On 8th February 2018 we got a boat from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi. The boat cost 350 baht (£8) and we were picked up at 7:30am. After having a heavy night the night before, Niall was severely hungover and I was most likely still drunk. The boat was very nice with free tea, coffee, coke and mini biscuits that you could help yourself to and which we heavily exploited. They also played the movie Zootopia which I very much enjoyed watching. I think we had been on such a nice boat as there were a lot of people on day trips to Phi Phi from Phuket and so this boat would be their main source of transportation for the day.
The journey was around two hours and stopped on the way to the famous Maya Bay which is on Phi Phi Leh, an uninhabited island next to Phi Phi Don where we would be staying. Maya Bay was used as a location for the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach and has brought tourists to Phi Phi and on boat tours to that beach for years. Due to our hungover state, we were happy to be on a such a good standard of boat and it was a nice touch to also get a stop at Maya Bay to take a quick look. This ended up being extra lucky for us as I was ill the day that we had booked a tour to go to Maya Bay and so didn’t go, meaning if it hadn’t been for the boat stopping here I wouldn’t have seen the beach at all!
We really liked Koh Phi Phi. The island is very small and there aren’t any cars with people instead pushing carts around full of supplies for the shops. They shout ‘beep beep’ when they need to get past in the busy streets which is a lot more fun than cars and their noisy horns. There are loads of clothes shops, pizza places selling big slices for 80 baht (£1.80), fruit shake stands, restaurants and bars. Koh Phi Phi is known as being a party island so this isn’t somewhere you’d come to have relaxing evenings although I imagine their are some resorts and hotels further out of town that would offer a more quiet evening atmosphere if that was what you were looking for. The island had a lot more options to find cheap food compared to on Phuket so we were able to get our evening meals for 60 baht and ate some really great Pad Thai here!
Although we didn’t spend any time sunbathing (shocking I know!) the beach is very nice. With white sand and clear blue waters it’s the beach you expect when you think of Thailand and even though the island was small, it didn’t get too crowded. As well as sitting here looking out over the water on the day we arrived, we also came back to the beach in the evening to a beach bar called Slinky’s for a fire show. Although aspects were choreographed I got the impression that a lot of it was just them doing whatever they fancied but then even that wasn’t a bad thing seeing as they’re spinning and throwing balls and sticks of fire around and at each other. The only lady in the troop did twirls and cartwheels with a flaming hula hoop at one point and near the end of the show they got people on the stage and lit their cigarettes by spinning a fire ball incredibly quickly above their heads! It was all very impressive and looked very dangerous – you could even see them occasionally getting burnt. I would be too scared to ever throw a burning ball on a string in the air and catch it but then I’m not the best at catching a ball even when it’s not on fire!
We booked to go scuba diving with Island Diver’s who are one of the many dive shops on the island and who we got a good vibe from when we were looking around. All dive shops have the same prices on the island so that they’re not undercutting one another which I liked and it meant you went with whoever you got a good feeling for or whoever offered what you were after. We left on 9th February at 7:30am and got back around 2pm. There was quite a few of us on the boat, maybe around 20 people and myself, Niall and another open water qualified diver were all assigned a buddy so you weren’t in a massive group for the dive itself. Not everyone was qualified on the boat with some people doing an introduction to diving and others just going snorkelling. We also had been able to pick what we wanted for our lunch which we haven’t ever been able to do before as normally it’s just a pile of food that we can dig into made by the boat cook on a BBQ that hangs on the side of the boat. I had fried rice and Niall had what turned out to be a very spicy chicken curry but it was good to have some lunch to fill the void and reenergise before the next dive. My only complaint was that we then went in the water quite soon after eating so we were both still quite full which wasn’t ideal.
We were staying on Phi Phi Don and the diving all happened around the neighbouring island that’s not lived on, Phi Phi Leh. We dived at Koh Bida Nok and Palaya which were both good dive sites. I loved the giant school of yellow fish that dominated the sea in the area. Sometimes you’d turn around and all you could see was yellow and they swam with such synchronisation that was almost like a choreographed dance.
We were diving for nearly an hour each time which was our longest dives so far and were dive number 13 and 14 since our first dive that was around a year before. We were loving being able to dive as we travelled from place to place – it’s one of the best things we’ve learned to do, we love it. On these dives we also a jelly fish that looked like a cauliflower, a turtle feeding on the sea bed and a few giant moray eels which was cool as we had never seen one before. There were loads of colourful fish and we enjoyed the dives a lot.
We spent the evening relaxing until our friends, Ryan, Keven, Jamie and Maddy arrived. We all headed out for some food and then went to watch some Muay Thai fighting at a bar on the island. The difference with this bar was that the fighting was done by tourists who would volunteer to fight and then they would be paired with an opponent, padded up and given fighting shorts and then would fight for three rounds. Some of the fights were really funny with people not having a cue what they were doing or going crazy at each other which made it all even funnier. It was also really funny how passionate Keven got about the fights and many a time you could hear his shouts over the crowd and he even started a round of booing at one point! There were also some tourists fighting who were clearly trained in boxing or another discipline, so that also gave us entertainment as it was like watching a real fight.
On our final day on Phi Phi, we had planned on going to a viewpoint on the island and then had booked onto a boat tour to go to Maya Bay. Unfortunately I was feeling very ill when I woke up and spent the entire day being sick and sleeping. It was lucky that our friends had joined us on the island as this meant Niall was able to carry on with our plans without being left on his own. While I slept they all went to a viewpoint and, despite it taking a little longer than they thought as they went the long way there they had great weather and had a good then. Niall really enjoyed the viewpoint and from the pictures I was shown (including one where they joked about photoshopping me into the photo) I was sad to have missed going there. I definitely wouldn’t have made the journey though especially as it was a very hot day so leaving the air-conned dorm made me feel like I would faint.
After attempting to go on the boat tour in the afternoon I ended up calling it a day and sleeping until they returned that evening. Niall said that it hadn’t been the best tour he had been on and he seemed pretty underwhelmed by it all.
The tour started at 2:30pm by getting on the boat and going to Monkey Beach where, I’m sure you’ve guessed, there were monkeys. Niall said this was a very nice beach but they kept their distance from the monkeys as they seemed quite aggressive and whilst they were there they saw a monkey steal someone’s bag and throw everything out of it as well as bite a girl so they didn’t seem very friendly.
They then were taken to the Viking Cave (Tham Phaya Nak) where they could see the outside of a cave from the boat. The cave gets its name due to a number of paintings found inside of the cave, some resembling pictures of Scandinavian drakkar which are Viking ships. A local legend says that years ago a sailor lost their boat and took shelter in the cave and lived off the nests of a colony of swiftlet birds. This is now a big industry in the area with the nests being harvested for an average of US$2,500 per kilo!
From the boat though, Niall couldn’t see any of this and could only see the mouth of the cave.
The first snorkelling of the day was good. Niall said that was one of the best bits of the day and that there were a lot of nice fish to see as well as lots of clams. If you move the water around in front of the clam they’ll move and clamp shut so we always enjoy seeing them. Niall said that our group was the only one to do the half day tour instead of the full day and apparently those who did the full day found it to be too long on the boat and by the end they weren’t even interested in snorkelling or getting off the boat – I think we made the right decision to book onto the the half day!
Next they headed to a lagoon where they could go for a swim. Our group were the only ones to get off the boat and swim which shows the mood of the boat by this point in the day. Niall says the lagoon was nice and that they enjoyed swimming there.
Maya Beach was the next stop and the ‘main event’ of the tour. This has the potential to be a very nice spot but is way too overcrowded by a large number of tours and party boats which makes the place more of an average beach. They spent an hour or so here but it wasn’t the most enjoyable part of the tour even though it was the main reason for being out that day. It seems like the tourism office is capitalising on the location instead of focussing on making the beach a nice place to go. It’s 400 baht to get onto the beach which is a conservation fee and Niall said that the beach actually was very clean which is a good thing considering the number of tourists coming on the beach everyday.
After Maya beach, they stopped the boat in the sea and watched a nice sunset over the water before waiting for it to get dark and then going into the water to see the phytoplankton. Niall told me that you could still see lights from the islands and other boats and so it wasn’t really what they had expected. They all got into a circle and kicked and little sparks did appear but I think the whole thing was an anticlimax especially having spent so long waiting for the sun to set. They all didn’t get back until around 8pm.
We all went out for food although I didn’t eat anything and quickly returned back to bed. We went to another little street market restaurant and everyone enjoyed their food there. We would be travelling to Koh Lanta the following morning where our friends would be joining us a day or two later.
Koh Phi Phi was a lovely little island and it’s somewhere I’d happily go to again as it’s got a lot of character and has a nice atmosphere to the place particularly as no cars are on the island at all. Having locals shout ‘beep beep’ as they push big carts through the streets never got old and I also very much enjoyed the number of cats on the island with probably every shop having a sleeping cat somewhere near the entrance – they were everywhere!
Next stop: Koh Lanta
Sending love x