The remote and mysterious Khao Ping Gan island was Scaramanga’s hideaway in The Man With The Golden Gun. It was here, in this undiscovered paradise, where the famous duel between Bond and Scaramanga took place in 1974.
From that moment on, Khao Ping Gan came to be known as James Bond´s Island and was therefore, catapulted into the limelight. At the time of filming, Khao Ping Gan which in Tai means “hills leaning against each other’, was an isolated and pristine island of unmatched beauty, now tourists have totally broken the spell.
The Neil Island
Located on the Andaman sea, Phang Nga province is blessed with natural wonders including the spectacular Phang Nga Bay renowned for its dramatic limestone islands, sunken caverns and sheer rock formations.
James Bond Island, which is originally known as “The Nail Island”, is one of the most famous places in Phang Nga Bay. The needle-shaped limestone rock featured in the film is called Ko Tapu.
A local legend says there once was a fisherman who used to bring home so much fish whenever he went to the sea. However, one day he was unable to catch any fish and only picked up a nail with his net. He kept throwing the nail back to the sea and catching it again.
Frustrated, he decided to cut the nail in halves with his sword. Upon impact, one half of the nail jumped up and speared into the sea forming the fascinating Ko Tapu. This impressive rock formation is just a sliver of a former barrier reef according to the scientific version.
Getting to James Bond´s Island
The easiest way to reach James Bond´s Island is booking a tour from Phuket or Krabi. These tours are often combined with other activities and include a seafood lunch at Koh-Panyee, a Muslim fishing village on stilts.
If you prefer to have more freedom you can rent a long-tail boat at Surakul pier in Phang Nga. This is the best way to skip the crowds and visit the places you want.
We always try to avoid organized tours but we were staying in Railay and it was the most convenient way. Otherswise, we would have visited the island by ourselves. Here you have a detailed itinerary of the tour.
James Bond´s Island-Canoeing Tour
We embarked on a traditional Thai long-tail boat and headed to James Bond´s Island. Discovering Phang Nga Bay was priceless. It was undoubtedly the best part of the tour.
Dotted with over 100 islands and limestone formations towering over the water, Phang Nga bay closely resembles Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay.
On arrival to James Bond´s Island we found that it was totally crowded and filled with souvenir stalls. We couldn´t believe how such a beautiful place could be ruined like this. In our opinion, the island should be a protected area. We had limited time to see the island but we managed to take great pictures and had the chance to explore most of it.
Talu Island was the next stop. This is a popular spot for canoeing through natural sea caves and exploring the surrounding mangrove forest. We didn´t paddle our own canoe, an experienced man did it for us. In order to get through the caves we had to lie down completely in our canoe which was great fun.
The tour included a seafood lunch in the colorful village of Koh Panyee. Built on stilts above the water, the floating sea gypsy village is often considered a tourist trap. But believe me, if you step away from tourists you will find a true gem.
As I mentioned before, we don´t like organized tours. However, the good thing about them is that you can meet interesting people from all around the world. Thanks to this tour we ended up sharing our table with Dave, a great guy from the USA. Together, we would venture out to explore the pathways of Koh Panyee.
Panyee Football Club
Most tourist don´t even notice that apart from the seafront restaurants and souvenir stalls, there is a friendly community willing to show you their culture and their unique way of life.
As a teacher, visiting the small Muslim school was a very enriching experience. Children were drawing and doing their homework, I suppose they were having their lunch break.
Later on, we came across a floating football pitch. The story behind it is absolutely awesome and drew attention from all around the world. The island´s children loved football but had no place to play. The kids started collecting scrap wood and built their own pitch in the middle of the sea.
Click here to see story of the Panyee Football Club, the most successful youth football clubs in Southern Thailand!!