Shout out to my awesome school for allowing farang teachers to have time off during Thai Midterms. I finally had enough time to head south and see the real life Pinterest board of Thailand, including palm tree swings and long tail boats.
My first island stop was the infamous Koh Phi Phi. It’s pronounced Ko Pee Pee, not Ko Fee Fee. This little island is actually 2 islands, Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Lei. Koh Phi Phi Don is a beautiful little party island where it’s basically Spring Break year round. The island is tiny, as much of the island is just uninhabitable limestone cliffs and beaches, with a built-up section that’s straight up resorts, party hostels, bars, tattoo parlors, and western food restaurants.
Longtails stranded on the beach after the tide has gone out.
Koh Phi Phi Lei is about a 10-minute water taxi from Koh Phi Phi Don, the main island. This is the island where Maya Bay is located, from the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. After seeing Koh Phi Phi, it’s extremely ironic that this is where the film was made. Apparently (I haven’t seen it) the film is about a little island in Thailand where Leo goes after getting fed up with all the tourist BS on Khao San Road in Bangkok.
The irony is that Koh Phi Phi is a straight up party island that’s like Koh San Road with palm trees. The irony continues when you learn that it’s 400 baht a person to even set foot on this little beach, and so many people go to that beach just because it’s from the movie, even though 80% of these people have never actually seen the movie. I met one person in Koh Phi Phi who actually watched it, a nice backpacker named Jordy from Amsterdam, and he said it was terrible. He followed this up by saying that he only watched it because he was going to Thailand. Do you see what I mean?
Enough of that. I was a little wary about going to Koh Phi Phi, as I’ve read many travel bloggers that said they absolutely hated it. Even the Mr. popular Nomadic Matt (great blog, check him out) didn’t recommend it.
That being said, Koh Phi Phi was absolutely amazing. Even though it’s the first island I’ve visited in Thailand (the blessing to be able to type those words), it’s by far my favorite, and I have a feeling it’s going to hold on to that number one spot.
The beach by our hostel at dusk, after the tide had gone out.
To be fair, I can easily see why Koh Phi Phi isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The entire island (or what’s inhabitable) is built up basically into one giant tourist vortex. It’s also much more expensive than other areas in Thaialnd. Even my number one, 7/11, increases their prices on Koh Phi Phi. A ham and cheese toasty should be 36 baht, not 44 baht, 7 I see you. The second you get off the dock you are greeted by a chirping welcome party full of longtail taxi drivers and hotel employees trying to suck your Western money right out of your wallet. But the island is so gorgeous and fun that it’s 100% worth it.
Pano literally taken while I was sitting outside of our hostel.
Even though the island is small, the beaches are breathtakingly gorgeous. You also don’t have to pay a penny to sit on the beach, a rarity in this day and age. Why I’ve ever paid to sit at disgusting North Ave after tanning on Koh Phi Phi for free boggles my mind. It’s shockingly the cleanest place I’ve seen in Thailand yet. I did not see a single plastic bottle thrown on the ground, and there were accessible garbage cans everywhere. And that’s quite impressive considering the fact that it’s a party island.
Heads up: You do have to pay a 20 baht fee when you step off the ferry to enter the island and “Clean up Koh Phi Phi” so maybe this has something to do with it. But again no complaints, worth it.
Look back @ it(view from the sand while the party is just starting)
So yes, Koh Phi Phi is one huge(tiny) party island. The moment I hopped onto the ferry (crabby in Krabi after an 11-hour overnight bus from Bangkok) there were irritating Spring Breakers bumping Drake out of speakers in their backpacks and obnoxiously chugging Chang at 10AM. The amount of British/Australian/random European 20-somethings is insane. And awesome. It was nice to be amongst my own for once, especially after spending so much time in little Dan Chang.
During the day, booze cruises are popular, and you can buy buckets at any hour. Buckets are huge mixed drinks that you can get in Thailand that come in (you guessed it) buckets. They’re super cheap, about 150 baht for an entire little bucket that’s your choice of Jaeger bomb, vodka cranberry, Sex on the Beach, or any other crappy alcohol combination. At night, the smoothie stands throughout the island start selling buckets as well.
The nightly local soccer game that went down on the sand after the tide had gone out and before the festivities began.
This trip we decided to stay at Blanco Beach Bar, a bar/hostel right on an absolutely gorgeous beach. Our rooms were small, the wifi sucked, and there was EDM bumping at 1PM when I was life-threateningly hung over, but other than that it was a great hostel. It was also super convenient, making it easy to go from bars in town to bars on the beach and finishing the night right at our hostel. Sadly, this hostel was a tad expensive by the usual backpacker standards (around 425 baht/night for a 6-bed shared room), and even more sadly that’s pretty standard for Koh Phi Phi.
The nightlife in Koh Phi Phi is exactly what you picture when you think of backpacking and partying in Thailand. There’s cheap booze, Thai men playing with fire, and most of the action happens right on the beach.
Yours truly limbo-ing under fire against my will, aided by one of the fire-throwers themselves.
By playing with fire I literally mean playing with fire. The night starts out tame, with Thai men simply throwing fiery batons in the air, and progressively moves toward a more dangerous route, for example encouraging foreigners to jump rope over fire and limbo under fire. Thailand has no rules, so they let foreigners be responsible for their own safety in choosing to partake in these activities. While no one I knew was injured this trip, I’ve heard that getting burned on Koh Phi Phi is pretty common, proved by the number of people I saw limping around in bandages the next day. Personally I like this approach to life, people should be responsible for their own safety, although many may disagree.
The one thing that Koh-Phi-Phi has that doesn’t have to do with drinking or being on a boat is the Koh Phi Phi Don Viewpoints. Sorry for the picture quality, the humidity on the island complicated things with my camera.
The hike up was a bit rough to say the least.
Sadly this little island was affected by the tsunami that happened in the early 2000s. Apparently the tsunami was so devastating because they didn’t have the technology to detect it early enough, and people weren’t really able to evacuate. Near the viewpoint they had some pictures of what the island looked like right after the disaster.
All in all Phi Phi is great. I’m even considering working there for a month after my contract is up and before Songkran/my visa expiration. There will definitely be more fiery jump ropes and Muay Thai bar fights in the future.