Beautifully located, Phang Nga town is a friendly place and midway between Phuket and Krabi with quite striking landscape of palm groves and looming limestone cliffs. By visiting Phang Nga it is possible to easily organize the low-cost longtail trips that include exploring the fascinating karst islands of Ao Phang Nga. Plus, there are quite a few waterfalls and caves that are great to include in a Thailand family tour of the local area.
Phang Nga is a great place to spend a day or two fully relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere of southern Thailand. A short stay in town is long enough to see some spectacular sights while also enjoying the low-cost and authentic food.
A stay at Phang Nga is certain to appeal to the tourist that wants to get a break from the tourist hotspots like Khao Lak and Phuket. With a nice selection of guesthouses and hotels there is no reason not to rest up for a few nights.
Phang Nga town is rich in multicultural flavours with plenty of Taoist Chinese shrines, Buddhist temples and mosques in the local area and most are within an easy walk of each other.
This region is quite different to many Thai provincial capitals with its sleepy atmosphere and pleasant surroundings that help to create the very scenic views. One of the largest karst mountains is Khao Chang is located to the southwest of town and close to the impressive Phung Chang Cave.
Plus, the area is a popular layover point for those tourists on the Thailand tours holidays that plan to visit Ao Phang Nga that is rich in the limestone karst mountains.
Phang Nga has a tropical climate and gets quite a lot of rain throughout the year (December to March has the least). The preferred time to travel for the best weather is January to April when the weather is most comfortable and the rainfall is quite minimal. On average, the temperature in this region is 27.2 °C. The hottest months are March to June, but the rainy season starts from May.
How to get there
The closest airport to town is in Krabi or Phuket which are serviced by Air Asia and including an onward journey of about 1.5 hours to reach Phang Nga.
Alternative options for travel on the Thailand tour holiday packages include the regular bus service, with the station located centrally in town close to Phetkasem Road. Even though this is a quite small town, it still has a lot of traffic passing through and seen as a useful transport hub for the surrounding regions.
On arriving at the bus station in Phang Nga it is very easy to walk to most of the guest houses and hotels in town. Alternatively, there are the motorbike rentals at about $8.50 per day, and available to hire at several of the hotels.
Public songthaews are available in the tourist areas with rides cheap at less than $0.50 for a local journey. Plus, it is possible to hire a songthaew and a driver for the day if planning a lot of travelling, which might cost in the region of $35. Motorbike taxis are a further choice and easily found at the local bus stations, with the cost about $1-$3, which depends on the length of the journey.
Where to stay
Phang Nga town doesn’t have the luxury resorts similar to Phuket and Khao Lak but still has several acceptable options that are mostly located near Phet Kasem Road or south of the bus station. Plus, there is a great chance of getting discounted prices throughout the rainy months on the Thailand travel packages.
A stay at the Baan Phangnga is a combination of a guesthouse and cafe with the room upstairs at a very acceptable standard and some of the finest for the price. The rooms cost in the region of $15 per night. Most of the rooms have a boutique feel with features like funky tables, retro TVs, concrete floors, and rooms painted in a different colour. The spacious rooms also include an en suite bathroom and free Wi-Fi. A visit to the cafe makes it possible to enjoy a great Thai and Western menu with home-made cakes and great coffee.
The Muang Thong Hotel has a cheerful and pleasant atmosphere on the inside – although it isn’t the most inviting from the outside. The cost per night is in the region of $12.50-$17.50 (air-con rooms are more expensive). Most of the rooms are quite spacious with clean and large bathrooms, hot water, fridge and TVs. Even though the rooms are basic they are still well maintained and bright. The rooms at the rear of the hotel are the best because they give a break from the noise of the street. A further plus is the central location near the bus station and several restaurants, while a motorbike hire service is also available.
The Rattanapong Hotel is well located in the centre of town and popular for its low-rates at about $12.50 per night. Most of the rooms are quite basic with air-con or a single fan with space for a single bed, wooden wardrobes, older model TVs and a bathroom with cold water. But, this hotel is still good enough for the solo budget travellers.
Eat and drink
Even though Phang Nga does not have a great range of international dishes like Khao Lak or Phuket, there is no shortage of eateries offering authentic Thai cuisine and a few serving western fare that would make the tourist feel at home. Plus, there are plenty of food stalls in the major tourist areas like Takua Pa and Thai Muang. For the travellers that like seafood, there are a few places to visit near the beaches that are cheap and delicious.
The Rice Paddy is a Thai-international restaurant with a great atmosphere and impressive menu with fresh salads, spicy whole-fish coconut curry, fantastic falafel and hummus and flash-fried sôm đam. Plus, there is a great service of vegetable dishes. The cost for the mains is in the region of $5-$8.
A visit to the Aziamend on the Indochina tour packages makes it possible to experience one of the finest restaurants in the region with its Michelin-star Basque chef. The menu includes multi-course tasting dishes that rely on Thai flavours to create the most unique cuisine, such as sea bass with tsuyu tartare, deconstructed picnics, and truffle eggs.
Ao Chong Khad Restaurant is a great place to visit for the cheap and authentic Thai food. It is well located and a great place to visit after a morning of sightseeing or shopping. The main dishes are about $2.50-$5.
Even though Phang Nga isn’t the most appealing choice for shopping, there are still several handicraft stores that are useful for picking up gifts or souvenirs for friends or family. Some of the local handmade items include the artificial flowers or other decorative items made with shrimp paste, dried seafood and shells.
Things to see and do
Phang Nga is a perfect travel destination for the eco-tourist or adventurer. In this part of Thailand, there are some of the finest National Parks such as Ao Phang Nga National Park, Similan Islands National Marine Parks and Surin Islands. For complete ease in exploring this natural beauty it is possible to follow one of the many trails that pass through the stunning scenery.
Thai cooking class
One of the best things to take home from Thailand is the ability to cook some of the local cuisine. This is achieved by signing up for one of the Thai cooking classes that are taught by the experienced chefs. A great place to learn in Phang Nga is at The Candle Restaurant, which gives great attention, care and quality throughout the teaching process.
One of the best places to go rafting in southern Thailand on the Thailand private tours is on the Phang Nga River. By visiting a quiet village in the mountains known as Song Prack it is possible to get kitted out for a breathtaking rafting experience. This river has a beautiful setting that is surrounded by forest, high mountains and striking riverside scenery.
A perfect place for elephant trekking is Khao Lak-Lamru National Park, which is rich in mangroves, estuaries, beaches and hills. Plus, there is plenty of wildlife and waterfalls to explore. Elsewhere there is the virgin forest at Si Phang Nga National Park, which is also great for camping and hiking.
The Similan Islands are rich in pristine coral reefs that are certain to please the diving enthusiasts. There are plenty of dive sites that range from 2 to 30 m, so practical for both the skilled and novice divers. There are in total nine islands to explore that give really inspiring scenes underwater of dive-throughs, rock reefs and seamounts. A further great dive destination is the Surin Islands with several agents offering the organized trips. The preferred time to dive in these waters is from December to May.
Other great activities in Phang Nga include canoeing, sea fishing and bird watching.