Written by allthai on 21 Dec, 2004
The next morning we spent walking around the island, getting packed, checking out, and waiting for our ferry back to Phuket. The ride on the ferry was relaxing, with most of the passengers falling asleep, including our bunch. Looking around the cabin, I felt sorry…Read More
The next morning we spent walking around the island, getting packed, checking out, and waiting for our ferry back to Phuket. The ride on the ferry was relaxing, with most of the passengers falling asleep, including our bunch. Looking around the cabin, I felt sorry for all the people who came on the ferry that morning for a few hours on Phi Phi Island, just to return again the same afternoon. I pictured in my mind hundreds of noisy tourists, all snorkeling together on one reef at the same time. I am sure the fish were all frightened away to their little hiding places amongst the coral.
When we arrived back in Phuket, our smiling driver took us to the airport for the flight back home to Chiang Mai. Our friends had an international flight to the U.S. from Bangkok, so we first had to land in Bangkok, where we said our good-byes. They said they would come again next year and do an elephant safari with us and thanked us for the wonderful time. Sounds good to me.
I have done this Phi Phi Island tour with friends many times and never get tired of it. The trick is to avoid the tour boats and operators by getting an early-morning start in a private boat, as the other boats depart around 10am.
There is only one tour operator that I know of who plans tours and soft adventures away from the normal tourist crowds. Their timing is always right, wherever we travel in Thailand with them. The accommodations and guides are excellent, at the right price. Again and again, I thank All Thailand Experiences for putting together another wonderful holiday for my friends and family.
It’s sad to say that only three days after writing this, Phi Phi Island and surrounding islands and reefs have been completely destroyed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families who have lost loved ones in the tsunami disaster. I have not heard from many friends, both Thai and international, who lived and worked on the island. We can only guess what happened to them at this time.
Continued in Beach & Reef-Hopping On Phi Phi Island IV
We were greeted by the baggage handler from P.P. Princess Resort and escorted down the crowded beach toward the main pier. The beach was filled with people on the 1-day package to the island. The population here drops to almost half after 3pm. We turned…Read More
We were greeted by the baggage handler from P.P. Princess Resort and escorted down the crowded beach toward the main pier. The beach was filled with people on the 1-day package to the island. The population here drops to almost half after 3pm. We turned left at the 7-11, moving down a narrow pathway lined with small shops selling clothes and souvenirs to get to the lobby of the resort. We took care of the formalities at the check-in counter and were given a free fruit drink and a card to show at the resort’s restaurants for the meals.
We were given the red-carpet treatment since we were staying in the only two-bedroom house right on the beach (bungalow 105) on the island. This is the most expensive bungalow on the island, but compared to prices in the US or Europe, it is a real bargain. The porter took our bags into the house while our friends inspected the house. I was happy and relieved that the home far exceeded their expectations.
We gave our friends the master bedroom while my wife and I took the second bedroom. We ordered two extra beds in advance for the kids so they could take over the living room. The large comfortable couch and day bed with loads of cushions in the living room were more than sufficient, so they requested that the beds be removed, which they were. Every room has a large TV with over 20 channels, but we hardly ever watched it.
As the curtains were pulled back from the large windows, my friends could not believe the view. Not only that, but that it was only 10 steps from the large front porch was the beach. This is not the same beach as on Ao Ton Bay, but it is the northern beach of Ao Lo Dalam. This beautiful sugar-white beach is in a protected cove surrounded with high jungle-covered limestone cliffs.
Once we got settled in, the telephone rang. It was from our boat driver who would take us on a private snorkeling trip tomorrow. We had to meet him at his small office to get fitted for our fins and pick out our masks. We were told to meet him there at his office at 8:30am so we could be well ahead of the large group tours, which depart around 10am. Since the breakfast buffet opens at 7am, this would not be a problem.
When we returned back to our beachfront home, the tide had gone way out. The boys who work on the island were playing soccer on the beach. Further out they had volleyball net set up, where a game was going on. The kids ran out and played a little soccer and volleyball while we just relaxed with a few drinks on the porch and watched the gorgeous sunset.
For dinner we just ordered from the menu at the Waterfall restaurant at the resort, and they brought it to our home, where we ate around the big table on the porch. The kids then watched a little TV while we talked and laughed and then went to bed. So far the trip had been great, and we couldn’t wait to go snorkeling the next day.
We arose early in the morning and took a leisurely walk along the now deserted beach. The tide was out, and the staff at the resort was raking leaves that had fallen on the beach.
It took us about 1 hour to walk the 1-mile sugar-white beach. A few joggers passed us by with their "good morning" greetings. We weren’t in any hurry, as we were just enjoying the fantastic scenery. The cove is surrounded with towering cliffs of limestone and sandstone partially covered in lush green vegetation; groves of palm trees; and sparkling clean, clear blue water with an opening about 300m wide opposite the beach 1 mile in the distance. I just looked at my wife and said, "What a place."
We had a wonderful buffet breakfast at the resort and then met our boat captain. He took us to our speedboat that could seat at least 20 people and that was powered by two, 200-horsepower outboard engines. This boat was nice, real nice.
We departed Tong Sai Bay on our island of Phi Phi Don and headed for Phi Phi Leh. We left early enough that no other boats were around. The first stop was Ao Pileh, which is a narrow but long cove with towering cliffs and beautiful, shallow water. There are no coral reefs here, but the scenery was fantastic. I could see why they chose to shoot a scene for the James Bond film You Only Live Twice here.
We departed the cove, continuing around the island to Ao Lo Samah, where we tied up to the mooring buoy. We put on our snorkeling equipment and jumped in. This is a small, submerged reef with anemones, soft corals, and, of course, colorful fish. We stayed here about a half hour, as we wanted to leave before the larger boats filled with tourists arrived.
We followed the cliffs around the island to the famous Maya Bay, where the movie The Beach was filmed. Today this beach looks nothing like it did in the movie. This is because all the natural vegetation was removed and palm trees were planted for the film. After shooting, the trees planted for the film were removed and the natural vegetation was replaced. The beach was cleaned up professionally by a British marine coastal management company and was left cleaner than ever.
We were the only ones here, and our boat captain backed the boat around. We jumped off the back landing onto the beach. We were greeted by the park ranger and paid him 20 Thai Baht per person, which goes toward the clean-up of the beach. We walked inland through the vegetation and trees to an opening in the rock cliff. From here we could see Ao La Samah, where we had just finished snorkeling. We returned to the beach and did a little swimming before getting back on the boat. Just as we were leaving Maya Bay, the boats loaded with tourists started arriving - great timing.
We then went back toward Phi Phi Don and around the opposite side from our bungalow to Kohn Klang reef. Timing is crucial here if you want to explore this fantastic large reef. If the tide is too low, the boat will catch on the reef. We again moored to the buoy and started snorkeling. The main underwater topography includes boulder and brain corals, with many holes and tunnels for moray eels to pass through. Soft and hard coral provide shelter for a rich variety of coral fish. Crabs, lobsters, angelfish, groupers, snappers, and surgeonfish are also residents of this area.
After a couple of hours of snorkeling at Khan Klang reef, it was time for lunch. We went to a nice quiet restaurant at Runtee Beach. Although it took a while to get our Thai food dishes, it tasted great and the beer was the coldest we had found on Phi Phi Island so far.
We then relaxed in the boat while our captain took us through a mangrove swamp to the center of Phi Phi Don Island. At the end of the tributary was a small fishing village where we turned around and went back to the sea and Phai Island. We were all pretty water-logged by now from all the snorkeling and getting sunburned, but the kids wanted one more swim. The adults walked the beach and let the kids have their fun before returning to the boat.
The captain took us to the beach right in front of our bungalow, where we thanked him (with a tip, of course) and retired to our beachfront home. Today was a wonderful experience that we will all remember for a lifetime. I have been snorkeling in Jamaica, Mexico, and Hawaii, but none was as good for snorkeling as what we saw today around Phi Phi Island.
Everyone just spent the rest of the day and evening doing our own thing, which was mostly nothing, as it should be when on holiday. For dinner we ordered in again, but this time we had nice greasy cheeseburgers and fries from the Waterfall restaurant.
Continued in Part III.
We departed Chiangmai on the 11:15am non-stop flight to Phuket. When we arrived at the airport, we were greeted by our guide and transferred by a comfortable, private, and air-conditioned van to Kamala Bay Terrace Resort. We were given a welcoming fruit drink and taken…Read More
We departed Chiangmai on the 11:15am non-stop flight to Phuket. When we arrived at the airport, we were greeted by our guide and transferred by a comfortable, private, and air-conditioned van to Kamala Bay Terrace Resort. We were given a welcoming fruit drink and taken by vehicle up the mountainside to our junior suites. The view of the bay from our balcony was spectacular, with sea eagles diving for fish and winging over our heads with their catch.
Our guide said that we would be picked up the next morning at 7am for the boat to Phi Phi Island, so a beachfront hotel was not necessary, and we agreed. The swimming pool at Kamala Bay was perfect, and they have a free taxi every 30 minutes to their private beach only a short 5 minutes away. We decided to give their beach a miss and relax at the pool while the children played water basketball with their new friends from Europe. After all, we will have plenty of time to enjoy the beach at Phi Phi Island.
We had a few drinks at poolside while the kids played. We then went back to our rooms to get cleaned up for dinner with our guide. We were told that he knows an excellent seafood restaurant at Patong Beach that is very good and much cheaper than where most of the tourists go. So, at 7pm we were all ready to go.
We rode along the beautiful shoreline to Patong Beach, with its seedy bars and tourist shops. We then turned away from the beach and went a couple blocks inland to a large group of food stalls. When we got out of our taxi, hawkers trying to get us to go to their restaurant hounded us, but we were rescued by our guide and followed him. In the middle of the food stalls was our restaurant, and we were well greeted by the owners.
In front of us was the largest assortment of live seafood I have ever seen. Our guide helped us pick out fish, crabs, lobsters, shrimps, oysters, and mussels. The owners weighed each individually and told us the prices. Our guide bargained the price down a little for us, and then we had to decide how we wanted everything prepared. We had everything cooked differently so that we could enjoy the different spices that complemented each dish. They were either steamed, barbequed, fried, raw, or put in soups according to the recommendations from my wife (a Thai national) and our guide.
It took us a couple of hours to eat everything, and even the children enjoyed it. They liked the fried shrimp and barbequed lobster the best. My favorite was the raw fresh oysters and the crab cooked in butter and garlic that had me licking my fingers. When we finished, the staff brought us fingerbowls with lime floating on the top to wash our fingers and handed us towels. This was a nice touch of good service after a great meal. The total bill was under $60 to feed seven people, along with a few beers and fruit drinks. The touristy seafood restaurants near the beach would charge three times that. I know, as I have been there, done that. Anyway, we were all stuffed and went back to the resort for a great night’s sleep.
There are many boats to Phi Phi Island. I have been on all of them, and I will only take the Seatran Company boat between Phuket and Phi Phi Island. They have only one boat, and it departs at 8:45 in the morning. However, they will come by and pick you up at your hotel or resort and take you to the pier. This boat is nice, all steel and made in Japan, and we are talking fast. It is a least 1.5 hours faster than any other ferryboat. It is super clean with good service, comfortable aircraft-type seats, and air-conditioning. Free fruit juices, coffee, tea, and banana cakes are also available in the galley.
The other companies’ boats are made of wood, are very slow and overloaded, smell of diesel fuel and oil, and are hot and uncomfortable. I do not feel safe on these boats. As a matter of fact, one caught on fire and sank in 2002 while my wife and I were already on Phi Phi Island. No one was hurt, but I bet it was a frightening experience. To me, safety and comfort are the number one priorities, especially when children, family, and friends are involved. I’d rather pay more to make sure we all get there safely.
When we arrived at the pier, the staff put our luggage on the boat in an area near our seats so we could see them. The boat was filled with day-trippers who would return on the same boat at 3pm, so we were the only ones with luggage. The staff was very friendly and asked where we were staying and offered to take our luggage to our resort. We kindly told them that the resort people would meet us at the boat as it came to the beach on Phi Phi Island, as we had reservations.
We had relaxed on the boat for about 1 hour when we started to get close to Phi Phi Island. Actually, there are two islands, Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don. Phi Phi Leh is uninhabited, with sheer limestone cliffs covered in lush green vegetation. As we approached, we could see many boats with tourists enjoying the cove and beach at Maya Bay. Dive boats pick up their divers along the cliff face. The large boat passes slowly so everyone can take in the view.
As we came around the backside of the island, we could see more dive boats, long-tail boats, and speedboats, with their clients snorkeling in a protected cove. We then passed Viking Cave, with its bamboo poles climbing up the cliffs where local villages collect bird’s nests to make the much-sought-after bird’s nest soup. In front of us was Phi Phi Don Island.
We anchored in the protected Ao Ton Bay at Phi Phi Don, where the staff unloaded our luggage as we followed them onto another small boat that would take us right up onto the beach. Our smaller boat navigated around sailboats, speedboats, long-tail boats, yachts, and dive boats anchored in the bay. With a gentle swish the bow, the boat slide onto the beach and a wide set of steps was lowered from the bow. The crew tells us to be careful and helps us onto the beach.
Continued in Part II.
Written by Tango7 on 21 Feb, 2008
I've discovered that rather having to spend time getting to a boat and then spending ages on the boat getting to Phi Phi, you can fly straight from Phuket Airport.. simple.
Destination Air at http://www.destination-air.com can fly you there for a few thousand baht. Great scenery…Read More
I've discovered that rather having to spend time getting to a boat and then spending ages on the boat getting to Phi Phi, you can fly straight from Phuket Airport.. simple.
Destination Air at http://www.destination-air.com can fly you there for a few thousand baht. Great scenery and almost to the door of your hotel. It's a must do if in the area.
Can take the flight to do aerila photography or just to get around. Close
Written by tammyhayano on 18 Jul, 2005
These are just some random pictures: friends that I made, what the island looks like in various places, etc. For more pictures of Phi Phi, go to www.hiphiphi.com.…Read More
These are just some random pictures: friends that I made, what the island looks like in various places, etc. For more pictures of Phi Phi, go to www.hiphiphi.com. Close
Written by allthai on 29 Dec, 2004
Here are just a few photos of the devastating destruction on Phi Phi and surrounding islands. It is hard to image what these people went through when the tsunami hit.…Read More
Here are just a few photos of the devastating destruction on Phi Phi and surrounding islands. It is hard to image what these people went through when the tsunami hit. Close