|Touring Phang Nga Bay & James Bond Island|
James Bond Island day tours,
A bit of Hollywood in Phang Nga Bay - read this before you buy a day tour ticket
For basics, James Bond Island is tiny speck amidst the stunning beauty of Phang Nga Bay. And this single little island is no more remarkable than hundreds of others scattered throughout the bay.
But so-called James Bond has become the region's classic tourist trap: built on promotional hype; hundreds of unsuspecting tourists dropped onto a small beach together to face hoards of vendors hawking souvenirs; bustling and noisy while nearby lies a vast, natural world of even greater wonder. You can’t spend much time in Phuket as a tourist without having someone trying to sell you a day tour, and usually the first one on offer is James Bond Island. This is really a rock, hardly an island, for it is only a few metres wide and about 20 metres tall. Certainly its cone shape – narrow at the bottom and widening at top – is unusual, looking like a candidate for collapse at the slightest earth tremor.
It was this strange shape that brought Hollywood producers to choose this as a location for the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun, in the seventies. By exaggerating the rock’s size, the movie men were able to turn one small and insignificant rock into the base for scores of bad guys out to control the world. With Hollywood its promoter and the words James Bond to replace its Thai name, Nail Island, the rock has never looked back. It might just be the most photographed rock in the world.
We wonder if it laughs each day as thousands – yes, thousands on a good day – of unsuspecting tourists are off-loaded onto a tiny beach bulging with souvenir stalls to click its interesting, but not-so-amazing portrait.
The cheap bus-boat routeMost tourists arrive here after a two-three hour bus ride, followed by a half hour ride in a longtail boat that winds through the channels of a mangrove swamp and through a sea cave. After The Rock, most are then taken to Koh Pannyi, the fishing village perching on stilts over water for lunch. The typical geography of Phang Nga, vertical rock monoliths, rise all around, making the setting of this water village quite spectacular. So long as you are not expecting a quiet visit to some out-of-the-way pristine corner, this tour might be entirely enjoyable.
The alternative: a boat cruiseBut before booking your bus ticket to James Bond, think about the alternative – a quiet boat cruise up through even more spectacular sea mountains of Phang Nga Bay, without the crowds. The boat tours usually just skirt James Bond rock, without landing, spending their time in grander scenery. And the boat route requires only a short bus ride to the top of Phuket island to board the boat, on which you will spend more of the day in the calm, protected waters of this amazing bay. The boat route costs more, and offers much more.
And please, if you do go to the James Bond souvenir shops, don’t buy the beautiful sea shells on offer. Most come from the Philippines or Indonesia, for the waters around Phuket have long-since been stripped bare of the best shells.
Getting there by yourselfIt’s not so difficult, if you rent a car and drive. The drive up to Phang Nga is delightful, and the roads are good. One should turn right off the main Phuket Phang Nga highway down to Phang Nga Bay Resort, where there is a jetty and boats available for rent. There are several signs along the way enticing drivers down other side roads to Phang Nga Bay, but we recommend this one, which turns off just 2 kilometres before Phang Nga town. See our map in Touring Phang Nga. From the jetty one can rent a boat out to Phang Nga Bay, James Bond Island and Koh Pannyi – or elsewhere. One can also stay overnight at the resort here at very reasonable rates. Booking are rarely needed in advance.
For Phang Nga day cruises out of Phuket:
Company Name Tel: (076) 0000000 Fax: (076) 000000