The most popular tour on Phuket Island in Thailand, bar none, is the James Bond Island Tour. The tour is named ‘James Bond Island Tour’ because, as part of the tour, you visit Koh Tapu, the teeny tiny island that was made famous in the James Bond movie, ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’.
If you are planning on being in Phuket and thinking about taking the James Bond Island Tour, should you, is it worth it and what will you see?
What You’ll See on the James Bond Island Tour – Actually, Koh Tapu, or James Bond Island is only a small part of the tour.
Starting out in the morning or afternoon, depending on what time of day you take the half day tour, you’ll be picked up at your hotel in a coach (luxury bus) and set off on your tour. The first stop is after an hour and a half drive around Phuket at Suwankuha Temple, which is the site of the ‘Monkey Caves’.
Here, you will be given half an hour to walk around the grounds of the temple, buy bananas to feed the hundreds of wild monkeys running around, and to see the Buddha statues inside the spectacular Monkey Caves.
Some people don’t enjoy the Monkey Caves, but I loved it. The monkeys come up very close to you and, as long as you don’t fool around trying to trick them with food, they’ll quickly grab a held-out banana from your hand and run off. Be careful you’re not wearing a skirt with a loose elastic waist though.
The last time I went, my parents’ friend was wearing a long skirt with an elastic waistband, which was grabbed by a monkey and, before she knew it, she was left standing in nothing but her underwear with her skirt around her ankles. Very funny for us, but a bit embarrassing for her (she did laugh though!).
After Monkey Caves, you’ll take another 15 minute drive until you arrive at a boat dock where you’re given life jackets and then climb into a longtailed boat. Off the boat speeds into the ocean to James Bond Island with, along the way, the most spectacular views of enormous limestone rocks sticking up in the water and the mountains behind.
At James Bond Island, you’ll get out of the boat for 30 minutes to take photos and buy souvenirs. To me, James Bond Island is the worst part of the tour as it’s just a tiny strip of land packed full of stalls selling the tackiest souvenirs and manned by incredibly pushy sellers. Still, it’s a fun place to take photos of the famous rock formation (see photo above) and you move on quickly, back in the boat and onto the next stop.
The next, and last, stop is the Sea Gypsy Village (Panyee Island) – a floating wooden village out in the middle of the water, it has shops, markets, house and restaurants as well as a village school and a mosque – incredible that it’s all built on wooden platforms tied together in the middle of the ocean. You can eat lunch or a snack here and take some wonderful photos.
From the Sea Gypsy Village, you will be taken by boat back to the coach, and then dropped off back at your hotel.
Cost of James Bond Island Tour – The price of the James Bond Tour, like many things in Thailand, has gone through the roof. When I used to take it, it ran around 700 baht (about $32). Nowadays, it’s more than doubled to 1,500 baht ($64), which is a much higher cost, particularly if you are a family of three or four.
For me, as I’ve been many times, it is now too expensive a tour. For anyone else who hasn’t visited that area of Thailand before, and wants something to do for the day, I would still say “Do it”. It is an incredibly fun trip and you see a lot.
Where Can You Book the James Bond Island Tour? – Every travel agent and tour shop in Phuket sells the James Bond Island Tour. They are all the same price and all offer just about the same thing, so no point shopping around just book it at the first travel agent you see.
For an interesting photo opportunity of a famous movie scene and for the beautiful scenery alone, the James Bond Island Tour is well worth the money. Add onto it the Monkey Caves and the Sea Gypsy Village and it really is astounding value.
Don’t miss it.