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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Sailing through the mangrove forests of Phanga Nga Bay, Thailand

Sailing through the mangrove forests of Phanga Nga Bay, Thailand

Phanga Nga Bay is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the southern region of Thailand – for me, visiting this part of the country was an amazing experience. Surprisingly enough, the tour we booked wasn't one that I was overly excited about but I am so glad that we did it. We made some fantastic memories during our adventure through the mangrove forests, saw some wonderful sites too – I recommend this trip to anyone who is staying in Phuket or Khao Lak.

Beautiful Mangrove forests of Phanga Nga Bay

To give you a little background information, Phanga Nga Bay is located in between Phuket and Krabi and above the Ko Yao Island group. This natural area is packed full of beautiful limestone cliff formations complete with some cool cave systems. Furthermore, the area has a heap of mangrove forests that you can take boat tours through. The landscape is rugged and serene and the limestone rock formations literally shoot up out of the water and provide a stark contrast to the relative flat lying rivers and waterways.

Sailing through the mangrove forests

The first part of our adventure was an epic long tail boat journey through a large section of mangrove forest. The boat was traditional and had basic seating and a canopy over the top to provide some shade from the pounding heat. It was quite fun trying to climb into the boat from the pier as we had to try and balance our weight so it didn't capsize!

Beautiful Mangrove forests of Phanga Nga Bay

As we started travelling through the water the magnificent scenery of the mangrove forests opened out before us – it was just amazing! To start with we travelled through a narrow section of mangrove at a slow speed – the trees closed in on either side and it really felt like I was part of a National Geographic video or something like that. We could hear birds and we could catch glimpses of things moving deep in the trees – it was so exciting and interesting!

Limestone cliffs of Phanga Nga Bay

We continued on and the mangroves opened out into a larger area of river and various limestone cliffs reared up around us. Our guide actually took us underneath several of the caves which was an interesting experience in itself. The cave we sailed under was quite low and we could reach up and touch the rock formation – you could see where the water had dripped down and made bizarre shapes of crystallisation. The boat ride really was special; this is how I had pictured Thailand before we visited and it was a pleasure sailing through this beautiful and serene marine habitat.

River shack in Phanga Nga Bay Gorgeous Mangrove Forests of Phanga Nga Bay Limestone cliffs and mangrove forests Limestone cliffs and mangrove forests Ko Panyi Island, Phanga Nga Bay Speed boat in Phanga Nga Bay Rock stack at James Bond Island Caves at James Bond Island, Phanga Nga Bay Limestone cliffs and mangrove forests Stilted streets of Ko Panyi Boats at Ko Panyi Island Limestone cliff cave rock

Visiting Ko Tapu (James Bond Island)

Part of our tour of Phanga Nga Bay involved visiting the legendary James Bond Island, which was you would imagine was featured in a James Bond film – The Man with the Golden Gun. I wasn't that excited about this part of the trip as I expected it to be commercialised and touristy – I was partially right. The place was full of people doing stupid poses with imaginary guns which made me chuckle. Aside from this, and the handful of souvenir stalls, it wasn't that bad actually. Ko Tapu certainly is a beautiful island, and I can't deny that the iconic limestone rock stack was photogenic!

Sign at the legendary James Bond Island

Visiting Ko Panyi Island

After a visit to Ko Tapu, we then headed on to another iconic and fantastic location within Phanga Nga Bay – Ko Panyi Island. This fascinating place is actually both an island, and a fishing village built on stilts next to the island. The population of the island is just 1685 and the inhabitants are all of the Muslim faith. Visiting this island was something else – to see this amazing creation and how this community lived was a humbling experience.

Shacks and houses of Ko Panyi village

It was plain to see that these people are poor – they certainly do not have a wealth of possessions or money, and their whole life is contained within the island and village. We saw the schoolyard and also the school football pitch, and we also enjoyed a fantastic Thai meal in the main tourist restaurant. We also saw the island mosque, and the graveyard of the community which was actually sadly running out of space – the graveyard was literally the only part of the village that was located on land as this is important in the Muslim religion.

After leaving Ko Panyi we enjoyed a reverse trip back through the immense Phanga Nga Bay and back through another series of magnificent mangrove forests. I could have easily stayed longer on the boat as I really did find the scenery captivating - I would visit Phanga Nga Bay again as this for me is what real Thailand looks like!

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