I have been to -and enjoyed- Phang Nga Bay before.

It is one of the – if not the – most beautiful places in Thailand and when it comes to “natural wonders”, it sure is the “jewel in the crown”.

The scenery is breathtaking, majestic and archaic and I have seen it from speedboats and cars.

Nothing though, could have prepared me for this trip, on board the altered junk “Suwan Macha”.

It is true: we have banned silence from our lives.

Everywhere we go -if by plane, bus, car, train or ship- we have to announce from miles away, that we are coming and that we have arrived.

It is odd, but the moment you set foot on the “Suwan Macha”, you are aware, that things will be different this time.

For ones, you are leaving behind the luxury of an up-category- hotel and trade it in for a small and rather simple cabin.

But once you are on the upper-deck, lounging on comfortable benches or seats and the Captain steers the boat out of the harbor and into the bay, all this becomes secondary.

The slow movement of the ship has something hypnotic to it and you have to be really stressed out, not to feel your troubles somehow slide off you and slip away.

The blue sky, the white clouds and the turquoise, emerald or dark- blue waters will be your companions for the next days.

…and the silence!

Once the engine is turned off, you feel like in the movies.

There is only the sound of the wind, the water, the sails and some sea- birds.

Who ever said, that “calm and silence are the luxury of a noisy and hectic world”’ is to be proven right by the hours you spend on board this slow moving vessel.

And then there is the “star” of the trip:

Phang Nga Bay, a 400 square-kilometer wide, natural wonder of awe- inspiring beauty.

Hundreds and hundreds of bizarre limestone islands, rock- formations and islets are scattered all around and make you feel, like you are traveling back in time, to an era, when prehistoric lizards ruled the earth.

What makes Phang Nga Bay so absolutely stunning is the following: you sail towards one island and a picture forms in your head.

You come closer and the island starts to shift shape, with every meter you close in.

Once you’ve reached it, it looks completely different, from what you first thought, it would be like. While you are passing it, you create a new picture in your head, that shifts and changes again, with ever meter you move.

Once you pass the island, a completely new scenery opens up.

It is like watching a movie in slow- motion…only indefinitely more beautiful.

All this happens, while you are in the middle of it and are doing…nothing!

The attentive crew and the Captain do everything possible to make your trip into an adventure with utmost comfort and far from any worries.

The Captain will select the route and the islands and beaches to visit, according to the best possibilities, considering the wind, the currents and the tides, to offer you the most, the best and often the spectacular, where “spectacular” is often times in the small things, like a stunning sunset (or sunrise), a sheltered bay for the night, an excellent place for swimming or snorkeling and near endless photo-opportunities, from small islands to amazing and hidden beaches, from colorful fish to mysterious bats or majestic eagles.

The wonder of the “Suwan Macha” is, that you will see all the (more or less) interesting tourist places (James Bond Island, the village of the Sea Gypsies, “The Beach” at Maya Bay or Phi Phi Island) …but where it ends, for the “normal tourist”, is where it starts for the lucky ones on board the junk.

The emphasis that is put on detail is truly amazing and goes from the picking of the best swim- or snorkel places to the meals.

The cook on board is a good one and the there is a good variety, from tasty Thai- food to Barbecue, from Chinese spring- rolls to Spaghetti with seafood (if you have a problem with certain kinds of food, just let the company know in advance- they can arrange almost anything!)

…and when the sun has set and night falls, you will be sleeping in a quiet bay, the sea gently rocks you to sleep and you may think about all the wonders and sights, you will be experiencing tomorrow.

Some helpful advice:

  • if you are traveling with a large suitcase, have a small rucksack ready. Pack it with all the stuff you may need on board and leave the rest in the suitcase. You really do not need much for a relaxing life on the boat: swim-stuff, some light clothes to change, stuff for personal hygiene, a book, a camera…that is basically it!
  • don’t forget sunscreen and a hat or cap- even if there are clouds sometimes, the tropical sun is relentless.
  • the trip is surely marvelous during high- season, with an almost 100% guarantee of good weather. But due to the fact, that the bay is very sheltered and the small beaches are mostly safe from wind and waves, it can also be considered for the low- season. The advantages are clear: less day- trip motorboats, less people at the beaches, even more quiet and tranquility.
  • if the tour is your last major activity and you have only one day left on Phuket, try to book a hotel at Nai Yang Beach. It is the shortest transfer from the boat and to the airport at the next day…= more time, to enjoy another nice evening in Thailand.