Phang Nga Travel Guide
Located along the Andaman Sea just north of the island of Phuket, Phang Nga province is becoming an increasingly popular option among those tired with the over-commercialization of the former destination.
Many visit the area on a day trip from Phuket, but given how quiet, beautiful, and relaxed this place is, it deserves consideration as your base if you are seeking some hardcore rest and relaxation during your holiday in Thailand.
While Phang Nga Province is mostly a rural province lacking in major cultural draws, there are a few spots that will be of interest to you. The first of these is Wat Suwan Kuha, a Buddhist temple situated in a limestone cave.
Within this cavern, highlights include a sizable Reclining Buddha, numerous smaller sitting Buddhas, carved pillars, and shrines where the faithful light incense and pray. Within its subterranean environment, it creates an unforgettable atmosphere, making a trip out here well worth the expense in time and money (only 20 baht for admission)
Wat Bang Riang is another notable Thai Buddhist temple worth visiting o a trip to Phang Nga. Situated on the slopes of Khao Lan Mountain, this sacred place’s top draw (apart from the stellar views) is an imposing statue of Kuan Im, the goddess of compassion. There is also a Big Buddha statue backed by nagas, but this attraction’s peaceful aura amid nature is what makes a trip here so worthwhile.
Little more than a decade ago, a massive undersea earthquake off Banda Aceh province in Indonesia unleashed a monstrous tidal wave which swept across the Indian Ocean, killing more than a quarter million people.
Thailand was hit hard, with over 7,000 losing their lives up and down its frontage on the Andaman Sea. Many of those casualties were centred in Phang Nga province – soon after the recovery effort was complete, the International Tsunami Museum was built to commemorate this dark day in Thailand’s history.
Though small in size, it contains a number of sobering exhibits, ranging from a police boat that was swept ashore miles from the water’s edge to innumerable photos and written accounts which bring that day alive in a raw, uncompromising manner. Admissions, though a bit on the high side, go towards local charities supporting survivors of the disaster.
Check out the locals of Phang Nga as they go about their daily lives at Bang Niang Market. While street food is a big part of drives them here, this place also sells a variety of fresh food, fruit, and hard goods. Travellers will also find a variety of souvenirs and t-shirts, so if you are looking for something to bring home to your loved ones, begin your search here.
Physically active and looking for a way to connect with the local culture in a meaningful way? During your travels in Phang Nga province, you will come across numerous Thai boxing camps which aim to teach Thais and foreigners the basics of this ancient martial art. With many schools providing private lessons with personal trainers in addition to group lessons, this excellent form of exercise is accessible to those with various needs, so give it a try if you are in the area.
One of the best attractions of Phang Nga province lies in the variety of stunning islands which lie just off its coast. If you are stuck on which ones to visit, or if your time is limited, make a trip out to Mu Ko Surin National Park.
Known for its excellent diving and snorkelling, as well as its population of sea turtles which are often spotted off its shores, this protected area is a great getaway for those disappointed with the lack of pristine nature in other Thai resort areas.
In addition to these qualities, the beaches on Koh Surin are often delightfully empty, but be sure to time your visit properly, as this reserve is now closed in the low season.
Be sure to also book a boat tour in Phang Nga Bay. Best known for playing host to a limestone karst formation known as James Bond Island, groups visiting this area will also get to drop by a floating village inhabited by sea gypsies.
While charming, the people are conservative in nature, so respect them by putting a t-shirt on before disembarking your boat. Also, you’ll get to check out hidden lagoons and caves inhabited by scores of bats, making this activity one that will pack your day full of action.
If you want to see how authorities in Phang Nga are helping to conserve regional wildlife, drop by the Royal Thai Navy Third Fleet Turtle Nursery. Here, you’ll see the work being done to increase the number of this threatened species – from nursing sick adults back to health to incubating eggs and releasing babies into area waters, it is a great place to bring the kids if you are travelling as a family.
There are many beaches in Phang Nga which would be more popular were it not for the magnetic draw of nearby Phuket. However, this is great news if you are looking to get away from the crowds, as spots like Pak Weep Beach boast miles of near perfect but empty sand. While many beaches in this province offer minimal services, this one is home to a few resorts and beach bars which offer just enough services for a comfortable and relaxing stay.