Anyone who has been to Thailand knows that this large country has an awful lot going for it. It has stunning national parks, mountains, some of the world’s best beaches, exotic animals, incredible food and some of the most welcoming and friendly people we’ve ever come across on our travels.
It also has a countless number of islands and a varied culture that is married up to different regions of Thailand. One of these places is the unique Panyee Village on Koh Panyee Island, located in Phang Nga Bay in southern Thailand.
Accessible only by boat we visited Panyee Village as part of an excursion with Siam Adventure World (“Bond and Beyond tour”) which took us to James Bond Island and some other areas around Phang Nga Bay.
Koh Panyee Island
Arriving from the boat you immediately know that this is going to be an interesting place. There is a mountainous backdrop, a large mosque and a lot of people milling around! It’s like a bustling market but strangely, over the sea!
The Phang Nga Bay floating village is a pretty unique place as it has been constructed on the side of Panyee Island, stretching out into the sea. Built on a combination of wooden and concrete piles the village isn’t quite floating but whilst there it certainly gives the impression that it could be; there are in fact many areas of the village which are!
According to Phuket.com there are 1,485 people from 315 families who permanently live here, descended from two seafaring Muslim families from Java.
As you arrive at Panyee Village, there is a small mooring area where the boat can pull up to allowing you to disembark.
From this jetty you get a really good view of exactly how the village is constructed in the shallow waters over the sea.
The first thing that meets you as you arrive in Panyee Village are the traditional boats which are used for racing. These are beautifully painted and impressively, carved out of single pieces of wood.
Walking through Panyee Village you can barter with the locals over the price of their goods or just wander through the village amongst the stalls absorbing their way of life. There’s a lot to see here too as there are hand crafted goods, hot food, textiles and other trinkets.
There’s also a lot of cats milling about including some pedigree ragdolls so keep your eyes peeled!
Koh Panyee School
One of the more interesting aspects of Panyee Village is the school.
Koh Panyee FC
Located on the edge of the village Koh Panyee has a football pitch which as you would expect, is incredibly popular with the kids!
Beyond that however is the floating football pitch! Yes you heard that right, it is quite literally floating! We didn’t see the kids playing on the pitch but we were told that when the games on the pitch are in action the goal celebrations off the edge into the sea are quite the spectacle!
The football team in the village has a really interesting history that goes back to 1986. The villagers could only watch football on television and so one day they decided to build their own floating pitch from anything they could find, mostly wood and plastic. This allowed them to properly train and become very skilled with their footwork due to the small pitch and small goals. Incredibly, the team are now known to be one of the best football teams in southern Thailand!
The village is Muslim and so as you would expect there is a Mosque in the village which is beautifully gilded in gold. You should also note that if you are heading to the village to be respectful of their religion and culture by covering up and not wearing anything that may cause offence.
Panyee Village was like no place I’d ever stepped foot on. Built over water off the edge of Panyee Island is quite strange but it’s also what makes the village so special. Like the rest of Thailand the people here were so warm and friendly and although a fishing village there is a clear reliance on tourism here although it certainly wasn’t a driving factor in their welcoming behaviour.
We loved our trip to Panyee Island and would urge anyone else heading out this way to support the village and experience it too.
Are you heading out to Phang Nga or Phuket this year? We’d love to hear your plans, let us know in the comments!