Getting tourist trapped in the otherwise beautiful Koh Phi Phi

When visiting Southern Thailand, there are too many beautiful beaches to choose from that I didn’t know where to start. I wanted to visit them all! There are:

KOH LIPE

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Photo credit: Koh Lipe Thailand

KOH LANTA

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Photo credit: Koh Lanta Pocket Guide

KOH SAMUI

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Photo credit: Thailand 24

KOH TAO

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Photo credit: Koh Tao Zone

KOH PHI PHI

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Photo credit: Phi Phi Booze Cruise

Touropia did a survey on which island the readers consider the most beautiful and they’ve ranked Koh Phi Phi as #1.

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Screenshot: Touropia

Koh Phi Phi is composed of 6 islands in the Krabi Province of Southern Thailand.  It’s been said that Koh Phi Phi is one of the most talked about beaches in Southeast Asia and one of the most beautiful islands in the world where you can find white sand and powdery beaches, turquoise waters, virgin forests, and magnificent limestone cliffs.

This may be true before, but after the movie The Beach was shown, Koh Phi Phi has also become one of the most accessible islands of Thailand and has attracted an estimated hundreds of tourists in a day.

In 2004, the island was washed by the devastating tsunami. It was closed for business and only recovered 2 years after that.

 

For a first time traveller to Phuket, the most practical decision for us to visit Koh Phi Phi is by joining a 1 day speed boat tour from Phuket. There are numerous tour options to choose from online. We booked ours online with Phuket All Tours for only THB1,600 per person. Their tour package includes:

– Pick up and drop off from and to our hotel

– Coffee and tea upon arriving the pier and while waiting for our boat

– Tour and leisure time at Maya Bay, Loh Samah Bay, Pileh Cove and Viking Cave, Monkey Beach, Koh Khai Nok Island

– Seafood lunch

– Snorkelling equipment, small bottled water

– National Park entrance fees

We were picked up by their shuttle service at 7:30am at our hotel in Phuket. Our shuttle passed by 3 more hotels en route to the pier where we met another couple from the Philippines who happened to fly to Phuket just for the weekend.

Upon arriving the pier, we were greeted with packets of instant coffee and tea that were displayed at a small counter. Only a few people drank them as the place looked a bit shady. Most of us busied ourselves by lathering sunblocks on ourselves, changing to swimsuits, etc. while we wait for the next instructions.

After waiting for 15 minutes, we were ready to board the speed boat. There’s also a photographer on standby ready to take our photos, print them out and frame them as our souvenir after the tour is over. On the speed boat, if you have a sensitive back, make sure to choose a seat inside the boat, not outside. Sitting outside may be fun but at the rate the boat is going and because of the waves, you’re bound to wake up the next day with a bad back. Seats inside are less thrilling, more boring, but safer.

Our first stop was Maya Bay where The Beach was filmed; it is 1 hour away from our pier in Phuket by speed boat.

The water is clear and very pristine. 

We arrived at around 9am and already there were a lot of tourists in the shores of Maya Bay. 

The shore is short, behind it is a seemingly untouched forest. 

We walked on soft, powdery (flour-like) white sands.

After 30 minutes of exploring Maya Bay (others were sun bathing or hiding from the sun), we left and headed for Loh Samah Bay and Pileh Cove. However, the tides were low so we couldn’t dock, we stayed far from the shores for a while instead while our eyes feasted at the glorious white sands and crystal clear waters of their beaches. (In my honest opinion, it would be best if they have a plan B in case some of the places in our itinerary can’t be visited instead of moving on to the next place and neglecting to substitute the other places we weren’t able to visit.)

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Photo credit: Panoramio

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Photo credit: TripQue

We passed by Viking Cave where we try to see the prehistoric drawings that were found in the cave wells which look like viking ships. It’s been said that these were drawn by pirates who sought shelter from the monsoon rains. The cave is inhabited by thousands of birds called swifts. They make their nests using their own saliva and once the nests are used by their chicks and have hardened, these are harvested by the Chinese to make a soup delicacy. My family used to make this. It tasted like jellyfish tentacles, but sweetened.

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Photo credit: Siam Adventure World

Next stop, Monkey Beach. The name says it all! The place is inhabited only by monkeys. “Don’t get too close to the shore as some monkeys bite,” we were told. We were given food to throw for them to eat. This is environmentally hazardous though. Plastic wrappers, empty bottles, and scraps of food litter the shore and the waters. The monkeys seemed to like being fed, but try to bring food that is environmentally safe.

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Photo credit: Drink Dine Discover

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Photo credit: World Best Places

We did most of our activities in the morning, including snorkelling, before having lunch. The water was cool and the sun hot, which makes the experience very comforting. At least to me. I am not a big fan of cold water so the hot sun was soothing to the skin.

Our buffet lunch was then served in one of the islands. For the price that we paid for [the tour], we didn’t really expect much. Dishes at the buffet were white rice, fried chicken, vegetarian noodles, vegetables, seaweed soup. They weren’t good.

A number of speed boats docked by the shore. 

Our last stop was the beautiful Koh Khai Nok Island. We had around an hour to enjoy the sun before we head back to Phuket during sunset. The island was stunning! Man, they definitely saved the best for last!

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Photo credit: Andaman Travel Deals

Koh Khai Nok Island is definitely beautiful!. Similar to Maya Bay, its sand was white, powdery and flour-like, its waters so clear and pristine that you don’t have to wear your goggles when you want to see the fish underwater. All you have to do is stand up and look down to the water. The island seems more virgin than Maya Bay, too — little sharp rocks are scattered all over the beach from the shore to the waters. But no one really cares because it’s a paradise in its own right.

Our tour ended at around 4pm as we head back to Phuket via the same speed boat, but this time, it took us only 20 minutes. At the pier, we were shown souvenirs of our framed photos which cost only THB100 each. We waited for our shuttle vans to bring us back to our respective hotels.

 

Overall, while the price is inexpensive and the tour guide was fun, the entire tour and experience feel very touristy. I can’t blame the company nor the tour guide, that’s their job. But to be honest, we couldn’t enjoy our time as we were traveling with probably a hundred other tourists in the other boats and our leisure time was timed in each area. The system sort of resembles bus tours.

While the places we went to were amazing and very paradise-like, I wouldn’t suggest that you join a tour when traveling to these places. Instead, I’d recommend that if you can, book a private boat going to these places and at a different time from when the tourists are arriving, so that you can enjoy the place all for yourself. However, if some resources do not permit you to book a private boat, opting to join a tour like this won’t hurt anyway.

3 stars

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