The expansive, turquoise extension of the Andaman Sea is composed of a mass of limestone islands that protrude from the sea in different shapes and sizes. Caves and beautiful bays together with rock formations and mangrove forests are some of the park's major attractions.
At some islands using small boats makes it possible to enter partially submerged caverns during low tide. Other islands are surrounded by sandy coves where swifts build their nests on high cliffs. Many of the islands are part of Ao Phangnga National Marine Park and can be explored by boat or canoe.
To reach Ao Phangnga, you can use highway no. 4 from the town area heading south toward Tambon Khok Kloi and then take highway no. 4144 to Ao Phangnga National Park. At the piers near the park office there are boats available to explore a number of interesting islands. Long-tailed boats for 8 persons are available here and take about 3 hours to view Phangnga Bay.
Boats from small to large can be rented at the Customs or Tha Dan Pier. A big group tour is recommended to use the boating service at the Customs or Tha Dan Pier because appropriate boats are provided there. Susakoon or Ka Som Pier in Takua Thung have long-tailed boats for 6 persons each. If you wish to explore the island on your own, you can charter a boat and prices are negotiable.
The best season to visit Ao Phangnga National Park is from December to April because the seas are so calm that the body of water is almost waveless. Trips to Ao Phang-Nga are an on-going activity. Sightseeing routes include Khao Machu, Khao Khian, Ko Panyi, Tham Lot, Khao Tapu and Khao Phing Kan. For accommodations in the area of the national park, contact the National Park Division, Foresty Department, Tel +66 2 579 0529, 579 4842.
Ko Panyi: A small flat island of approximately one rai, Ko Panyi is the location of a Thai- Muslim fishing village of about 500 households. It offers a picturesque village built on piles in the sea and each house is connected by wooden bridges. Most of Muslim folk earn their living from fishing, and sell souvenirs and food to tourists. At the basin there are a mosque and burial ground. The island has one school in the village. Their unique culture has persisted, cut off from the mainland and most modern development. So you can observe the authentic life style of the folk while admiring the natural beauty of karst limestone formations and the deep calm sea.
Khao Phing Kan: The petite hill is located in Amphoe Takua Thung. The name means literally 'leaning mount'. Khao Phing Kan lays on a spectacular high cliff, which is broken apart, and the smaller half has slid down while the upper part still adjoins on another part, appearing to be leaning against it. Most visitors are fascinated by the view of a sight of rare and exquisite beauty. The scenery behind Khao Phing Kan is also very charming.
Khao Tapu: When looking afar from Khao Phing Kan, one can view Khao Tapu or 'Nail Island' in English amidst the sea. The bizarre-looking island is top-noted as James Bond Island because the James Bond movie, "The Man with the Golden Gun", was partly filmed here. The tiny island located in front of Khao Phing Kan has a slim base of rock, but an extensive top forming a beautiful appearance of a nail driven into the sea. There is no shore on the island, but a limestone rock projects up from the sea. It is a remarkable sight.
Tham Lot: The cave is located in Takua Thung. It has very magnificent stalagmites and stalactites. This cave is another spot of interest where long tail boats can go through another side of the cave. The shape of Tham Lot is similar to Ko Talu, but its size is larger. The mouth of the cave is about 50 meters wide, 40 meters high, and small boats may pass through. Inside the cave, the exquisite stalactites coat its total length of about 100 meters.
Khao Machu: The bizarre-looking formation of rock makes awesome scenery. The rocky hill resembles a dog and the name literally means a chow. It is located on the way to Ko Panyi.
Khao Hong: Hong literally means room. Khao Hong consists of small and big hills situated in a mixed-up manner. The up and down hills forms stunning scenery like the stage partitions of a theatre. When entering the hollowed out island by boat, it is pretty much like floating into a big reception hall with two doors. It is not frequently visited as it is situated outside the usual sightseeing routes.
One has to carefully time one's visit with consideration of the tide level to visit Khao Hong properly, as its beauty is decreased by too high a tide while one needs a very small vessel to go boating inside the area during too low a tide. Aside from its extraordinary appearance, Khao Hong also contains a curved beach fringed by mangrove trees with the beautiful sea lapping at the foot of its cliffs.
Ko Phanak: Phanak Island features a spectacularly beautiful cave with exquisite stalactites and stalagmites. The cave also has small waterfalls of regular descent inside. Although the island is not so outstanding a spot of interest among the other wonders of Phangnga Bay, it is worth seeing.
Tham Kaeo: The cave has beautiful reflecting rocks inside and it is home to many swallows which build their nests up high. The collectors harvest the edible nests which are highly vallued, and cost as much as 2,000 dollars each.
Khao Khian: The islet lies on the way to Ko Panyee. The name means the mount of writings. The shoreless island contains ancient paintings of boats and of animals of different types including fish, water lizard, and dolphin. The Fine Arts Department has studied the paintings and discovered that the depictions were drawn not less than 3,000 years ago. It is believed that the paintings were drawn low on the mountain walls just above the tide line by seamen or voyagers who took refuge from a heavy storm in the ancient days.
Tham Nak: The cave is named after the strange appearance of stalagmites shaped like a big curled snake.
Ko Khai: Ko Khai comprises the pair of islands Ko Khai Nok and Ko Khai Nai with a noted reputation of beautiful, isolated beaches, rocks and coral reefs around the islands.