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Bennett Winch SC Holdall

Approaching James Bond island

15 April, 2009

I am sure, that many of you have enjoyed the remote and beautiful island in many of the scenes of The Man With The Golden Gun.

james bond island 1

I am also sure, that many of you know the pics of the mushroom-shaped rock, where the reflector for Scaramanga's laser gun has been placed:

These rocks and islands are part of the beautiful island area of Phang Nga bay in Thailand. Phang Nga is a Thai province, located eastern to the province and Island of Phuket.

2 years ago, I have had the chance to visit "James Bond Island" for the first time during a stay at Phuket and I have just been returning from my second visit a week ago.


The proper name for the island (where most of the island scenes have been shot) is Koh Khao Phing Kan. In Thai "Koh" means island as far as I have found out.

The name of the famous mushroom-shaped rock is Koh Tapoo or Koh Tapu.

There are altogether 42 of these limestone rocks and islands in the Phang Nga bay area.

But if you are heading for the 007 island, simply ask the travel agent (how to book will be told later) for "James Bond Island" and everyone will understand, what you mean.

The only way to get to there is by boat, unless you have a Seabee plane like 007. Here is, what Koh Khao Phing Kan looks like on Google maps:

james bond island 2

All boats, which are heading to the island, land on the south side of the island (2).

james bond island 3

james bond island 4Keep in mind, that there is a significant tide there (2-3 meters!) and the first time, we visited the island, there was not much left from the beach, so we landed right in front of the souvenir shops (5), no sand has been visible.

To enter the main beach (3) at the north side, you have to leave the souvenir shops on you right and you will see immediately the famous huge crack (6) in the rock, which is also visible in the movie.

As said, on our first visit, there was not very much of the beach left due to an extreme high tide. Here is, what the beach (3) looked like with high tide:

james bond island 5

You may notice, that I had to wade thru reasonably deep water to take this shot from position (4) and there have some man-made steps in the rocks which lead to a small trail, which I did not follow as there was nothing interested to be expected there.

You may also be surprised, that besides a government office on the south side (government tax has to be paid for every visitor) and the various souvenir shops in the middle of the island which I don't want to comment further - there is even a toilet on the island.

2 years ago, there has been a huge ugly concrete markstone in the middle of the beach, it has fortunately disappeared on our present visit.

As you are on the beach of James Bond island, you can't miss the famous mushroom rock (1) and take some pics.

james bond island 6

That's it for most tourists and time is very limited for every group. You have a maximum of 35 minutes to stay before your boat has to leave space for other groups, which are already waiting to land and the whole story begins again.

james bond island 7

On your way back, you may notice these remarkable stone formations, which are also visible later in the movie, when Nick Nack meets the killer.

But where is Scaramanga beach??

So, far so good.

After seeing the movie again I could see, that the fist scenes in TMWTGG haven't been done at this particular beach, impossible!!

james bond island 8

I started worrying, where this particular beach (which I call now Scaramanga beach) may be.

After returning back home, I checked out the island in particular via Google Earth and discovered, that there is an alternative approach to the island and another beach(7)!

Checking the pics there, hope came up, that this beach could be the one, where Nick Nack opens the champagne bottle and the third nipple has been exposed for the first time...

2 years went by before we returned to the island. Tide was extremely low and suddenly after taking the "normal pics", we entered the little (red marked) trail, which was then accessible with dry shoes.

After hiking for some minutes, Bingo, here it was:

james bond island 9

james bond island 10

james bond island 11

james bond island 12I am sure, that more than 95% of all normal visitors don't bother to use that trail. Entering it in a way without getting wet is only possible at low tide and I am sure, that most of them don't expect something else interesting at the other end of the island but for James Bond fans it is a must! Shame that they destroyed the view with that huge wooden pier (which has been closed). Also, the sand appears to be less smooth and much more grey as in the movie.

How to book?

Once you are on the island Phuket, you may be tempted to book your trip at the hotel, where you are staying. Don't do it!

We have been asking this particular question on both hotels, where we have been staying and have been confronted with prices over US$ 100,-- which is double than what we ended paying for the trips at the end.

If you are keeping your eyes open, you will find various offers for tours on the beach. There are various huts with offers almost everywhere and if you have a quick look over the brochure, you will surely find a small number of tours to James Bond Island along the usual trips to Phi Phi islands and others.

Keep in mind, that indicated prices can always be negotiated, depending the season and your bargaining skills.

I would vote against doing prepayments to "flying" travel agents.

The first trip, that we have done over a "flying agent", we paid directly before entering the boat to James Bond island, the second time, we found a permanent travel agent with a permanent shop next to our hotel and did a payment in advance though.

Which package to choose?

The first time, we booked the James Bond tour with a "flying" travel agent, who has been called by a pub, where we asked for James Bond Island tours.

They have been asking THB 2.800 each, after bargaining, we ended up with THB 1.800,-- (~US$ 50) each. The tour included a pickup at our hotel (which is common on every tour), a 40 min. minibus drive across the Phuket island to Poh bay, where we took a tour boat together with ~20 other people from all nations.

The trip took approx. 80 minutes and we had patience and time enough to capture the phantasic island world of Phang Nga in our hearts and in our camera.

We had free fresh soft drinks from an ice box on board all the time and the first delicious Thai food in many variants as a late breakfast.

After visiting James Bond island, we went back to the boat and had an incredible warm Thai lunch, served on 8 different plates! After lunch, we went to a small lagoon, where the canoes were watered and we went canoeing for like 45 minutes. Don't worry, every canoe had 2 tourists and one local Thai, who did all the rowing. We felt a bit bad and lazy!

Back on the boat, we went to another place, where they had a mangrove lagoon, time for another 45 minutes of canoeing.

We then went to a remote island with a nice sand beach and we had time for another hour to swim in between these bizarre rocks. Desert followed, fresh fruits and as always, free softdrinks out of the ice box.

After a relaxed trip on our boat another 60 minutes, we returned back to Poh Bay, where our shuttle bus waited and took us back to the hotel.

All in all, most definitely, one of the finest days in my life!

This year, we have not been able to find the tour operator from our first James Bond island tour, so, we booked another trip:

Asking price was THB 1.800 and we ended up paying THB 1.400,-- (~US$ 40) each.

I have asked the travel agent, if we are on a boat from Poh Bay, she said yes, later I found out, that this was entirely not the case.

So, the next morning (at 11:00, 2 years ago, we started at 8:30!) the minibus met us at the hotel and took us for 1 hour across the entire island. First stop was a rubber tree plant and we had a short introduction to rubber taping... hmmm, interesting...

The only thing, which I have learnt was, that fresh rubber smells like rotten fish..

After the obligatory souvenir booth, we went back to the minibus, which took us then to a golden Buddha in a cave. Hmmm. Interesting and all these moneys in front of the cave waiting for tourists to buy them bananas.

Another 15 minutes drive and we entered a very small pier, where we have been equipped with one bottle of water (the first and only one) and a life vest. We entered a longtail-boat, which took us to a kind of ancient fishermen-village, where we had lunch. The food was ok; no comparison to what we had 2 years ago, so lunch was finished after 10 minutes.

To kill time, we went around the fishermen village, which mostly consisted of souvenir shops, time to buy 4 postcards for US$ 1.

Then the longtail boat took us to James Bond Island, a fast and noisy ride, not much chance to enjoy the silent world of Phang Nga bay. It was even difficult to take pics because of the bumps and the splash caused by the boat.

30 minutes for visiting James Bond Island, then we went to a lagoon, where some canoes waited us for the well-known canoe-ride.

After 40 minutes, we went back to the longtail-boat, which took us back to the pier and then the shuttle brought us back to the hotel.

We would have been totally happy with this, if we would not have experienced the boat tour 2 years ago, so, here is my advice: If you are booking any tour to James Bond make sure, that you end up on these bigger boats leaving from Poh Bay and not in a longtail-boat.

Make sure, check the brochure once, twice and ask the travel agent once, twice trice.

Enjoy the trip, it is definitely worth it!

One more thing

If I may give you an additional info, which is very valuable for us:

The best and absolutely affordable food, which we had on Phuket, was at the Lotus restaurant at Bang Tao Beach.

Check the internet for reviews and you may understand why we ended up in paying extra for a taxi to go there for 3 dinners on our 5-nights stay.

© 2009 Markus Hartmaier -

All copyrights for products, logos, images etc are held by their respective owners. Bond Lifestyle is not responsible for these articles, please take any queries up with the author.

Orlebar Brown Sale


I'm so confused. Why doesn't the background topography in the view of the mushroom rock from the north beach match that over the Google Maps image?

In the Google Maps image, if you're standing on the north beach looking at the mushroom rock, there is nothing but open ocean directly behind the mushroom rock. But from the beach, the western side of the island appears to be wrapping around behind the mushroom rock.

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Connolly x 007