Crystal clear water, millions of colourful fish, impressive fire dancers, the lowest limbo, sleepless nights, hot days, pumping parties and to top it off, we got to walk in Leonardo DiCaprio’s footprints – kind of.
To get anywhere around the islands you have to board a ferry, from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi – it cost us 400 Baht ($16NZ) each, including a minivan to the port. The minivan only took about 30 minutes and the ferry was just under three hours. Every boat we’ve been on in the islands has had air-con, a counter where you can buy drinks and snacks and room to sit or walk around both in and outside, not to mention the views along the way are absolutely beautiful!
I can’t think of a better way to do slow travel. The cruise to Koh Phi Phi was one of my favourites, the water so clear and the islands we passed were like rough diamonds, lovely.
PARTY OR SLEEP?
On Koh Phi Phi you can either stay on the quiet side or the party side – we thought we’d live a little for our two nights there and chose the party side. Blanco Hostel was right on the beach, had a sweet bar, and the dorm rooms were really clean considering the staff had to sweep sand out at least four times a day!
The showers were sweet and the air-con an absolute dream (apart from one day when the whole island lost power for 12 hours). It cost us 400 Baht ($16NZ) a night here and we all agreed it was a well run place. I must warn you though, you will not be able to sleep before 3am – this place is amongst all the late night action, it even hosts a pretty sweet fire limbo party, if you’re not up for a loud night you should definitely not stay here.
Lucky for us our dorm was full of like-minded travellers who were all incredibly nice – they even looked after me when I got food poisoning! The kindness of strangers can be super overwhelming sometimes.
SNORKELLING, BUCKETS, MAYA BAY AND A POISONOUS TOM YUM:
Let’s start the party!
We arrived on the party island around 2pm, check-in, grabbed some lunch (that would come back to haunt me) and stumbled across a free pool party at Ibiza – a hostel right on the beach! This was a sweet spot for a cold beverage and a cool off.
After our swim we found a local man named En with a long tail boat, it’s always nice to find a local guide instead of a commercial tour. En took us over to Monkey Beach for 200 Baht ($8NZ) each and came back to fetch us two hours later.
We all took our snorkel gear and went for a quick swim before the sun went down. The reef wasn’t too exciting, but it was lovely to get in the water and check out the fish. There were a couple of beach swings to chill out on and a few cheeky monkeys hanging around, a sweet first afternoon in Phi Phi.
On our way back we booked En for the next day, we were hoping to do a full day island hoping to Maya Bay, several snorkelling spots, a big lagoon and bamboo cave. En was happy to take the four of us for 700 Baht ($29NZ) each.
The night started out fun with a few shared buckets – you can buy these all over the island with whatever alcohol and mixes you want, the best price we found was 150 Baht ($6NZ). While walking the streets with our buckets we did a little clothes shopping and bartering, just for fun. At one point Neil offered a stall tender 10 Baht ($0.40NZ) for a fake Bose speaker, he didn’t take this well, shaking his head and grumbling about tourists he walked away. Peach found this hilarious and we joked about it for the rest of the trip, “10 Baht?!” Oh dear.
Of course there was a lot of action down at the beach, fire shows performed by locals as young as 5-years-old!
Sisha chill out mats by the water, dance music so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think and limbo competitions that gave you a free shot for each one you could get under – April and I gave this a go for a while, but the locals were crazy good! One guy even carried a girl under with him, amazing.
Push on through and snorkel the day away – Nui Bay
We had an early start, so we made our way back to the hostel and were in bed by 12am, cue revenge of the tom yum. I mentioned we stopped for lunch earlier – it was at a little eatery in the middle of town and I grabbed a tom yum. I spent the next five hours non-stop violently throwing up everything I had eaten that day, Neil eventually gave me an ondansetron (the wonder drug) and my nausea stopped enough for me to get a few hours sleep, 4.30am to 6.30am. The gang all woke when their alarms went off and started getting ready, I was broken and could barely hold myself up. April said she had also thrown up that night, she too had the Tom Yum, but she was feeling fine now. I told them they shouldn’t let En down and just go.
Neil said they didn’t want to do the main tour without me and so asked En to take them somewhere else for a few hours. They went to a little place called Lana Beach, a quiet bay with a resort on the other side. In seek of something a little more scenic, they walked to the end of the beach to a fishing village.
The locals there spoke little English, but insisted they climb through their village to a beautiful beach on the other side: Nui Beach.
April said it was an amazing time to go as there was hardly anyone else there and the snorkelling was awesome.
They’d been given a banana from the only other group at the bay and were told to open it under water, this made the fish go crazy!
Maya Bay: “The Beach” and some amazing snorkelling
After spending the whole day in bed (apart from when I was running to the bathroom), without air-con or power (what a day for my body to chose to get sick!), I was ready to get back in the water.
The team had re-booked our trusty guide En for the third time and we headed out early in the morning to see the famous Maya Bay – where the movie The Beach was filmed.
Now, I don’t know if you know, but I’m a major Leo fan, swoon! I was very excited to go here and I loved it. The beach was beautiful and kept very clean, it is, however, swarming with tourists – but you wouldn’t expect anything less! We wandered into the island and swam in the beautiful clear water, just like Leo! I sound like a little school girl, sorry.
It cost 400 Baht ($16NZ) each to gain access to Maya Beach (environmental fee) but only if we wanted to go on shore.
You can opt to anchor the boat just off shore and swim in the bay without any extra cost.
After visiting The Beach, we went to three different snorkelling spots around Phi Phi as well as the Pileh Lagoon. The snorkelling was first class in each place – Phi Phi is known for having some of the best snorkelling spots in the world and it didn’t disappoint.
We took a banana each and I got to see what the others had told me about the day before – it was amazing, those little fish and super hungry! They nipped us all a little bit too, but it didn’t hurt much.
Pileh Lagoon was very pretty, deep clear water with golden sand below – amazing to see no rocks in the water when there are heaps just around the corner.
Just down from the lagoon sits Bamboo cave, this is a big cave in the side of the island where a local man lives alone and no one else is allowed to enter. He spends his days catching birds that sell for 1.5 million Baht per kg! What a crazy life!
After this we snorkelled for half an hour at the beautiful coral city before En took us to Bamboo Island – our final spot for the day.
The beach here went forever! It was a lovely spot to relax and take some fun photos – great end to the day.
THAT LOCAL EATERY:
Other than the eatery that poisoned me, I’m not sure which one it was, we found an awesome local place to get cheap good Thai food.
I couldn’t really eat anything other than steamed rice for about three days after my bout of sickness, but the others said the food at Pa-Noi Thai Food was amazing. The cook made everything fresh to order and the place itself was pretty funky. The walls were white, but had writing all over them from previous travellers – of course we made our mark, you should go and make yours!
Aside from the Tom Yum poisoning, Koh Phi Phi was awesome. It’s as beautiful as everyone says and as hectic too! We decided if we were to go back we’d probably stay on the quiet side of the island, just to have a wee get away when we were all partied out. The snorkelling is amazing and Maya Bay was a dream come true. Our next stop is Railay Beach, check back soon for more on that!