Many visitors to Thailand are already familiar with Phang Nga Bay, the location for the world-famous ‘James Bond Island’. This was the setting for Scaramanga’s hideaway in the classic 1974 movie, The Man with the Golden Gun.
While you should definitely add the island to your places to visit list, there is so much more to see and do in Phang Nga province. Take a look at our suggestions here (shown in no particular order) for the best things to see and do in Phang Nga.
1) Beach life in Khao Lak
Khao Lak is the best-known beach resort in Phang Nga province and ideal for couples or families. Khao Lak is actually made up of a series of beaches and towns stretching for approximately 20 miles along the Andaman Coast. Even during the tourist high season, the expansive beaches here never feel crowded and make for a quieter alternative to nearby Phuket and Krabi.
2) Chill out on the Yao Islands
For a tranquil escape off the tourist trail, head to the delightful twin islands of Ko Yao Noi and Ko Yao Yai. These unspoiled islands make for an excellent add-on to your holiday if you’re planning to stay in nearby Krabi or Phuket.
The wider choice of accommodation options can be found on Yao Noi, but it’s easy enough to catch a longtail for the short ride across to neighbouring Yao Yai. Whichever of the two islands you decide to stay on, hire a bicycle to ride along the traffic-free roads and enjoy the serenity.
3) Cruise through Phang Nga Bay
Hop on a longtail boat and enjoy a tour of photogenic Phang Nga Bay. All tours will include a stop at Khao Ping Gan where you’ll get the iconic view of Ko Tapu as seen in The Man with the Golden Gun. Many organised trips will also include a visit to the floating village at Ko Panyee. For another perspective of the mangroves and life in the bay, check out the itineraries available from the award-winning John Gray’s Sea Canoe.
4) Dive into paradise
To enjoy some of the best diving and snorkelling locations in Thailand, travel to the Similan Islands or Surin Islands. Marine life seen amongst the corals near the Similan Islands include leopard sharks, sea turtles and moray eels. In the waters around the Surin Islands and the famous dive location of Richelieu Rock, whale sharks often make an appearance amongst the colourful angelfish and parrotfish.
5) Eat southern Thai food
Southern Thai food has a reputation for extra spice, particularly with dishes like khua kling (a fiery dry curry). While a lot of southern Thai dishes do pack in the curry paste and chillies, there are plenty of milder options to be found in Phang Nga so don’t worry if you don’t like your food too spicy. The humble sataw (stink bean) is also something of delicacy in southern Thailand and features in must-try local dishes like kung pad sataw.
In Phang Nga and neighbouring Phuket, food influences can be traced back to the Chinese settlers who came here to work in the tin mining industry in the 1800s. Some of the workers settled in Thailand, married local women and raised families. The traditions of those original settlers can still be seen in local dishes like mee Hokkien (stir-fried Hokkien noodles) and moo hong (slow-cooked pork belly)
6) Ethical elephant encounters
If you’d like to visit an ethical elephant centre during your travels in the south of Thailand, take a look at Phang Nga Elephant Park. This well-run, family-owned elephant facility is located in between Khao Lak and Phang Nga town. The smaller size of the park makes it a more intimate experience for visitors while still providing plenty of space and greenery for the resident elephants.
7) Experience local life
The beaches and islands are undoubtedly the star attractions of Phang Nga province. Enjoy the beach life, but consider spending at least a day or two in the provincial capital of Phang Nga town for another perspective of local life. Similarly, a visit to the town of Takua Pa can be an interesting way to spend time away from the beach.
8) Get a health and wellness boost
Whether you’re seeking a digital detox, a rejuvenating rest or a healthy holiday, there is no shortage of options in Phang Nga. Leading hotels like Devasom Khao Lak and Six Senses on Ko Yao Noi offer a range of wellness treatments with in-house experts. Devasom also hosts the Sol Wellness Festival in Khao Lak in May with a range of wellness activities arranged by specialists from across Thailand.
9) Learn to surf
Visitors to Thailand are often surprised to find out you can surf here. The surf scene is localised and the waves are not as big as better-known surf destinations, but those same reasons also make it a great place to learn.
In Phang Nga province, the surf scene is centred around Memories Beach Bar on Khuk Kaak Beach in Khao Lak. This is where you’ll find qualified instructors and surf equipment for hire. The surf season in Khao Lak runs from late April until mid-November. This broadly corresponds with the low season (May-October) in Khao Lak when there is more wind and rain. Khao Lak is also a good choice for trying kayaking or paddle-boarding.
10) See the sunrise at Samet Nangshe
For superb views overlooking Phang Nga Bay, head to Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. Most visitors travel here during the day time, but it is possible to stay here overnight and watch the sunrise. Camping is available, but for a more comfortable option check-in to Samet Nangshe Boutique Hotel.
11) Stay on Golden Buddha Island
The island of Ko Phra Thong (Golden Buddha Island) is home to a small Moken community. Visitors here can learn about the lifestyle of the seafaring Moken and also take the opportunity to ride on a kabang, a traditional Moken houseboat.
Ko Phra Thong is also home to an unusual savannah landscape more reminiscent of the Serengeti than southern Thailand. If you’d like to stay on the island, take a look at the Moken Eco Village. For ways to support responsible tourism in the area, visit Andaman Discoveries who can arrange trips to Ko Phra Thong and the nearby Ko Pling islands and Ko Ra.
12) Visit Little Amazon
For time away from the beaches, a trip to the Little Amazon is ideal for all the family. This stretch of waterways and mangroves is home to an abundance of wildlife and gliding along in a kayak is the perfect way to appreciate the natural wonders. A tour of Little Amazon can also be combined with a trip to nearby Takua Pa town.
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