What made me suddenly decide to visit Ko Phi Phi? You probably don’t want to hear my moaning about my complicated travel situation between Singapore and China. The initial plan was just to stop over in Phuket for a night before catching my flight to China. I knew nothing about Phuket apart from “Oh, it’s very touristy” so I wasn’t very keen to see crazy teenagers getting pissed on the beach… Luckily I did a little research about Phuket before purchasing my onward flight ticket. My research of a place is really simple: google-image ‘Phuket’ then decide whether I want to investigate a little more about the place. Once Phuket pictures popped up I was immediately hooked and wanted to find out more about the attractions and activities in the region.
There were enough activities to keep your holiday very busy in Phuket, and I am not going to list them out since this post is all about Ko Phi Phi. I stayed in Phuket for 2 nights – my hotel was centrally located in Patong about 2 minutes walk from the bar street. OH MY GOD! The night life on this bar street was just incredible, so regardless if you are travelling alone or with a significant other or with a group of friends, don’t miss out on the amazing vibe in this street! You will see and experience so much! You could check out the Ping Pong Show (but a warning: it can be very distressing!).
OK, let ’s focus on Ko Phi Phi.
Phi Phi Island is very well known due to the movie, ‘The Beach’ with my favourite actor on the silver screen: Leonardo Dicaprio. Well, I watched the movie after I visited Ko Phi Phi. I’d imagine it’s probably one of the main reasons why this island become so popular after Phuket. Ko Phi Phi is a small archipelago of six islands in Krabi Province, the entire region is technically part of a Marine National Park. The only transportation on this beautiful island is LongTail boat or you can use the number 11 (walk) which is completely free to hike over the mountain. The only transportation with wheels which are allowed on this eco friendly island is bicycles. The town is built all around the Tonsai Pier where there are plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels.
Here are the list of things you may want to know before continuing reading my personal experience.
Where to stay on Ko Phi Phi?
There are plenty of hotels but my personal opinion is to stay in the far north-east side of the island if you look for tranquility or to lodge in those hotels near the town centre if you are looking for some fun especially in the evening.
What to do in Ko Phi Phi in 2 days?
There us list of things you can do depending on how long you will be staying on this island. If you are only here 2 days then you should join the 1 day island hopping tour from Ko Phi Phi to visit the famous Maya Bay where the film The Beach was made. Many people would do one day speedboat tour from Phuket however I don’t recommend this as you will be stuck in the same place with thousands of other travellers arriving and leaving at the same time. It’s worth it to stay one night on Phi Phi Island.
Where to book 1 day boat tour from Ko Phi Phi?
There are many tour operators in town and you won’t run out of choice. Each operator has their own itinerary but it will be very similar to everywhere else. If you are a group of 4 people or more, I recommend that you just hire your own long tail boat from the Tonsai Pier. The private hire will work out the same or slightly more than if you join the group but the good thing about going private is that you can avoid all the peak times and enjoy the sights at your leisure!
How to get to Phi Phi Island from Phuket?
There are several options with different boat companies, whilst the speedboat runs less frequently.
The most common is option 1: very simple and straightforward: take the ferry from Rassada Pier. You can book your ticket online via: www.phuketferry.com, or you can purchase your ticket locally with any of tour operators in Phuket. (Cost is approximately 350 Baht each way depending where you buy your ticket)
- Ferry schedule between Phuket (Rassada Pier) to Phi Phi Island (Tonsai Pier):
- Phuket to Phi Phi departs: 08.30 | 11:00 | 13:30 | 14:30 | 15:00
- Phi Phi to Phuket departs: 07:30 | 09:00 | 11:00 | 13.30 | 14:00 | 14:30 (subject to weather conditions)
Tips: The Ferry company offers pick up from your hotel in Phuket but if you want to return to Phuket you will need to ensure your return boat ticket also includes the hotel transfer from the Sea Port. Otherwise you would end up paying a lot more at the sea port.
Option 2: Hop on one of the speedboats that is organised by the tour operators but it would be a very early start as it usually leaves at 08:00am.
Longtail Boat Transportation Service:
The only transportation to connect you from the main Tonsai pier upon your arrival and the rest of the island is these long tail boats. They dock everywhere near the Tonsai Pier, as you arrive as long as it’s before dark normally you will be able to find the hotel shuttle boat. When it’s after dark, you may have to negotiate the price as they do charge a lot more than the day fares.
OK, here I start blogging my 2 days!
Day 1 morning I had to get up fairly early to catch the ferry and I was already pretty exhausted from the previous days when I had to work in Singapore and the terrible jet lag didn’t help. After a refreshing shower I put on my custom made yellow T-shirt with custom printed image which was designed by myself: “Se Habla Español”. My initial idea of custom-making this T-Shirt was to let Spanish speakers know to talk to me in Spanish. It wasn’t a bad idea, right? If you are learning a new language this can be a good opportunity to get attention from people so you may get to practice.
After I filled myself up with the usual continental breakfast at the hotel, I sat in the lobby waiting for the shuttle bus of the ferry company to turn up. Apparently it is normal for the shuttle bus to turn up half an hour late and my bus turned up 45 minutes late. I wish I would have known this before so I didn’t have to waste half an hour sitting in the cold lobby doing nothing.
The Rassada Pier is pretty small with nothing much around the terminal. Upon arrival at the terminal the reception desk will take your ticket voucher and give you a coloured sticker which indicates to the staff that you have get off at the right stop as the boat doesn’t always terminate at Tonsai Pier and sometimes it continues to other piers.
The boat was pretty comfortable and most people would use the top deck to sunbathe. I obviously stayed indoors where the air condition is. My bright yellow T-Shirt with “Se Habla Español” worked, here, on the boat I found myself talking to a Mexican solo traveller called Juan. He was kind enough to communicate with me in Spanish to help me with my learning. Juan has been travelling 2 months in Southeast Asia, he is one of those typical backpackers that doesn’t really know how long he is going to stay in every place he arrives in nor knows where he is going to next. I really admire that and wish I could finance myself to do it also – taking an entire year off to travel around the world. We spent the afternoon strolling around the town centre and sharing some of our travel experiences but we mostly talked about his experiences and adventures in other part of South East Asia and his crazy stories. He compared so much the safety and security between Mexico and Thailand as he would never have done what he could in Thailand when he’s in Mexico.
At around 5pm I went back to Tonsai Pier to catch my shuttle Long tail boat to the hotel – about a 45 minutes boat journey from Tonsai Pier to get to Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort.
At Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort I stayed in one of the beach-front bungalow (4,320 Baht for 2 nights)
Hotel website: http://phiphirelaxresort.com/ (they recently just renovated their website, it’s more modern than early this year.)
Quick review on this hotel: I was pretty much on a tight budget for this trip however I still wished to enjoy the quiet side of beach front hotel, so I went for the cheapest option which at the time Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort turned out to be the best bet. This hotel was very isolated, offering a private tranquil beach on at the front and a wild jungle at the back so I could easily access the beach to chill. I had a good stay except for a couple of negative points which were: no electricity between 8am – 6pm, only sea water in the bathroom.
Long tail Shuttle Boat timetable:
- From Tonsai Pier to Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort: 11:30 | 13:00| 16:00 | 17:00
- From Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort to Tonsai Pier: 08:00 | 12:30
- Cost: 150 Baht per person each way
On approach to the hotel I must admit that the view is pretty amazing with all these individual bungalows dotted through the jungle. I loved the Thai traditional style wooden bungalows. There is only one restaurant in this hotel which is a little overpriced for what you get. My room located was right next to the restaurant on the beach front. The sound of the sea and this island tranquility was just what I needed and wanted. Although the climate was humid, I still enjoyed the quietness and the isolated location with beach just in front of the door. For this one night the price offered for a beachfront bungalow you really can’t complain.
Before nightfall, I dropped all my stuff in the room and had a very nice beach front walk followed by a light dinner of my favourite Thai dish – Pad Thai. I went to bed early to get my batteries recharged for the next day full day excursion to the Maya Bay.
You can certainly book your trip with the hotel which would make more sense as the tour will leave and come back to this isolated location. However, it was very disappointing when I got to the reception 15 minutes prior to tour start time as I was told the other guests joining had cancelled the excursion due to a weather forecast of “it may rain” later. People on this island don’t really check the actual weather forecast, they will just predict the weather depending on the morning when they look out the window. The next shuttle boat doesn’t leave until 12pm so I was basically stuck. After a 15 minutes debating with myself what to do, I can’t blame anyone but myself so I headed out to find something else to do. I walked through the jungle heading towards the town centre. During my 40 minutes trekking through the jungle I didn’t see a single human soul except for insects, snakes and lizards. I finally came to the best viewing point of the whole island and there I met an american couple.
They were staying in a different hotel adjacent on the island to my hotel. I successfully convinced them to come with me to do the full day boat tour to the Maya Bay.
Here is the itinerary of 1 day tour departs from Ko Phi Phi (tour prices vary, we paid 400 Baht each)
- Snorkel in front of the magnificent Phi Phi Ley Island
- Bamboo Island
- Monkey Island to see the wild monkeys
- Maya Bay where we stopped for an hour and half to chill on the beach
- Passed through Pileh Lagoon, Palong Bay, Loh Samah Bay and Viking cave
- Enjoyed the sunset scene on the way back to Tonsai Pier
There were 24 of us on the long tail boat which is actually too many people for one group as we were really squeezed on the boat. As soon as we boarded on the boat, everybody were given couple of pieces of white bread with orange jam spread. We then set off to our first stop where we snorkeled for 20 minutes by Phi Phi Ley Island. I then got really bad seasickness after 5 minutes in the water. Never mind, not long after that we docked at Bamboo Island. Bamboo Island is very small, you will only find couple of shops where you can buy drinks. The beach quality is actually the best amongst all the stops in this one day excursion. After 10 minutes on land I soon recovered from the earlier seasickness. We stayed on this little island for another 45 minutes or so then we continued the excursion to Monkey Island where you will experience monkeys stealing food from travellers. These monkeys are really smart, I suppose they are very used to seeing humans and where they can get food from. Although there is a massive sign of “Don’t feed the monkeys”, still some tourists would give out what they have in bag… There was a hilarious moment on this island when a very strong man sat on a stone with a coca cola bottle in hand and one monkey approached him and tried to grab the bottle without the guy noticing but unfortunately it failed. The man hit the monkey’s head with the coca cola bottle which scared the monkey off. We all laughed at that moment when we see the scene. Enough of Monkeys? We then were taken to the famous Maya Bay which was packed with other tourists. Maya Bay is a protected island and we had to pay an extra 200 Baht each to enter this park. If I had come a different time when there was less tourists I think I probably would have enjoyed it a little more. We sat on the beach to chill and talk to other travellers who are on the same boat.
We passed through Pileh Lagoon, Palong Bay, Loh Samah Bay and Viking cave. When the boat was passing through the entire region went extremely quiet. The area is surrounded by stony little mountains. Here, as soon as the engine was switched off, the world is at peace. Let’s all jump into the water for a swim or do some snorkelling! You will be able to observe all sorts of colourful fishes swimming through the crystal clear water. We were let off the boat for another 30 minutes before we all headed back to Tonsai Pier. I would completely recommend you to do this tour privately as you will see more things at your own leisure and avoid the crowds.
By the time we returned to Tonsai Pier I shared the long tail boat with the American couple to get back the hotel.
The next morning I relaxed on the beach in front of the hotel until the shuttle boat departure time at 12.30pm to catch my ferry leaving at 1.30pm. Enjoyed my Mojito!