Before films such as “The Hangover II” showcased Bangkok’s highs and lows, or “The Beach” popularised the paradisiacal Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi, a certain British MI6 agent caused a stir in Thailand’s southern islands.
Rising sharply from the bright blue waters of Thailand’s Phang Nga Bay off the coast of Phuket, the colloquially named James Bond Island is a striking sight to behold. Relatively unknown until 1974 when the iconic James Bond film “The Man With the Golden Gun” placed Bond’s nemesis, Francisco Scaramanga, hiding out on the island, the otherworldly island has since been a sought-after site drawing droves of international travellers.
What to know before you go
Located in Ao Phang Nga National Park, a tropical wonderland covering 400 square metres and home to more than 40 islands and striking karst cliffs jutting out of the Andaman Sea, the vertical 66-foot-tall pillar has a unique narrow base that widens as it climbs higher into the sky. The distinct island is locally known as Koh Tapu, meaning “Nail Island”, due to its shape that’s reminiscent of a nail or stake being driven into the ground. Surrounding James Bond Island are the Ko Khao Phing Kan limestone islands, completing a postcard-worthy scene that tops tourists’ bucket lists.
What to do at James Bond Island
The island’s main draw is simply marvelling at the natural site itself. It’s impossible to actually get onto the island but most boat tours include time spent at one of the surrounding islands with clear, close views of the towering karst creation. Make sure you have your cameras charged and ready (and some patience waiting for other visitors to snap their souvenir shot)! Though taking photos and soaking up the tropical scenery is about it in terms of activity, your boat tour is likely to involve stops at other destinations in the region, such as the nearby Koh Panyi floating village, before returning to your departure point.
How to visit James Bond Island
No longer a remote hideaway or secret lair, James Bond Island is one of the most visited spots in Ao Phang Nga National Park and a popular day trip from Phuket. Only accessible by boat, it’s easy to find daily tours taking guests to the island as well as other picturesque spots within the marine park.
Is it touristy? Yes! Is it worth it? Also, yes! Ao Phang Nga National Park and Phang Nga Bay are truly as beautiful as they look in photos.
The best way, however, to visit the iconic island is by chartering your own boat. Yacht charters are fun, albeit pricey, ways to leisurely discover the area on your own terms but it’s also simple to hire a local long-tail boat for the morning, afternoon or all day. By hiring a private boat, you’re able to customise your stops and schedule to miss the crowds, stay longer at the places you’re most interested in and have plenty of time to pretend to be an international spy hunting down criminal masterminds.