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Phang Nga Town

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In a nutshell

Encircled by vast karst mountains and the magnificent Phang Nga bay marine park, the small capital city of Phang Nga province is a friendly and relaxing place to linger.

While most travellers view the small town of Phang Nga as little more than a transport hub, those who take a day or two to give it a chance are rewarded by a relaxed atmosphere, cheap and authentic food, and some surprisingly spectacular sights nearby. Phang Nga is the perfect place to get a dose of everyday southern Thailand if you're tired of nearby tourist hotspots like Phuket and Khao Lak. With some solid accommodation options in town, there's no reason not to stop here for a night or two.

Unlike many a Thai provincial capital, Phang Nga has a markedly sleepy atmosphere, and the surrounding limestone karst cliffs and mountains make it a scenic town as well. Khao Chang, a karst mountain that soars dramatically upwards at a near 90 degree angle looms over the town to the southwest, and this is also the site of the massive Phung Chang Cave.

Well known as the jumping off point for trips into karst filled Ao Phang Nga Bay just to the south of Phang Nga town, the area is also home to a lesser known waterfall — Manora — that's situated a few km north of town and is worth a visit in its own right.

Phet Kasem Rd (aka Rte. 4) is the main thoroughfare running north to south through Phang Nga, and it's along this road that most of the town's markets, restaurants, and hotels are located.

The bus station is also off Phet Kasem, within easy walking distance of the cluster of guesthouses and hotels right at the centre of town, which is where most travellers end up staying.

There are a few side streets off Phet Kasem, but apart from some old traditional Thai homes there's little of interest down these. It's a small town — little more than a km past the town centre to the north and the scenery switches to picturesque, hilly countryside.

To the south there are countless small streams and rivers, all of which feed in to Phang Nga Bay. The beaches of Thai Muang and Khao Lak are reachable by day trip to the west, and mountainous terrain lies to the east.

Phang Nga is home to a large hospital located a bit south of the town centre on Phet Kasem Rd, near the night market at Soi Bhangkang.

The police station is a block off Phet Kasem on Borirakbamrung Rd near the corner of Soi Thungchedee, which splits off Phet Kasem a short distance south of the town centre but before the Big C supermarket.

Internet is widely available in Phang Nga. Monster Internet and Games and Future Computer are both in the neighbourhood of Big C and charge charge 20B per hour. Closer to most of the accommodation, the simply named "Restaurant" across from Phang Nga Guesthouse has a few computers for 30B per hour, and they — as well as nearby Baan Phangnga — offer WiFi for free.

Banks and ATMs are plentiful throughout town.

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Our recommendations

More information

Okay, we now why you're really here -- to explore the majestic Phang Nga Bay, right? Several tour companies offer a variety of experiences, from quick two-hour jaunts to James Bond Island to multi-day kayaking adventures and home stays on Ko Panyi. All of the local travel agents we spoke with seemed reasonably reliable, and Mr Hassim's M.T. Tours (based at Muang Thong Hotel) comes recommended.

While Phang Nga bay is unquestionably the highlight of this area, we suggest you take an extra day or two to explore Phung Chang Cave, Manora Waterfall, outlying cave temples in the nearby inland mountains, and of course, the local food scene. With several cheap but quality guesthouses to choose from, this is a good spot to linger for a few days while kicking back and saving some cash.

Text and/or map last updated on 18th December, 2013.

Last reviewed by:
Usually found exploring Bangkok's side streets or south Thailand's islands, David Luekens is an American freelance writer & photographer who finds everyday life in Asia to be extraordinary. You can follow his travails here.

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