Phang Nga Bay – A Perfect Day Trip From Phuket
We knew we could fill our Phuket days lounging on the beach, but we also wanted a little island-hopping adventure. Thus, off to Phang Nga Bay (pronounced ‘pahng-gah-bay’) We had the luxury of being picked up at our hotel in a comfy van to drive north from our Kamala Beach location, off of Phuket Island and around to the west side of the bay.
First stop was to hop into a commissioned long-tail boat so we could motor into the bay and be blown away by the beauty.
And to take a couple of selfies.
We swung by Ko Panyi, a floating fishing village so our boat captain could complete his daily pineapple drop off. We’ll come back here for lunch so more to follow on this in a bit.
A short kayak ride to get even closer to the amazing cliffs and caves was optional. We opted in.
We braved a very tight squeeze so we could enter a secluded inlet. After a moment of complete silence, we paddled right back out. The tide was coming in quickly, closing our exit hatch.
Aside from that inlet, the water was open and choppy in many spots so we were grateful for our expert paddlers. They allowed us a chance to navigate the craft. Let’s just say forward motion was not consistent.
And we tucked into a cove to shore up and take some of our favorite pictures of the trip with our sweet paddler’s leaf trick.
Back in the long-tail boat, we headed to Khao Phing Kan. This locale was on our list to see partly due to the beauty of which it is a part, but also because of this:
Yes, Bond. James Bond. Khao Phing Kan is rarely called by its original Thai name thanks to The Man with the Golden Gun and a clever tourism industry. Now even the locals refer to it as James Bond Island.
Every so often we’re willing to be THOSE tourists so we can do stuff like this:
Yep. We did it all. We’re not necessarily proud folk, but we do have fun.
We also hiked around a bit alongside a local school group on a fieldtrip. The wife of the driver of the long tail boat also hiked along. My apologies for not remembering her name.
Our guide, Bee, was so knowledgeable and kind. This day was superb because of her!
And a couple of extra photos of James Bond Island.
We long-tailed it out of there and headed back to Ko Panyi for lunch – the floating fishing village where we had made the pineapple drop. This village is built entirely on stilts and butts right up to the crags. Thus, the roughly 1700 residents (360 families) never touch land in their day to day lives. The village was started in the 18th century by two Indonesian fishing families who were unable to purchase land due to their non-Thai origin and thus did what fisherman wouldn’t think odd for a moment – built their settlement on the water.
The lunch they served was perfection. We got our first taste of tom yum soup which was instantly a favorite – lemongrass, kaffir lime, and ginger are the main flavors so it has a sweet and sour blend to it.
We wandered through the market – a strip of sidewalk pier that was adjacent to the homes. Alex and I purchased pearls that are harvested from farm-raised oysters and one of their prime tourist commodities. Thanks to Bee who helped us with negotiating the price – a huge part of the Thai culture and not so familiar to us.
This little guy was practicing with his new laser gun. At least that’s what we thought he was doing. Maybe he just doesn’t like tourists in his backyard.
There is an elementary school in the village as well. It was nap time for the little ones, but the older kids were still in class. Children leave the village and boat to Phang Nga Town for schooling beyond elementary.
Most intriguing was the floating soccer field. And yes, players take turns floating in the water off either end to retrieve the balls that invariably end up splashing out of play.
A final photo of the three of us standing between the soccer field and our long-tail boat. Note the pillars of the mosque in the background. This village is 100% Muslim. The primary religion in Thailand is Buddhism (95%) and the small percentage of Muslims (5%) live in the southern region. Fun fact: less than 1% of the population is Christian.
After motoring back through the expansive bay, we said goodbye to our long-tail boat drivers.
The day wasn’t over yet. We made a van stop en route home at Wat Tham Suwan Khuha – the Buddha Cave. This place was so unexpected not only because we had forgotten it was on the itinerary, but also because of its structure. The temple is literally housed in a cave under a mountain.
At all of the temples there are a variety of Buddha-esque figures identified by their long ears and uniform facial features. Every so often though, there are very realistic statues of everyday people. These represent the masses who sit with Buddha (literally in the past and figuratively now) to be near him and work toward enlightenment.
We climbed around a bit deep into the cave.
We followed the rules, but others not so much.
Buddha Cave is also called Monkey Cave Temple. Outside the cave it is very apparent why this is so. They were a little too close and comfortable with tourists for our taste.
The treat from Bee on our drive home was icing on the cake of a perfect day – or shall I say, the pineapple on the stick?
Just in case you’re in this neck of the world’s woods someday, we reserved this tour through Easy Day Thailand. We did a lot of research, but loved Jamie’s blog who laid out suggestions for the day and guided us to Easy Day.
Next stop: Fly to Chiang Mai for a new set of adventures.