• Volunteer and Adventure

A Phang Nga Bay travel guide: What to see, when and how

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo

Posted: October 20, 2022

6 min read

Phang Nga Bay is an area of exceptional natural beauty. With sheer limestone karsts, emerald waters and an abundance of tropical islands, Phang Nga Bay is one of the most beautiful places in Thailand.

Four of the country’s best national parks – Ao Phang Nga, Si Phang Nga, Khao Lak-Lam Ru and Laem Son National park –  sit close together in Phang Nga province, meaning there is a wealth of natural treasures both above and below water to enjoy. 

Here is our guide to seeing the best of Phang Nga Bay. 

Getting to Phang Nga Bay

 Phang Nga Bay is an inlet of the Malay Peninsula, located in the Andaman Sea. Roughly 24 kilometres northeast of Phuket, in southern Thailand. 

The closest airports to the bay are in Krabi or Phuket. Either of these places make a good base for exploring the Phang Nga province. Another option is to stay in Khao Lak, where you can enjoy powdery white beaches, as well as convenient day trips by boat to islands and rainforests.

 

 

When to visit

 

Thailand has two distinct seasons. Monsoon season from May to October and the dry season from mid-October to April.

From mid-October to mid-April, the weather is clear and sunny. There is little rainfall and the weather overall is cooler and less humid, particularly during December and January. However, this is when most visitors flock to the pristine waters and beaches of Phang Nga Bay. To escape the crowds, visit the bay early in the morning or later in the evening. 

If you choose to visit between May and October, which is monsoon season, there will be far fewer people, but you may have to contend with frequent rain and high humidity.

 

The best way to see Phang Nga Bay


The best way to see Phang Nga Bay is with an organised tour. A range of full-day and half-day tour options depart from Krabi, Phuket and Khao Lak.

Most tours will follow a similar itinerary and cover highlights such as James Bond Island and Ko Panyi, a fishing village built on stilts. Usually, you will explore the bay by boat, with stops to swim at secluded beaches or kayak around the limestone rock formations and sea caves.

 

 

A Phang Nga Bay afternoon tour is perfect if you want to experience the golden hues of a Thai sunset.

Come see it for yourself

 

If you’re looking to do something a little different, guided Phang Nga Bay canoe tours are an eco-friendly and more peaceful alternative for exploring the bay. These are a great option for finding some of the more secluded spots in the area, such as sunken sea caves, mangrove swamps teeming with wildlife and beaches hidden away from most visitors.

 

The best things to see and do


You only need one day to tour Phang Nga Bay. This is ample time to cruise around the bay, with stops for kayaking, swimming, snorkelling and enjoying a picnic lunch on the beach.

Most tours focus on islands and other areas of interest found within the Ao Phang Nga National Park. As a protected area, there are very few people living within the park. You’re bound to see other tourists during your trip, but with a bit of luck, you will still be able to enjoy tranquil moments surrounded by the lush bounty of the park.

This is where you’ll find the classic karst scenery that featured in the James Bond film “The Man With the Golden Gun”.  Phang Nga tours usually stop by Ko Phing Kan, popularly known as James Bond Island. 

You might recognise the distinctive rock pillar of Ko Ta Pu, one of the most famous natural landmarks in the bay. This rock juts straight up out of the calm waters of a bay tucked into the larger island.

Boat tours around this marine park will typically also give you the chance to explore “hongs”, or interior chambers of the limestone islands. You can access the hongs by paddling kayaks through caves, which open into the doughnut-like centres of the islands. Inside are hidden ecosystems with monkeys, butterflies, birds and crabs. 

Access to smaller hongs depends on the tides, and entrances can open or close quickly.

From boat tours of Phang Nga to sea turtle conservation work and volunteering with children, there is so many things to do when you visit Phang Nga.

 

Near Phang Nga Bay

Phang Nga Bay might be the star of the show, but there is plenty more to experience in the wider Phang Nga province. 

If you plan on staying around the Phang Nga area for longer than one day, you can choose to explore the beaches near Khao Lak, delve into the rainforests of Khao Sok National Park, or spend time volunteering with GVI.

Our GVI base is located in the small fishing village of Ban Nam Khem, about half an hour away from the town of Khao Lak. From our base, you can easily access Phang Nga Bay in your free time through day trips and tours, as well as other national parks and areas of interest nearby.

Choosing to experience a GVI volunteer program will enrich your Thailand travels. Away from the typical tourist hot spots, volunteering with GVI is also an opportunity to get to know the local community, while contributing to the preservation of precious coastal habitats and wildlife like elephants and turtles.

Volunteer in Thailand with GVI to experience adventure and sustainable travel in Phang Nga. Browse our range of ethical projects today.

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

By Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
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