Asian adventure- Phuket-Railay Beach- Krabi-Bangkok-Hong-Kong-China tour.
Itinerary- Panak Island, Khao Phing Kan-James Bond, Panyee island-Fishermans Island (Lunch), Hong Island (Canoeing), Scooby Doo Island, Ice Cream Cave at Panak Island, Naka Island (swim).
Company- PPKK tours (boat company PPT Tours)
Cost- 6500 THB -adult 1700 (£39) , child- 1400(£32)
Time of year- End of July 2018
We arranged the tour through PPKK Tours on facebook messanger and were given the option of a Big Boat tour or a Speedboat tour (he sent us both itineraries to check out). We opted for the speedboat tour as it included lunch at the Fishermans village which we really wanted to see. We didn’t have to pay any money up front and we were messaged a couple of days before to inform us of our pick up time. He also reminded us that we needed to bring suncream, swim stuff and towels.
We were collected from our hotel at 8am and driven 30 minutes to Ao Po Pier. We were met by someone from the boat company who gave us all a sticker with a number 17 on it. The sticker tells them which tour you are on. We were then directed to sit in a waiting area with free tea, coffee and biscuits and a shop to buy snacks, ice creams, drinks and waterproof bags and phone cases. However, we waited over an hour here and were getting quite fed up in the end! More and more people arrived and were all given a variety of numbered stickers as they were clearly operating a number of different boat tours. Finally, they started calling numbers out and when your number sticker was called, you followed the guide. Ours was the last number to be called and we had waited nearly an hour and a half in the end! We felt that really we could have been picked up later from our hotel!
The guide shouted number 17 and then everyone had to follow him out along the road (5 minute walk) to the pier area. It was so crowded with people following different guides that it was very hard to keep up with our own guide. At the pier area (which was totally crowded) our guide stood on a bench and shouted number 17 so that everyone could find him again. You then had to wait for your number to be called for your turn to get on one of the little shuttle buses that take you along the pier to the boats. At the time it seemed like chaos and there were so many people pushing and shoving and shouting different numbers! But it actually was quite well organised with the sticker system and our guide was counting all of us to check everyone had found him okay. We then got on an open sided shuttle bus which runs you the 2 minutes down the pier to your boat. On the boat there were lifejackets to put on and a box fridge in the middle with free water and soft drinks to help yourself to. We got sat right at the back of the boat which meant that we could see out. The sides were so high that if you were sat in the main section of the boat then you wouldn’t be able to see out.
Even though the whole start to the tour had been chaotic and long, the actual day made up for it and we all had a fantastic time!
We got to Panak Island where the boat slowed down so that we could see the different rock formations. We didn’t actually get off here as the tide was too high. When the tide is low you can walk there and people also go on canoe trips through the caves into the lagoons (again depending on the tides).
We then went onto Khao Phing Kan, known as James Bond Island where we got off the boat for 50 minutes. The island got its name after starring in the James Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. There are market stalls selling lots of little knick knacks that you walk around to get to the beach where you can see the famous ‘nail’ shaped James Bond island. You can climb up the steps to the left of the beach to get different views of the island and we bought coconuts from one of the stalls to drink. There are also some small cave tunnels that you can walk through around the harbour part, which the children enjoyed.
Next we headed to Panyee island, which is also known as the Fishermans Island. This entire island was built on stilts by Indonesian fishermen and now has a school, a mosque, numerous shops and restaurants and a floating football pitch (quite an interesting story to read up on about their football team). With all of its beautiful colours, it looked amazing as we approached it by boat.
We headed straight into a restaurant where we enjoyed a lunchtime buffet, with options of 6 hot dishes. We bought drinks from one of the stalls (although water is free- but we were not sure if it was bottled or not as was in a tank). We then tried to work out how to get into the actual village to explore. We spent a good 20 minutes trying to work this out and asked people from the village, but they didn’t understand us. Just before it was time to go back on the boat we found a small opening right at the back of the restaurant, through the shops that you could go through into the village. I don’t know if we had just been stupid but it wasn’t an obvious door- you literally walked through some hanging clothes in the middle of a shop.
Its a shame our tour guide didn’t direct us that way after our meal as I’m sure we weren’t the only people who wanted to look around. The village itself was small alley way streets with market stalls and local people sat chatting or sleeping. There were no signs of where to go and no one to ask who understood us. We managed a quick walk down a couple of the streets but to be honest, the children got scared as it was a little bit daunting with all of the people watching us (we felt a bit like we shouldn’t be there) and we knew we needed to go and get back on the boat.
Next was the highlight of the trip for us-canoeing at Hong Island. What an amazing experience! The speedboat pulled up just outside Hong Island and men in canoes came round the back of the boat for us to climb in. There are 2 people in each boat and the men paddle you into the central lagoon which is surrounded by Hong Island, James Bond Island and Scooby Doo Island. The boys were impressed that the Thai men rowing us in our 2 boats wore an England top and a Chelsea top- and they had quite a bit of “Chelsea” banter with them and the other guides! We did a loop of the lagoon and even rowed into a cave at one point. We were probably in the canoes 30-45 minutes and the guides pointed out all of the things to look for such as Scooby Doo island (where there is a rock the shape of a dog on the top!). They also pulled a huge jellyfish out of the water to show the kids and took our photo which we were able to buy at the end of the trip (framed for £2!!- bargain!).
Next we went to Ice cream cave which is situated in a small cove. There are wooden steps leading up into the cave and we used our phone torches to see the way. The floor is very uneven and was quite slippery at places so I would definitely recommend using your phone! The caves made for quite a cool little adventure with many stalactites sparkling from the ceiling (although our youngest got scared and had a bit of a fuss!)
You walk for about 5 minutes until you get to the end of the cave where you can view a beautiful lagoon through the opening at the end.
Lastly we headed for an hour on Naka Island where we enjoyed a swim and a snack of corn. This is a regular snack all around Thailand and you can choose from different toppings to put on it like salt, bbq or butter. We were continually approached every 5 minutes on this island by people trying to get us to buy snacks, drinks, jet ski rides or pose with some sort of monkey type creature. It did get a bit annoying in the end and we were ready to leave after an hour. When we arrived back at the harbour and got off our boat, they had a table with our photos from the canoeing which had been printed and framed and were for sale for £2 each. We then walked back down to the office where our transfer was waiting for us to take us back to the hotel.
Even after the rocky start, this ended up being a fab day out with amazing experiences for us all and memories that we will treasure forever. The highlight for us all was the canoeing at Hong Island. The dinner was nice and there was plenty of it (which is good for us hungry Normans!). If we hadn’t got on the back seats of the speedboat, then we wouldn’t have been able to see the view when we were travelling. You would see more on a big boat tour- but these were BIG and rammed full of people so you would want to get a seat at the edge of the boat and not in the middle. These would be slower too so Im unsure if you would get to see everything that we got to see (the Fishermans Island was not included in the big boat trip).