While in Phuket, we went on a fun speed boat tour of the very scenic Phang Nga Bay. In eight hours, we hit up six diverse stops in the Bay, including canoeing, caving, and of course beaching. Oh yes, we also did a sail-by of the famous James Bond Island, but thankfully didn’t go ashore to that tourist trap!
I found the sailing company Phuket Sail Tours based on multiple good reviews online. The price (3900 baht/adult, ~$112USD) was higher than many other similar tours, but it well worth it for the reputation, communication, and organization. The tour price included a cab to pick up and drop off directly at our hotel. A simple breakfast, a large lunch, and snacks were also included.
After arriving at the the departure point (around 40 minutes from our hotel), we waited for the rest of our tour group. There were around 20 people total. Our tour guide Jack went through introductions and showed us the tour path on a map. He had a great sense of humor and seemed to have a joke or fact about each country and/or state the tourists were from.
Then we were off! You were required to take off your shoes while on the boat, and the shoes were kept in a central basket. Easy footwear to slip on was key as we left the boat frequently. Being a germaphobe, I was a little worried about being barefoot but quickly got over it!
Stop 1: A small strip of white sand beach near Krabi Island. We hung out here for 30 minutes and enjoyed the sun, surrounded on three sides by ocean as far as the eye could see. This was also the first time the sun came out in the first four days of our trip. How perfect!
On the way to stop 2, we passed by a Bird’s Nest cave with a guardian that lives there 24/7! Bird’s nest soup is a highly sought after delicacy.
Stop 2: Private swimming hole. We sailed through an inlet and found ourselves in a private area, surrounded on all sides by limestone. We anchored for 30 minutes and people were free to swim. The water looked rather gross here though, with visible trash. There didn’t seem to be much circulation.
Stop 3: Canoeing through the mangrove trees! We anchored and paddlers with canoes came up to our boat. We went two to a canoe and had a nice 30 minutes through a mangrove forest. It started to pour as soon as we went in the canoe, but that only made it more magical – definitely my favorite part of the tour. At the end, our paddler gave me a rose folded from a plant he found during the canoe trip.
Stop 3.5 Sail by of James Bond Island (that pencil rock camouflaged in the photo below). Thanks to movie fame, the island was packed with tourists! We were glad we didn’t go abroad. The view was lovely from a distance.
Stop 4: Lunch and tour at Ko Panyi Muslim Fishing Village. Before we docked, we first sailed nearby to see 1,500 year old cave paintings. Very cool.
Then we docked and ate lunch at a restaurant on Koh Panyi. The food was a mix of Thai with Muslim influences. The flavors were muted for tourist taste buds, but it was still an enjoyable meal. I liked the coconut galangal soup, squid, and red curry. Everything was served family style and there was plenty leftover.
After lunch we walked as a group through the village, which was mostly vendors selling souvenirs. It was interesting to see the contrast of the extravagant mosque to the living conditions in the village.
At the end of the village was the floating football field. Seems like many balls go in the water!
Stop 5: We sailed to a spot with caves and were given a flashlight to explore. It took about 10 minutes to walk to the other side. At the end was an opening with a nice view of the water.
Stop 6: For the last stop, we had an hour at small beach with a dreamy view of the limestone cliffs. The beach was private when we arrived, but two large yachts unleashed throngs of local tourists including a few Thai D-list actresses. It was entertaining watching how extensively they posed for the perfect Instagram photo.
And then the day came to an end. We sailed back, and said our goodbyes to friends we made on the trip. Our taxi was waiting to take us back to the hotel.
We loved this tour and highly recommend the speed boat option to see more of Phang Nga Bay!