Phang Nga Bay is an incredible inlet that lies between Phuket Island and Krabi on Thailand’s mainland. Stretching out over a captivating 400-square kilometer, it is home to over 100 spectacular islands, many of which are secluded and uninhabited. Located approximately 45 minutes from Phuket, it is best reached by a fast boat.
Phang Nga bay gets its name from the indigenous people (Pangan) of the Malay Peninsula and the islands that surround it. The province of Phang Nga has many folklores of pirates, sea-gypsies, and fishermen dating back centuries. A lot of locals of Phang Nga still maintain the traditional and humble lifestyle that their ancestors followed, making a living out of fishing. While many others have immersed themselves in the growing tourist trade and work as guides now.
Phang Nga Bay's Claim to Fame
Besides its rich folklore, Phang Nga Bay is widely popular for its astoundingly gorgeous limestone karsts that jut out of the sea. Sprouting with lush tropical vegetation these colorful islets were carved out over a million years, and now showcase some of the most striking sea caves in the world spread across the largest mangrove reserve in Thailand
Phang Nga Bay earned its fame and popularity by being featured in many Hollywood blockbusters such as the Star Wars and James Bond films. Its dazzling emerald waters, panoramic scenery, and unique landscape attract thousands of tourists from across the world.
Traveling To and Around Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is about 20 km north of Phuket Island, 40 km from the Tha Dan Pier where you can board a boat that will take you to the bay. You can also choose other options such as private cars, taxis, and buses available from Phuket Island.
Explore the bay by taking a boat ride, a longtail kayak, luxury yacht, car, or even on a bike–each mode of travel offers its own unique experience of experiencing this natural wonderland.
Kayaking along the bay offers a fascinating experience floating your way through gigantic cliffs in absolute tranquility absorbing the marvelous sights of the cliffs and caves. A fancier way of exploring Phang Nga is on a luxury cruise admiring the magnificent cliffs towering above your heads, sipping on a chilled glass of wine on the deck. Longtail boat rides are easier to book from the Phang Nga Bay harbor or Surakul Pier.
Must-See at Phang Nga
Phang Nga Bay's main attraction is the immense limestone cliffs that jut out everywhere in the bay. Some of the landmarks are more attractive and visited for their own reasons.
Let's see what makes each of these destinations unique and worth visiting:
James Bond Island
The popular ‘James Bond Island’ is famous for a movie called ‘The Man with the Golden Gun.’ This rock formation is actually called Koh Tapu, which means ‘Nail Islan,’ due to its intriguing elongated and distorted shape. A small island adjacent to it sees many longtail boats with tourists who disembark for an unmissable photo opportunity of the ‘James Bond Island.’
Pace the twenty steps that got their fame due to the suspenseful duel scene starring Roger Moore. Or stroll across a large limestone fissure to a sea cave that opens up to jaw-dropping views of the Andaman Sea. It is lined by two small beaches to admire the scenery from.
Limestone Caves and Hongs
Explore the countless limestone caves and rooms known as ‘Hongs’ of Phang Nga Bay. Local guides provide a canoe to witness these extraordinary natural wonders. During certain tides, massive cave systems can be accessed to discover scenic emerald lagoons. At low tide, small gaps appear along the water’s edge on many islands, opening up access to magnificent hongs formed as a result of collapsed caves whose remnants have been washed out to the sea. These often give access to areas encircled by vertical limestone cliffs with lush jungle canopies.
Koh Panyee Cave Paintings
Built entirely on stilts, the Koh Panyee village is inhabited by locals who live mainly from fishing and tourism. It is fascinating to see a huge golden-roofed mosque, market stalls, and family homes resting on stilts over the water flanked by dramatic limestone cliffs.
Near Koh Panyee village is a prominent site recognized for its ancient cave paintings. It is believed that sea-gypsies and Malay fishermen from bygone days have created these paintings. These earth-hued colorful drawings depict local wildlife and the daily activities of the era.
The Cave of the Reclining Buddha
One of the noteworthy landmarks in Phuket is Wat Suwan Khuha with its huge golden reclining Buddha hidden inside a cave. This area is notorious for naughty monkeys who are known to pull the antennas and rubber strips from cars. Be cautious.
Laem Haad Beach
Stretching to the very north of Koh Yao Yai is the Laem Haad Beach which is a gorgeous strip of coastline. Private cruises usually stop here on the way back from Phang Nga Bay for a brief while to allow you to enjoy the soft sand, fringed with coconut palms, standing against breathtaking views of the ocean. There are plenty of other beautiful beaches surrounding the Bay that are worth visiting.
An extraordinary landscape offering picturesque views with a touch of history and local life, Phang Nga Bay is truly a delightful destination. Many tourists are so enamored by the beauty of this scenic island that they decide to make it their home.
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