Enchanting, Exotic and Magical Koh Phi Phi Islands
From the very first moment you set foot on Koh Phi Phi, you get the feeling that you have been here before. Probably because countless blockbuster movies have been filmed here. From James Bond to Leonardo de Caprio’s, the Beach, the island and it’s stunning Phang Nga Bay, have been used as an exotic backdrop.
Getting there is easy. There are countless ferries and boats from Phuket every day. You will find something for every budget, from luxury to frugal. For the adventurous, you may prefer to hop on a longtail boat with a bunch of other travelers. There is no set schedule for these, they simply leave when they are full. They generally only run the journey during daylight hours and unless you are a fan of wild adventure, it is advised you don’t ride one when the seas are choppy. You can also travel by speedboats and enjoy a thrilling ride to the islands. People travelling with family or if you wish to nap while covering the distance or beat the bright sun, you may want to travel on the big boats/ferries which run daily. You can book one-way or round trip open tickets from countless travel agent shops found in Phuket. Whichever way you travel, you can enjoy the picturesque dotted islands surrounded by the deep blue sea.
Many expat travelers visit and stay in Railay beach, which is located just a few hours away by boat from Koh Phi Phi. The diving there is absolutely amazing. When the water is clear during the dry season, you can often get visibility of up to 70 meters. And the views of the corals, underwater sea life and spectacular wall dives are nothing less than amazing. There are great dive shops all over Phuket and Phi Phi that can arrange trips for you. All are PADI certified and safe, with experienced instructors and divers. Thailand is a fantastic place to get your certifications. It is safe, reasonably priced compared to anywhere in the world and all the instructors speak good English, many being expats who came here and never want to leave. If you are not quite ready to get underwater, you can always arrange snorkeling trips. It’s really not to be missed. Be sure to check out the wreck dive, Phi Phi Don and shark point.
But there is a lot more to do on Phi Phi then just diving. Rock climbers from all over the world come here to scale the magnificent limestone outcrops that rise out of the land and sea. There are climbing schools that cater to everyone from absolute beginner to the more advanced. The have all the equipment, or you can bring your own. They know all the safe routes and are all very experienced. There is nothing quite like the view from atop one of these amazing geological formations.
For those feeling brave, there is also the option of cliff jumping. It’s not something that you want to just go out and do on your own though. Arrange a trip with one of the tour operators. The have safety gear and also know where the best places to do it are. They will start you on a jump of about 6 meters and work up to what you are comfortable with. Most include some time snorkeling on the beach at Monkey Island where you can also see the crazy little macaque monkeys run around the beach picking up crabs for their dinner.
For an absolutely stunning view you can climb up to the Phi Phi viewpoint, where you can take some photos of the most beautiful views of the island. It’s a fairly steep climb and takes about 40 minutes, but the effort is well worth it. If you follow the path a further 10 minutes onward, the views are even better. The best time to go is either sunrise or sunset. There is a little cafe at the viewpoint to get a drink.
If you want to combine a bit of fun exercise with sightseeing, rent a kayak and paddle out to Monkey Island or Phi Phi Don. You can go on an organized trip or just with a friend. It is easy going and the water is always warm, making it one of the most relaxing and enjoyable trips I have ever done. Paddling under the cliffs at Phi Phi Don at sunset is simply breathtaking.
Being on Phi Phi, you really feel like you are getting away from it all, but if you want to go one step further, to get really into paradise, take a trip to Bamboo Island. It’s a fantastic little place with the purest white sand followed by wild vegetation where the beach ends. It really feels like the deserted tropical islands from the books you read when you were a kid. Don’t even consider going without snorkeling gear, as the island is ringed with pretty corals. It is the ultimate day trip.
At night, bars along the Loh Dalum Bay beaches come alive with loud music and wild parties. Do not miss the fire shows and live music, if you’re feeling adventurous you can take part in the fire shows and take a wild jump. Not matter where you are, the nightlight here is amazing and you can enjoy every moment till you drop.
While there is plenty of reasonably priced accommodation, if you can afford it, stay a few nights at one of the luxury resorts. It is absolute decadence. They have spas and the rooms are like a dream getaway, decorated in traditional Thai style. While they may seem expensive by Thai standards, they are cheap compared to back home.
But the number one choice of activities on Phi Phi has to be the beaches. You are spoiled for choice. No matter if you want solitude or to be around other travelers, you can find it. All lined with pretty palm trees and stunning views. In fact you’ll have a hard time finding a beach that you’ll not love. And since the island has no cars at all, the relaxation is total and complete. There are over 20km of coral reefs surrounding the island, so you could spend years there snorkeling and still see different things.
Phi Phi has so many charms that you will never want to leave. In fact the contrast to Phuket is so extreme that most first time visitors can not believe that this place has not been overrun with development. I hope Phi Phi stays this way forever, it is truly a magical place.