Attractions in Thailand : Phangnga

Nakorn Sri Thammarat
Songkhla and Hat Yai
Surat Thani

This province is directly north of Phuket and covers an area of 4,170 square kilometers. The provincial capital is 788 kilometers south of Bangkok. The province's major attractions are the marine national parks of Ao Phangnga (Phangnga Bay), Mu Ko Similan (Similan Islands) and Mu Ko Surin (Surin islands). Phangnga Bay has been featured in several international movies, including the 007 adventures The Man with the Golden Gun, and contains some 100 largely uninhabited limestone islands scattered around almost perpetually calm waters. Many is-lands are riddled with aquatic grottoes, and are best explored aboard sea canoes, which are able to enter inner chambers, essentially collapsed cave systems, sometimes only at low tide. The timeless 'Jurassic Park' atmosphere of such islands contrasts vividly with more popular venues such as James Bond island, Nail island and Panyi island which supports a Muslim village built on stilts embedded in the sea. The far less commercialized Similan islands, nine in all, are renowned among diving enthusiasts for the variety of dives, superb underwater visibility between November and May, and teeming marine life. The Similans offer more than 30 dive sites, with coral walls, huge sea fans and barrel sponges, big rocks, swim through, coral gardens and plenty of shallows for snorkeling. The five Surin islands, equally secluded, offer similarly good diving opportunities and, because of seasonal weather changes, are best visited between December and March. Phangna is conveniently accessible by road or boat from Phuket and offers accommodation ranging from bungalows to deluxe hotels.