Jamie's Phuket Blog

James Bond Island

A trip to Phang Nga Bay is part of many visitors holiday to the Phuket area. We've done several trips before, although we don't go with organised tours. In the past we have driven up to Phang Nga (just over an hour from our house) and hired a longtail boat from the jetty which is a few km west of the town. I blogged one of these trips in March 2007 : Phang Nga Bay. I do recommend people to try doing it this way, rather than signing up for a tour. Getting your own boat gives you more freedom, and a boat trip to James Bond Island could be combined with a visit to other attractions such as Suwan Kuha Temple, or a visit to the lovely Sanang Manora forest park.

Well, we took another trip on 20th March, and wanted to try something different. Last year we found a restaurant that we liked - Samchong Seafood, which is nearly 20km closer to Phuket than the main Phang Nga Jetty, and I could see on Google Earth that the mangrove river where the restaurant is located led right out into Phang Nga Bay just a few km from James Bond Island. Only thing we were not sure about was whether or not we could hire a longtail boat from anywhere near the restaurant. But for sure there are plenty of longtails around there....

View at Baan Samchong, Phang Nga

No worries! We sat down to eat and asked for a boat - sure, no problem, 1800 Baht for the boat for the afternoon. So we enjoyed lunch over the water and went to meet our boatman. (Update 2012) - for more about doing it this way - see Phang Nga Bay - Doing It Our Way!

Read on for more about James Bond Island ...

Longtail boat for hire at Samchong Seafood

Longtail man at Samchong

It was a gorgeous sunny day, typical for March in Phuket. We headed out along the mangrove river and I was pleased that this longtail had a new engine which purred rather than the normal deafening put-put-put. This was a Rolls Royce longtail. It was about 10km from the restaurant to James Bond Island, the first few km passing the mangroves and then out into the bay. I love this scenery. I'd love to have a boat and spend days cruising around. There are (based on my quick count on Google Earth!) over 50 islands in the bay. We saw some new scenery this time, as we were starting from a different base. I'll say it again - I love this scenery.

Phang Nga Bay

Thai Longtail boat and Blue Sky

Our kids enjoyed the ride too. Last time we did this our son was maybe to small to remember. This time they both loved it. If people ask me about "things for kids to do" in Phuket.. I mean, yes you can try the new waterpark or play minigolf or use your hotel kids club.. but they'd be missing out. Our kids like this great scenery, rides on boats, it's an adventure!

Kids on the longtail boat in Phang Nga Bay

After passing several spectacular islands and massive rocks rising from the sea, we approached the famous "James Bond Island". That's not it's real name of course, it's called Koh Khao Phing Kan or Ping Gan or however you wish to transliterate the Thai spelling. But thanks to Roger Moore and Christopher Lee and that little guy called Nick Nack, well the island got it's nickname, and really nobody calls it Ping Gan, which means leaning rock. It's Bond, James Bond...

Saruman.. I mean.. Scaramanga and Bond.. not my photo, must be copyright of some movie company I guess

Longtail Boat - James Bond Island

We landed at a small beach where there used to be a jetty. Not sure where that's gone. The National Park staff have a desk under an overhanging rock where you get your tickets.. the whole bay is a national park but you only pay fees if you land here :)

Now, the main attraction of this island is the standing rock just offshore, which itself is sometimes called James Bond Island, but is actually called Koh Tapu, meaning nail island. You can't see it from where you land - have to clamber up and down some stone steps to get views of (perhaps) Thailand's most famous rock. When you look out over the water to "the rock", it's beautiful. Somehow, you can ignore the fact that you are sharing the island with several hundred other people. We tried to avoid peak time - we got the longtail from Samchong a little after 2pm, so were at James Bond Island around 2:45 and stayed for around 45 minutes. Still plenty of visitors at that time. Next time, now that we know the route, we'll go later. I want to get photos in the late afternoon light, and surely by 5pm it'll be too late for most of the day trippers? But if you look out to sea, your photos will be uncrowded...

A few views of Koh Tapu

James Bond Island - Koh Tapu

James Bond Island

James Bond Island View

It's a small island, a few little caves to clamber into (kids like), and of course if you are gazing at the rock (Koh Tapu) and turn around, you see a collection of stalls selling souvenirs and drinks and shells and ... as much as I wish that they were not there, I know they will remain.

Souvenir stall at James Bond Island

What of the leaning rock? The real name for this island (Khao Ping Gan), nothing to do with movies, comes from the amazing rock formation here modelled by a visiting monk. The islands here are limestone and in this case a huge wedge of the rock has been split, creating this massive leaning slab which rests on it's other half, a real work of nature. This old monk kept his hand on the rock as if feeling the energy of the world. Or something.

Monk at James Bond Island

Monk at Khao Ping Gan (James Bond Island)

Our kids meanwhile went off exploring...

Kids exploring at James Bond Island

We had hired the longtail for the whole afternoon, and there was time left to head about 4 miles further north of James Bond Island to Koh Panyee, the Muslim fishing village built next to a towering rock - a quite wonderful place. Lots of photos. And we'll be back. Many times!

A private tour like this can be booked with my friends at Easy Day Thailand - the tour is pretty much based on the way we do it.

Nearby sights and attractions:

Koh Panyee
Suwan Kuha Temple in a cave
Samchong Seafood Restaurant
Wat Thamtapan in Phang Nga Town


 James Bond Island  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog


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  Comments

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Anonymous martyn :

Jamie - An amazing collection of photographs, the views look awesome. Your kids must have loved the day trip bobbing along the water.

When it comes to picturesque views Thailand must be second to none. I have a great fear of the water but I would be tempted to try a longtail trip such as this.

Talking of water, your page header reminds me Songkran is soon upon us. Plastic bag at the ready.

March 29, 2010  

Blogger Kissed by an Angel :

What an amazing trip!!! The photos are fabulous!!! Thank you for sharing the information with us!
xxxx

March 30, 2010  

Blogger Che Eduardo :

Hi there Jamie,

Have probably read every single post here. I'm gonna be another one of those guys with questions for you.

Will be traveling in October to Phuket with my fiancee, currently lost between Cape Panwa and Karon. We will require pork-free (Muslim) dining options so would it be better to head to Panwa?

How's the beach in Panwa? Is it swimmable?

April 01, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hola Che!

Well, Karon has more choice of hotels and restaurants - Panwa is a favourite area of ours but some people will worry that it's quite far from everything. Pork free restaurants around Panwa which is a Muslim area.. yes, but for the most part restaurants around Panwa are part of hotels and thus may not be pork free.

April 01, 2010  

Blogger Che Eduardo :

Jamie,

Mucha gracia for the pointers.

Am considering either the Old Phuket or Island View in Karon. Another wildcard seems to be the Kamala Beach Resort.

All have good reviews and really, you're doing a great job for your adopted Phuket..

Che

April 02, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Try the private jacuzzi room at the Old Phuket Hotel :)

April 02, 2010  

Blogger Apple :

Hi

The boat trip looks amazing, but I wonder will it be suitable for toddler? I will be bringing my 5YR and 16 months kids to Phuket in May and will be staying in Karon.

Tks!

April 16, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Apple,

Yes, why not? All the kids have to do is sit in a boat. They will love it. My son is 5 now, but we did this trip in 2007 also, when he was 2, and in 2006 we did a similar boat trip in Khao Sok National Park when he was under 2 years old - see Boat trip in Khao Sok National Park. And actually the first time we did a boat trip around Phang Nga Bay was in 2002 when our daughter was only 1. Nothing wrong with a bit of adventure :)

April 17, 2010  

Blogger Apple :

Thanks a lot Jamie!

Can you pls tell us a little more in details how can we do this trip?
We will be staying in Hilton at Karon and will be driving.
Do we need to book the boat in advance, or we can find it at the pier? Do we need to tell the boatman exactly where we want to go, or will they bring us around like a mini tour? Is there anything we should be careful about?

Sorry for shooting questions, just want to make sure we know our way instead of spending half the time getting lost, with 2 young kids! Thank you!

April 17, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

After 12th May I will be at work in the Sunrise Divers office only a couple of minutes from the Hilton, might be easier for you to come and see me first.. but basically you drive towards Phang Nga Town (off Phuket Island) and turn off the main road to the SamChong Seafood restaurant, ask them about a boat when you get there, tell the boatman you want to go to James Bond Island and maybe Koh Panyee too. Main problem is the restuarant sign is only in Thai :)... but follow the link on this page (near the top) to SamChong Seafood and on there is a link which will show the location on Google Earth, assuming you have Google Earth installed on your computer.. and if you haven't, get it!

April 17, 2010  

Blogger Apple :

Hi Jamie

We will be arriving Phuket on 12 May! Can I know what is a good time to visit you in your office, if it is not too imposing? Will definitely be great if you can mark the locations in map.

Not sure if it’s ok to ask this, but does the political unrest in BKK has any impact in phuket?

Thank you!

Regards
Apple

April 19, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

I will back at work from the 13th onwards 9am - 5pm. We are being impacted due to lower numbers of visitors but not clear if that is due to Bangkok protests or just that its the end of high season anyway.. oh and that volcano in Iceland grounding European flights. In any case, no trouble here in Phuket.

April 19, 2010  

Blogger Apple :

Thanks! Then we will probably see you on 13 May at your office. Is it easy to find, can I ask the hotel reception for direction?

April 19, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Not hard to find - here's a MAP. Happy Travels!

April 19, 2010  

Blogger Apple :

Jamie, you have been most helpful! See you soon!

April 20, 2010  

Blogger Apple :

Hi Jamie

we hv no problem finding the place, thanks to you! The trip was indeed nice for our whole family!

May 21, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Apple,

Happy to hear it! Thanks for coming to say hello last week. I am sure we will also do another Phang Nga Bay trip soon :)

Jamie

May 21, 2010  

Anonymous Mel :

Hi Jamie...
I stumbled upon your blog looking for the Vegetarian Festival which happen to start at the very first day of our arrival and got a bonus of James Bond Island tale. Well considering the rent is only 1500 baht, it is really cheap comparing to what is offered by the cheapest tour.

Sorry, I dont mean to burst in, as a newbie to Phuket, I got a bunch of quetions...
1. Can the boat hold 8 person in it?
2. My friends and I are staying in Pathong, how do we get to the restaurant?
3. How long would it take for the whole trip, is it worthed to rent car with driver to get there?
We are planning to visit Hong Island, Panak Island and Jame Bond. Btw, how much do we have to pay to get to the park?

Thanks
Mel

October 07, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Mel,

We just did the whole thing again last week, ending up at James Bond Island at 4:30pm and we were the ONLY tourists there! We started from home around 11am, about 1 hour 30 minute drive to Samchong seafood, but do note that the place is hard to find due to a lack of any sign in English :). We took a boat to Koh Panyee and James Bond island. By longtail, no way you can get to Koh Hong or Koh Panak, they are too far from there to reach by longtail. You can try to do the same trip as us, I suggest you contact Easy Day Thailand who are starting some private tours based on the trip on this blog. Longtail boat can hold 8, yes. But if you wanted a tour including Hong and Panak, Easy Day Thailand could no doubt arrange a speedboat for you which could easily reach all areas. Speedboat = Zoom. Longtail boat = Chug Chug. :)

October 07, 2010  

Anonymous Nicko :

Hi Jamie

Great blog. Thanks for all the good info!

My wife and I are in Khao Lak at the moment, and are heading down to Mai Khao area for the last night of our trip (to be nearer the airport). We haven't made it to Phang Nga bay yet.

We are getting a driver to take us back to Phuket. Do you think it will be possible to get him to stop on the way at Samchong Seafood and wait while we get a longtail out there? How long would we need to get out there and back? And how do we track down a fast longtail???

Thanks
Nick

October 27, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Nick,

If you leave Khao Lak late morning, maybe lunch at Samchong, ask there for a longtail, make a 3 hour trip, down to Mai Khao no worries, if you can negotiate with a taxi driver to wait several hours for you.. timing is not a problem :)

October 27, 2010  

Blogger Gemma :

Hi Jamie

What an awesome blog! I am planning a trip to Phuket next year..and i would appreciate your thoughts on the best time to visit - weather wise!

Thanks
Gem

October 28, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Gemma,

Weather.. you've come to the right place.

My Phuket Weather Blog
Phuket Rain Averages
Phuket Weather Overview

January - March.

:)

October 28, 2010  

Blogger Christina :

Thanks Jamie - We have now been living in Phuket for little over a year and have used your site often for things to do and have given your link to friends who were coming over so they could get an idea of what to do.

Today, we did James Bond Island arriving on the island after 4pm, the light was excellent!

We got on the island for free too!

We got the boat from the restaurant you recommended and the price is still 1500B. Our guide took us round the back of the island and we climbed the steps etc...


Thanks again for the tip! Great day out.

January 31, 2011  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Cheers Christina,

Light was excellent .. did you get any photos? I want to do the trip again maybe with my wifes family next time they are here. Good light is essential!

January 31, 2011  

Blogger Hema Goval :

Hi Jamie,
I have been recently following your blog and it's wonderfully overloaded with information.
I will be travelling to Phuket on 26th Aug and be spending a week there.
Can you please recommend a good tour to go to Phang Nga bay and maybe to any island that famous for producing pearls.
Also some good places to watch the sunset.
Thanks a lot :)

August 22, 2011  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi HG,

Our preferred way to see Phang Nga Bay is to hire a longtail boat ... see more here :

Phang Nga Bay - Doing it Our Way

A tour very similar to this can be booked with Easy Day Thailand - and I am sure they can help with a tour to "pearl" islands, of which there are a couple - Koh Rang Yai and Koh Naka Noi.

Sunsets - choose from the Viewpoints! - or try the After Beach Bar near Kata Beach.

August 22, 2011  

Blogger Bodlagz :

Cracking photos Jamie, never been there myself but I think you've done the place a great justice.

March 02, 2012  

Blogger ralph :

Hi Jamie,
I have been following your blog recently. I have been searching for Phuket trip information. I think this blog provided a lot of useful information. I would to ask few questions if you don't mind to clarify me.
My family will be visit phulet in a group of 8 during end of May and stay around patong beach. It is possible we travel to Phang Ngah bay(Jame bond island) and Phi Phi island on the same day. What time is the best to visit these place? Any nice spot for sunset viewing in patong beach.
Thank.

April 14, 2012  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Ralph,

No, not really possible to do Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay in the same day, too much distance between them and even if you did hire a fast boat, you'd not get much time at either. If you had one day - do Phang Nga Bay. Sunset you can see from anywhere on the west coast, my favourite is not Patong though. Try the After Beach Bar just south of Kata Beach.

April 14, 2012  

Anonymous Anonymous :

Hi Jamie,
Greetings from Gold Coast Australia here, we are visiting Patong (Novotel) in Sept for 14 days. We were there 12 months ago, did all the tourist things, this time want to explore a bit more, any suggestions? Although we definitely want to do James bond Island this time. We have 2 sons 17 & 12 any suggestions on things to do apart from the obvious? Can't wait to be there next month.
Cheers
Rachael

August 12, 2012  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Yes, certainly do a Phang Nga Bay tour including James Bond Island, and check out tours to Khao Sok as well if you want more nature and scenery. Maybe try scuba diving, and go explore Phuket Town and see a bit of real Phuket .. and hope it doesn't rain :)

August 12, 2012