Phang Nga Bay is a magnificent waterway that separates the Malay Peninsula from Phuket Island. Located just north of the critical shipping lanes in the Malacca Strait, Phang Nga Bay has been an important haven for seaborne commerce since time immemorial. Dotted with exotic islands, it is now popular with seaborne sightseerers. Much of Phang Nga Bay is now protected by Ao Phang Nga National Park.
Humans first discovered and began settling in the Phang Nga Bay region over ten thousand years ago. The bay became an important center of seaborne trade in the first millennium, especially after the spread of Islam into the area. In the 20th century it became a popular destination for vacationers. Ao Phang Nga National Park was established in 1981.
Phang Nga Bay is a natural wonder both from an ecological (land and maritime) standpoint as well as geological. The bay is surrounded by wetlands and mangrove forests home to dozens of species of animals and nearly one hundred species of birds. There are coral reefs and nearly a hundred species of fish beneath the waters. Hundreds of islands dot the bay, most famously the rock known as Ko Tapu, a unique formation in the shape of an inverted bowling pin that towers at 66 feet in height (scenes from a James Bond movie were filmed here).
Phang Nga Bay attracts boaters, hikers and naturalists of all sorts. Most visitors tour the bay by water in everything from small boats to cruise ships. Divers can explore the bay’s reefs. On land, there are protected wildlife areas, caves, and archaeological sites to see. Web: www.dnp.go.th/parkreserve/asp (official website).