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The Truth About James Bond Island

A few years, when I told my friend Allano I had never been to James Bond Island, he was shocked. “I thought all farang went there,” he laughed, but didn’t say much else. You see, Allano (who lives in Phang Nga, the province where you find the famous island) is not a big fan of it.

“Don’t waste your time or money,” he told me later that day, when I asked him whether I should embark on a day tour into Phang Nga Bay to visit. “It’s really nothing special.”

While I heeded his advice on that trip, I’ve since made the journey in spite of it. So, is James Bond Island worth going to? This is the question I aim to answer over the next several paragraphs.

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Why James Bond Island is Famous

Is James Bond Island worth it? Well, if you’re a fan of 007 himself, you might consider it so. The island’s main claim to fame is the 1974 movie “The Man With the Golden Gun,” which prominently featured it. It’s since appeared in all kinds of other media (including 2024’s Amazon series “Expats,” a recent favorite of mine), but its name reflects the film that brought it its greatest notoriety.

As it turns out, there’s also an element of marketing to it. Koh Khao Phing Kan (the “official” name of the island) is arguably not the most beautiful place in Thailand’s Andaman Sea. However, having an easily digestible name—let alone one associated with one of the most famous characters in the history of film—has had a run-on effect through the decades that people have been coming here.

How Your James Bond Island Day Trip Will Go Down

Transfer to the pier


No matter where you start your journey, you will first need to transfer to Phang Nga province’s Pracharat Pier, where all boats into Phang Nga Bay depart. Whether you come from Phuket, Krabi or even Khao Lak National Park, this typically involves a minivan.

Ride a longtail through mangroves


Is James Bond Island worth visiting? Initially, as your longtail boat travels through the muddy waters and mangrove swamps just off the pier, it might not seem so. But I encourage you to reserve judgement for just a while—at least until you’re out on the open sea.

Start with canoeing


In most cases, you will stop first not on James Bond Island, but on a platform that’s been constructed as a hub for canoes and kayaks. Personally, I’m not a fan of this (I don’t have a dry bag, and don’t really trust them to protect my expensive camera anyway), but many people enjoy it.

Make a brief stop at James Bond Island


Is James Bond Island worth it? One harsh truth is that you’re only going to be at Koh Khao Phing Kan (the “real” name of the island) for an hour at most. You’ll have time to admire the island from sea level or to walk up to a viewing platform, but probably not for both.

End at Koh Panyee Muslim Village


Once your boat has departed James Bond Island itself, you’ll head to your final stop, the “floating” village of Koh Panyee. Inhabited by a Muslim population who are sometimes known as “sea gypsies,” this place does feel like a bit of a tourist trap; you’ll enjoy a buffet lunch here as well.

How to Get to James Bond Island

As James Bond Island sits within an uninhabited part of Phang Nga Bay, there are no public boats or ferries traveling here. In most cases, you’ll need to book some kind of group tour, whether it departs from Phuket or Krabi (these are the most common options). Another option would be to organize a private speedboat or longtail at one of the piers in Phang Nga province.

Indeed, a big part of why the question “is James Bond Island worth visiting?” is so salient is because it’s not all that easy to access. If it were along the way from somewhere to somewhere (like the way that Koh Phi Phi is on the way from Railay Beach to Koh Lanta), it would be a different story. But James Bond Island is a place you have to be intentional and deliberate about visiting!

Other FAQ About Visiting James Bond Island

Is it worth seeing James Bond Island?

As someone who is generally pretty cynical about “top tourist attractions,” I can genuinely say that James Bond Island impressed me. I’m not a huge fan of James Bond movies or anything, but the site was simply worth seeing, if only for its natural beautiful, and also for all the other things you can do during your day trip.

Which is better: Phi Phi or James Bond Island?

Koh Phi Phi and James Bond Island are not really comparable. The Phi Phi islands are a destination with hotels and restaurants where you can relax, explore on your own and of course take day trips to outlying islands. James Bond Island, on the other hand, is a standalone attraction where people spend a maximum of about an hour at a time.

What is special about James Bond Island?

James Bond Island is unique in that it is a single (and, frankly, phallic) tower of limestone rising out of the sea. It’s not a huge landmass like the larger islands around it, and is much taller than it is wide or deep. It’s certainy the most unique landform in Phang Nga Bay, and in truth almost evokes Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay.

The Bottom Line

Is James Bond Island worth going to? The short answer is yes, though it’s not an unequivocal one. Looking back, I think my friend Allano’s suggestion that I not visit Koh Khao Phing Kan (as the island is officially known) was a good one, given circumstances at the time. On the other hand, since I had a free day on a recent trip to Krabi (and, more importantly, since I found a good day tour), there was little reason to say no a second time. Need personalized advice putting together a trip that hops through Thailand’s islands. Consider hiring me to craft a custom Thailand itinerary.


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