The sheer-sided sea mountains that rise vertically out of Phang Nga Bay form some of Thailand’s most spectacular scenery. Images of Phang Nga have travelled the world and shaped perceptions of southern Thailand, and the boating experiences to be had here.
As a result the cruising yachtsman may encounter many tour boats and sea canoes during the middle of the day, but tranquillity returns by late afternoon. While the bay itself is not so large, the number of islands, inlets and mangrove channels ensure that no matter how long a yachtsman spends here, new experiences will always be nearby.
We list only 21 of the many anchorages in this area. Much of the joy of sailing in Phang Nga, after all, lies in discovering the uncounted creeks, caves and coves for yourself.
Most islands are uninhabited, offering secluded anchorages under soaring cliffs fringed with jungle, as well as fascinating dinghy expeditions to hidden beaches, caves and creeks not shown on charts or maps. Three rivers run into the head of the bay so the water is silty, though otherwise clean, forming a milky green backdrop to the striking scenery.
Since a large part of the area north of Koh Yao is shallow (less than 10 metres), it is possible to anchor virtually anywhere in north Phang Nga Bay. This chapter, then, focuses only on the more suitable overnight anchorages – those which provide shelter from the squalls and storms which can hit unexpectedly, particularly in the southwest monsoon season.
Some of the area covered by this section is National Park and rangers patrol around the islands. The entry fee is 200 Baht per boat and 200 Baht per day per person on board, which is collected on the spot.
Koh Chong Lat & Koh Khlui Channel
Access to the channel
The deep entrance to the north of Koh Chong Lat is easily navigable, as is the middle entrance just north of Koh Khlui. The middle entrance should be approached on an easterly heading, turning southeast between the islands.
Inside the main channel between Koh Chong Lat and the mainland, immediately north of the middle passage, is a dangerous area of shallow water with drying rocks. This should be left well to port if heading north.
If entering the main channel from the south, it’s better to stay close to Koh Khlui which will afford a minimum depth of 3 metres.
When entering from the north it is better to pass through the narrow channel between Koh Ngam and Koh Chong Lat which is deep rather than passing north of Koh Ngam where there is a very large drying bank.
This is a quiet location with beautiful views of the sheer cliffs of Koh Chong Lat to the west. The anchorage is on a direct line between the two islets shown on the chart, in 8-10 metres, near a lovely mangrove-covered flat, which is awash at high tide.
This spot is good for all wind conditions, though mid tide currents of up to 3 knots mean that care should be taken if swimming from the boat.
Local lore has it that there are no longer any crocodiles in the area, although there are families of sea otters which can be spotted at dusk.
This has been used as an overnight anchorage for the Phang Nga Bay Regatta which is held every year during Chinese New Year and attracts over 50 yachts.
To the east on the mainland at Leam Sak village is an excellent seafood restaurant which can be accessed directly by dinghy at high tide or via a concrete jetty on the other side of the headland at the head of a mangrove creek.
Anchorage can be found in the passage in 4-5 metres, making for a good overnight stop in either season. To the north and south large and scenic bays with shallow waters are easily reached by dinghy. The bay to the south is an ideal anchorage for bilge keelers or vessels drawing less than 1 metre.
Koh Khlui East is very sheltered, with good holding in the southwest monsoon season. The best anchorage is just south of the small inlet in about five metres. This is also the best place from which to explore the bay and rocky outcrops to the north by dinghy.
Extracted from The Southeast Asia Pilot (3rd Edition) cruising/sailing guide by Bill O'Leary & Andy Dowden − www.southeastasiapilot.com