Sailing the Phang Nga Bay in Thailand
Overview of sailing the Phang Nga Bay in Thailand
Between Phuket and the mainland on the western coast of Thailand is a cluster of picturesque islands nestled in Phang Nga Bay. Although probably best known for the limestone cinematic symbol in a James Bond movie, Phang Nga Bay offers many other gems for tourists and travelers alike. With dozens of small islands, caves, hongs, tunnels and stunning scenery dotted around this shallow bay, the best way to explore it is on your own keel. If you have the necessary qualifications for a bareboat charter you can explore this World Heritage Site from our base in Yacht Haven Marina located in the NE of Phuket or from Ao Yon in the SE of Phuket, where our more ‘exotic’ bareboats, the Wharram Tikis and the fast Summerhaven 10.65 are located. Those with less or no sailing experience have the possibility to take a crewed charter, where you have the advantage to benefit from the knowledge of our experienced captains and crews who know the area. This can be done by just renting these bareboats including skipper or by using one of our selection of crewed charter yachts; one that can be particularly mentioned is the sailing catamaran Nakamal, whose owner and skipper Dieter Dongprajahn provided the footage for the video.
Highlights of Phang Nga Bay in Thailand
Koh Phanak hosts a 200m long cave tunnel, navigable by kayak or tender of the yacht that leads to a hong. Hong is the Thai name for room, but in this case it refers to the small lagoons, which are accessible only by a cave tunnel or a small gap in the sheer limestone cliffs that enclose it. Many of these hongs were only discovered in the last decades from aerial views. Due to the utter uniqueness of this place, Koh Phanak is a destination for the numerous day charter companies, who flood the bay during day times. On a sailing charter you would stay there overnight to access the tunnel and hong in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. What awaits you when entering the hong is the quiet seclusion of a cave with daylight from above. The numerous stalactites and stalagmites are embellished with tropical flora. These magical places are a must see in Thailand and we are sure after seeing one you would like to see more of it.
Koh Hong / Phang Nga
As the name already indicates, this is another island assembling those geological formations that made Phang Nga Bay a World Heritage Site. In this case there is a short cave tunnel to access the hongs from the south, short enough to admire the stalactite formations in broad daylight. The main hong is accessible from the other side through a fairly wide gap in the cliffs, but using the tender or kayaks of the sailing yacht, you can find little gaps in the walls and cave tunnels to access smaller, completely enclosed lagoons.
Koh Ping Ghan / James Bond Island
Sailing north from Koh Hong / Phang Nga you will come across the probably best known attraction of the Phang Nga Bay – Koh Ping Ghan, better known as James Bond Island, since it was featured in the James Bond movie “The Man With The Golden Gun” as an evil henchman’s hideaway. With Koh Tapu in front of it, it has become one of the most famous symbols of Thailand.
Koh Panyi / Fishermen Village / Sea Gypsy Village
The small fishing community of Koh Panyi is another highlight that can be included in a sailing itinerary. Built entirely on stilts, this Muslim community consists of roughly 200 families descended from two original seafaring Muslim families from Java, Indonesia. The economy is mostly dependent around the fishing industry. The catch of the day is kept in fish tanks and prepared freshly for the day tourists who frequent the village during lunch hours and fill the numerous seafood restaurants.
Koh Pak Bia
Going south on the eastern side of Phang Nga Bay, the water becomes beautifully clear and Koh Pak Bia comes in sight. This island is better described as two islands connected by a beach. One side of the beach slopes down gently with sandy ground, ideal for bathing, while the other side slopes into a rocky area, wonderful for snorkeling at high tide. When the weather allows, to anchor there overnight is the thing to do. Having this picture postcard beach completely to yourself already makes for an unforgettable sailing holiday.
Koh Hong / Krabi
Only a few miles south is another Koh Hong located, this time named Koh Hong Krabi. While some may think it is just another hong, it is probably the largest in the area, and it falls almost completely dry at low tide. When you are lucky enough that the low tide comes together with your arrival at a time when it’s not too busy, you have a chance to oversee the ballet of the fiddler crabs populating the fallen dry flats of the hong. Additionally, there are a few caves and a formidable beach to make this highlight worth mentioning.
Summary of Sailing Phang Nga Bay
Apart from the described highlights, which are mostly accessible as well for conventional tourists, the Phang Nga Bay has still a lot of hidden gems to offer to be discovered on a sailing holiday. Only a few miles from the major attractions you can enjoy total seclusion in the magical world of Phang Nga Bay. Fresh seafood can be obtained from passing by local fishermen. With the motorized tenders and optional kayaks our sailing yachts are equipped with are ideal to explore the rugged coastlines for your own hidden caves and hongs. Kids will love it. Island Cruises will gladly help you organize the sailing yacht for bareboat charter or crewed charter for a liveaboard excursion. Sailing around Phang Nga Bay is an amazing experience. From small beaches, to limestone cliffs to small fishing communities, sailing Phang Nga is an opportunity not to be missed.