Header image courtesy of Artur Kornakov (via Unsplash)
Thailand is a dream vacation destination with places and activities for every type of traveller. You’ve probably heard of bustling Bangkok and charming Chiang Mai, but southern Thailand’s peaceful Phang Nga province should also be on your places-to-visit-in-Thailand radar as well. Not convinced? Here are some things you can see and do in the area.
If there’s one thing Phang Nga province is famous for it’s Phang Nga Bay—which is basically the gateway to the picture-worthy (hello IG!) limestone cliffs and caves standing majestically over emerald green waters.
One of the most noteworthy islands in the area is James Bond Island. This needle-shaped rock formation rose to fame when it appeared in the 1974 James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, and from then on was simply dubbed the ‘James Bond Island’.
Besides the James Bond Island, you can also visit Koh Yao Noi, Koh Hong, Koh Tachai, and explore the nearby Similan Islands. There are many boat tours and cruises you can join that will take you to most of these islands and leave you plenty of time to swim and snorkel. If you can find a tour provider that also lists a visit to a few natural caves, we recommend not missing out!
The floating markets of Bangkok are one thing, but the floating village of Koh Panyee is a completely different story. Here you’ll witness the day-to-day lives of the locals, see their houses built on stilts, and marvel at the tight-knit community of this fishing village. There are also places on the island that you can eat in and browse through for a bit of shopping.
A visit to Thailand isn’t complete without seeing at least one of the country’s sacred temples. If you’re in Phang Nga, you shouldn’t miss out on the cave temple of Wat Suwan Kuha. This holy site’s main feature is the huge gleaming statue of a reclining Buddha as well as the troops of monkeys that can be found by the entrance of the temple. Make sure to keep your belongings close to you as the monkeys are known to be quite rowdy.
Known as the “Heaven and Hell” temple, this unusual temple complex was built to show visitors the disparity between heaven and hell. You’ll see cave shrines depicting pleasant scenes that are supposed to represent the Buddhists’ idea of heaven as well as a number of grotesque statues that illustrate what happens in hell. It’s worth a visit to see this one-of-a-kind temple, but it might be best not to bring children with you when you go.
If you’re looking for the perfect backdrop for your next profile pic, or simply want to capture the best views of Phang Nga as a remembrance of your trip, then a drive to the Samet Nangshe Viewpoint is a must. From this viewpoint, you’ll be able to see the panoramic scenery of the nearby bay, including the stunning limestone cliffs and lush forests. If you can, try to get there before 6am to catch the spectacular sunrise views—it’ll be worth it, we promise!
The great thing about this park is the numerous activities you can do in it—think trekking along the many nature trails taking in the local flora and fauna. You can also board a boat and sail along the Khao Sok River. Swimming and rafting are also options, so you won’t run out of things to do. We recommend going with a group of friends or your family and spending the day in the park at your own leisure.
One of the country’s most beautiful bridges, the Sarasin Bridge rose to fame back in the 1970s when two lovers—who were forbidden to marry—jumped off the bridge. Consequently, a film about was made to commemorate their tragic love story, hence the bridge’s popularity. The bridge itself connects Phang Nga to Phuket, and despite its unfortunate association, remains a glorious structure of gleaming, elevated gazebos and shining turrets.
Set up as a memorial for the villagers who lost their lives during the 2004 tsunami, this modest museum houses several informative exhibits about tsunamis. This is a great place to learn about these natural phenomena as well as discover how the 2004 tsunami greatly affected the area of Khao Lak. You can even see the Thai navy vessel that was hit by the waves and moved almost two kilometres inland!
This one’s for the animal lovers! The conservation centre is actually an initiative by the Thai navy to rehabilitate endangered marine life, particularly sea turtles. They are open to the public and provide tours where you get to learn about these sea creatures and the efforts to help keep them safe. If you’re lucky, you can even feed the turtles and catch a glimpse of the other animals in the centre.
If you want to skip the beaches and islands in favour of the jungles and waterfalls, then add Lampi Waterfall to your list. This multi-level waterfall, with its invigourating waters, is a great place to cool off when exploring the nearby rainforest trails. While it’s best visited during the rainy season for the stronger current and water flow, you can still swim around during the summer months.