We planned this trip with my sister and it was going to be her first time to Thailand. We were initially a little confused on which Island to pick, that because Thailand has hundreds of Islands with a tantalizing composition to choose from then how does one pick ‘The Island’? The cluster of tropical islands scattered along its extensive coastline contain emerald lagoons, secluded and white sand beaches, mountainous plains and jungle terrains that make Thailand’s gulf Islands truly something else. Well, having visited some of these beautiful islands, I think there is one you cannot go wrong with- Phi Phi Island.
There is something truly distinctive about this Island and I am thrilled to be able to share it with you through this travel blog. Phi Phi is the Island’s superstar after being featured in movies and when you get there it’s easy to understand what the hype is all about. A large piece of paradise is what it is and there’s more to this Island than just its pristine beaches. In this travel blog, I am going to try talk about the things that makes this Island a must addition to your travel list if you are beach bums like us. Look, should I want I could write pages on Phi Phi but to ensure this blog doesn’t get too long to make reading it unpleasant, I’m going to pick five things that makes this Island so attractive.
Getting to Koh Phi Phi
The three of us took a flight out to Bangkok and then another connecting us to Krabi. Many people take the route from Phuket too but we figured in an already long journey, Krabi tends to cut down on your travel time and for us, this is essential so that we spend lesser time getting to our destination and rather be at our destination longer (even if it’s a couple of extra hours on the day of arrival). Once our flight landed in Krabi and we’ve checked our baggage out, we got a taxi to take us to the ferry point. The ferry, a multi-level vehicle with a sun deck got us to Phi Phi in 90 minutes.
You will know at once you’ve arrived at the striking Island when you begin to see it come to view like a majestic castle. An island with cliffs towering overhead and beach-fronted jungles; a decadent paradise waiting for us to indulge in the azure seas and party the night away on crowded beaches. Of course the sight of long tail boats also confirms you’ve reached. Once we got there, we grabbed our bags from the mountains of bags (yes, don’t believe me till you see it for yourself). And we walked our way out and despite the tiredness we earlier felt, our energies seemed suddenly restored by the Island vibe.
Eat all things delicious at Koh Phi Phi
It took us several hours to get here and we were famished. A short walk with the hotel staff tugging our luggage on hand carts and we were at our hotel. On the way we passed through street vendors making it tough to ignore the scrumptious spread. The cuisine of Thailand by principle is usually a balance of five flavors; spicy, salty, sweet, sour and bitter. And Phi Phi is not too different from that aspect, the local food choice is pretty similar to what you may get most places in Thailand. My sister and I loved restaurant hoping all morning trying out the local beers and street food, while my husband was busy getting his PADI rescue diver certification. It was really nice to get some alone sister time!
I talk about food as my first priority because let’s be truthful, good food in the tummy and we’re set right? Honest confession, it can be troublesome picking someplace to dine at in Phi Phi and that’s because there are so very many and they’re all great. Good thing is you will never have to starve in this Island with many eateries to choose from. We love Thai cuisine so we pretty much got whatever we wanted and more gastronomic surprises. But if that’s not your pick then there’s Indian, Chinese, French, Italian, American and more in ample to meet most palate requirements.
Take a walk when at Koh Phi Phi
Phi Phi Island is bustling with tourists and divers and we were pleased to see that there are no cars around. So while this meant you walk to get around the Island, it also meant less chaos on the streets that is usually caused by too many vehicles, with its narrow lanes trust me this is a blessing. We had a great time walking about looking at the different shops, restaurants and travelers just like us here on holiday soaking in the sense of reverie that this Island offers. It’s infectious and walking meant we rarely missed anything, we had all the time in the world and a small Island to explore in our own pace.
One walk that’s worth a mention is of course getting to the popular Phi Phi viewpoint. It’s not a very challenging hike but with stairs to climb, your knees are going to feel a little jelly. Moderately rated this hike is definitely worth it because once you complete the short hike to the main (or last) viewpoint you will be treated to a spectacular view of the sand isthmus of Kho Phi Phi. We stopped at the summit and clicked many photographs while we gave our legs a little rest before the strenuous walk back now. We started early and were up and back down in less than 2 hours, before it got too hot with the afternoon sun.
Dive when in Koh Phi Phi
With its amazing marine life, Koh Phi Phi can best be called a great dive point to explore world class diving. Dive spots in the Phi Phi Islands cater to both the novice and the experienced divers. It has an abundance of local marine life that is very specific to what you will encounter in most Thailand diving so you won’t be disappointed. A small long tail took us into the deep blue to commence our dive. We went diving to Pileh Wall and Viking Cave amongst others and these were pretty good dive spots. We saw beautiful coral and the waters were teeming with exotic marine life. My sister’s first dive; she did her PADI Discover here and is in love with it now (she cannot wait to try it again).
There are many dive shops in Koh Phi Phi and while most are considered good and prices are fairly regulated, I’d suggest you research and pick one that is rated high because there’s no risking your safety just because you’re getting it a couple of Bahts cheaper somewhere. Especially if you are going to try this for the first time, you want to ensure you are in safe hands. The long tail boats aren’t the most comfortable and stir quite a torrent when it’s fighting the big waves and currents at sea. If you’re like me, suck on some candy (you will feel better). After a wonderful dive you can jump into the absolutely gorgeous waters at Maya Bay and work up an appetite for a delightful local meal on boat.
Stay up and about till 2 A.M. when in Koh Phi Phi
The best bars are spread across the Island. Koh Phi Phi itself exudes a much laid back personality and that’s possibly what most endearing about this Island. But when evening sets in, you can feel the energy changing. The entire Island seems to be waking up, dressing up and getting ready for an active night out. There’s quite a bit to do here in the evenings or late night. You can Karaoke, watch a movie with a bunch of strangers, get a traditional bamboo tattoo from the local bests, go to a sports bar, or get a Thai massage and more. But no matter what you choose to do, the Island shuts down at 2 a.m.
We were spoilt for choice as had become the trend here at Koh Phi Phi. But it’d be right to say if we were looking for something quieter to do, like grab a meal as the sea breeze caressed our faces, we’d pick something on the Tonsai Bay area, if we were looking for a pumping party atmosphere we’d head to Loh Dalum beachfront where you’d find great music sets being played, interesting fire juggling acts and many fun games you could partake in too. After numerous nights of quiet and crazy, we decided to spend one evening chugging down beer watching a Muay Thai match (Not something to miss, truly!).
Go exploring the Phi Phi Islands
I don’t need to tell you that if we go to a beach destination and spend no time on the beaches then that’s a shame. Koh Phi Phi has some of the most delightful beaches and I’m not going to name just one, go see them all (We did most and we loved each one). During one such exploration, we stumbled across a gem of a restaurant- Sunflower bar and restaurant. This one is a ramshackle but has a strong resilient character to it. It was destroyed in the 2004 tsunami and was rebuilt with reclaimed wood. Not much to look at from the outside but once you’re in, there is something very exceptional about it.
The internet while being a great place to start planning a trip, will not necessarily tell you everything. It will rarely tell you about places (like the restaurant mentioned in the previous paragraph), this you’ve got to find for yourselves, it will not tell you that the little blink and miss restaurants serve the most delicious food, it will not tell you to try the bucket or that you better haggle with the little shops selling souvenirs or you’re getting overcharged etc. Once you get out, you will figure these out yourselves. It is not a very big Island and therefore my fifth thing to do is to ‘Get out there and explore it like we did’ (You won’t regret it)!
Staying real, Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is almost postcard perfect. We enjoyed our trip (a lot), my sister took back great memories of Thai culture and cuisine (and wants to come visit again). Yes, I must admit Phi Phi Island has gotten really commercial with increasing numbers of visitors flocking here each year but there is still something unique about the Island. I cannot really put a finger on it but it’s something I felt. Something real, no pretense, something strong, not weak and something undeniably admirable. I love everything about this Island and I love how it makes me feel. When here, you need no schedule, you rarely feel dragged into the hustle-and-bustle and you’ll have absolutely no reason to be in any rush.
Wondering why I travel, check out my previous blog My affair with travel.