Phang Nga has been one of the biggest surprises of our journey. This local town is located in between huge green limestone cliffs and has everything that makes Thailand Thailand. It has everything we adore so much: mesmerizing natural surroundings, friendly people and the smile of a child asking “Hellooo, what’s your name?”, in the middle of the street. In this blog we’ll be showing you all there is to do and why you should pay a visit to Phang Nga!
Phang Nga Town
As soon as we arrived, we already knew we loved Phang Nga. This doesn’t happen to us very often.
Most bus stations in Thailand tend to be a bit grubby and usually you have to maneuver your way through a horde of pushy taxi drivers before you even know where you are. But not in Phang Nga. It love at first sight.
Looking around, we couldn’t believe our eyes. This place is absolutely gorgeous! Despite the burning afternoon sun, we cheerfully walked to our guesthouse, where we received a very warm welcome.
“Of course you can rent a motorbike, no problem!” The owner of the guesthouse was kind enough to mark all of the area’s highlights on a map, which meant we could hit the road straight away.
Sa Nang Manora Forest Park
Just outside town we ordered some Thai dishes. We had to speak our best Thai, as no-one here could understand English. But Thai classics such as Khao Pad (fried rice), Pad Se Ew (flat noodles with soy sauce) and Som Tam (spicy papaya salad) are well known and can be ordered pretty easily.
After dinner we went for a walk through the jungle in Sa Nang Manora Forest Park, with its many waterfalls and small ponds in which you can take a dip and have tiny fish nibble at your feet. Awesome!
Also, we saw a lot of school kids in the park that, still dressed in their uniforms, would jump from different heights of the waterfall and visibly enjoying it.
Phung Chang Cave
Besides the spectacular green limestone cliffs, Phang Nga is also known for its many caves – Phung Chang Cave being the most famous one. For 400 baht per person we were able to go on a small tour inside the ‘belly of the elephant’, as it’s referred to, since the shape of the mountain happens to resemble a reclining elephant.
You’ll be exploring the cave with a tour guide and with the help of a head light, which you’ll be given at the entrance. The tour consists of three parts: the first part is by rubber boat, then you’ll be changing to a bamboo raft and next you’ll be going on foot while the water reaches knee height.
The further you go, the more beautiful the stalactites, stalagmites, pillars and rock formations get. We couldn’t believe our eyes! After twenty minutes we reached the end of the cave. Normally, you would reach a stunning waterfall, pictured below, but the water level was too high, making it too risky to continue.
We turned around and enjoyed the way back. The tour lasted a total of 45 minutes.
Tour around Phang Nga Bay
The most important landmark in all of Phang Nga and surroundings is, of course, the world famous Phang Nga Bay. Here you’ll encounter some of the most beautiful rock formations you can think of.
With a long-tail boat you can go past the immense rock formations for hours and hours and watch them as they project their huge shadows on the water surface. They’re so big that they can hardly be caught on camera.
This trip will also take you past mangrove forests, but always with that distinctive view on the horizon.
James Bond Island: Koh Tapu
The area is stunning and rich with a beauty that is barely fathomable. Thanks to a scene from the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” from 1974, it’s very popular among tourists as well. So expect a lot of other people to be there as well.
The smart choice would be to book your tour from Phang Nga – and not from Phuket. That way you’ll be traveling with smaller groups, unlike the larger boats and speedboats that come from Phuket, which tend to carry huge numbers of tourists.
But there’s no getting around it; this area is very touristic and you won’t be the only one bobbing about. Still, you shouldn’t miss this gorgeous piece of nature!
We did an overnight tour during where we spent the night in the small fishing village of Koh Paynee. A small village built on poles at the foot of an enormous limestone cliff. Cool!
We arrived in the afternoon and walked around in a labyrinth of narrow streets and colorful houses.
Although the fishing village mainly survives on tourists who have lunch and shop there, you can still tell that it’s a village inhabited by many fishermen. No great surprise then that at night we had fresh fish, prepared by the owner of the guesthouse.
Eating, Sleeping & Getting Around in Phang Nga
Phang Nga is ideally located in the south of Thailand.
It’s an hour’s drive from the seaside town of Khao Lak and an hour and a half’s drive from both Phuket and Krabi airport. It’s easy to get to, even from Surat Thani and Khao Sok National Park. Minivans from Surat Thani leave every hour between 9:30 AM and 5:30 PM and go to Phang Nga via Khao Sok, meaning you can travel on straight after your jungle tour!
Small-scale Home Phang Nga Guesthouse in Phang Nga Town is a great recommendation for anyone that would like to stay in this area. The owner, whose name is Chai, and his wife are very kind and actively help you plan your stay. They’re prepared to arrange everything and know a lot about the surrounding area. Ideal!
Another great tip is Manora Garden, run a by the friendly couple Gerard (from the Netherlands) and his wife Nui. The little houses are comfortable and located in between the rubber trees. They know a lot about the area and are glad to help when it comes to tours or outings you might want to make. A great place to get to know the local life and nature.
You can buy food at one of the local markets at the Blue Mountain Restaurant, which has a view of the town and the gorgeous surroundings.