After our 2 hour scenic ride
on the bus from Phuket,
you are dropped off at the bus station
right in front of Mr. Kean's Tour office,
mentioned in the Lonely Planet book.
Pictures of the very few hotels available
in Phang Nga are taped to the walls of his office.
He will drive you to them,
with suitcase and all,
as long as you book a tour through him.
You might as well since,
the only reason you would stay in Phang Nga
is because you are going to visit
the limestone kohs in the bay.
There is nothing much more to visit
in this small town,
except for it's bordering, natural parks.
For 500 Bahts
+ the 200 Baht admission fee,
he offers a full day tour of the bay,
starting at 8:00 am and ending at 4:00 pm.
He also offers:
Half Day Tours at 200 Bahts
Over Night Tours at 450 Bahts
Full Day + Overnight Stay at 750 Bahts
Add on the 200 Baht Park Admission Fee.
Ping Kan (James Bond Island),
Koh Panyi (the Muslim Fishing Village)
Tham Lod Cave (bring the mosquito repellent)
and a ride through the mangroves
battery light (for the caves)
transfer from your hotel
and a guide who speaks English.
The tours are done in a long boat,
and if not too many others have signed up,
it's almost a private tour.
(We only had one other passenger on board)
A big difference
from those motor boats full of tourist
that are offered in Phuket
at a higher rate.
Our driver was safe and responsible
and life jackets are on board.
Half on the island and half in the sea, some muslim fisherman have built a whole village here.
The houses are built on stilts. They have of course to be renovated regularly and so you can't see the supposedly "100 year tradition".
On the small island ground itself, under the high and steep mountain you can see the golden roof of the Mosque. Unfortunately you cannot visit it anymore.
What you can visit anytime are the many small shops and the restaurants (seafood of course) here.
The price of the seafood restaurants are higher than average, the food is good though, as fresh as it can get.
Try not to get lost when you walk through the tiny roads - but don't let that put you off from leaving the main-road with the souvenir stalls.
If you go on the long tail boat trip, there are several ways through the waterarms close to Phang Nga.
If you have a good guide, he will know when it is high tide and then take you through some less travelled side arms. That is not possible at low tide.
There you can have a close look at the Mangroves. One of the very few plants that can live in salt water. Not only that, their roots collect mud and sand and so they create more ground and land - for other plants to follow.
In this unique oekosystem between sea and forest you can find a lot of birds - colorful kingfishers for example.
Don't think these Mangroves are just "plants" and not interesting.
Ko Tapu is the most famous of the islands of Phang Nga. It lies in the little bay of Ko Phing Kan (see there).
It is known world wide because of the James Bond film "The man with the golden gun", where the bad guy had it's headquarter and from this island - or, I would rather call it a big standing stone - the surveillance unit came out of the top.
It is the most visited island here, that is why you find many souvenir shops on Ko Phing Kan. And toilets (good to know, believe me).
Today it is forbidden to swim or boat directly around it. They found that the base has some new holes and they fear, that it will not stand for much longer - so, visit it, while you still can ... and maybe you are the one who will catch it falling. With the camera, I hope ;-)
There are many tour operators running similar kayaking daytrips to Phangnga Bay. I would recommend the one run by Phuket Siam Seacanoe as the guides were great. Many travel agents around Phuket sell this tour or thos run by other operators. The cruiseboat will take you to the various islands and stopped at some islands where you can explore trough kayaking. Usually, only the guide has the paddle while you just sit and relax but you can request to paddle too. The cost is 1100 baht per pax.
This is the famous James Bond Island that is depicted in every brochure or book about Thailand. The official Thai name for this place Ao Ping Kan National Park. This is the place where the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed. Thats how it became famous. However, its usually overcrowded with boats and hoardes of tourists who arrived at around the same time at the island so its rather difficult to get a good picture if you are at the beach. There are several viewpoints to get a good picture, besides the beach.
Situated between the mainland and the gypsies island there is this mountain that is said to look like a dogs head.
It sure has a very peculiar form, unlike the other sugarhats around. My (Disney affected) mind did compare it more with Mickey Mouse than a dog, but it sure has two ears and a nose...
At the foot of this Mountain in the sea you can find the ancient depictions of animals and sea life.
Good to see is the Dolphin.
The paintings are said to be over 3000 years old. I wonder if some scientist can confirm that. I am a little dubious because of the location (directly above sea level), I would guess the water and the waves would have washed it away by now.
Anyway, the colors and the making are wonderful and very nice to look at.
This is on the island you stand on, when you are coming to visit James Bond Island.
It has a huge mountain that is split in two. One part slid down and is leaning at the other.
You can walk into the tent-like interior.
By the way: No, the big complex from which the bad guy in the "Man with the Golden Gun" operated is NOT really here. At least i could not find the entrance as long and hard as I looked ....
The mountains that are standing here in the salt water are Limestone. That is a comperatively soft stone that is easily washed out by water - especially salt water.
So it is no wonder, that you can find here - as all over Thailand- caves. only these here are on or slightly above the sea - water level.
Through some of them you can easily drive by boat - or Kajak. They have Stalagmites hanging from above.
At Tham Lod you have the opportunity to rent a sea kajak and paddle around a little by yourself. They have stationed here big boats with all the equipment. Of course you also get a life west.
It is a nice cave - but not the most beautiful, there is one in the mangroves that is better in my eyes - only that it may not be accessible at all times.
This is one of the limestone islands where we stop by for kayaking at the edges of the islands where you can look at the limestone formations up close. Some time will also be spent exploring the seacave by kayak. There are bats, limestone formations such as stalactites and stalagmites in the caves. Be careful not to open your mouth too big as there are a lot of bats inside. You do not want to have 'guano' ending oup in your mouth.
This is one of the more beautiful islands of Phangnga Bay. There are nice green lagoons hidden in Hong Island. Tha's whi it is known as Hong Island. 'Hong' means room in Thai and these lagoons are 'rooms' in this island. Some are accessible by kayak but are not. At some points, you will to lie down in your kayak to get through some of the rocks into the lagoons.
Take a full day boat trip through the national marine park of Phang Gna. The trip takes you to the most amazing Karst mountain scenery, with small abandoned beaches and stops also at a muslim village completely build on stilt in the sea. Very strange to see this, there's even a mosque.
You can do the tour also from Phuket but it will cost you around 60-70 dollar and from Phang Gna only 18-20 dollar. Also when you leave from Phuket you will go with big boats and lots of other tourists. It's very busy everywhere. When you leave from Phang Gna town you hardly see any other tourists. I wouldn't sleep in the muslim village though (which you can book also). The people there are not very friendly from my experience
This island will be either the first or last stopover point for many of the daytrips around Phangnga Bay. Here, you can either kayak, swim or just relax on the beach.