journeys

Romantic river journeys. Champagne sunsets on the Andaman. Historic voyages between majestic capitals. For a unique experience in Southeast Asia, sometimes the best way is to slow down and go with the flow of the region’s spectacular waterways.

Nam Jai River Cruise – Chiang Mai

The Ping River, known locally as the Mae Ping, is a storied waterway that cuts a meandering route through the northern Thai capital of Chiang Mai, passing historic neighbourhoods, busy street markets, gilded temples, and historic bridges. On a Mae Ping cruise, you’ll see a more serene side of Chiang Mai — one that has changed very little from the days when the river was the city’s main thoroughfare. Offering new avenues of discovery for guests, Anantara Chiang Mai Resort has introduced trips on Nam Jai, the resort’s newly-launched vintage teak rice barge that has been lovingly restored.

Setting sail from the resort's newly constructed private pier, Long Muan — "fun sailing" in the local Lanna dialect — the Nam Jai offers two distinct itineraries for guests to choose from. A sunrise cruise takes visitors on a route from the resort pier to Wat Ket Karam temple, passing beneath famous local bridges along the way. Guests can make merit at the temple and try some of Chiang Mai’s street eats at local food stalls. Or there’s the option for a twilight sailing aboard the Nam Jai, seeing the sights at golden hour with free-flow bubbles and canapés.

Loy Pela Voyages – Bangkok

Embarking on longer river journeys, the stylish Loy Pela Voyages fleet whisks voyagers away on a historic Chao Phraya adventure. Loy Dream and Loy River Song are two teak rice barges converted into vintage-style luxury cruisers, with private rooms, open-air lounge decks, and décor that recalls old Siam. Journeys launch from Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, heading upriver to the UNESCO Heritage Site of Ayutthaya, the former royal capital.

Cruises reach Ayutthaya in time for sunset cocktails overlooking the Gothic-style Wat Niwet Thammaprawat, one of the city’s 16 noteworthy temples. Gourmet lunch, dinner, and brunch are all served on the boat’s shaded open deck, where you can enjoy Thailand's rural landscapes rolling by. When you’re not admiring the scenery from your deck chair, enjoy an on-board massage or relax in your spacious private stateroom.

Mekong Kingdoms – Golden Triangle and Luang Prabang

The majestic Mekong River flows from the Golden Triangle at the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, all the way down to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. At the northern part of the journey, it cuts through limestone mountains and thick jungle — ancient scenery dotted with villages and sacred Buddhist sites.

Mekong Kingdoms’ elegant fleet of teak boats connects Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort in Chiang Rai, Thailand, to Avani+ Luang Prabang Hotel in Luang Prabang, Laos. A three-day/four-night journey treats you to private accommodation in a lavish stateroom, shore excursions like temple and cave tours, on-board activities, and gourmet meals. Want to see more of Northern Laos? Choose from Mekong Kingdoms’ day excursions or charter a boat for your own private sailing.

The Major Affair – Phuket

A glitzy gem in the sparkling Andaman, Phuket is the perfect playground for a little ocean indulgence. Enter the Major Affair, Anantara Layan Phuket Resort’s 90-foot Sunseeker yacht. This luxurious crewed vessel comes equipped with four cabins, two dining areas, a swimming platform, and multiple sundecks.

Available for day charters complete with captain and butler, the Andaman is your oyster — visit Phi Phi Island, explore stunning Phang Nga Bay with its vista of limestone cliffs and powder-white islets, break out the bubbly for sunset drinks, or have a private party with your best mates.

The Major Affair is also ideal for families: charter a course to kid-friendly waters and take advantage of the wakeboards, inflatables, and water skis on board.

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