As soon as I knew I was heading to Thailand, visiting James Bond Island was high on my wish list. Khao Phing Kan became iconic in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun as the location of villain Scaramanga’s lair. And, considering I adore visiting film locations, it was a must-visit for sure. But I’ll be honest, I did absolutely no research beforehand. There are so many tour companies I knew researching the best would be overwhelming and impossible. So, I decided to book whichever tour my hotel in Kata Beach, Phuket recommended.
The tour company turned out to be Andaman Leisure Phuket. And not only do you visit James Bond Island, but there are also so many other cool places the tour visited around Phang Nga Bay. Check out my honest review of Andaman Leisure Phuket’s James Bond tour below!
James Bond Island Tour with Andaman Leisure Phuket
Price, Taxi & Pick-up locations and times
I booked my James Bond Island tour just the afternoon before with absolutely no bother. So, even though I couldn’t possibly have left it any later to book, there was still space free on the James Bond Island excursion.
Tickets are 3,500THB (£84.74) per person, which isn’t as expensive as you might think. It’s a whole day trip and includes snacks and soft drinks on a speedboat, buffet lunch, two canoe rides, National Park entrance fees and a taxi to and from the pier. The price is quite reasonable for a very popular tour! And, looking at the Andaman Leisure Phuket booking page, the price is 200THB more than I paid for an adult ticket. Maybe it’s better to wait until you get to Thailand to see if the hotel has a better deal than online?
Taxi Pick-up & Drop off
And it’s quite a long day. Taxi pick up is between 7:15-7:45 in the morning and you’ll share a taxi with tourists staying in nearby hotels to yours. The taxi drives you to the pier and your boat sails around 9:00. Then, you’ll return to the pier on the east coast of Phuket at around 16:15 and will be dropped off at your hotel around 18:00. Assuming your hotel is in a popular tourist spot like Patong/Karon/Kata Beach, that is. So, it’s a long day! But every detail is taken care of.
Please note: There were roughly 15 of us on the speedboat, with three staff. The other tourists were mainly English-speaking adults and it never felt like too many people. The boat was certainly big enough and there were plenty of life jackets, fruit slices and soft drinks to go around.
Location 1: Exploring Mangrove & Diamond Cave at Panak by Canoe
When the speedboat left the pier on Phuket, we sailed deep into Phang Nga Bay; a huge body of water Northeast of Phuket. On this excursion, Mangrove and Diamond Cave may be swapped around with Hong Island depending on tide levels. We each had a guide that steered the canoe and told us information about the area.
On my particular trip, we visited Mangrove and Diamond Cave first. The photos don’t do it justice, but the caves and lagoons (or whatever they’re called!) were really peaceful beautiful tropical places. We saw bats hanging out in the caves, monkeys on the rocks and weird hopping fish chillin’ on the mangrove trees.
Top tip: When my group reached the pier in Phuket, we had a small wait until it was time to leave. We met our guide as soon as we arrived and he told us we wouldn’t be able to wear shoes in the canoes. And he recommended buying beach shoes, which a lot of people did. The guide made it seem like we would be walking on a lot of uneven terrain and wouldn’t be allowed to wear anything but these beach shoes, which was not the case. It was clearly a sales tactic and I’m really glad I didn’t end up buying these shoes from the gift shop.
Going barefoot in the canoes was totally fine and I wore flip-flops on the beaches. It’s preferable to have shoes like flip-flops you can take on and off easily but don’t be suckered into buying these shoes you won’t wear again!
Location 2: James Bond Island
Here we go, the main event! I had low expectations as I knew the island would be tourist-heavy but I was actually pleasantly surprised. There were several vantage points where you could take pictures of the iconic rock in James Bond Island, and you didn’t need to do any pushing or shoving to get the angle you want. There are only a few stalls selling the usual tourist tat and there are toilets on the island too.
Sure, James Bond Island has become completely commercialised since the film, but it wasn’t to the same extent as a lot of other places (The Beach in Maya Bay, for example). I think my group had about an hour on the island which was plenty of time.
Location 3: Koh Panyee Island/Floating Village for Lunch
And already, it was time for lunch. For the next part of the James Bond Island tour, we visited a really interesting floating village in the middle of Phang Nga Bay called Koh Panyee or Ko Panyi. This is an Indonesian, Muslim fishing community made up of inhabitants who prefer to live away from the rest of civilisation. However, they do rely heavily on international tourists visiting the island on excursions, like me.
It did strike me as a little odd why a community who built their own island in a relatively solitary place would want loads of random western tourists visiting their island. But then it occurred to me that this probably wasn’t out of choice. When the community first settled down here in the 18th Century, fishing was probably a much more viable income source than it is today and they needed to diversify. Silly me for not realising earlier!
Lunch was served in a fairly upmarket cafeteria right on the pier called Sunny Seafood. A lot of the buffet was seafood but also normal Thai dishes, so I ate a lot of egg fried rice and veggie stir fry which was very nice! We had a good hour and 45 minutes to explore the island and have lunch, which was plenty of time.
Ko Panyee’s legendary football team have appeared on the Netflix series Jack Whitehall: Travels with my Father and the village was a filming location for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.
Location 4: Exploring Hong Island by Canoe
After lunch, we sailed back towards Hong Island. We must have been relatively near Hong Island when we canoed around Mangrove Cave earlier as we had the exact same canoe guides. It does seem strange to revisit almost the exact place we saw earlier. I know the guide on the boat did say something about tides, but I’m not sure.
The only negative, for me, about the whole James Bond Island excursion, is the two canoe trips. They seemed like very similar places and I’m also not a huge fan of personal, one-on-one guides. They make me feel a bit awkward and on edge. And I would have liked to steer canoe myself in a convoy-like situation as that would have been so much fun!
However, I can completely understand why the canoe guides are there for lots of reasons. Not only does working for Andaman Leisure Phuket (ALP) give them employment, but the guides also know exactly where they’re going and are experienced at what they do if there was a safety issue.
Plus, all of the guides did seem super nice! I completely understand most people who aren’t weirdly guide-phobic like me would prefer having canoe guides.
Location 5: Swimming & Cocktails at Naka Beach on Rang Yai Island
Finally, the boat docked for almost two hours in Naka beach on Rang Yai island. This island is much closer to Phuket than Phang Nga Bay. It was possibly one of the cleanest beaches I had seen in Thailand (not too difficult). There are more than enough deck chairs to go around and they had a pretty sweet beach hut bar. Not only did they serve every Thai beer and cocktail imaginable, but they also sold Piña Coladas in coconuts or pineapples. I’m not sure you’re really on holiday until you take several selfies with a ridiculously over-the-top cocktail.
There was no sea life around, but swimming in the sea was also really great here. I could have happily spent two more hours on Naka beach!
Was the James Bond Island Tour worth it?
Absolutely, yes!! We spent just the right amount of time in every place and my James Bond Island tour ran super smoothly. The boat’s guide was very knowledgeable and fun and we were given as much fruit and water as we needed. In fact, all the staff on the boat were super friendly. Everything was timed perfectly and ran like clockwork. You didn’t feel too rushed or like you were hanging around for ages. I thought the tour was very good value for money as well. I definitely recommend Andaman Leisure Phuket (ALP) for your James Bond Island tour in Thailand!
It’s a long day, but absolutely worth it! You don’t see the iconic James Bond Island every day.
And that’s my honest review of taking the James Bond Island Tour with Andaman Leisure Phuket (ALP)! Have you visited James Bond Island? Let me know in the comments below!