Koh Phi Phi - is it the Perfect Beach?

Trip Start Mar 18, 2009
Trip End Jan 12, 2010

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Where I stayed
Chao Koh Phi Phi Lodge

Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, November 7, 2009

After an emotional farewell with Emma's parents, we jumped aboard a minibus and took the short ride to Ao Nang to catch our boat to Koh Phi Phi. The journey would take 2 hours, although 1 hour of that was spent floating around Railay while long tail boats ferried passengers to us. This was definitely the most packed boat yet, sardines in a tin can sprang to mind. Koh Phi Phi brings with it a lot of tourist hype and since it was glamourised by Alex Garlands book, and subsequent movie 'The Beach' it is high on all tourists agenda's. I really hope it can deliver?!

Our first glimpse of Koh Phi Phi was breathtaking. It was definitely the most beautiful island we have seen. Two giant rocky mountains joined by a thin crescent sand bar, which creates two elliptical bays of aqua marine water, was living up to the hype. Even the ominous looking clouds in the distance wouldn't affect our awe.  Once docked we let the tons of hawkers with hotel signs do that for us. The streets on Ao Ton Sai (main town) was cramped, overcrowded with scuba diving operators and a feeding frenzy. It was a long walk to our hotel, the Choa Koh Phi Phi Lodge.  If I was to describe Ao Ton Sai, I would liken it to San Antonio town on Ibiza with all the party people thrown in. Koh Phi Phi is definitely a party island, not quite what we were after.

Reminders of the tragic tsunami, which hit Boxing Day 2004, are non-existent. The island is completely rebuilt and the building boom seems to be continuing, with plenty of foreign and Thai investors buying up a piece of it.  Koh Phi Phi was a bustling island before, and maybe lessons haven't been learnt as the town does detract from the islands beauty. That and the amount of stray cats, which did make a change from stray dogs on other islands, but at least a dog doesn't jump onto your table during breakfast.

I should mention that Koh Phi Phi is actually two islands, Koh Phi Phi Don which is where we stayed and Koh Phi Phi Leh, an uninhabited island, housing the secret Maya Bay, which starred in the movie. The main attractions on Koh Phi Phi Don are Ao Dalom Bay. Knee deep water surrounded by craggy mountains which almost touch, and bath tub warm water. The viewpoint, popular at sunrise and sunset allows you to get that perfect postcard photo of the entire bay. Unfortunately for us, the weather was quite cloudy and rainy at times. Remnants of another Typhoon which hit the Philippines, we feel for the people there as this is the worst weather for them since the 1940's.

On our last day we chartered a long tail boat for 1000 Baht (the going rate) and crossed the open sea to reach Koh Phi Phi Leh. Ugly from the outside, it looks just like any other karst we have passed countless times around the Andaman sea.  However as you approach its Southern tip a small passageway appears, revealing Maya Bay. We left early to beat the crowds of people and were gifted with absolute paradise. The water was so clear and rich with marine life, and the sand was perfectly white and soft. To answer my initial question from this blog title, Yes, it is the perfect beach. Oh, and before you set off, remember to bring an extra 200 baht per person for an entrance fee, we weren't told before hand, and meant Emma had to sit with our boatman while I ran back to the hotel to get more money afterwards.

We set a bat and ball record of 99 hits and snorkeled amongst the coral and rocks chasing rainbow coloured fish. Annoyingly we can't show you any photos of the fish as our underwater camera is now out of action (we think we were sold a dud from Vietnam). As we swam with the fishes I received a nip on my big toe, which I discovered later was bleeding. Another holiday war wound :).  Our time expired and it was time to leave. Before we climbed back aboard our boat and said our farewells, we had enough time to reinact the end of 'The Beach' movie. Jumping and pulling a pose mid air for the camera. I hope you like the photos.

On our way back to Koh Phi Phi Don, we got the boatman to show us the remainder of the island before heading back to our hotel.  We drove through some more lagoons which were picture perfect and eventually returned to Ao Dalom Bay. The next morning we would leave for Koh Lanta for a completely different experience.  Looking back on this one we felt Koh Phi Phi could be best explored on a day trip, and staying here is not necessarily required. Although we did enjoy our time in parts, we do hope for a quiet paradise on the next island.
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Uncle Alan on

I can't believe that Paul let Emma jump higher than him and still posted the pictures on the blog.
Family Christmas party next weekend, we'll drink to your health.

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