… a travel photography blog: adventure, beaches, culture, festivals, food, traditions …

Phang Nga Bay: Koh Panyee – A Thai Fishing Village On Stilts

Against a dramatic backdrop of sheer limestone cliffs rising out of Phang Nga Bay off the northeast coast of Phuket in southern Thailand, a web of narrow boardwalks and rickety jetties link Koh Panyee (or Ko Panyi) into a compact fishing village on stilts. 

Simple buildings with contrasting colorful roofs and wooden plank walls painted or left the rustic shades of nature, cozily nudge each other, perched above the shallow water on timber stilts sunk in the seabed.

Houses, shops, cafés and eateries cram together along a maze of wobbly walkways. Open-fronted seafood restaurants line the waterside and corrugated iron shacks reflect a mosaic of muted tin tones on the briny surface. Market stalls display sarongs, shell trinkets and other souvenirs as well as fruit, vegetables, dried fish and other wares for daily living. 

Koh Panyee School with playground and football pitch sits right on the water’s edge and a mosque with golden domes, still under construction, is sprouting up on the small area of dry land under the limestone cliff.

Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Koh Panyee

Stilted houses on Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Stilted houses on Koh Panyee

Mosque and floating houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Mosque and floating houses on Koh Panyee

Colorful roofs of stilted houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Colorful roofs of stilted houses

Floating seafood restaurants with a sea view, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Floating seafood restaurants with a sea view

Approaching Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi) in a long-tail boat, Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Approaching Koh Panyee in our long-tail boat

Colorful floating houses, boats and fish traps, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Colorful floating houses, boats and fish traps

Close-up of long-tail boat engine, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Close-up of long-tail boat engine moored at Koh Panyee

I’ve read that three nomadic fisherman families left Indonesia in search of a new home around 200 years ago, agreeing to plant a flag on the highest landmark to signal they’d discovered a place to settle. When they found bountiful fishing off a tiny limestone island, they raised a flag on the cliff top.

So, it became known as Koh Panyee meaning Flag Island and inhabitants of this Muslim fishing village today are descendants of these families. Traditionally surviving off the fishing trade, tourism has more recently become a major part of the economy.

On a recent long-tail boat trip around Phang Nga Bay including a quick stop at James Bond Island, we also visited Koh Panyee. This was my second visit after about 15 years.

We arrived early to miss the boatloads of tourists having lunch at the waterside seafood restaurants and explored village life beyond before having an early lunch ourselves there.

View from Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

View from Koh Panyee walkway

Local woman mending fishing nets, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Local woman mending fishing nets outside her home

Golden domes of new mosque, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Golden domes of new mosque

Typical local restaurant behind tourist seafood restaurants, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Typical local restaurant behind tourist seafood restaurants

Woman threading strings of locally farmed pearls to sell, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Woman threading strings of locally farmed pearls to sell on souvenir stalls

Typical local restaurant, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Another typical local restaurant

Stall selling dried fish and chilies, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Stall selling varieties of dried fish mixed with chilies

Close-up of dried fish and chilies, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Close-up of dried fish mixed with chilies

Food stall, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Food stall

Houses on stilts, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Houses on stilts

Houses on stilts, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Houses on stilts

Potted flowering orchids and bougainvillea adorn floating houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Potted flowering orchids and bougainvillea adorn floating houses

Poster of mosque construction, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Poster of mosque construction

Washing line behind mosque construction site, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Washing line behind mosque construction site

Fish drying in the sun, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Fish drying in the sun

Mosque under construction & satellite dishes, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Mosque under construction & satellite dishes

Poster of mosque in outside kitchen area, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Poster of mosque in outside kitchen area

Boat engine & fishing paraphernalia, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Boat engine & fishing paraphernalia by the water

Between floating houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Between floating houses

Washing line, bird cage & life between floating houses, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Washing line, bird cage & life between floating houses

Colorful floating tin shack, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Colorful tin mosaic of floating shack on stilts

Fishing long-tail boat moored off floating raft with fish traps, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Fishing long-tail boat moored off floating raft used for storing fish traps & fish in nets in the water

Long-tail boats, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Long-tail boats moored outside restaurants

Long-tail boat, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Lone long-tail boat moored at end of jetty while boatman waits in the shade of an umbrella

Long-tail boats & limestone karsts, Koh Panyee (Ko Panyi), Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Moored long-tail boats against a backdrop of limestone karsts

Take a look at Jamie’s Phuket blog post about Koh Panyee for another perspective. At the end is a video worth checking out. In Jamie’s words “Finally – a video (actually an ad for a bank) which features Koh Panyee. The story of the kids on Koh Panyee starting their own football team, despite the lack of a pitch to play on! Nice story – great scenery!”

Also, for photos of a community built on stilts over the sea in Malaysia, check out my post Penang Snapshots: George Town’s Clan Jetties and for another island in the area Phang Nga Bay: Ko Yao Noi.

Advertisements

3 responses

  1. These are some fantastic photos Lucy. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live I. Such an unusual village a d on stilts. I wonder what their life is like there. Beautiful pics as always.

    January 29, 2014 at 5:47 am

    • Thank you, Nicole! I can’t imagine it’s much fun during the rainy season. Always wet. It’s a fascinating place to walk around though and a stunning location.

      January 29, 2014 at 9:31 am

  2. Pingback: Phang Nga Bay: Koh Panyee – School Views | loca4motion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s