Koh Tapu and the adjacent Koh Phing Khan islands on the Phang Nga Bay shot to fame overnight with the release of the 1974 James Bond film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. While critics still fight over the quality of the film (many say it was a pretty boring one), these islands silently bask in its glory, attracting an admirable number of tourists every year. Koh Tapu, literally translating to ‘Nail Islands’, that got its name from the tall, spiky rocks jutting out and Koh Phing Khan, meaning ‘hills leaning against one another’ are now commonly and interchangeably referred to as the James Bond Island by the locals and the tourists alike. The area is home to a multitude of diverse cultures – from harvesting Nypa palm fronds to dedicated fishing. There are about a hundred islands sprawled over the bay, beaches to explore and activities to excite the adventurer in you. So, if you’re planning a trip near Phuket anytime soon, a visit to the Phang Nga Bay wouldn’t be a bad idea – if not for Bond, surely for the magnificent beauty of the place, with scenes straight out of a postcard!
The best time to visit Phang Nga Bay in December, but it is also the time when the region is most crowded with tourists. So, if you’re someone who prioritizes peace over everything else, you might want to visit it sometime before or after the peak season. Staying near the Bay generally implies staying in Phuket. Making the right choice about your stay in Phuket is crucial because each of the dozens of beaches around the island has a distinct character that is integral to the local area. Before you book your resort, make sure you know about the beach, and that its character matches with yours. From Phuket, you can either arrange for a private boat or join one of the many existing tour packages to make a one-day tour around the Bay. There are other island attractions apart from the James Bond island and if you want to visit them, sign up for a tour of longer durations. This should take up your entire day. Your tour should generally include a lunch stop at the beautiful Koh Panyee, a fishing village famous for its seafood (Quick trivia: This island is home to a floating football pitch!). While you’re at it, swim, canoe and have fun!
You can’t get down from your boat at Koh Tapu, but you can stand mesmerized at a small beach, east of the Koh Ping Khan island. Discovering the tiny caves one by one is a super fun game that’ll take you back to your hide-and-seek days. If shopping is your one true love, make sure you support the local market and buy souvenirs for home.