Sunrise at Samet Nangshe Viewpoint and a long tail boat trip around Phang Nga Bay are two of the best activities we had while exploring the south of Thailand. Both activities can be done on the same day and while staying in Phuket. The highlights of this full day trip include a breathtaking sunrise over the Phang Nga islands, kayaking through caves and mangrove forest, lunch on a deserted island and exploring caves.
Sunrise at Samet Nangshe with a view over Phang Nga Bay
Samet Nangshe is a remote vantage point overlooking Phang Nga Bay. A cluster of limestone islands covered in lush greenery offers a spectacular view. The sun rises from behind the not so distant islets and ocean making this one of the most stunning scenes in Thailand.
From the car park reaching the viewpoint involves a short walk uphill. On our way, the sun started to set and revealed these giant rocks which were before hidden in the dark. We were not expecting this breathtaking scene and were quite overwhelmed by it.
We didn’t continue to the higher most popular point but instead stopped at a lower one which is equally beautiful and we were practically all alone.
Access to this viewpoint comes with an entrance fee of 30 Baht per person and is payable at the foot of the hill just before the start of the walk up.
Samet Nangshe Viewpoint from Phuket
Samet Nangshe is located in a remote area north east of Phuket. Getting there for sunrise is a challenging task especially if doing the drive by your own means of transport. The viewpoint is 90 minutes drive from Phuket Old Town thus an early wake up is necessary to get there for sunrise (we left our accommodation in Phuket Old Town at 3:45).
The drive isn’t easy in these early hours as cars on main roads zoom along at full speed. Off the main road and heading closer to Samet Nangshe you will be riding along the remote areas. The streets here are pitch black and roads have loads of potholes which make them quite dangerous.
Rain is another issue on long distance drives. Unfortunately on our way back we headed straight into a rainstorm and weren’t prepared for this. We had no raincoat and helmet had no visor therefore we had to stop and take shelter until the rain decreased.
We did this route with a scooter and have to say in some parts it was a bit scary but overall a nice adventure. We definitely do not suggest doing this trip if an inexperienced driver. Although a taxi will work out more expensive we suggest considering it. Also renting a car would be a safer option which will work out cheaper than a taxi.
Tip: We rented the bike from Patong Surin Car Rental which we can recommend as the bike was in good condition and we did not have any issues when returning it back.
Tip: In remote areas, internet connection can be unreliable so it’s best to download a map that can be used offline. We use Maps.me.
Camping at Samet Nangshe Viewpoint
Another option to enjoy the sunrise at Samet Nangshe without driving all the way from Phuket during the night is to rent a tent and camp right on the hill. At Samet Nangshe Viewpoint are a couple of restaurants providing tents and few basic huts for rent. These accommodation options are not available online and you need to arrive early especially if you prefer to sleep in a hut as the booking is on a first come first serve basis.
Other accommodation options at Samet Nangshe
Samet Nangshe Boutique is another accommodation option and is just a 15 minute walk from Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. This boutique style accommodation also has a spectacular view over the cluster of islands.
Rooms, huts or either tents are the choice of accommodation. Facilities of a restaurant and a bar are part of the property.
Phang Nga town can also be considered and is a 45 minute drive from Samet Nangshe Viewpoint. Phang Nga is a good option especially if going on a boat trip as it is located just a short drive from the pier where the long tail boats dock.
Ao Phang Nga National Park
Hundreds of islands dot the green water creating an amazing scene best viewed while cruising the bay on a long tail boat. Phang Nga Bay National Park is a geological wonder filled with islets, sunken caverns, and stunning rock formations jutting out of the sea. The most famous island is Koh Tapu (or James Bond Island) which has a distinctive small base and a larger top.
Phang Nga Bay Islands Tour
Our boat trip along Phang Nga bay started off by heading through mangrove forest and rock formations. From here amazing views can be seen of the islands further out along the bay. The boat went through some areas with denser mangroves and only a small path for the boat to sail through.
The path then opened up to an area housing Tham Lod which is a cave with beautiful stalactites and big enough for boats and kayaks to pass through.
The tour included an optional kayaking trip through 3 caves inside the limestone islands and denser parts of the mangrove. A young friendly guy skillfully paddled the kayak inside the caves through very low openings with some even requiring to completely lie flat in the kayak. Once inside, the caves are well lid up since they do not have a ceiling. The sides of the caves consist of huge rocks with hanging trees and vegetation. One cave had a small sandy beach and a mangrove inside.
The highlight of the boat trip was James Bond island and although this is usually crowded the rock itself and its surroundings are stunning. The boat made a stop on an island that has a beach just opposite James Bond island and therefore make it a perfect spot for some nice pictures. The island opposite James Bond has a remarkable rock formation which was formed after a crack and an eventual slide of the rock into a leaning position.
Lunchtime was also interesting and was on a deserted beach. Other tours go to Koh Phangi which is a Muslim floating fishing village. (Koh Phangi was included in our tour on our way back to the pier.) Lunch was tasty chicken and egg Pad Thai and fresh fruit.
Inside a few of the limestone islets is another interesting site. Along the way and before heading back, the boat stopped at a few islands to explore the caverns inside. The caves which are very humid are home to bats, all shapes of stalactites and stalagmites and other interesting rock formations.
Our next stop was at Koh Phangi which at the time of our arrival was quiet and had no other foreign visitor. From the sheer size of the stilted restaurant, we thought that the island must have been quite busy for lunch. From our short visit, it seemed that this stilted fishing village is increasingly getting more tourist oriented and less of a fishing village.
The last attraction and which we passed by on the way back was an interesting pre-historic cave painting depicting animals and boats.
Phang Nga Bay Tour
The trip was organised by Sayan Tours which is owned by a lovely family who explained everything and was very informative and helpful. On this day it was 6 of us on the boat.
Phang Nga Map (including Samet Nangshe Viewpoint & Phang Nga Bay)
Related Thailand Travel Guides
>>Destinations worth considering after Phang Nga Bay
- Ao Nang & Krabi Town
>>Destinations worth considering if heading to the east coast
>>Other destinations in the east coast off the beaten path
- Tai Rom Yen National Park in Surat Thani
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