Shaken, Not Stirred: Exploring James Bond Island

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James Bond Island: The Jewel in Phang Nga’s Crown

James Bond. Worldwide the name is synonymous with cool. So, what’s the deal with the island in Phang Nga Bay, Thailand named after the greatest spy?

Mention the name James Bond and I bet sleek guns, fast cars and beautiful women are the first things to spring to mind. He likes his suits sharp and his drinks shaken, not stirred.

But venture into Phang Nga Bay in Thailand and you’ll come across a very different James Bond. A pair of islands of the same name, jutting vertically out of the sea and making a great day trip from Phuket and the beaches. So, what’s the deal with this lesser-known James?

James Bond Island gets its name (and fame) from its feature film feature.

It’s Been Expecting You

James Bond Island is actually a pair of islands. The first is named Ko Tapu in Thai and is a soaring limestone pinnacle dotted with patches of rainforest. The second is named Khao Phing Kan and sits just next-door; less steep but impressive nonetheless. As you approach the islands by boat you start to get a sense of the sheer size of the rocks; by the time you’re up close you’ll have a sore neck from gazing up to see the top. It’s quite possibly the most scenic day trip from Phuket, maybe in all of Thailand.

If you visit on a tour then it’s likely you’ll be spending some time in sea kayaks exploring the bay and getting an up-close view of the islands. Once you land on the strip of sand behind the islands, grab a bottle of water and some sturdy shoes and get climbing. There are some incredible views of the bay from the viewpoints and it’s well worth the effort to gain a bit of height and get some stunning photos.

A Bond Villain’s Hideout

You’re probably wondering why these tropical islands are named after Britain’s greatest spy! Fans of the early Bond films will recognize the location as the hideout of James’ nemesis, Scaramanga, in the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun. A visit here is a visit to movie history and tourists have flocked to the area ever since the film was released.

Take the day trip from Phuket to James Bond Island and you won't regret it.

Getting to James Bond Island?

There are a couple of recommended ways to get to James Bond Island. By far the easiest method is to take an organized tour. This will mean that your transport, food and guide will be sorted in advance and you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. If you book in Phuket then packages start at 1000 baht per person for a big boat cruise with stops for canoeing and swimming. If you want to splash the cash then you could pay 4000 baht or more for a trip on a traditional Siamese ‘Junk’ boat; always remember to haggle though as prices can move quite substantially.

If you’re feeling more adventurous then you can head to Au Por Pier in north-east Phuket by bus or taxi. Here you can negotiate with the local boat owners to charter a private longtail boat. A charter may cost anything between 3000 to 6000 baht depending on the time of year and the size of the boat. If you’re in a group however, this may actually end up being most cost effective than the private tour option because some boats can seat up to 10 people. Always insist on seeing the boat first and only take this option in good weather with calm seas.

Island Hopping Insider Tip

The natural beauty of James Bond Island means that you’re not going to have a solitary experience here. If you want to try and escape the crowds then you’ll want to visit James Bond Island in the afternoon. The best way to do this is to charter a boat yourself and depart from the boat dock at about 1pm. A 4-hour charter will give you enough time to get to the island and get those all-important shots before the sun goes down.  

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