October 08, 2019.
Tags: Travel, Leisure, Islands, Phuket
Koh Panyee, located in the northern corner of Phang Nga Bay near Phuket, is an entirely unique community. This small island features a soaring cliff. At the base of the cliff, reside just under 1,500 Muslim residents who have called the island home for all of their lives.
The entire village is set out over the sea and rests on hundreds of concrete and wooden pilings, thus giving the village its nickname.
You might think that a group of people that live in such isolated circumstances would be wary of strangers intruding into their world. But, the residents of Koh Panyee are open, friendly and welcoming. About half of the villagers make their livelihood from tourism. The other half pursue the traditional trade of fishing to make ends meet.
The island was first settled by three Indonesian migrant fishing families, led by a visionary named Toh Baboo. Almost all of the island’s current residents are descendants of these three pioneering families. Toh Baboo climbed to the top of the island's cliff and set a flag on the pinnacle to mark their new home. 'Pulau Panyi' means 'Flag Island' in Indonesian. The island soon became known as Koh Panyee to the local Thais.
The families saw the island as a peaceful, sheltered place to raise their families. There was ample fish in the surrounding waters, and the residents of Phang Nga Bay become tolerant of their occupation of the island.
They soon began constructing the village out over the water to give themselves easy access to their fishing boats. In time, they constructed a mosque, built a school and health centre. They also established shops that catered to all their needs and were supplied by boats from the mainland.
Presently, the island still depends on the mainland for goods, electricity, water, and, of course, internet access.
The island became somewhat famous when a group of Koh Panyee’s children constructed a floating football pitch in the harbour. They soon became expert ball handlers by playing barefoot on the somewhat rickety football pitch. The pitch didn’t have any nets on the perimeter. Balls and players would often end up in the water.
The playing conditions enhanced their talent at football. When they heard about the Phang Nga Cup Football Competition, they were eager to field a team from Koh Panyee.
The villagers all supported the boys. They bought them boots and uniforms, and Panyee FC was born. When they entered the competition, their talents and skills became evident to the other teams, the organisers and the local press as well.
They made it to the semi-finals of the competition and put their little island on the map.
They were holding their own in their semi-final match until the skies opened up and a torrential downpour started. Not being accustomed to playing in the fancy boots the villagers had bought for the team, they found the rain further hampered their movement. So they took off the boots and continued to play in their bare feet, as they had back on the island.
They battled back to tie the score but lost the game due to a last-second goal by their opponents. Nevertheless, the villagers welcomed them back to the island with cheers and celebrations as if they had won.
Football has since become the main sport on the island. The village built a new and modern, floating pitch in the harbour. The new pitch maintains the tradition of not having any nets around the perimeter.
A visit to Koh Panyee is a journey to a unique, colourful and welcoming lifestyle. The villagers are proud of the way they live and are eager to talk about it and show tourists around the village.
One of the highlights of the trip is a seafood lunch at one of the village's restaurants. You'll sample some of the freshest fish you've ever eaten prepared 'Thai-style'. After lunch, browse through the numerous shops to find a souvenir or handicraft item that will remind you of your visit to this extraordinary island.
You should keep in mind that the residents of the village are almost all practising Muslims. Women should not wear shorts, skirts or sleeveless tops when walking around the village. Alcohol is also strictly prohibited.
Rentals for the Holidays has modern and spacious accommodations for rent all over the nearby island of Phuket, which is just a short boat ride away from Koh Panyee.
We have both single units and multiple-bedroom units that will house the entire family. If You’re thinking about spending your next holiday on the tropical island of Phuket, get in touch with Rentals for the Holidays.