Phang Nga People
The recorded population of Phang Nga is just over a quarter of a million people. It is a large province and that works out at a mere 61 people per square kilometre. The majority of the population is Buddhist but around 90,000 people, or 36% of the population, are Muslim. There are some strongly Muslim areas such as the Koh Yao islands and the fishing village at Koh Panyee. There are also a few small sea gypsy communities such as that at the Surin Islands.
There are a few small towns in Phang Nga but none of the urban areas are very large. Even the provincial capital Phang Nga Town only has a population of 12,000 people. The other significant towns are Takua Pa, Thai Mueang, Khlok Kloi, Thap Put, Ka Pong and Kura Buri. They are all smallish towns.
The majority of the province's population live in villages and rural areas. The main occupations are rubber plantations, coconut groves, salt mining, farming, animal husbandry and fisheries. More recently a significant number of people have become employed in the tourism industry.
Phang Nga has not attracted the same sort of large transient population that has arrived in Phuket. Phuket's success has attracted workers from all over Thailand looking for the opportunity to make a good living. Phang Nga's quieter approach has not attracted so much attention and therefore the majority of the people working in the tourist industry are actually local people. This does tend to mean that they have a genuine interest in the success of the local tourist industry. Phang Nga has mostly avoided the more cynical excesses that have plagued the service industries in Phuket.
Phuket also has a large Burmese population working in Phuket's booming construction industry. There are just not enough Thai workers willing to fill the demand for hard working manual labourers and so thousands of workers are imported, legally and illegally, from Burma. Phang Nga does not have a booming construction industry and so the need for Burmese labourers is much lower.
Thai people are renowned for their friendliness and hospitality and the people of Phang Nga certainly strive to live up to that reputation. The warm welcome is genuine and they really do want you to enjoy their country. Thailand is known as the 'Land of Smiles' and for good reason. They smile easily and if you do the same, it will get you a long way with them. The Thai word sanook (fun) is an integral part of Thai culture and whatever they are doing they like it to be 'sanook'.