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Phang Nga Bay, Phuket Overview

Phang Nga Bay, also known as Ao Phangnga locally, is situated in the Strait of Malacca, lying in between the Malay peninsula of Thailand and the island of Phuket. Spread over 400 square miles, it is a picturesque location that sees a heavy rush of tourists all the year round. The Phang Nga Bay contains numerous archeological sites of limestone caves and cliffs that are showcased as a part of sightseeing tours. The stunning site consists of 42 islands located within the shallow sea water and is well known for its mangrove forests, beds of seagrass, and numerous species of flora and fauna including the endangered Malaysian plover.

A part of the Bay is occupied by the Ao Phang Nga National Park, declared to be a protected area in 1981. It is also a designated Ramsar Site (an important wetland of ecological importance Internationally as per the Ramsar Convention) in 2002. Credence must be given to the popularity of Phang Nga to the James Bond Movie, "The Man with the Golden Gun," shot at one of the islands within the National Park area. The beautiful location of the Bay was also used in the Hollywood space film, "Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" to show the Battle of Kashyyyk taking place on the home planet of the Wookiees

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Places to Visit at Phang Nga Bay

James Bond Island- A visit to the Bay remains incomplete without landing on the most popular of its island, the Koh Tapu. It is popularly known for the legendary spy character of Hollywood movies, James Bond. The pointed and elongated shape of the rocky island presents a breathtaking view of the surrounding waters while climbing the limestone cliffs is an adventurous experience. It offers an excellent photo opportunity for the visitors thanks to its spectacular scenic beauty and fame.

Koh Panyi– This is a unique village that was created on silts with only a tiny area being on solid ground made out of limestone. It is an amazing to sight for the visitors to find numerous shops, houses, schools and health centers function effectively while remaining perched on stilts. The village gets crowded during noon with longtail boats bringing multiple tourists in. Reaching the village is an adventure in itself as the boat travels through the thick mangrove forests liberally interspaced with limestone pieces.

Samet Nangshe Viewpoint- This is a beautiful location atop a hill that can be reached by taking a 30 minute ride from Phuket. The panoramic view of the entire bay along with its beautiful stretch of islands is laid bare from the hill. The sight of the thick mangrove forest and lofty limestone cliffs are absolutely mesmerizing during the early hours of morning. Many tourists prefer to watch the sunrise from the hilltop as well and are often thrilled to find the Milky Way being visible on a clear and unclouded day.

Cave of Reclining Buddha- The Wat Suwan Kuha cave situated on a limestone cliff is definitely worth a visit, not only for the scenic beauty for also for the spectacular 15 meters long statue of the reclining Buddha housed with the huge cavernous space along with a number of other Buddha statues that remain erect.

Phang Nga Bay
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Best Time to Visit

The months of December to January when the weather is pleasant is deemed to be the best time to visit the Bay. The ocean is also relatively quiet at this time of the year making the journey safe and enjoyable.

Tips

1. It is best to visit Koh Panyi well before the lunch time to avoid the crowds
2. It is advisable to appoint a guide for exploring the limestone cliffs and remote islands
3. Tour operators recommend staying close to the beaches while swimming
4. Carrying drinking water and a camera is a must while touring the spectacular bay
5. The Wat Suwan Kuha cave is guarded by the temple gate that is overrun with monkeys. It is best to leave the belongings inside the vehicle and proceed towards the cave without any articles that might cause the animals to snatch.

How To Reach Phang Nga Bay

International tourists prefer to fly to Phuket and avail the complimentary minivan service for getting to the Phang Nga Bay. Buses are available from Krabi Bus Station to Phang Nga as well. There is a train service from Bangkok to Surat Thani with the passengers having to take a 2 hour long bus ride to Phang Nga thereafter. Many tourists hire a car or choose to travel by metered taxis from Phuket to reach the destination in 90 minutes. People keen to take a boat ride have to get to the Tha Dan pier to access the ferry service.

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