Southeast Asia and East Asia
The Far East is the home of a very distinct tradition in seafaring. It was the Empire of Ancient China with its junks that sent the largest sailing vessels ever built offshore. The Dutch, French and British colonies incorporated most of the coastal areas of Asia. Back then, the rich agricultural production and weak military attracted Western powers – today sailors come with much more peaceful intentions.
Japan attracts with its modern, urban lifestyle and highly developed facilities. Thailand is an extremely touristy spot in Asia, not only on land, but increasingly with cruisers, too. China is open to visitors now. Gradually many of the formerly tourism-hostile countries such as Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia now allow sailors to enter. Others, such as North Korea, remain closed or at least difficult to approach for international cruisers.
Beyond that, Southeast Asia is the World’s headquarter of excessive piracy. The Southern Philippines, Malaysia and most of Indonesia are very dangerous – if you still chose to sail there, check news reports and follow the local monitoring of piracy incidents. The main targets of pirates are traditionally cargo ships and local fishermen, but with “commercial” kidnappings in combination with religious fundamentalism and international terror, the whole piracy thing currently undergoes some fundamental changes. Not necessarily for the good of cruisers.
More than a stop-over on the way to Australia
On the other hand, the political situation in formally Socialist countries on the continent gradually relaxes at least towards tourism. There is still a lot of bureaucracy and constrictions make a sailor’s life painful, but generally things improve rapidly. Therefore, this scenic area should gain popularity in the future. In a few years, Asia might rival the Caribbean and it is already well worth to keep an eye on the region.
All of Asia provides great opportunities to get involved with a huge range of different cultures, religions and cuisines. Private individuals are generally very inviting, although officials and formalities often keep sailors from enjoying their stay. The weather situation can be a big minus for the area as well: Storms – typhoons – are often unpredictable and a serious threat to cruising yachts.
To sum it up: Southeast and East Asia are exceptionally great regions and attractive destinations. However, legal constraints in many countries, safety issues and often challenging sailing conditions make it unsuitable for inexperienced sailors and people with a need for security.
Destination Guide by Country