Having already made the decision to fly home earlier than expected in Ao Nang, we suddenly had a little more baht to burn and a little less time to do it in. Ko Phi Phi has always been widely regarded as one of the most beautiful islands off the Andaman Coast but as a result, harbours a bit of a reputation for being pricier and (from some perspectives) a bit of a tourist trap. Nevertheless, with Phi Phi being a relative stones throw away from Ao Nang, we decided to spend our extra baht on making the journey over to make the most of the days we had left.
A bit like Railay, Ko Phi Phi boasts the same dramatic limestone landscape that characterises what we imagine when we fantasise about islandparadise. Compact and bustling in its layout (the main part of Phi Phi surrounding the dock is squeezed into a large strip of beach / flat beach between two larger climbs), the markets have plenty to offer and the bars come to life at night. You will, whether you like it or not, end up drinking buckets and dancing to rave music on the beach at some point. Don’t fight it, go with the flow! Phi Phi is also right next door to Maya Bay where the film ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo Dicaprio was filmed, a stones throw away on a longtail boat. .
As a result of the above, I often found myself making comparisons between Phi Phi and the beautiful Greek Islands such as Crete. Sometimes parts of Phi Phi has a Malia type feel to it (liberated by tourism or destroyed by it?) and after dark there really isn’t much else to do here if you don’t want to drink, so if this isn’t your thing the more traditional islands such as Ko Tao or Ko Samui are probably better suited. That said however, being the last few days of our holiday, the party atmosphere suited us fine! The added bonus of being on such a small island meant we also bumped into lots of people from other parts of our travels who had decided to follow a similar island hopping route! Drinks all round.
People aren’t exaggerating when they say that Ko Phi Phi is pricier than its other island counterparts, it is. But its not impossible to find a bargain either (my frustration with Lonely Planets seemingly lazy price bands knows no bounds). If you’re willing to look around and avoid peak times, there’s plenty of decent accom to be found at reasonable prices. We booked a double room with ensuite and air conditioning (always worth the air con if you can afford it!) was about 700 baht a night with Sea Shell Hut. This is alright by Phi Phi standards (split between two of us we were paying around £7 each). Located smack bang in the middle of the market and a few minutes walk from the seafront / main bars it usually did everything it had to do – although an island wide power outage as they updated the power lines did mean we lost all electricity and running water for our last day! Cue old school shower using bottled water – I like to imagine its how the uber rich choose to wash…
Ko Phi Phi was also one of the islands almost decimated by the 2008 Tsunami and has been rebuilding ever since. Most of the island’s all back up and running by my time of writing (2013) but there are still parts of the island where reminders of the devastation exists. A whole new Tsunami warning system has been put in place since as well as a clearly marked Tsunami evacuation route. My paranoia regarding natural disasters / any threat of death therefore led us to make the trip up to Phi Phi Viewpoint on our first day, a gorgeous lookout over the entire island and coincidentally part of the Island’s tsunami evacuation route (it actually stops about half way up, but let’s be honest, should the alarm go off, I’m sure we could muster up the energy to make it all the way to the top). It’s well worth the short trek and gives you an idea of the layout of the island. As an added bonus, lots of very cute kittens congregated near the summit!
Diving is also available on Ko Phi Phi and if you go during full moon (as we did), there are some absolute bargains to be had! My friend managed to do her entire PADI open water with one to one tuition over a two day period here, for less than she would have paid had the island been packed. Something to bear in mind!!!
Over and out,