On Boxing Day 2017 we took a trip to Phang Nga Bay and ‘James Bond’ Island. We were picked up from our hotel at 7.30am and made the 45-minute journey to Ao Per Pier by minivan.
There were literally hundreds of passengers waiting on the pier to do the trip and each boat held about 100 people.
The weather was a bit misty, so our photographs didn’t come out too well, but the bay is beautiful. The area is renowned for its limestone cliffs (karsts) rising out of the sea and it is reminiscent (although not as impressive) as Halong Bay in Vietnam.
Our first stop was Panak Island, where we took sea canoes into the sea caves and interior lagoons (hongs). There were two passengers on each canoe and I was a bit nervous as the water was very choppy, but once I was in, I felt perfectly safe. Inside the cave was a huge sparkling rock which looked like diamonds and the lagoon was gorgeous. I was really pleased I had braved the sea canoe.
We had gone out on the canoes in batches, so by the time we got back with the last group, a party was in full swing on the boat. The crew had put on a popular song and a large Indian family and a group of Middle Eastern men were having a dance off. Everyone was cheering and laughing and filming it on their mobile phones. It was lovely to see people of all nationalities dancing and enjoying the music, and just being a bit silly and having fun together.
Our next stop was Hong Island for some more canoeing and then a buffet-style lunch on board. There was a good selection, but everyone kept pushing in front of us, which was a bit annoying. I couldn’t be bothered to fight for my lunch, so I just waited until the end and had some rice and watermelon. The dancing and partying continued for much of the day, so it definitely wasn’t a peaceful experience!
James Bond Island (Khao Phing Kan) itself was a little disappointing. We transferred into long boats to get to the island which was swarming with tourists. The island itself, which was used in the film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), is actually very small and it really is just a case of getting a photo and then being pestered by touts. They were very persistent. One woman grabbed my wrist and wouldn’t let go.
Our final destination was Lawa Island for some swimming. There were some monkeys on the island but some of the other guests were being really intrusive, touching them and posing with them, which was making them quite defensive. The water wasn’t that clean in the area (polluted by all the boats) so I just had a quick swim and went back to the boat.
We got back to the pier about 5pm.
Take sun cream and a hat as you will be exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
If you are looking for a more peaceful, relaxing trip, ask to join a smaller boat.
The tour is not suitable for people with mobility problems, who may have difficulty getting in and out of the smaller boats and canoes. Check with the tour operator first if you have mobility issues.