A starring role in the 1974 James Bond movie “The Man With the Golden Gun” put the towering limestone islands of Ko Khao Phing Kan and the 66-foot-tall (20-meter) islet Ko Tapu firmly on Thailand’s tourist trail. While boats are forbidden from getting too close to the islands, opportunities for sightseeing abound in the surrounding area.
Ko Khao Phing Kan (also known as Khao Phing Kan and, less formally, “James Bond Island”), is part of Ao Phang Nga National Park in Phang Nga Bay. The lush vegetation, turquoise water, and secluded ocean caves make it one of Thailand's top destinations.
Spend a day exploring the area on a boat tour: You can opt to get around in a luxurious speed boat, a traditional junk, or a longtail boat; go canoeing or kayaking around the limestone caves, mangrove forests, and beaches of Thalu Island and Khao Phing Kan; and visit the floating Muslim fishing village of Ko Panyi.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Ko Khao Phing Kan is popular with nature lovers and movie buffs.
- Bring sunscreen, a hat, and bottled water.
- Tour boats can sell out quickly and should be booked in advance.
How to Get There
Due to the protected nature of the national park, visiting the islands independently is nearly impossible unless you have a permit and a private boat. There are, however, a number of tours to the area. Most depart from the marinas in Phuket and Krabi Noi. If you're traveling down from northern Thailand, opt for a tour leaving Phang Nga town.
When to Get There
Although the region is sunny and warm all year round, the hottest period is between April and May, when all-day sunshine is pretty much guaranteed. Rainy season in southern Thailand is September–October, when there is a risk of destructive tropical storms.
Marine Life in the Bay
Due to shallow waters, and warm temperatures, and rich nutrients supplied by the nearby rivers and mangrove forests, Phang Nga Bay has abundant marine life. The waters around the islands are home to 26 species of reptiles and 24 species of fish, including butterfly fish, as well as lots of shrimp, crabs, manta rays, and sharks.