A starring role in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man With the Golden Gun put the sleepy limestone island of Khao Phing Kan (now known as James Bond Island) firmly on the Thailand tourist trail. While the island's increased popularity created a higher risk of pollution and boats are now forbidden from approaching the colossal limestone islet known as Ko Tapu, opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and sightseeing still abound in the surrounding area.
The lush vegetation, turquoise water, and secluded caves of Phang Nga Bay, home to James Bond Island, make Ao Phang Nga National Park one of Thailand's top destinations. Visitors should spend a full day exploring the islands on a boat tour — opt to get around in a luxurious speed boat, a traditional junk ship, a longtail boat, or in less intrusive sea canoes and kayaks.
In addition to admiring Koh Tapu from afar, James Bond Island tours typically include a sightseeing cruise of Phang Nga Bay; canoeing or kayaking to the limestone caves, mangrove forests, and beaches of Thalu Island and Khao Phing Kan; and a visit to the floating Muslim fishing village of Ko Panyi.Tours of the bay are generally 8 to 10 hours long, so be sure to bring sunscreen, plenty of water, and a sun hat.
Given that Khao Phing Kan is one of south Thailand's most popular attractions, tour boats can sell out quickly. Book in advance to avoid disappointment.
How to Get to James Bond Island
Due to the protected nature of the national park, visiting the islands independently is nearly impossible, unless you have a permit and a personal boat. There are a number of tours to the area, however, most of which depart from the marinas in Phuket and Krabi Noi. If you're traveling down from northern Thailand, save time by taking a tour from Phang Nga town.
When to Get There
Although the region is warm all year round, the hottest period is between April and May, when all-day sunshine is pretty much guaranteed. Rainy season in southern Thailand occurs between September and October, when the tropical monsoon climate comes in full force and there is a risk of destructive tropical storms.