Koh Phi Phi – Thailand
One more time we got airplane tickets at a crazy prices on AirAsia (no, we are not paid by them!) meaning 320 baht for a round-trip ticket, Udon-Thani Phuket. It was a sale last year, and the price was including taxes and all fees. So, we decided to go 4 days in Koh Phi Phi. At that price… (160 baht for one way, cheaper than bus!)
I went there the first time there October 2005. It was 10 months after the tsunami and many buildings were still damaged. Still, I was able to see how beautiful it was and I really wanted to go back.
Picture of some damages from the tsunami that I took in 2005. Only few houses were remaining like this.
A friend of mine, Gordon HHH from Wang Nam Khieo, visited Koh Phi Phi around 1970. He told me that it was one of the only places in Thailand where you could dive. And there was almost nothing there… but not anymore!
Since the movie “the beach” with Leonardo Di Carpio, shot in 2000, Koh Phi Phi is now a very popular touristic destination. Everybody wants to see “Maya Beach” where the movie was shot.
Ton Sai beach, near the pier.
Tourists come in Koh Phi Phi for a day or more, directly from Phuket or Krabi. There are plenty of accommodations, bars, and activities to occupy you for few days on the island. It will take you between 1 to 2 hours to reach Koh Phi Phi, depending if you go in speed boat (that could be expensive) or the normal boat transportation. The normal boat (which is quite fast anyway) cost from 250 to 400 baht for one way per person. You can book the boat from any travel agency in Phuket (there is one every corner) or directly from your hotel.
Boat from Phuket, that was 400 baht. At the arrival in Koh Phi Phi, you will pay 20 baht tax for cleaning the island.
Maya Bay is where “The Beach was shot”. It’s a small beach, very beautiful. But do not expect too much… why?
a) Any small beach that is crowded is not very “authentic” and it might lost its charm.
b) The water there is not really good for swimming. There are rocks on the grounds in the sea. It’s sometimes painful to walk or swim around there. It also goes deeper very slowly. So, you have to go quite far to have 1 or 1.5 meter of water.
This is the full Maya Bay (beach side) in July 2011.
See the picture above, we were very lucky and there were only about 20 people on Maya Bay when we went…. GREAT!
Koh Phi Phi is a paradise for snorkeling. The only place that I have been that was better is “Isla Mujeres”, in Mexico, but that was 30 years ago.
My wife in the water…
There are 3 ways you can do snorkeling:
a) You take a tour. That will cost you from 250 to 500 baht. Half of full day. You might be around 8 to 10 on a boat, sometimes more. They will give you mask and snorkel. That is nice if you want to save money, if you don’t have a lot of time (because they will show you the best places quickly) or if you want to meet other people. I did it in 2005 and this time, it’s OK.
b) You can rent a boat. That should cost around 1,500 baht for 3 hours. The driver will also show you the best places. You can leave a spot whenever you want, don’t need to wait for others. They also have mask and snorkel included in the price. Some boat driver can speak English quite well. Negotiate the price and bring rice, or fruits (pineapple, watermelon) to attract more fish around you.
Price written for taxi-boat. These are normally negotiable.
c) You can swim around the island, without going in boat. But you won’t see the best places. So, the two previous options are much better.
We went in July 2011 and the temperature was not really good. A lot of wind, and it rained at night 2 or 3 evenings on 4. So, the water wasn’t as clear as usual. Still, at the last place we went, which was close to the main pier, the snorkeling was excellent (sorry, no picture from that place)
The pictures in the water were taken with a cheap camera, in bad conditions!
Scuba Diving is great in Phi Phi and you should pay around 2,500 baht for 2 dives. If you need some refreshing course, they will leave earlier and you might pay around 3,000 baht. There are different sites, and you can see sharks in one of them. There are tons of shops and boats on the island. Prices are similar from a place to another.
Fire show at Moken Bar. The best fire show I have seen in Thailand. Including 2 ladies from Sweden… not kidding.
Restaurants and Nightlife
I was amazed to see so many different restaurants and cheap prices. It seems that they are in competition so you will find big pizzas at 130 baht, paella at 200 baht, fresh seafood and everything you want. Often, just to compare, foreign food prices are cheaper than Korat or Isaan.
This place is called Cosmic: highly recommended. Good, cheap, free wifi. 2 branches I think. Paella at 200 baht, Pizza at 130, Fajitas 150, etc.
If you are looking for a snack like this one, be ready to pay 2200 baht per kilo! Thermidor style on the picture.
The bars are really nice in Phi Phi, especially in Loh Dalam Bay. We met an Australia who manages the “Moken” bar there. The “fire-show” was simply astonishing and the cocktails were going down very well. You can go early at 7,8, 9pm but people really start to fill the bars at 10pm and later. Cocktails will be 100 or 120 baht for happy hours. Often 150 baht after that.
Bars on the beach. To my opinion, more beautiful than Koh Chang, Koh Samui, Phuket or Samui.
A popular bar on the beach is called STONE BAR. If you are Thai, you might pay cocktails 100. If you are a foreigner, probably 150!
Buckets that you can buy. You mix everything with ice. Very popular for backpackers and young people.
There are plenty of different types of accommodation, from simple room, to bungalows, to more luxurious rooms. Expect to pay similar prices as Phuket. We were able to get cheaper prices by Agoda (see on the right side of this screen) than on the island!
There are plenty of tours, visiting caves, going to some fisherman village, Koh Lanta, Krabi, etc. If you think Koh Phi Phi is too touristic for you, try Koh Lanta.