After beautiful and empty Phuket, we were looking forward to Koh Phi Phi, as we heard such mixed reviews from friends and family. Some swear it’s the ultimate paradise island, some find it commercialised, touristy, and would never go near it again. Honestly… You can always find hidden beaches, gems where you can be alone. Just gotta make an effort to find it.
We were very inexperienced travellers back then (I was 19!) and I admit, now I would do a lot of things differently. I might get the chance to correct silly mistakes – soon planning a big family trip with parents, nephew, siblings, all the family jazz. I’ll be a pro then.
I’d probably spend less time hopping around and stick to a place for longer, this would allow funds to be spent on accommodation AWAY from people. We were young and restless (I know I sound like a 60-year-old) and would rather save money on accommodation. 3-4 nights we spent in the village which meant 350 baht a night (£6.50). There was no problem, I am not too fussy as long as we are saving money, but I felt the village (Tonsai Bay & Village) had the atmosphere of a party island, rather than a romantic dream island. So if you wanna party stick to Tonsai Bay/Village. Restaurants are the cheapest there, they’ve got thai boxing shows, fire dancers, clubs and countless bars.
The 5th night we slept in a quiet resort, but more on that in the next post.
So what we did to resolve the ‘I don’t like the atmosphere’ issue: on day 1 we did the trip everyone does on Phi Phi, the Maya Bay Boat Trip. There are two small islands next to each other, Koh (means island) Phi Phi Don which is the populated one, and Koh Phi Phi Leh, which is where the movie The Beach was shot with Leonardo Dicaprio and is uninhabited. You can do a full day or half day trip I think, ours was about 6 hours, from 3pm to 8-9pm, until sunset basically.
We really wanted to hire a private long-tail boat, but one can dream of course… Was way too expensive, so had to join a group. It was 1200 baht this way, per person, water and fruit was provided. It is actually a lot if you think about it (£22).
First stop is Monkey Beach – I absolutely despise monkeys, they are irritating, mean, sly and sassy. They steal stuff and just get fed all the time – so what do we get back in return when they aren’t even cute and cuddly?! Anyway, we stayed clear of the crowd feeding them with watermelons. The beach was small, beautiful, bit crowded though. Just gotta chuck the monkeys out. I’m a cruel person.
The trip had 3 stops until Maya Bay, with plenty of time to enjoy snorkelling (Greg) and jumping (me). We spent the day together but I remember barely speaking to him. Once we stopped, Greg put his head under the water and he was gone. I don’t think I have seen him be so occupied with something that much – other than when he’s gaming and has to save the world from a zombie apocalypse 🙂
And then finally Maya Bay.
TIP: if your budget allows you, hire a private long-tail boat, and go either early morning or after 6pm when most people are gone already. This way, you avoid crowds which is the only thing that ruins this gem.
Had 3 hours to chill there, but we got bored after 20 minutes. So walked to the other side of the island through a tiny forest (and tsunami evacuation signs, scary) where I think we basically got back to Pileh Bay – the snorkelling bay.
There were no stairs or ladder, only rocks, a rope (seen on the photo) and big waves (at least for me they seemed big) so I was a bit hesitant at first to follow Greg in. I did hurt my hip as a wave threw me against a rock. Was well worth it though, we snorkelled and swam to a beach which was 100% secluded and there was no one else just us. If you descend into the water and the island is to your back – start swimming left for about 15-20 minutes (guessing) to reach it. No photos as couldn’t bring our phones.