It took me 10 months to write about this part of the trip for a variety of reasons but mostly because I wasn’t sure how to sum up this place.
So we were hoping for a quiet and relaxing last stop on the final leg of the trip so we chose the infamous Ko Phi-Phi islands for 4 days.
We took a ferry from Phuket to get to the islands. I think the ferries can vary in how well-maintained they are and generally don’t depend on price. I say this because we paid the same amount in and out and we had totally different experiences. Our ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi left a lot to be desired (rickety overall, uncomfortable chairs, dirty washroom, etc.) while our ferry back to Phuket felt luxurious (nice, comfy lounge chairs on the deck, very comfortable interiors, entertainment, cleanliness, etc.)
When we got there, the place was a bit surreal. It was nothing like I’d seen before. Stunning scenery and it felt like time had slowed down to a crawl here. The streets were narrow and there were no car roads anywhere to be seen.
I’d booked a moderate place with a gorgeous view for the group; however, I wasn’t really thinking about the climb up when I booked it. I’m a sucker for a good view. Anyway, no one died… we made it! 😛
Just a note on booking places on Ko Phi Phi — do it months ahead of time because even then it’s not going to be cheap Thailand prices that you’re used to. The place we booked was $200 CAD/night per couple and our choices were limited even two months before booking. The island isn’t very big and it’s very popular so things book up very quickly.
A few things to do while you’re there:
- Walk every little street. The uniqueness of this place lies in the fact that this islands seems to attract everyone from the penniless to the ultra-rich. It’s a weird thing that draws people here so try to take it in.
- If you walk enough, you’ll find the coconut and banana cake lady in one of the nooks and crannies. You must have some of her cakes. See pictures. She has no address. I can’t tell you how to find her other than keep walking.
- Go out at night. The main island hardly sleeps. Also, if you’re feeling brave like my friends, you can take a dip in the water at night near the main beach where it’s well-lit. I didn’t partake because one of my biggest fears being in unfamiliar waters at night, hah. I wasn’t going to try to overcome that fear in Thailand.
- Take a traditional taxi boat tour of the islands. We made the mistake of taking it to only one island to spend 3-4 hours there… um, the islands are very small so you’ll want to explore more than 3 per day. Hilarious side story… we took a boat later in the day when the tide was too low so the boat couldn’t take us all the way in without taking damage, so we had to jump out with all of our stuff and swim like a 100 meters to shore. It was very dramatic because the guy was rushing us too. I guess the tide was pulling him in and the boat was motor operated. Way back was the same thing… we had to swim out to him. Advice: buy water shoes and a waterproof bag to carry your little things.
Another thing, manage your expectations. I researched a lot to find a few secluded islands to get away from the crowds on the main island. I naively thought it would be secluded but by noon, it was like any of the other islands … busy with tourists looking for seclusion just like me.
- Go to the viewpoint! It’s worth the climb and the hype.
So yeah… it’s stunning there. Enjoy it. Don’t take it personally if some of the locals are not as friendly as other places in Thailand; they’re inundated with tourists every second of the day and some tourists are not as nice as you are you are 🙂
Side story: we got really lucky at the end… the day we were supposed to leave they started evacuating the island because of the massive storms that were headed to the island. The restaurant owner where we were having our last lunch was talking to us about how she wanted to get her daughter off the island because sometimes things can be so unstable with the weather during certain times of the year. Made me think of how little we think about these places that we put up on a pedestal as paradise because we don’t get to see their day-to-day.
C and I are glad we experienced the Phi Phi islands but it’s definitely not what we were expecting in terms of tranquility. Beautiful all the same though.