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Ultimate Guide to Ao Phang Nga National Park

Ultimate Guide to Ao Phang Nga National Park 

Hands down, Ao Phang Nga National Park is mindblowing. While its limestone karsts are only one of many reasons why this park is among the hottest destinations in the country, there’s plenty more to discover here!

From the diverse wildlife to its enchanting caverns and breathtaking lagoons, we’re dishing out the best things to do and sights to see in Ao Phang Nga National Park. 

Read on so you can include this must-visit nature reserve and have the best island adventure in Thailand!

Things to Know

Time Zone: Indochina Time (UTC/GMT+7)

Currency: Thai Baht
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: Thai (Central Thai)

Calling Code: (+66), (076)

Location: 80 หมู่ที่ 1 ถนน บ้านท่าด่าน Ko Panyi, Mueang Phang-nga District, Phang-nga 82000, Thailand

Nearest Port: Ban Khlong Khian Pier (13.4 km)

Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Daily)

Contact Number: +66 76 481 188

Admission Fee: 300 baht (Adults) and 150 baht (Children)

Website: https://www.facebook.com/Aophangnga

Best Time to Visit Ao Phang Nga National Park

It’s best to visit Ao Phang Nga National Park, or Phang Nga Bay, between November and February since these are the coolest months of the dry season. Then, you’ll encounter less rain and less heat from the summer months.

Plus, island hopping is also safer during these months since the waters in the Andaman Sea are calm compared to the wet season. Moreover, a visit early in the morning should allow the best chance to explore its attractions in peace.

Ao Phang Nga National Park in a Nutshell

Ao Phang Nga is a 400 km² government-protected national park instituted in 1981. Facing the Andaman Sea, this stunning site is located south of Thailand and is about 65 km from Phuket and its jaw-dropping beaches

The picturesque islands you’ll see here are made of limestone and have caught the world by storm after being featured in a James Bond movie. That’s how the name James Bond Island moniker was born. 

The Ao Phang Nga area covers so much ground it houses the largest native mangrove forests in the country. Plus, caves and white sand beaches are waiting for you to explore here, not to mention calm waters that are best fit for canoeing. 

How to Get to Ao Phang Nga National Park

Ao Phang Nga National Park consists of numerous off-shore and on-shore attractions, so the only way to fully explore this nature reserve is through guided tours. You can book one from the national park’s headquarters or through third-party travel agencies.

If you plan to book an island tour from their headquarters, there are multiple ways to get there from nearby provinces like Krabi, Phuket, and Surat Thani.

Third-party Island Tour: The best way to get to Ao Phang Nga National Park is by booking an island tour with travel agencies like Klook, GetYourGuide, or Viator. These guided tours follow a strict itinerary usually around the park’s most famous attractions.

A third-party island tour is more convenient because you don’t have to travel to Ao Phang Nga National Park HQ. Instead, you only need to go to the tour’s designated meeting point which can be in Krabi, Phuket, Phang Nga, or Surat Thani.

Public Bus: There are buses in Krabi, Phuket, or Surat Thani with daily trips to Phang Nga Bus Station. The park’s headquarters is only 6.5 kilometers from the bus station so you can ride a metered taxi or tuk-tuk to get there easily.

Traveling by bus is a cheap option but the ticket prices will vary depending on your starting location. For instance, the bus ticket from Phuket Bus Terminal 1 to Phang Nga Bus Station is approximately 300 baht.

Public Minivan: If a bus is unavailable, riding a minivan to Phang Nga is a good alternative. Public minivans are usually found at bus terminals so you don’t have to go to another place unless the province you’re starting from has a separate van terminal.

Minivans and buses typically have the same ticket prices, so don’t expect to save money just because you’re getting a cramped sitting space. The advantage of public minivans is the faster travel time since they don’t make as many stops as public buses.

Private Taxi: Hiring a private taxi gives you the most freedom when traveling to Ao Phang Nga National Park HQ. Private taxis are expensive, but we think they’re worth every penny since you can customize your route on the fly and make random stops.

It’s great for traveling between provinces since you might see interesting things along the way that you can’t get a closer look at if you’re in a public vehicle. Plus, the taxi driver will wait for you at the park so you don’t have to worry about your return trip.

There are numerous private taxi companies all over Thailand so it’s easy to find one regardless of your starting location.

Rental Vehicle: Car and motorbike rental companies are also everywhere so it’s one of the best ways to travel to Phang Nga. You only need a driver’s license and an International Driving Permit (IDP) to rent and drive a vehicle in Thailand.

Plane: Boarding a plane is the most ideal option if your starting location is far from Phang Nga. For example, it takes up to 18 hours to reach Phang Nga from Bangkok by bus so you’re wasting too much time by traveling on land.

Instead, you can fly to Phuket International Airport or Krabi International Airport since it only takes more than 1 hour. From these airports, you can easily reach Ao Phang Nga National Park HQ via a bus, taxi, minivan, or rental vehicle.

What to See and Do in Ao Phang Nga National Park

Check out the bizarre limestone pillar in James Bond Island

Media credit: lynn_sharat

James Bond Island is arguably the most popular attraction in Ao Phang Nga National Park, and it’s worth visiting for its bizarre limestone pillar. Notice how the rock formation has a precarious structure since its base is slimmer than its upper part.

This limestone pillar is the most photographed attraction in Phang Nga for a reason. Aside from its odd mystical shape, it’s a famous landmark among James Bond fans. It’s also one of the more unique limestone karsts you’ll find in Phang Nga Bay.

You must visit this small island early in the morning to avoid the massive influx of tourists since it’s usually the first place island tours go to.

Explore the narrow sea caverns in Koh Hong in a canoe

Media credit: kong_youngblood

A visit to Ao Phang Nga National Park isn’t complete without exploring the enchanting limestone caverns in Koh Hong. These caverns are only passable every 30 minutes because the high tide can make it impossible for a manned canoe to pass through.

That makes it ideal to visit via a private tour since you can wait until the tide is perfect for canoeing. Canoeing here is also great if you enjoy animal spotting since you might see lizards, monkeys, and birds in the caverns and limestone cliffs around the island 

Go picnicking at the white sand beach in Koh Hong

Media credit: island.journey_

The fine white sand beach in Koh Hong is perfect for couples and families who want to go picnicking. It’s a great hangout spot since you can see the surrounding crystalline waters and stunning limestone cliffs.

If you’re lucky, you might even spot small white-fin reef sharks swimming in the knee-deep water near the shore. These animals aren’t usually aggressive but it’s best to just observe them since they might attack if they feel threatened.

It’s best to book a private island tour if your goal is to go picnicking in Koh Hong. This way, you can stay until sunset and witness the beautiful golden hour.

Swim at the turquoise lagoon in Koh Hong

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The lagoon in Koh Hong is one of the most beautiful places in Ao Phang Nga National Park. If you love swimming, this spot is a must-visit during your island tour.

Our thalassophile staffers are extremely passionate about the lagoon’s turquoise waters. If you don’t mind swimming with other tourists, you must come here early because it attracts massive crowds during the midday.

This used to be a good snorkeling spot, but there’s not much to see nowadays ever since its corals got destroyed. The best time to swim in this lagoon is during the high tide. 

Head to the bat cave in Koh Panak

Media credit: paphangkorn.chungching

This island’s sea cave is perfect for adventurers and animal lovers. You can observe bats flying along or hanging from the stalactites in the cave’s ceiling.

Once you get through this dark cave, a beautiful lagoon will greet you on the other side. There are numerous mangroves here, so expect to see some jellyfish, gobies, and monkeys about.

See the stalagmites and stalactites at the cave in Ice Cream Cave

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For spelunkers at heart, the Ice Cream Cave in Ao Phang Nga National Park is heaven on Earth. This site is home to impressive displays of ice cream-shaped stalactites and stalagmites that you won’t see in any other caves within the park.

You’ll board a canoe to this cave, but you can explore it on foot once you get inside. It’s a dark and wet cave, so be careful of the slippery rocks especially when it’s raining outside.

At the end of the cave, you’ll find an opening that shows a stunning ocean view, so keep an eye out for it!

Stop by the floating village in Koh Panyi

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Though Koh Panyi’s floating village isn’t under Ao Phang Nga’s management, it’s still within the park’s borders. It’s a residential area, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for a place to stay after your island tour.

You’ll also find restaurants and shops in this floating village. There’s even a floating football field west of Koh Panyi which we think is worth seeing while you’re here.

Staying here is also great because there are available island tours to Ao Phang Nga National Park. This way, you can resume your tour if you’re unable to explore all the attractions within the park on your first day.

Tour the mangrove forest in Ao Phang Nga National Park HQ

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The Ao Phang Nga National Park HQ isn’t just for booking island tours to the popular islands within its borders. It’s also a great place for birdwatching because of its massive mangrove forest.

Inside this forest, there’s a concrete walk board which makes it easy to explore. Though the park has recorded over 180 bird species, only some of them can be seen in this mangrove forest.

The notable bird sightings here include Brown-winged Kingfishers, Pacific Swallows, Mangrove Pittas, Ruddy Kingfishers, Black-naped Oriole, Arctic Warbler, and more.

For a unique birdwatching experience, try the boat tour along the mangrove forest.

Where to Stay and Eat at Ao Phang Nga National Park

There are no structures built for staying or dining at Ao Phang Nga National Park. However, there are hotels in nearby Ko Panyii (island), a fishing village, and Tha Dan village where the park administrators hold office. 

You can also choose to camp at the beaches but these are only as part of the tour itinerary. But there’s no need to worry, tours incorporate food and refreshments in the packages sans restaurants and food places at the park. 

FAQs about Ao Phang Nga National Park

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