Phang Nga Bay – Thailand Travel Info

phang-nga-bay-14-800x600-200x150Thailand Travel Guide : Phang Nga bay is an outstandingly pretty region with its amazing natural beauty, lots of islands, limestone karsts, caves and Mangrove trees.

The bay spreads over appox. 400 square Km. and is characterized by distinctive limestone karsts of many different shapes jutting out of the emerald green water of the bay giving Phang Nga bay its unique scenery.

 

 

Quite a big portion of the bay has been announced a national nature reserve on 1981. It is called Ao Phang Nga National Park. The Mangrove forests spread over wide parts of the bay are home to many animals – monkeys, otters, dolphins, sea turtles, as well as many species of birds and fish.

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The bay is located in Phang Nga province, in which you will find the great Khao Lak holiday town with its wonderful beaches and Ton Pariwat National Park with its whitewater rafting which is open all year long. In addition there are other tourist attractions in the area such as ATV’s and elephant trekking, etc.

There are tens of islands in Phang Nga bay, some are small and some are big and many of them could have made the Guinness book of records for their beauty and special shapes. These islands’ Thai names describe their special shapes, such as Khao Mah Ju which means the dog mountain, or Ko Nom Sao which means a woman’s breasts, Ko Tapu which means the nail island or by its more familiar name – James Bond island, etc. I will elaborate about the most important islands which are the target of most cruises to Phang Nga bay.

 

Thailand Travel Guide : Ko Tapu and Ko Ping Gan – Ko Ping Gan means the islands which support one another and james-bond-4-800-arrow-800x600-200x132Ko Tapu means the nail island. These are the most famous islands in Phang Nga bay as the James Bond movie “The man with the golden gun” was shot there.

The movie came out in 1974 with Roger Moor as the legendary James Bond and Christopher Lee as the evil Scaramanga. James Bond is chasing Scaramanga in Hong Kong and Bangkok and their final duel takes place on Ko Tapu. Following the movie Ko Tapu has been nicknamed James Bond island and Phang Nga bay has become a lively tourist attraction.

 

James bond island with its special shape, (narrow at the bottom and wide at the top), has SAM_0269_tnbecome a symbol of Phang Nga bay. There is not a single tourist agency which will not include Ko Tapu island in its cruise program.  Since 1998 boats cannot go anywhere near Ko Tapu. This law has been passed in order to avoid corrosion which can cause the huge limestone karsts to fall into the water, (the island is 4 meters wide at sea level and 8 meters wide at the top).

Due to the many cruises to the island and the growing number of tourists, the island has become dirty and noisy with many peddlers trying to sell you their goods. (To those of you interested to know there are toilets on the island). Despite all of this the place is certainly worth a visit, however, if you go there on a private cruise – it is better off not to go on the island but rather to cruise around it in order to take pretty pictures.

Thailand Travel Guide : Ko Panyee, (the Muslim village)

punyee-1-800x600-200x141Another tourist attraction not far from James Bond island in Phang Nga bay is Ko Panyee or as it is better known – the Muslim village. The village has first been

 

 

 

 

settled by Malay fishermen during the late 18th century. They found Phang Nga bay to be a comfortable and secure place to live in. As the law in Thailand forbids other nationalities from owning a land they built their homes on poles.

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The island is basically a cliff and on its small area there are a mosque and a cemetery. All other buildings are built on poles above the water. It is hard to believe but they even built a football stadium on poles!! Nowadays the place is changing and many of the people living there are poor farmers from Isan province who moved to the village.

There are plenty of memorabilia and other stuff sold there on stalls just like you’d find on other markets in Thailand.

As far as restaurants go – there are many restaurants there and during my last visits they seem to have improved quite a bit in comparison to what was there a few years ago. You can enjoy plenty of great courses including some made of the fresh fish caught by the local fishermen. In late afternoon the place turns into a quite authentic and pleasant village – anyone who would like to feel that atmosphere – is welcome to stay there overnight.

Thailand Travel Guide : Ko Talu Nok – the word Talu means a hole or a crack though which you can see… and the SAM_0238_tnisland fully lives up to its name. There are many caves and hongs with pretty lagoons. These spaces were created when the top part of the caves collapsed into the water, creating spaces without a sealing.

 

Ko Talu island is a great place for kayaking. The beginning point is on a big boat not too far from the place, (there are toilets and a small shop there). The kayaking is done by local experienced Thai guides. They cruise through the many caves small openings on the island and all you have to do is enjoy it… and not forget to duck from time to time when passing through a hole.

** This is a great activity – It is highly recommended.

SAM_0231_tnIn addition to these 3 islands which are included in most of the agencies Phang Nga bay’s cruise programs, it is also possible to visit at Kaho Khian – an old cave with ancient drawings and Khao Mah Ju, which means the Poodle dog mountain, as you can see in the picture, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Thailand Travel Guide :How to get to Phang Nga Bay: as can be seen on the enclosed map Phang Nga bay can be reached either from Phuket or from Krabi, but the easy simple way to reach it is from SAM_0174_tnPhang Nga town. The town is located in the middle of the distance from Phuket to Krabi and approx. an hour by car from the holiday town of Khao Lak and Kaho Suk National Park. There are many piers right next to Kaho Lak where you can rent long tail boats and cruise the bay.

 

 

 

 

 

Thailand Travel Guide : Reccomendation (and information about the different bay cruises): an all included cruise of Phang Nga bay going out of Phang Nga town takes about 3 hours. Cruises going out of Krabi and Phuket are typical tourist traps as pick up from the hotel and cruising all the extra way takes a much longer time.

Thailand Travel Guide : My recommendation: take a private boat from one of the piers on Phang Nga bay and save a lot of time. You can avoid stopping on James Bond island and simply cruise around it instead. In short, enjoy cruising on the bay and do not forget the kayaks on Ko Talu Nok island, (anyone can rent a kayak there).

Please Note: Phang Nga bay, James Bond island, Kayaking to the caves, etc. are all included in “TipTop Travel” : Thailand Private Family Adventure Tours – south Thailand tour programs and in the ultimate Thailand experience, also in the “TipTop Travel” Coast to Coast Thailand Private Family Adventure Tours.

Yours,

Dr. David
Thailand-Expert : Thailand Travel Guide
“TipTop Travel” : Thailand Private Family Adventure Tours

 

About Author

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Dr.David
My name is Dr. David (a former dentist and university lecturer). I’ve been living in Bangkok for the last 9 years. This has allowed me to practice the unusual combination of guiding Thai dentists in advanced courses while becoming thoroughly and pleasantly acquainted with Thailand – the spectacular landscapes, friendly people, colorful culture, delicious food and many other aspects of this wonderful country.