Koh Phi Phi, is a small, famous Island in the south of Thailand, a 2 hour boat trip from Phuket. As some of you may know, the neighbouring island is where Leonardo Di Caprio filmed “The Beach” it was also the island most traumatised by the Tsunami – I also here there was some old school James Bond film set there before my time. Famous for its beautiful beaches, water activities, views and resorts – there are plenty of blogs that will tell you all about that kind of thing.
This post is about why I – a 20 something single male – liked it.
Koh Phi Phi is one of the most expensive places in Thailand, with 5 star resorts, expensive restaurants and cocktail bars. Perfect for families, couples and oldies. Yawwwn…
It is also a thriving island for backpackers on the Thailand Circuit. Each comes for different reasons.
I came for the latter.
Phi Phi is an island shaped like a backwards “h” with the arch being a double sided beach. The area between the two beaches is the town, with the peninsulas housing resorts. Due to the size of the island, and the fragility of the environment there are no land motor vehicles allowed, thus moving from the resorts into the town can take a while walking or be expensive chartering a boat. This means all backpacker related things are walking distance apart. And I mean everything: the guest houses, restaurants, bars, beaches, water activities, tourist places, miscellaneous shops (needed for purchasing replacement thongs every morning), clubs, beach parties, everything… This is fantastic for the social scene, as you run into the same people over and over again. On top of this it makes it easy to switch venues on the fly without concern, no 20 min taxi drive across town into the unknown and worrying about getting home. Small = good.
Small = good is an interesting statement, particularly being a big city boy. The difference between Phi Phi and some rural hick town in inner Australia is the people. The beauty and fame attracts travellers from all around the world. I arrived in Phi Phi two days after the Full Moon party ended on Koh Pang Yang and it was swarming with Swedish backpackers, yes, lots of Swedish girls. Need I say more?
Again, Phi Phi’s stature brings world class accommodation and food. But for a backpacker these material comforts are of little interest. I stayed in a 600 baht per night guest house with a nice veranda out onto the sidewalk (by veranda I mean concrete slab). It was all class. A double bed, a decaying combo drawer-chest-bed side table thingy and a wall mounted electric fan. A bathroom the size of my shower back home, which was quite nice because I could sit on the toilet while taking my cold shower – better than standing. A scoop flush toilet, oh and the sink was outside the bathroom with a small piece of PVC pipe drilled through the wall. But when you’re in a place like Phi Phi, who cares? I spent 8 hours a day in my room, and half that time I was asleep. You can upgrade if you want, but I don’t see the point. Some say a nicer place helps with attracting the opposite sex. I disagree. Just tell them it’s cute. It was!
What to do
A typical day – after hang over recovery – starts at about 10 or 11 involving water of some sort. Beach, swim, snorkel, scuba, boat, wind surf, etc… followed by some type of relaxing activity – read and/or sleep in a hammock? These are all great options because there are plenty of people out and about that you can meet. All buzzed from their holiday. Make an effort to remember people’s names, you will meet them again.
After dinner, from 7-9pm, the place shuts down. The bars get ready to open, the restaurants empty and the streets go quite – ignoring the distinct massage parlour sales pitch ringing through the street “mmaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssaaaaaaaaagggggg?!?!” No thank you. “Come on, you very handsome boy, you come massage!?” No thank you. Haven’t they ever heard of probe and match?
Then 9 strikes and everything starts to change. First stop Reggae bar, centre of town, unique for its Muay Thai ring. Even more so for the talented host who convinces Swedish girls to fight. Complete with cheap local beer, a free BBQ and plenty of pool tables – it’s an Aussie bloke’s heaven. From there you can meander around town, with a number of bars and side stalls selling the standard Thai beers, cocktails and death-trap buckets – red bull syrup, a flask of vodka and a can of sprite. *Note, playing drinking games where the punishment is to drink your whole drink is a bad idea when holding one of these, best to get a glass. Be prepared to meet people you met through the day while during your meandering.
When the clock strikes 12, its time to hit the beach. Both the beaches host beach parties each night, all night. With bon fires and beats it’s the perfect place to dance the night away – and lose your thongs. Don’t worry, you may find new ones – otherwise its off to the misc shops in the morning.
Night swimming is always a good option, but if you plan to skinny dip be sure you note where you put your clothes. I heard from a reliable source you can be charged a pretty penny for assistance. And if you have the stamina (which you will after one of those buckets), I highly recommend watching the sun rise. Very pretty.
Can you dream of a better island?