Ao Phang Nga National Park

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Ao Phang Nga National Park
Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay

Ao Phang Nga National Park, from afar, might be familiar to you in some movies, like the classic 007: The Man with the Golden Gun, or the intergalactic Sci-Fi movie, Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith. Though it’s more than a site for filming, the national park is teeming with huge vertical cliffs frame 42 islands and some caves that are accessible during low tide only. In many ways, it’s a gem in Phang Nga Province, and also well known for its amazing limestone karsts.

The first time I saw this national park with my own eyes, no doubt it’s truly meant to be a filming site. Other than just a scene in the movies, here’s a guideline for you to truly explore the real deal.

Table of Content:

  1. Top Things to do and see
  2. Best time to visit
  3. Getting to Ao Phang Nga National Park
  4. Where to stay
  5. Travel Safety & Tips

TOP THINGS TO DO AND SEE

NATURAL EXCURSIONS

Paddling Phang Nga Bay – Phang Nga Bay is very popular for kayaking, and the best way to see the bay. If you’re looking for something adventurous, doing these activities is for you. When you’re on holiday in these beautiful places, sometimes, sightseeing isn’t enough for you to have a complete experience. Exploring the beautifully formed karst limestone caves while paddling is very surreal, and I personally find it amazing to go through these beautifully carved caves.

Paddle the Bay: https://www.paddleasia.com/destinations/phang-nga-bay-day-trip.htm

Snorkel the Bay – Snorkeling around the national park is one of the top things to do, especially when the water is clear, and you get to experience colorful schools of fish swimming past you. There are tours that take you around the national park to different islands to explore the waters. Snorkeling isn’t only fun but also relaxing, and if you are uncomfortable in the water, you’d have a guide with you, and you can wear a life jacket. Book tours at your hotel or a well known online travel agency.

Cruise with Red Sails – Cruising in a boat around the national park is one of the top things to do, especially in the Junk. You get to cruise smoothly around the bay and relax on this old boat. Here’s a link below to plan your relaxing excursion to the national park.

Check them out: https://www.easydayphuket.com/phuket-tours/phang-nga-bay-tours/june-bahtra-phang-nga-bay/

CULTURAL IMMERSION

Overnight stay at the Sea Gypsie Village – Koh Panyi, a Muslim floating village built by Malay fishermen, and quite an unusual site to familiarize with. Staying in this floating village can immerse you in their culture, even though it can be a bit touristy on the peak season, if you come on the low season, it’s a lot more likely that you will experience their local ways of life. You can check with your travel agency to book this tour of the village.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Hot Season (April – May) – This season can be a little too hot for some people, as this is Thailand’s summer and hottest time of the year. There’s still a lot of sea breeze, skies are blue, and this is when the accommodation rates start to drop.

Rainy Season (June – October) – Highest rainfall comes from August to October, which isn’t the best three months to explore the national park if you want the sun and do some watersports. May to Julyare good months even though there’s still heavy rain with short bursts but the weather has a cooling breeze and gives the area a lush and verdant rainforest. Plus, the rates are at its lowest in the year.

Dry Season (November – February) – This season is the coolest time of the year, and also the peak season, and also when accommodation rates are higher. Some islands in Ao Phang Nga National Park might be packed with people. If you want perfect weather and are willing to pay more for your accommodations, then it should be fine for you.

GETTING TO AO PHANG NGA NATIONAL PARK

National Park Entrance Fee: 300 THB ($6.12 USD) for adults and 100 THB ($3.02 USD) for kids, if you aren’t going with a booked tour.

*For expats, present your work permit so you might pay the same fees as Thai tourists, adults 60 THB ($2 USD), and kids 30 THB ($1 USD).

Flying – The closest airports are Phuket International Airport and Krabi International Airport but Phuket Airport has more direct flights from overseas. You can rent your own private car there, and drive to Phang – Nga.

Private Car/motorbike – You can rent a car or at Phuket airport or Krabi airport, then drive to Phang Nga Harbor or Surakul Pier in Phang Nga to privately rent a long-tailed boat to explore the national park, which is no lower than 1500 THB ($46 USD), and can take up to 8 people.

Car rental fee: 600 THB ($18.35 USD) – 1000 THB ($30.58 USD)

Motorbike rental fee: 200 THB ($6.11 USD) – 300 THB ($10 USD)

Bus – From Bangkok, you can catch the bus at the Southern Bus Terminal to Phang Nga bus station then take the local bus to Tha Dan Pier where you get the long-tailed boat to Phang Nga Bay.

Bangkok Bus Fee: 700 THB ($21.42 USD) – 800 THB ($25 USD)

For more details, you can call 0-2434 5557-8 or check https://www.busonlineticket.co.th/ for available buses.

From Phuket, you need the bus from Bus Terminal 2, though, the bus schedules in Phuket are uncertain, but there is an air-conditioned daily bus to Phang Nga bus station then take the local bus to Tha Dan Pier.

Phuket Bus Fee: 60 THB ($2 USD) – 100 THB ($3.06 USD)

You cantake an air-conditioned bus from Bangkok or Phuket to Phang Nga and then to the bus station in Phang Nga. There you can take the local bus to Tha Darn

WHERE TO STAY

Koh Yao Noi

Who is it for?

  • Families, Mid-range lodgers, and backpackers

Pro’s

  • Peaceful and beautiful
  • Not touristy
  • Muslim Friendly
  • Close to convenience

Cons

  • No parties

Phang Nga Town

Who is it for?

  • Families
  • Mid Range Lodgers
  • Backpackers

Pro’s

  • Close to convenience
  • Very local

Cons

  • No parties

TRAVEL SAFETY & TIPS

Currency exchange – There are ATMs and banks around Phuket, Krabi, Koh Yao Noi,  Phang Nga Town, and Khao Lak where you could withdraw money and do currency exchange.

Looking out for petty crimes – Taxi drivers can be aggressive and try to charge you too much. Best to book your tours through your hotel or on a well-known website like Expedia or Klook.

Don’t feed the fish – It’s a big no-no to feed animals and you can spoil their natural instincts. Plus, you can pollute the ocean.

Female Solo Travelers – Traveling around Ao Phang Nga National Park is quite safe for female solo travelers. You just need to be careful with who you are acquainted with.

Travel Insurance, better safe than sorry – Getting good travel insurance can save you lots of issues, in case of injuries, and other issues that may occur. You can never be too careful.