Visit James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay from Phuket

James Bond Island, Thaïlande

Are you a fan of Agent 007 and a lover of Thailand? Here’s how to reconcile your two passions: head for James Bond Island, right in the middle of sublime Phang Nga Bay!

Just outside Phuket province in western Thailand, in Phang Nga Bay along the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, lies Koh Phing Kan. This pair of paradise islands is part of the Ao Phang Nga National Park, and has the distinction of having played host to Roger Moore during the filming of a 1974 James Bond movie – « The Man with the Golden Gun » – earning it the name of James Bond Island.

If you love grandiose tropical landscapes, are passing through Thailand, or simply dream of becoming a secret agent in Her Majesty’s service, we’ve put together a mini-guide to help you visit James Bond Island with complete peace of mind.

A brief history, attractions and places to discover, directions, prices, opening hours and lots of other information you’ll need for your stay. So, are you ready to take on the mission?

History of James Bond Island and Phang Nga Bay

James Bond Island, Thaïlande

Before the filming of the famous James Bond movie starring the phlegmatic Roger Moore, Phang Nga Bay, and most of the islands and islets nestling there, were clearly not considered sumptuous tourist destinations. Wild, devoid of infrastructure and considered indigenous territory, few ventured there because there was clearly nothing to do.

It wasn’t until 1974, when director Guy Hamilton decided to set Agent 007 and the dreaded Francisco Scaramanga against the breathtaking scenery of Phang Nga Bay, that Koh Phing Kan became the now-famous « James Bond Island » for better, and for worse.

From then on, this wild and unspoilt territory became a popular tourist destination, and was swarmed by tourists who were not always respectful of the idyllic setting: waste and pollution soon plagued the bay, until 1981, when the creation of the Ao Phang Nga National Park put an end to this destructive heresy by firmly regulating tourist activities. In 1998, for example, it was decided that motorboats would no longer be allowed near certain islands, in order to slow the erosion of the limestone rocks that make them up!

On December 26, 2004, the island was hit hard by the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami, which damaged some of the surrounding coral reefs as well as the local flora and fauna. Today, however, numerous preventive and protective measures are being taken by the national park authorities to reconcile – as best they can – tourism activities with respect for the unique ecosystem.

What to see and do on James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay

James Bond Island, Thaïlande

Phang Nga Bay is a maritime area of almost 400 km², comprising several hundred islands and islets. Of these, the two islands making up Koh Phing Kan – to the north-west of the bay – are certainly the most picturesque.

Koh Phing Kan

Located just a few kilometers from the mainland, they face the famous islet of Ko Tapu, a natural column of limestone that appears to sink into the water, as seen in the film! The island boasts a few caves and pretty sandy beaches, but don’t expect to sit down at a beachside bar or enjoy grilled shrimp. Apart from a modest jungle path leading to the island’s various spots and the governor’s office (where every tourist must pay a visitor’s tax), there are no real human constructions.

James Bond Island is accessible from Phuket or Khao Lak, and the governor’s office serves as the main entry point and souvenir store for boats dropping off tourists. Once there, tourists – most of whom have signed up for a day-trip package – are offered a guided tour of James Bond Island’s points of interest.

The coastline and bay of Phang Nga

James Bond Island, Thaïlande

As well as taking selfies in front of Ko Tapu, you can alsoexplore the island’s coastline by canoe, depending on your preference. This allows you to visit caves that are sometimes home to bats, to reach an astonishing lagoon populated by monkeys, which can be reached via a rocky corridor, or simply to swim on a white sandy beach. But beware of jellyfish, often present in large numbers!

It’s also possible to get away from James Bond Island to visit Phang Nga Bay, where there are many other activities on offer to tourists.

For example, visit the famous Buddhist temple of Suwankuha, nicknamed « the Monkey Temple » due to the massive presence of primates that find refuge there.

You can also visit a pretty fishing village – located on the island of Koh Panyee – where you can immerse yourself in the local culture amidst the warm, authentic Thai population.

Talu Island

To get as close as possible to the sublime Talu Island, kayak excursions lasting a few hours can also be organized, before heading off to enjoy a bowl of ramen and spicy coconut milk sauce in a Thai restaurant along the majestic Phang Nga Bay. In fact, it all depends on the package you choose when organizing your stay, but in most cases it includes a round trip by bus and boat from your hotel!

That’s what’s so special about exploring Phang Nga Bay: it’s not advisable – or even forbidden, in some areas – to visit without taking organized tours. On the one hand, this is due to the nature of the site itself: it is a national park, and as such, the freedom to visit must be supervised by the Thai authorities in order to preserve the beauty of the area.

On the other hand, although Thailand is a strong and fairly safe state in tourist areas, it can be dangerous for Westerners to enter certain districts or regions. Adventurers at heart, beware. You’ll have the chance to organize a wild road-trip later!

How do I get to James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay?

James Bond Island and, more generally, all the tourist attractions in Phang Nga Bay are only accessible by boat. The latter, specifically dedicated to tourism and sometimes offering catering services, await you in the ports located on the coast of Phuket province, which can usually be reached by bus or cab directly from your hotel!

The boat ride to the day’s activity is a pleasant one. It is often commented on by a local guide – usually English-speaking – who will act as your point of contact throughout the day with the local authorities and inhabitants, ensuring your comfort and safety.

Schedules & Rates for James Bond Island in Phang Nga Bay

James Bond Island, Thaïlande

As you can see, there’s a whole host of offers for a day out on James Bond Island, or any of the other tourist sites available when visiting Phang Nga Bay. These packages are as numerous as the hotels that offer them, and they are legion in Phuket province!

SCHEDULES

Generally speaking, these excursions last justone day.

In the morning, a cab or shared minibus will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the nearest pier.

Once you’re on the boat, which sometimes offers snacks and refreshments, it takes a few minutes or hours to reach your activity. In some cases, you can do more than one in a single day, before retracing your steps and being taken back to your hotel as soon as night falls!

RATES

In terms of prices, you should expect to pay between €75 and €150 to organize an excursion. This price may vary according to the time of year and the services chosen.

Theadvantage is the « all-inclusive » aspect of the formula, which means you don’t have to worry about organization, since everything is already taken care of in advance.

Thedrawback? The lack of freedom, which can put off the most reckless or adventurous.

It’s up to you!

Good to know

-Needless to say, when visiting a sacred site such as a Buddhist temple, it’s important to maintain a correct and respectful attitude. Too many tourists break these rules and offend the sensibilities of their hosts. So be careful!

-Remember to bring sun cream, sunglasses and a hat: the sun can be very strong, and the boats are not always shaded.

-In Thailand, everything is paid for in cash! Credit cards are of no use for extras, so bring cash with you.