Before travelling to Thailand we made a list of places we wanted to see. Phang Nga Bay was right on top of this list and after having visited the national park I can say: rightly so.
After our arrival on Kata Beach we decided to check out the countless little travel agencies and started comparing prices. From one agent to the next the price drop was quite extensive and with some negotiation we managed to book a speedboat tour through Phang Nga Bay with a good discount.
Ao Por Pier – Panak Island
We booked the tour on my birthday (I was quite excited!). At 7:10am sharp a taxi driver picked us up to take us (together with several other people) to the Ao Por Pier on the other side of Phuket island. Some coffee awaited us at the pier already, which Kutloano gladly made use of (he’s not what you’d call a morning person).
So while my family back at home was still sleeping at around 4:30am, we set out towards the first island: Panak Island or Koh Panak. To be honest – there was not much to see apart from some stalactites and stalagmites as we couldn’t go canoeing here (the tide was too high). In the distance however you could see the amazing karst island landscape unfolding.
Panak Island – Panyee Island
One of the reasons we decided on the speedboat tour was a visit to Panyee Island – the Muslim floating village up north in Phang Nga Bay. This was our second stop for some shopping and lunch. The landscape flew by and in the distance the floating village started unfolding with its white and gold Mosque catching your eye from far already.
The mainly wooden buildings house a variety of restaurants and smaller shops (with big prices). I wouldn’t recommend buying anything here, as you can get the same items for a much lower price at any local market close to where you’re staying. The lunch was decent, but not as good as we had on our Phi Phi Islands Tour.
After our stomachs were filled, we headed out onto the floating pier again for some more photos, before heading onwards to James Bond Island.
Panyee Island – James Bond Island
The trip from Panyee to James Bond Island took only a few minutes. Having heard that the island is way too touristy, I was still surprised to see a small market having been set up here. Apart from a crowd of people and market stalls you couldn’t see anything.
Only after making a bee line around the market you’ll get to the opposite side of the small island and finally catch a glimpse at the distinctive karst island that you will see on every picture of James Bond Island:
There’s a narrow and steep path that will lead you up and around a hill, from where you have several good view points to catch an ever-so-slightly different glimpse of James Bond Island. Needless to say: there are “queues” at those spots, because everybody wants to take a selfie.
However, it is rewarding to climb the path and enjoy the view of the surrounding landscape (not just the famous island). The path isn’t long either. Once you reach the highest point, you can descend on the other side to a cave-like rock formation and a small bay. Some tour boats seem to land here, but the majority is on the other side, so it is more quiet here. However, you also can’t see James Bond Island anymore.
To get back, you’ll have to do the whole climb in reverse. After 30 minutes or so you should easily make it back to the market side.
James Bond Island – Hong Island
Now we get to my favourite part of this tour. I mean – everything up till now was pretty spectacular, but canoeing at Hong Island was the absolute highlight for us.
The speedboat took us to Hong Island in no time. When we arrived, a number of canoes with guides were already waiting for us. In pairs or threes we climbed into the canoes and started exploring the lagoons and caves of Hong Island.
We were extremely lucky with our guide. He took us through caves and passages, none of the other guides even entered. Additionally, he made sure that wherever we went, we had the chance to take pictures without any other canoes in them (of course, some spots are just crowded, but then he stayed behind with us until most of the other canoes were gone). He also took some very nice pictures of us chilling in the canoe:
As we meandered through the lagoon landscape of Hong Island, our guide kept pointing out different rock formations that got their names from their appearance (or maybe he just named them like that – it wasn’t really clear). Being really blind when it comes to that, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where he saw, elephants and monkeys (or whichever other creatures) in those rocks. However, this Piranha even I could make out:
Words fail me to describe how beautiful the landscape and nature at Hong Island is. So, I rather let some pictures speak for it:
Having left the speedboat as one of the first canoes, we returned last. Thanks to our guide this became the highlight of our day!
Hong Island to Naka Island
15 minutes later we reached the final stop of our tour – Naka Island. Sun loungers, white sand, jet ski and fresh coconuts awaited us (for a fee of course). For two hours we could simply relax on the beach or take advantage of the warm waters for a swim before returning to Ao Por Pier for our transfer back to the hotel.
Some valuable tips:
- wear shorts, as you’ll have to walk almost hip deep in the water to get on board the boat at Ao Por Pier and on Naka Island
- no need to bring bottled water, as the crew provides water as well as coke, so save yourself the extra kilos
- a dry bag is always a good idea for your electronics
- don’t shop at Panyee Island – too expensive
- there’s no toilet on board the speed boat – make use of the toilet at Panyee Island, as all the other ones are really disgusting (if you do need to use them, bring your own tissue)
- book with amazingislandtour.com