Longtails and beaches: a day on Phang Nga Bay

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After the painful kayaking experience of a couple of days earlier, the option of using motorised transport to explore more of Phang Nga Bay seemed a much more appealing option.

We walked out through the low-tide mudflats to our longtail around 8:30am, the sun already high in the sky and making its presence felt.  While far from new, the two most important aspects of the boat seemed in good working order: the engine and the shade canopy.  Even better, only one of them failed during our time on board…

Within half an hour of leaving Koh Yao Nao we had arrived at Koh Hong, a small island protected by national park status.  Unlike other parts of Thailand (Phi Phi Lei, I’m looking at you), this actually meant something here – the beaches and bays were as pristine as I have ever seen despite the amount of boat and human traffic in the area each day.

Perfect beach, Koh Hong

For once it felt like the 200 baht national park fee was going towards protecting the local environment and giving us a beach that looked like this.  When we arrived, bright and early, there was barely another person on it.  An hour later all was different, but for those glorious sixty minutes we could almost pretend this little slice of paradise was ours alone.


Skeletal remains of a post-tsunami longtail

The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami tore through this part of the world, destroying towns and lives with equal disregard. Eight years later most of the visible damage has been repaired, but memorials such as the skeletal remains of this longtail, swept twenty metres inland by the rushing waves, have been left untouched as an enduring reminder.


Entering the lagoon, Koh Hong

Once the tide had risen we returned to our boat and entered the large lagoon that gives the island its name (Hong means "room").  The dramatic rock-lined entrance gave way to a shallow lake perfect for lazing around in the water for ages.  So we did exactly that.


Longtail in the lagoon, Koh Hong

We were joined by a slow but steady procession of other longtails in the lagoon, but nearly all of them just did a quick lap and carried on.  These guys and girls seemed more interested in working on their tans than their swimming prowess.

There was plenty of time to watch the other boats coming and going, however, as the driver of ours spent several minutes using such high-tech tools as his flip-flop and a large hammer to convince the engine that it actually did want to start…


Rounding an island, Phang Nga Bay

With dozens of limestone karsts rising up out of the sea, it’s not surprising that Phang Nga Bay is regularly compared to its more famous counterpart – Vietnam’s Halong Bay.  Having now been to both, I’ll take the clean waters, few visitors and minimal hassle of the Thai option every time, thanks.


Birds nest cave, Phang Nga Bay

Bird’s nest soup is a rare delicacy in China, and a kilogram of the raw material can sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars.  With so much money at stake it is no surprise that the people who risk their lives to gather the nests protect them so vigorously – shootings are apparently not uncommon.

This guy had no such concerns as we motored past, mind you, giving us a wave as we went.  I imagine it might have been a different story if we’d tried to stop…


Longtails tied up, Koh Pak Bia

The final stop of our day on the bay was Koh Pak Bia, a thin spit of sand that seemed to be extremely popular with daytrippers from some of the resorts in Krabi for some reason.  It was very pretty, but the crowds meant that we chose to have lunch on a tiny strip of beach on a nearby island instead.

An inspired choice, as it happened, as there were hundreds of tropical fish in a sheltered bay nearby just waiting for us to lumber in with our snorkels and disturb their serenity.  I’m sure they loved it.


Incoming storm, Phang Nga Bay

Heading back towards home  our boat driver’s sunny disposition briefly disappeared as he looked out to the north.  I wasn’t sure why … until I did the same thing.  Those clouds were large, dark and heading directly for us.

We got back safe and sound, but half an hour later mother nature decided to put on quite a show for us.  All of that thunder and lightening was best enjoyed from the safety of our balcony with a drink in hand … and not, say, in a flimsy longtail in the middle of a large body of water.


We loved our time on Phang Nga Bay – yet another highlight of a wonderfully relaxing week on Koh Yao Noi.  If you happen to find yourself in the area, I’d highly recommend hiring a longtail for the day and heading out there yourself.

14 Responses to “Longtails and beaches: a day on Phang Nga Bay

  • Calibackpacker
    12 years ago

    Im heading back to Thailand in January. CAN NOT WAIT!! Keep the great reads coming Dave!

  • I see Thai beach photos all the time and I can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy with each one.

  • I’m so glad we decided to take a day trip to koh hong. I definitely enjoyed the quiet time we had there. It wasn’t flooded with people and the water is so pristine and pure. The lagoon is very cool too. Nice pictures!

    • Your recommendation was one of the things that make sure we went out there! It was so lovely…

  • Dude, fantastic, will add you to the World Travel List

  • Ah last time I was in Thailand I thought about getting out to Ko Yao – now you’ve convinced me – its on the list for next time!

  • Seriously, this is heaven on earth!

  • Yes, I agree. Using long tail boats is a nicer & relaxing way to enjoy the beautiful scenic surroundings in Thailand. I’ve also done the same to visit Phang Nga Bay. Can you beat the beauty?

    Thanks. Your post reminded me of my wonderful time there. 🙂

    • It’s one of the most beautiful places in the Thai islands, that’s for sure. We loved it, and will definitely be back…

  • I wish we would have gone there – it looks like paradise! So much more to discover in Thailand… I have a feeling we’ll be back soon 😉

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