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James Bond Island

James Bond IslandJames Bond Island, known originally and locally as Ko Tapu or Nail Island, found fame through the 1974 Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”. The film starred Roger Moore and Christopher Lee (as the three nippled arch-villain Scaramanga) but it was the scenic topography that helped make the film into a firm Bond favourite. It also turned the previously unknown Phang Nga Bay into a major tourist attraction.

Ko Tapu is a steep rocky monolith, about 20 meters tall. This rock column lies approximately 200 meters offshore of the two-islet pair known as Ko Khao Phingkan (Thai: เกาะเขาพิงกัน, lit. “hills resting on each other island”). The islands are located within the Ao Phang Nga National Park.

Departing from Phuket island, day-tours using longtail boats usually land at nearby Ko Khao Phingkan, where market booths are set up.

Ko Tapu has become a popular tourist attraction since it was featured in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974; for this reason, it is also often referred to as James Bond Island (the later 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies also includes a scene in Phang Nga Bay, close to James Bond Island).

The island as a tourist attraction

Everyday tour buses packed with thousands of tourists leave Phuket for the daylong sightseeing trip driving two hours to Phang Nga Bay, often stopping at the popular Monkey Caves (Wat Suwankuha) to see the large reclining golden Buddha inside the caves and the large flocks of monkeys outside.

The island as a tourist attractionJames Bond IslandKo Tapu

Ko Khao PhingkanAfter this the bus takes them to Phang Nga Bay where they travel by long tail boat for lunch at Koh Pannyi, a floating Muslim fishing village that is referred to by some locals as “Bin Laden Village”. After exploring the floating fishing village everybody gets back onto the long tail boat and heads for the prime attraction, James Bond Island.

A 15-minute boat ride later and the island comes into view.

The island that you disembark onto is crowded with stalls selling seashells and trinkets but unfortunately nobody has taken the initiative to create or sell anything of interest to Bond fans. No replica golden guns, no postcards of the film, not even a DVD of the film. The people on the stalls are pushy but easy to avoid, just don’t go near them.

Beer is pretty expensive on the island at double the market price but it is not available at the Muslim fishing village so this is the place to get it if you fancy a can. Confusing signs are placed around the island that try to explain how the rock was formed but these are written in “Tinglish” so make very little sense. The tour guides normally give you 30 minutes on the island; just long enough take some pictures, have a drink and go to the toilet.

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