Adventure Cruises in Phan Nga Bay
About Phan Nga Bay Cruises
No cruise in the Andaman Sea would dare skip Phan Nga Bay, and there is a good reason for that. Phan Nga Bay cruises offer some spectacular views, from the sparkling blue water to the rocky islands sprinkled across the bay. It may look like something out of a movie, and you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that. There is, for example, the island of Ko Khao Phing Kan, nowadays more widely known as James Bond Island after being featured prominently in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun. Many other Phan Nga Bay islands also made an appearance in the film.
Top Things to Do in Phan Nga Bay
The absolute best thing to do on a Phan Nga Bay cruise is to just hop from island to island. We already mentioned Ko Khao Phing Kan, which translates to Leaning on Itself Island, and the distinctive karst formation of Ko Tapu (Nail Island) in front of the beach. These are by far the busiest spots in Phan Nga Bay due to their connections to popular culture and their Instagramability, but there is much more to see.
Ko Tapu is just one of many rock formations giving Phan Nga Bay its unique character. It is part of the Ao Phang-Nga Marine National Park, which contains a whopping 42 islands and islets. A bit further south from the famous James Bond Island, you’ll find Koh Hong, whose name is drawn from its secluded lagoon – the word ‘hong’ in Thai means ‘room’. It also features a gorgeous cave, and many more of these caves can be found around the bay. Some of these can be found on Ko Pa Nak, which has its own lagoon with mangrove trees and the colorfully named Bat Cave and Ice Cream Cave.
Phan Nga Bay is capped on its south side by the dual islands of Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi. The former is the largest but quietest of the duo. One of the highlights there is the Lam Haed beach on the northern tip of the island, with its pearly white sand, coconut trees, and crystal blue water enclosing the beach on both sides. Ko Yao Noi is smaller but busier and is where you will find most tourist accommodations and nightlife.
For an experience unlike anything else to be found in Phan Nga Bay, head to the very north of the bay. Ko Panyi is located just off the Phan Nga mainland and consists almost entirely of a bustling village built on stilts. It is an intriguing place, where everything is cramped and tourists and locals going about their daily life blend in almost seamlessly. Ko Panyi can get very crowded, especially around lunchtime, because of the island's abundance of restaurants and souvenir shops.
Top Tips for Visiting Phan Nga Bay (Where Applicable)
Definitely pack swimwear and sunscreen for your trip around Phan Nga Bay, as the azure waters are too inviting not to swim in them, and the sun will be bearing down on you all day. Snorkeling gear will also prove useful, especially when relaxing and exploring the marine life on the quieter beaches and lagoons. And, of course, bring a camera to snap your obligatory pic in front of Ko Tapu on James Bond Island!
Best Time to Cruise Phan Nga Bay
Phan Nga Bay is very seasonal, so there can be large differences in crowds. The monsoon season runs from May to October, so there won’t be nearly as many visitors in those months. However, the weather will also be far from ideal. While there will be some sunny periods, those will be interrupted by long and heavy showers. That means conditions for a cruise won’t be at their best.
The best weather will be encountered between November and April, but that will, of course, also attract the most tourists. Especially December and January will prove to be very busy, and prices will rise significantly during those months. Phan Nga Bay will also be swarmed with boats, ranging from multi-day cruises to smaller day-trip vessels.
Where Do Phan Nga Bay Cruises Depart From?
Most cruises whose itinerary includes Phan Nga Bay leave from the island of Phuket, making their way around the bay and often stopping at a few other islands in the area. The most common departure point is Chalong Pier, which is located towards the south of Phuket. To get there, you will have to drive 20 minutes from Phuket Town or 45 minutes from Phuket International Airport.
The easiest way to get to Phuket for your cruise departure is to fly into Phuket International Airport. Currently, there are barely any direct flights from Europe, so most likely, you will need to account for a layover elsewhere. Bangkok is the most obvious place for that, although you can also book flights through places like Malaysia and Singapore.