Looking for tropical paradise in Thailand? The cluster of islands in Phang Nga Bay have the powder beaches, limestone cliffs, rock formations, and mangrove forests of a true dream vacation. The 42 islands afloat in the Andaman have so many wonders to offer—from technicolor coral and mysterious sea caves to castaway islands and secret shores—that your only challenge will be deciding where to start. To help you find beach bliss on a Phang Nga Bay tour, we’ve cherry-picked the best things to do in Phang Nga Bay that guarantee sun-soaked days in an ocean oasis.
A mix of wild jungles and pristine beaches, Phang Nga Bay is exceptionally beautiful. It was given national park designation in 1981 as the Ao Phang National Park, so the landscape has been protected and preserved. Not only is the bay wonderful to look at, but it has a wealth of historical significance; archaeological sites provide a window into its long history and marvelous ecology.
Phang Nga has a diverse assortment of wildlife, both on land and beneath the waves. Eighty-eight species of bird take to the clear skies, including the endangered Malaysian Plover and Asiatic Dowitcher. Eighty-two types of fish lend their colours to the seascape palette, including the exotic whitetip reef shark and playful clownfish. The White-Handed Gibbon swing from branch to branch, and the black finless porpoises defy gravity as they leap across waves.
The mix of serene shores, karst-studded seascape, warm Thai culture and varied wildlife offer all you could want from a beach vacation. Here, five bucketlist-worthy ways to spend your Phang Nga Bay tour days in our guide to island-hopping in the Andaman.
Are you a chaser of the mysterious? A seeker of secrets? If so, embark on a tour Phang Nga’s famed sea caves. There are a plethora of caves to be discovered at Panak Island: the Bat Cave, Sea Tunnel, Oyster Cave, and the Diamond Cave. The Bat Cave is famous for its bats and guests visit during the day while the nocturnal creatures are sleeping to take in the awesome view. As you travel through the narrow entrance, you will be swept up in the eerie atmosphere.
The Sea Tunnel takes you on a canoe through a natural stone archway. The rocks and lush plant life rise high above you, and emerald water lies below. It’s a magical way to get around Phang Nga.
If you want to see captivating rock formations, head to Oyster Cave. Barnacles of all shapes and sizes line the walls, creating interesting shapes and clusters.
The Diamond Cave is named for its stunning, glittering interior. When you shine a light on the stalagmites and stalactites inside the cave, they dazzle you with their sparkle. You will have a hard time believing there are not actually diamonds in the walls.
Koh Tapu (also referred to as James Bond island for its appearance in the 1974 film The Man With the Golden Gun) is a haven of verdant, overgrown jungles and intriguing limestone rock formations. What better way to go on a James Bond Island tour than by a longtail boat? It is a ride through a tropical paradise, and while you jet along on a James Bond Island longtail boat trip, you can stop through all the amazing sights, such as bubbling waterfalls and hidden caves. It is no surprise that The Man With the Golden Gun was filmed here; the scenery is exquisite and cinematic.
The Raman waterfall is located in a national park in Koh Tapu, and has a bevy of birds and beasts that delight animal-lovers. Watch as the clear water tumbles merrily over rocks and take in the backdrop of lush trees and thriving flora as they paint a picture of wilderness unencumbered. Birdwatchers love to visit Raman waterfall to spot some of Thailand’s rarer feathered friends. The Chestnut Naped Forktail, Crested Serpent Eagle, and the Little Spiderhunter are only some of the beaked beauties you can find at Koh Tapu.
Nearby is the Lod Yai cave, which you can reach by canoe. Canoeing in Phuket is out of this world — the water is an enchanting green, and surrounded by unbelievable limestones karsts of fascinating shapes and sizes. As you pass under a natural stone arch on your sea cave canoe trip, you will see incredible stalactites hanging down like ornaments.
The Similan islands are some of the best islands near Phuket, and perhaps all of Thailand. Eighty-four kilometers away from Phuket, the Similan islands are a peaceful collection of beaches on the Andaman seas. The Similan islands are prime snorkelling and diving areas, with schools of exotic fish and kaleidoscopic corals creating an underwater wonderland begging to be explored.
The Similan islands derive their name from the Malay word “sembilan,” meaning nine, though in actuality there are 11 Similan islands: Koh Tachai, Koh Bon (or Koh Talu), Koh Ba-ngu (or Koh Bayu), Koh Similan, Koh Hin Pousar, Koh Payu, Koh Ha, Koh Miang, Koh Payan, Koh Payang, and Koh Huyong. Each of the 11 islands is numbered one to 11, and each is lovely in its own right. The best way to reach the different islands is by speedboat. Depending on the tide and weather, the optimal beach destinations vary. On a speedboat tour, the drivers know the Andaman seas in and out, using their seafaring knowledge to take you to the prime locations based on your interests and the sea conditions. Dive in and see what adventures lie below. All kinds of marine life thrive in the waters: you can spot swooping Manta rays, the rare Whale Shark, Hawksbill turtles, Peacock flounder, and Eagle rays, to name a few of the vast collection of underwater creatures.
Koh Similan is the largest of the Similan islands, spanning five kilometers. One of the more popular islands, Koh Similan is known for its great diving spots, Donald Duck bay (named for the rock formation resembling Donald Duck), and the walking trail leading up the highest mountain in Mo Ku National Park. The view from the top overlooks a panorama of Phang Nga.
It is all sun-soaked days and deep blue seas at Koh Racha Yai and Coral Island. With white, soft sand beneath your feet, the sun kissing your skin, and the cool water providing a host of adventures, these two spots are idyllic beaches for avid sun-worshippers and sea-lovers.
Koh Racha Yai is known to have some of the most pristine beaches in Phuket, virtually untouched and accessible by speedboat, longtail boat, or fishing boat. There is something so peaceful about this place. You can truly escape into secluded beaches and enjoy the solitude of Thailand at its purest and most undisturbed. This feeling of wildness and an almost haunting beauty is enhanced by the wreck sites that divers favour. There are a total of five wreck sites, where you can explore the bones of sunken ships overrun by marine life. Artificial reefs attract a host of water creatures that can’t be found elsewhere in Phuket. It’s a rare opportunity to acquaint yourself with rare and fascinating fish. Very common sightings include spotted garden eels, kuhl’s stingray and forsters barracuda.
While Koh Racha Yai is known for its beaches, Coral Island (or Koh Hay) is known for, you guessed it, coral. Day trips to Coral Island guarantee an afternoon of swimming through colourful coral gardens. Snorkelling and diving are the go-to activities on this collection of islets. There are three very noteworthy beaches on Coral Island: Long Beach, Banana Beach, and Freedom Beach.
Long Beach is a gathering point for the more active travellers, and is undoubtedly one of the most sought after Coral Island beaches. Beach games and watersports are popular here. From volleyball to parasailing, to jet-skiing, adrenaline junkies love to chase thrills at Long Beach.
Banana Beach is one of the more quiet, secluded beaches. Half the size of Long Beach, this hideaway is for travellers looking to enjoy a relaxing lay-down under the palm trees. A jungle trail connects the two beaches. The verdant wilderness is a refreshing change of pace, creating a juxtaposition of sand beaches and thick greenery. The combination is breathtaking. The trail is not for the faint of heart, though. This winding path is for the more gung-ho outdoor aficionados.
Freedom Beach is tucked away in a bay and surrounded by hills. You will feel completely surrounded by nature, and may even spot the odd monitor lizard skittering in and out of the brush. This is perhaps one of the least cultivated secluded beaches in the Coral Island collective. Visitors come to get away from the more crowded islands and enjoy a laid back exploration.
Near James Bond Island, Koh Panyi is a floating fishing village with an unusual history. All of the villagers, and there more than 1,000, are said to be direct or indirect descendents of one man—Toh Baboo—and his family and friends who travelled to Thailand from Indonesia around 200 years ago and were the first settlers on Koh Panyee. After generations afloat in Thai waters, the culture that has developed is both a beautiful blend of Thai and Indonesian traditions and its own distinct way of life.
This fascinating floating village is abuzz with activity. Watch as the local community goes about life on the water, and learn more about this aquaculture. Houses, a school, a mosque (the villagers are mostly Muslim), souvenir stands, and even a football field all rise above the water on stilts. Fresh seafood is served here, hot from the grill, beckoning you with its mouthwatering aroma. Try the grilled squid, for which Koh Panyi is known. Walk along the floating surface, and take in all the cool wares and Thai souvenirs, bustling activities, and friendly folk.
Phang Nga tours have a world of opportunities for the avid traveller wanting a taste of genuine Thai island life. Whether you’re canoeing through sea tunnels, braving the Bat Cave, or swimming through schools of fish, there is something exciting around every turn. Phang Nga is waiting for you. Come on in, the water’s fine.
Between Phuket and Krabi islands, Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi are island getaways adrift in the Andaman sea. These are some of the best islands near Phuket because of their quiet beaches and limestone-karst-studded ocean vistas. Known for their lush, mangrove forests and buzzing fishing villages, Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi appeal to the more laidback traveller. The beaches are a serene escape where you can lounge in the sun, lay in soft sand, and dip your toes into cool, clear waters, all in the peace and quiet of Southern Thailand.
There is a more traditional way of life here that ticks along at an easy pace. You will feel content in the calm vibes as you pass through the villages and explore the islands. The houses here are raised high on stilts above the sea, hovering like waterbirds.
Speed boats and longtail boats are the best way to hop between Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi. With the ocean breeze lapping against you, surrounded by azure sea and lush coconut groves, you will feel in tune with nature. This is the ideal place for a family trip or a romantic getaway, with activities for all different kinds of explorers from snorkelling to village visits to good old-fashioned lounging.