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Phang Nga

Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park

Phang Nga

Phang Nga

Phang Nga City Hall

Phang Nga City Hall

Phang-nga is located just to the north of Phuket on the western coast of the peninsular part of southern Thailand, with an area of 4,171 sq.km.

Phang-nga is a province with two characters – land and sea – and packed with national parks that guard magnificent scenery with immensely different attractions. Its long sandy coast (220 km.) and large numbers of limestone islands (161) and mountains make it one of the most scenic provinces of Thailand, and that is why it boasts as many as six national parks, including three on the sea.

Most famous is Ao Phang-nga National Park, a geological wonder filled with islets, sunken caverns and startling rock formations rising sheer out of the sea.  The bay is extremely sheltered ideal for expeditions of sea canoes to explore the many fascinating caverns with their own eco-systems.

Phang-nga’s andaman coast offers parks of a different kind.  The island groups of Surin and Similan are renowned for their beautiful unspoilt beaches and spectacular underwater scenery, attracting divers from around the world.  Khao Lak is a coastal park full of birds, mammals and scenic waterfalls, with a number of hotel developments after Tsunami disaster in December 2004.

Attractions:

Most attractions in Phang-nga are major excursion destinations from Phuket. The following are among the best known.

1. Ao Phang-nga (Phang-nga Bay)

Khao Phingkan

Ko Tapu (James Bond Island)

Ko Panyi

2. Khao Lak

3. Similan Islands

4. Surin Islands

Ao Phang-nga National Park

Ao Phang-nga or Phang-nga Bay is one of the most frequently visited marine national parks of Thailand. With an area of 40,000 sq.km., it comprises more than 40 islands, large and small, located to the northeast of Phuket. It is almost like an inland lake with its east, north and west sealed off by land and its south partly enclosed, too.

The sea is rather shallow with an average depth of a few metres only. The park is therefore a safe place to visit throughout the year. The waves never reach one meter high even in the monsoon months from May to October, though a visit from November to April is still preferable because then the sky is clear, the sea is calm and the trip will not be interrupted by rain.

The national park is widely known among foreign tourists for its unique seascape. The group of islets has become known as Guilin-on-Sea. According to geologists, the area was once above the sea.
A tour of the bay is inevitably made by boat. Visitors may travel by a motor boat seating several dozen people, a boat with a long shafted outboard motor or “long-tail boat” as locally known, which seats some 10 people, or a canoe which can be ridden by no more than three passengers and which provides a great opportunity for tourists to explore the islets closely and even go through small openings of the islets.

Attractions around the bay 

Tham Lot is a limestone grotto sculptured by weather and the sea water. The cave is large enough to allow two or three boats going through side by side. There are also stalactites hanging down from the roof, but not as beautiful as those found in a mountain cave, probably because their formation has been constantly interfered by forces of nature. Tourists popularly canoe to explore nature here.

Khao Phingkan and Ko Tapu which are near each other, some 10 km. from Tham Lot. Khao Phingkan means (two) hills leaning against each other. In fact, the two islets (hills) forming Khao Phingkan are connected by a tiny beach. But one of them is split in two, with one leaning against the other. Standing alone in the sea some 200 metres from Khao Phingkan is the tiny Ko Tapu, or Nail Islet. Looking like a spike driven into the sea, it is perhaps the most photographed object in the whole marine park. It has become a symbol of the park, especially since the Hollywood production -The Man with the Golden Gun, starring James Bond, was partly shot here.

Ko Panyi is a popular place for a seafood lunch. It presents a very special sight with all restaurants and some 500 houses built on stilts over the sea. In fact, they constitute a centuries-old Muslim fishing village, complete with a mosque and a school..

Khao Khian or Writing Hill is where a shallow cave contains coloured drawings of people, crocodiles, dolphins and sharks estimated to be about 3,000 years old.

Ko Hong is a jewel on Phang-nga Bay due to its beautiful sea views and several caves on sea accessible only by canoe. The west of the island features high cliffs and lagoon while the east comprises a bay and a curved white sand beach.

Ko Phanak By canoeing through its small opening on sea at low tide, visitors will enter a wonderful hidden world of its emerald lagoon. Here is a favourite spot for tourists and a new star in Phang-nga Bay.

Ko Khai consists of 2 virgin islands, located in the south of the bay which is easily accessible from Phuket, taking only 35 minutes. The sand is white and powdery and the sea is pure and crystal, ideal for people who love tranquility, swimming and sunbathing. 

Khao Lak – Lamru National Park

This national park is emerging as a new star appealing to those who love tranquility amidst the pristine nature. With an area of about 150 sq.km. covering four counties of Thai Muang, Kapong, Takua Pa and Muang, it boasts virgin forests with abundant flora and fauna and waterfalls. The cream of the park lies on Khao Lak Hill, 25 km. from Amphoe Takua Pa. The mountain is not only a border landmark of Takua Pa and Thai Muang counties, but also forms a scenic background for a serene long golden beach, which is an ideal place for relaxation and a nice viewpoint for watching the sunset.

Khao Lak Beach

There is a pretty curve in the 10-km beach running parallel with Khao Lak Mountain. The beach is naturally decorated with granite boulders with an offshore coral reef suitable for snorkeling, about 40 minutes away by boat. Here is a nice viewpoint for an impressive panorama of the Andaman Sea. The sunset here forms a very spectacular scene and creates a romantic atmosphere.

Similan Islands National Park

This world-renowned marine national park, occupying an area of 128,000 sq.km., is 50 kilometres off the west coast of Phang-nga in the Andaman Sea. Due to the plentiful natural beauty found on the islands and the abundant coral gardens and marine lives under the sea, the Similan Islands are rated by the Skin Diving Magazine of USA as one of the top ten island groups on earth.
Lined from north to south, the nine islands are: Ko Bon, Ko Ba Ngu, Ko Similan, Ko Payu, Ko Miang, Ko Payan, Ko Payang and Ko Hu Yong.

Some attractive islands are as follows:

Ko Ba Ngu

Looking like a skull, it is also called Ko Hua Kalok or Skull Island. The island is renowned for its wonderful underwater scenery with corals, aquatic plants and many schools of fish.

Ko Similan

This is the largest island with a long curving bay and fine sandy beach. At the northern part, there are large stones of different shapes, including one looking like a boat and another like a sailboat. It is suitable for diving to look at coral reefs and colourful fish.

Ko Miang is the second largest island where the office and the guesthouses of the national park are located. The island also has beautiful beaches and coral reefs.

Ko Hu Yong has the longest stretch of white sandy beach where sea turtles lay eggs from November to February.

Similan Islands are open for tourists from 16 November to 15 May every year.
But the best period to visit the Similans is from December through April. March is regarded as the best month with the lowest winds and clearest water.

Surin Islands Marine National Park

The Surin Islands are located about 70 km. northwest of Khura Buri county and close to Thailand’s marine border with Myanmar. Consisting of five islands, the Surin is famous for the beautiful coral reefs in shallow water and so they are excellent for snorkeling.

Two main islands are Ko Surin Nua (North Surin Island) and Ko Surin Tai (South Surin Island). The park office is located at Mae Yai Bay of Ko Surin Nua, but Ao Luek or Deep Bay is famous for its dark green water and most beautiful coral reefs and aquatic plants.

Another interesting feature of the islands is the village of sea gypsies of the Sing tribe which is on Sai En beach of Ko Surin Nua. The sea gypsies here are the last group which still maintain their traditional way of living. About 1.30 hours away from the islands are Richelieu Rocks, a spot for viewing whale sharks.

Like Similan Islands, Surin Islands are open from 16 November to 15 May and the best time to visit the islands is from December to March.
The dive operators in Phuket also have diving excursions to the Surin archipelago, but the prices are rather high due to longer distances compared to the Similans.

Phang-nga activities:

With a wealth of natural attractions, Phang-nga offers a great chance for outdoor activities. The following are major activities and their ideal locations in the province.

Trekking

Khao Lak-Lamru National Park, featuring hills, beaches, estuaries and mangroves, is an ideal place for trekking. It allows visitors to explore waterfalls in their wonderful setting and view wild birds and animals. Si Phang-nga National Park, with virgin forests, is another nice location for trekking and also for hiking and camping. Travel agencies in Phuket and Phang-nga can help tourists conduct a pleasant trekking tour.

Canoeing

The No.1 site for canoeing of the province is Phang-nga Bay. With its extraordinary seascape of limestone outcrops separated from one another and cliffs rising sheer from the sea, the bay is a must for visitors to go sightseeing by long-tail boat, motor boat or canoe. The small size of a canoe enables tourists to enter inner chambers of the cave systems on sea with a beautiful world inside. The activity can be also conducted at Khao Lak National Park to enjoy the scenic views of verdant forests. Ton Patiwat Wildlife Sanctuary, only 15 km. from Phang-nga town, is a luxuriant forest with a waterfall and stream. Here is also a nice place for a tour by canoe.

 Diving & Snorkeling

If you love diving, the world-renowned Similan Islands never disappoint their visitors. The beaches are attractive and the coral reefs remain pristine. They offer the comfortable depths ranging from 2 to 30 metres. Consisting of nine islands, the group showcases awe-inspiring underwater scenes with seamounts, rock reefs and dive-throughs. Scuba Diving is the most favourite activity there.

The Surin Islands, encompassing five islands, are another perfect destination for snorkelling. Dive tours are organized by tour agents both in Phang-nga and Phuket. The best period for diving is from December to May.

Gamefishing

The waters around the Similan and the Surin Islands also offer a good opportunity for gamefishing.

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