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Koh Panyi, Phuket Overview

Koh Panyee is a tiny fishing village in the Phang Nga Province of Thailand, about an hour and a half north of Phuket City. It's approximately a 20-minute longtail boat ride from Surakul pier in Phang Nga province. The most striking feature of this tiny island is its vast, vertical limestone cliffs. Most tour operators include Koh Panyee as part of the James Bond Island tour itinerary from Phuket.

A small place with only 360 families, Koh Panyee houses only 1685 permanent residents. All the huts, shacks, and restaurants are built on stilts over the surrounding shallow sea. The wooden and concrete piles holding up this extraordinary community are a fascinating and unique feat of informal engineering.

Recorded history suggests that the settlement on Koh Panyee is attributed to nomadic Malay fishermen towards the end of the 18th century. The laws of the time-limited land ownership only to people of Thai origin. Hence, to avoid this technical issue, the settlers mostly built their homes and businesses on stilts within the island's bay.

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Koh Panyee History

The Legend of Toh Baboo
It is believed that a Muslim Indonesian fisherman named Toh Baboo discovered this little fishing village, also known as the Muslim Village. Thus, all inhabitants of Koh Panyee are the descendants Toh Baboo. Toh Baboo's family and two other families were supposedly the first people to settle on Koh Panyee some 200 years ago. Legend has it that Toh Baboo, his clan and the two other families left Indonesia by boats in search for a new place to live.

Eventual Developments
They promised to raise a flag at the liveable site they discovered so that others can follow him and settle together. Toh Baboo found the island of Koh Panyee with its abundance of fish and thus, raising the red flag attracted the rest of his people to the region. Hence, the island is called Koh Panyee or 'The Island of the Flag' in Thai.

Life in Koh Panyee

Life on this quaint little fishing hamlet is still relatively simple. While 40% of the locals are still fishermen, most people here have now turned towards tourism to earn their living.

Village Amenities
Although early village earlier was tough, with no electricity, fresh water, or phones, technology has improved the locality today. Electricity here still costs six times its regular cost on this island.
Koh Panyee has a mosque, a school, a clinic, a few sea-facing restaurants and a host of small souvenir shops. Some bungalows have also been recently constructed on Koh Panyee offering overnight accommodation for only THB 300. The island is looked over by a single policeman.

Koh Panyee Football Club
This tiny village includes a floating football pitch. After the 1986 FIFA World Cup, inspired village children built this incredible pitch from old scraps of wood and fishing rafts. The Koh Panyee boys formed a local football team and competed in the Southern Thai School Championships. They made it to the semi-finals in an inland tournament and even won the second place although they played barefoot. This inspired the entire village to take up sport and build a new pitch. The wooden football court still remains and is a must-visit place for tourists.

Panyee Football Club is one of the most successful youth soccer clubs in Southern Thailand as of 2011. They have won the South Thailand Youth Soccer Championships of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Schools in the Village
With only 13 teachers at the village school, educating over 200 students, the school has also launched an environmental awareness program. This recycling programme supports students to collect bottles and cans from the village and sell them. The proceeds from this program would go to the school funds.

Pit Stop 
Koh Panyee was also a pit stop during the fourth leg of the 19th season on the popular U.S. reality-competition show 'The Amazing Race'.

Traveller Tips

  • Dress according to the local culture. Avoid short skirts and shorts. T-shirts and jeans are acceptable. However, ensure to avoid T-shirts with inappropriate quotes or images.
  • Wear comfortable shoes with good grip. Since you will mostly be walking on these wooden structures on stilts, it is advisable to wear shoes with good footwork. 
  • Carry sunblock, hats and sunglasses while heading out. 
  • An a la carte would offer you better options rather than a tour-lunch. However, tour lunches provide better portions than an a la carte.
  • A kayak tour through the lagoon near Koh Panyee is beautiful but can get crowded during peak season time.
  • Carry a camera.
  • Add a day to your itinerary and rent out cheap bungalows to save up. 
  • Be firm with street-sellers, especially children, as they may be forcefully set out to task by some adults.
  • As part of a local event, a gibbon is dressed in human clothes and street paraded. This act is cruel and should not be encouraged, report the activity if you wish to.
  • Be polite in all conversations. It is advisable to familiarise with the local language in advance.
  • Use the coupons on GRAB to get a better deal while booking cabs to Surakal.

How to Reach Koh Panyee

Via Tour Packages
Most tour operators include Koh Panyee as part of the itinerary of the James Bond Island tour from Phuket. As a part of the trip, a long tail boat transports tourists to Koh Panyee for lunch, which is served on a floating restaurant. 

From Surakul Pier in Phang Nga

By Long Tail Boat 

You could rent a longtail boat from Surakul pier for around THB 1,700. This three-hour ride can accommodate around ten passengers. In case you are a big group you can hire the entire boat for just THB 170 per head. You could hire the longtail boat to pick you up for extra charges if you wish to hike an overnight trip. 

From Phuket City to Phang Nga

By Air-conditioned Minibus 
You could book a minibus if you are moving from one province to another one in Thailand. Minibuses can work out cost-effectively as well. You can get the minibus B120 from Phuket Old Bus Station or the City Minibus Station to Phang Nga.

By Bus
Take a regular open-air bus from Phuket City to Phang Nga if you want to save up mostly. Bus number B60 from Phuket number 2 or the new bus station goes to Phang Nga.

By Taxi
If you are coming from Phuket City and are not part of any tour, it might be a good idea to take a private cab. It will be comfortable and much faster, depending on the traffic. Bargain with the cab drivers to get a reasonable price.

Try using the local app GRAB, which operates much like UBER to get a better fare. You could even hike shared rides to Surakal pier and split the cost.

By Rental Car 
You can rent a cab which are much cheaper at around THB 300 to THB 400 per day from Phuket City and drive down to Surakal Pier in Phang Nga. Although this needs an International licence and extra fuel costs, it would work out cheaper than a taxi.

By Rental Bike
You could rent a bike for the day at just THB 150 to THB 200 and head to Surakal Pier in Phang Nga. All vehicle rentals require an International Licence.

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