I told myself I wouldn’t go to Phi Phi because of the reputation it holds of being an overcrowded party infused destination gone bad. I was so wrong. As I have found with many of the “party” towns in SEA there is always the corners and hidden crannies of stillness and beauty- you just need to seek it out.
For starters I met back up with one of my best travel pals and we split the cost of a room at the Bayview Resort- a huge upgrade from the dorm life. To get to the resort you must take long tail boat or walk a little ways down the beach away from town. I can highly recommend a stay here as it was affordable, super clean, and our room had an impressive ocean view and balcony. OH and complimentary water, buffet breakfast, a pool, and towels- say what??? BUT if you have physical challenges or are not one for leg day everyday/all day- be sure to ask for a room that isn’t over the hill and through the woods like us…. ours was the farthest room in the whole resort if you can believe it.
The resort has a beach which is nice enough but if you are picky like me and don’t like to have people beside you while you take naps on the soft white sand you will need to do a bit of work for the right conditions.
Follow the signs further away from town towards Long Beach. You will go through trails in the jungle beside the coast and pass a few other resorts- most noticeable the Viking Nature Lodge tree houses.
Around this area is Tonsai beach which had a more hippy vibe. If the timings right and it’s not yet crowded you could chill here a bit.
We headed for Long Beach and the moment we saw the crowds were trekked back up into the jungle. I had heard of Loh Moo Dee Beach on another blog. I remembered it said something about it being tranquil and I was sold. I told my friend it was right over there without really knowing where there was. A half hour or so later of trekking in the hot sun we made it to a more local part of Phi Phi. A man building a boat pointed to the left and said “beach”. We wearily continued. Just when we were ready to give up we could see the view. I will just leave it here for you to decide:
The beach had a very local feel. At the bottom of the hill is a stand selling fresh drinks, bathrooms, and a bit further down the shore local families live. It was really nice to walk to this end of the beach and see a glimpse into the local life. The people were so friendly always smiling and wishing you a happy day- much different from the main town where there is a strong focus on selling tours and such. The man working at the bar was super nice and let us see all the cute farm animals.
When we arrived we literally had a white sand beach to ourselves. As the day went on there were tour boats coming filled with tourists- mainly Chinese groups who sneakily tried to take our photos as we sunbathed… BUT this didn’t last long and they left as quickly as they came. Soon enough we had the beach to ourselves and a few others as well.
My highlight of the day was a little nude guy- maybe four years old- who showed up out of the blue. Wading in the water he literally bounced to us exuberant to have a companion to splash around with. Soon enough his mom came running down the steep hill and in hand gestures explained her panic at his absence at home and couldn’t stop bowing to me thanking me for looking after his fearless fun. He had run all the way to the beach for a swim. I wish I had a photo to show you how captivated he was by the waves and excitement but I don’t!
Due to the more laid back atmosphere we weren’t able to catch a water taxi back so we trekked back up the huge hill and decided to try to get back via Long Beach. Here we walked through a beautiful resort (I think Long Beach Resort and Villas) definitely more upscale. We enjoyed a smoothie on the beach and decided why not stay for sunset and catch a water taxi for $100 THB after. Such a great way to end the day- and again it’s all with timing of catching the boat back at the right time 🙂
This is probably one of the main reasons people come to Phi Phi in droves as it became famous after the movie The Beach (which typical me had no clue about). We booked a tour through our hotel- expecting to be on a packed boat of 20+. We were delighted to have a whole speedboat to ourselves with an elderly couple. Basically we had great guides who cruised us around to the best snorkeling spots and let us choose how long at each destination. I can see how this could be hit or miss- so maybe you splurge and get a private boat splitting the cost with a few friends or a group from your hostel?
We saw the water caves where locals actually still live. This is there home so of course we only could look from the water- still so incredible. We pulled up to Monkey Island but none of us were thrilled to get out especially after seeing tourists flashing cameras, petting them, and the monkeys playing with coke cans…. it was disappointing to say the least.
Maya Bay was initially exactly what we expected. Lined with motor and long tail boats. And the beach area packed with tourists. Cameras flashing. The sand was as powdery as they say though!
We eyed a white beach nearly deserted across the way. And began to swim towards it. Here we could really enjoy the emerald hued water against the rock faces. We literally just mermaided around for an hour or so.
While snorkeling I saw a huge variety of fish and some nice coral even! The rest of the day was spent cruising around the massive karst formations. Later in the afternoon they took us to Shark Point to look for the reef sharks. I think I spotted one from a far but we were squeezing this extra destination in so didn’t have much time before the sun met the horizon.
Off we went chasing the sun until it splashed orange and pinks into the sky fading below the blue water. Nothing is better than catching a sunset from the water.
How could I forget the food?
You need to go to Unni’s. They have amazeballs avocado spread. Delicious nachos. Vegetarian, beetroot hummus wraps. Milk shakes. Proper lattes. Chocolate Cake.
….okay we ate here every day and some days every meal- no shame.
Another cool thing to experience are the fire shows- we only saw these in passing.. well actually a spiraling stick on fire almost hit us in the face as we walked back to our hotel but the talented man caught it just in time 😉