It occurred to me that I have only blogged once about Thailand and haven’t yet shared my thought on some of the incredible places we have visited. One such place is that of the Koh Phi Phi Islands on the western coast of Thailand. These islands, usually reached by either ferry from Phuket or Krabi, were thrown into the international limelight when a certain Leonardo di Caprio, used one for the location of ‘The Beach’. Since this the island in question Phi Phi Lea has become a mecca for travelers, holidays and backpackers galore…
The main inhabited island is called Phi Phi Don and is the largest of the islands by quite a way. The main town and life of the island is based on the southern side, while the more expensive lavish hotels are based in the North. This was a far cry from the horrors of Patong, it was semi-Authentic, and by that I mean that there were a lot of local Thai’s working and living there, negating the overwhelming commercialism. Don’t get me wrong some of it is uber commercialised but you can find those incredible spots every now and again…
The beaches are beautiful; the town itself is quaint and made up of shacks and beachfront restaurants and bars… It’s just a beautiful setting. We hired a long-boat for half a day which was the best way to see the island by far. You get to visit the hidden beaches and the more lavish locations to snorkel and relax. It’s an easy way to get yourself lost in the beauty that this sparsely inhabited paradise beholds. Unlike your Maldivian islands, these have more of a Fijian feel in that they are coated in rain-forest and still have a rural feel to them.
Hiring a Long Boat also allows you access to some of the neighbouring islands including Koh Phi Phi Lea (The location of the Beach aka Maya Bay), Ko Yung (Mosquito Island) and Ko Mai Phai (Bamboo Island).
So let’s talk about Koh Phi Phi Lea. Well I was hugely disappointed, the majority of the island is encased by huge rock walls, which makes access impossible. However there is a single route in, via a small gap in the rock which leads to Maya Bay itself. The only way I can describe it is it looks a bit like a horseshoe from above! Most of the images I have seen are either press releases or shots from above and it looks dreamy, however of course it was packed with tourists. Yes the secret is out – Hollywood made sure of that!
The busyness also leads me to my next point – the water itself apart from being incredibly over populated with boats, housed a layer of oil and gasoline atop of it that was just awful, and ruined any of our desire to swim there. The beach itself is ok, but nothing as incredible in person as the images show. Plus taking pictures is extremely difficult due to the boats! You can see were my frustration came from? There’s not much else to see on this island, and in all honesty as soon as I got there I wanted to leave. Really what we should’ve done was stay the night – I bet you that’s a great Wandering Memory.
The highlight of the trip was actually not Koh Phi Phi Lea, but Monkey Beach and Bamboo Island, that we visited on an additional full longboat day. The Long boats take their time and chug up the coast, leaving you no other option but to bathe and soak up the sun and natural beauty of the island. Monkey Island was stunning, a real hidden gem, and although we didn’t encounter much wildlife we did snorkel with some huge turtles. Getting there was quite the adventure too jumping in and out of the boat to negate the reef and rip!
We reached Bamboo Island and this is what I’m talking about – Its stunning! Designated as a national park – its tranquility and beauty is unsurpassed in this region. The sand was pure white, crystal and I mean crystal sea with the occasional tint of green and turquoise. Very impressive! The one thing you have to take into account here – there is no inhabitants, no shops no water and no food! So take everything you need with you (including sun cream especially for the feet). I love it here – Tranquil and unspoiled… A must if you ever visit.
What follows such incredible beauty well a huge party back at the resort on the beach of course. Yes cliché I know – A Brit drinking on a beach in Thailand, but I hope you know me enough by now to know better. The Party was amazing at a bar called Hippies – a real-time to let loose and party. Local Fire dancers were also very impressive and we got some incredible shots at night…
Koh Phi Phi offers everything you could possibly want from an Island break, it’s beautiful, a lot of fun and still houses a small sense of traditional island life – especially on the long boats. As you can probably tell I loved it and couldn’t recommend it higher Just a note – don’t follow the crowd – leave Koh Phi Phi early and head to Bamboo island – simply beautiful!
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