With only two weeks before we were to begin teaching RG and I decided to jump on a ferry and go island hopping. There are so many islands in South Thailand we had to choose just a couple and went with Ko Phi Phi and Koh Lanta…these were the easiest to get to from where we were.
We headed to Ko Phi Phi on a Friday afternoon, with just our backpacks in tow, and had no idea what to expect. It absolutely blew our mind, it is quite the party scene. The island is bustling with backpackers, divers and bicycles. Phi Phi is so small there are no streets, just pathways, lined with shops, scuba diving companies, and tons of “fresh” pizza. The night life is like Panama City Beach during spring break about ten years ago…buckets of liquor are sloshing around, people are covering their bodies in glow in the dark paint, there are fire shows on the beach, and the music is going until six in the morning. Besides the party scene there is a beautiful beach, Long Beach, away from the bars and tourists where it is a perfect spot to lay out, relax and recoup from the night before.
We ended up staying here for five nights total, three nights at the beginning of our trip and two on our way back from Koh Lanta. I will admit by the last night I was ready to head back to Phuket, I just couldn’t hang anymore. For the record (and our mom’s) we did not actually party until six in the morning…we were the old folks in bed by 2am 🙂
While it is a party island there is so much more to the island. It is only a 20 minute longtail boat ride to Maya Beach, where The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed. Maya Beach is absolutely beautiful. It is just like in the movie…the water is clear, the sand is soft and white, off the beach is a jungle-like serenity, and it is secluded from the drunk backpackers. We took a half day longtail excursion which included Maya Beach and only had an hour to spend here. Next time we visit Phi Phi we will definitely try to spend more time here.
Speaking of our longtail boat excursion…this was quite a deal. For 400 Thai Baht a person (equivalent of about $14) we were fed lunch, visited Monkey Beach, spent an hour at Maya Beach, snorkeled over a live coral reef, and saw the outside of Viking Cave. Monkey Beach is exactly what it sounds like…a beach filled with monkeys. It was crazy to see, but I would warn to stay a few feet back from the monkeys, they are pretty aggressive. They are used to tourists flooding their beach and have no fear of people. Four of them attacked one of the girls on our boat. One took her sunglasses while the other three climbed on her legs and scratched her. Others came up to anyone who had a drink or food in their hand, grabbed it and ate or drank it. I had read the night before that the number one thing the local hospital treats patients for is Monkey Rabies vaccinations. Not for me!
The snorkeling was incredible. There is live coral and fluorescent fish everywhere. It definitely made me want to get my scuba diving license, I had never seen anything like it.
Overall Ko Phi Phi was a great start and end to our island hopping week, we will definitely visit there again before we leave Thailand. We stayed at three different hotels while here and highly recommend P.P. Palm Tree Resort. It is on the expensive side, through Agoda it comes to about $100 USD a night, but the rooms are large, the staff is super friendly, the pool is refreshing and the breakfast buffet has an omelet station. The location is in the middle of everything, with just a short walk to the pier and to the nightlife. The walls are thick, you cannot hear music from the bars at night, and they have light blocking curtains so you can sleep in. This is where we initially stayed and then moved to save some money, but ended up back here on our second time through. If you can afford it and want to stay in the center of town, it is definitely worth it. There are nicer resorts on Long Beach, but it is a hike into town or a 100 THB boat ride each way. For us this was more convenient.
If you are traveling to Phi Phi on a budget but not looking to stay in a hostel JJ Residence is a good option. We stayed here one night, it is actually right around the corner from Palm Tree, and were pleasantly surprised. At $48 USD a night it is a steal, the rooms are large and the airconditioner works great, but it is budget…they do not offer pool towels, there are no breakfast options and the walls are thin so you can hear the music from the beach at night. To be honest we would have stayed here on our way back through but my flip-flops were stolen from the lobby and I was upset about the way it was handled. Over all depending on your price point both of these hotels are worth a look. I hope this information was helpful!
Here are a few more pics from our time in Phi Phi…