When knocking together the itinerary for this far-too-short two-week trip, I tried to fit in a wide variety of destinations. Some were cities, some were known for their relaxed vibe and some, including the location for this blog post, were known for their parties.
My trip fell into an awkward space between the Half and Full Moon Parties, so I ruled out Koh Phangan, the most famous host for these parties. I will come back to Thailand for that experience some day.
Instead, I picked Koh Phi Phi in the Andaman Sea. This island is firmly on the well-beaten tourist path, and I was excited to capture a glimpse of its reportedly crazy nightlife.
Of course, that’s not all I wanted to see. Koh Phi Phi holds many charms, and I got to see a fraction of these over my two days spent on the island.
Hiking to the Viewpoint
This was one of the activities I was determined to complete whilst on Koh Phi Phi.
Perhaps ‘hike’ is the wrong verb, but the way up to the viewpoint does involve getting to the top of a steep flight of steps, followed by a clamber up some equally steep pathways. At a push, you can get up there in about 20 minutes, and it’s absolutely worth it.
|Hangover buster: The stairway to the viewpoints.|
|Phi Phi Viewpoint 1.|
Despite feeling a little tender-headed (more on the nightlife later) from the evening before, I climbed up in the morning before the heat of the day really set in.
Apart from providing the most spectacular views over the island, the viewpoints also affirm just how much redevelopment has taken place on this tiny island. Phi Phi and its infrastructure were devastated by Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004. At Viewpoint 2, there are boards displaying the visual evidence of the island’s post-tsunami transformation.
|Up at Viewpoint 2.|
The snorkeling trip
Getting my diving certification is definitely on my list of things to do; since I didn’t have time on my side for this trip, I decided to do a half-day snorkeling tour.
Phi Phi has numerous tour operators offering a multitude of trips. After shopping around for the best tour (at the best price), I can confirm that all of the half-day tours offer pretty much the same itinerary. I eventually booked mine though my hostel, and was ready to go the next afternoon.
|A row of longtail boats. One of these was our vessel for the day.|
We got into a longtail boat and set off to the first of our list of destinations. Our boat stopped in numerous bays, made a stop outside Viking Cave, where birds’ nests are collected for the bird’s nest soup industry, with a concluding stopover at Maya Bay, which is on Phi Phi Leh – the main island’s smaller sibling. Maya Bay also happens to be The Beach beach, as the film was shot here back in 2000.
|Viking Cave – where the key ingredient for bird’s nest soup is obtained.|
The water was beautiful and warm, the sights were all postcard worthy, I got sunburned in awkward places and we watched the sun set slowly from the vantage point of our boat. A perfect afternoon, in my opinion.
|This sunset rounded off the perfect afternoon of snorkeling.|
Exploring the island
In between the tours and the hike, I spent my time simply walking around the island.
It’s true that food is more expensive here than it is on the mainland, but every thing I ate was tasty. For the hot afternoons, I basically lived on fruit shakes. Made with fresh fruit and ice, I got steadily addicted to these as the days passed by.
|The best thing in the world: The Thai fruit shake.|
|Bliss. The beach closest to my hostel.|
I loved walking through the main stretch of Phi Phi, with its narrow streets lined with shops, stalls and restaurants. Each street is filled with people or the only vehicles on the island – bicycles or carts.
The island is also home to some amazing beaches, and one of these was located right near my hostel.
|Mind your step! A typical street in Phi Phi.|
The island is a busy place, and it will always be filled with tourists. I arrived rather spontaneously, but still managed to find affordable accommodation by walking up to the tourist information stands located right off the main pier.
Apart from the innocent activities outlined above, this island is renowned for its nightlife. What I liked most about Phi Phi was the range of partying options on offer. If you feel like a chilled-out night, there are quieter bars to head to. There is a place to watch Muay Thai, to catch a free movie (Banana Bar is awesome) and, for those who might want something more unusual, to celebrate all things Irish.
|Free movies at Banana Bar.|
While this variety definitely applies to most of Phi Phi, there seems to be only one place to head to for a real beach party: Slinky Beach Bar.
Almost all of the beach bars will host a fire show in the evening, but no one does it quite like Slinky’s. There will be a solo performance before the audience will be challenged to overcome a fiery jumprope or limbo. There will be lumo paint and there will be too many buckets (yes, a bucket of alcohol; hence the sore head for the viewpoint hike).
|How low can you go? Very, apparently!|
Koh Phi Phi may be very touristy, but I think that it has a little bit of something for everyone. For the most part though, this is an island for young partygoers. For example, when asked my age, my reply of ’27’ elicited a response of horror akin to me whipping out my walking frame and clacking my false teeth together.
While Koh Phi Phi was not my favourite beach destination during my trip to Thailand, I have fond memories of my time there – as well as photographs reminding me of the island’s stunning scenery.