When I learned from a Facebook post that I had won the photo contest promoted byThai Tourist Board and The Trip Magazine I couldn't believe it. I have never won anything in my life, not even the chocolate egg at the Easter raffle, and even winning a luxury trip to the magnificent Phi Phi Island it just seemed impossible. It took me a while to realize it was true! I touched my face for a moment to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
The competition provided that I could choose when to go and I opted for late October-early November, in the (at least in theory) dry season. In reality, global climate change has changed the climate here too and the 2 seasons (the dry one from October to May, and the rainy one from June to September) are no longer so defined. Indeed, to avoid free depressions, I advise you not to look at the weather when you are in Thailand, they take less than us!
In the two weeks that I was on Phi Phi Island some violent downpours happened, but it happened mostly at night and did not last long. Moreover, I had already been to Thailand several times in all seasons and I have not seen substantial differences in the weather depending on the months of the year.
The only thing you need to consider when choosing the period concerns the connections with the smaller islands and small archipelagos (e.g. Ko Lanta, Similan, Surin, etc.): from May to October they are suspended because the sea is too rough and the islands they are inaccessible. But let's go back to our Phi Phi Islands ..
The Phi Phi islands are 2: the largest is Phi Phi Don, where Ton Sai is the main village, then there is Phi Phi Leh, the smallest and wildest island where Maya Beach is located, the beach famous for being the set of “The Beach”. Those who stop in Phi Phi sleep in Phi Phi Don since there are no accommodations in Phi Phi Leh (almost all visitors reach it on a day trip).
After an endless journey in which I took 2 flights, a bus, a ferry and a launch, I finally arrived at the Zeavola Resort, the most beautiful eco-chic resort on the island located on the Hat Laem Thon beach, the most exclusive area of Phi Phi Don.
53 teak villas (6 with private swimming pool) immersed in the jungle, inspired by the rural villages of Thailand and furnished with local fabrics and period furniture in soft colors. I was housed in a 60 square meter Garden Suite, exactly as big as my house, consisting of a huge room with a glass wall overlooking the jungle (complete with a four-poster bed), and a huge terrace open on the sides with armchairs, sofas, and a beautiful mirror / sink overlooking nature. Let's say that if the purpose is to relax, here you can do it very well! There is an obsessive attention to privacy and silence, a spa specializing in treatments for couples, a swimming pool and of course a beautiful equipped beach. Coming from a summer trip where the most chic accommodation was a double room in a hostel without a bathroom, I decided that, for once, I deserved this luxury, this beauty and this tranquility.
After regaining my strength from travel and jet lag (Thailand is 5h ahead when daylight saving time is in effect, or 6h ahead at normal time) I started exploring the island.
Premise: in Phi Phi Don there are no roads, so you can travel on the island by spears (long tail boats) or on foot if you are staying in Ton Sai.
What to see in Phi Phi Island:
After the release of the film “The Beach” Phi Phi's beauty has become known in the eyes of the whole world and it has also been its curse. It has become one of the top tourist destinations in Thailand and everyone feels entitled to want a piece of it. The exploitation of tourism has increased dramatically in the last 10-15 years and, if they do not decide to put limits on all this it is very likely that Phi Phi will experience a dramatic ecological collapse.
There is no low season on Phi Phi Island, the island is full of tourists 12 months out of 12. This is particularly evident in Ton Sai, the main village. Completely destroyed by the Tsunami of 2004, it was rebuilt and concreted over in a wild way, without any master plan. Dozens of hotels, hostels, shops, restaurants, bars and agencies pulled up for the better in a maze of super-crowded alleys, where you could be anywhere. There would be two beautiful twin beaches separated by the strip of sand in which the village was built, but it is difficult to see them in their entirety due to the constructions. To appreciate them you have to go up to the Phi Phi Island viewpoint; a challenging climb made up of steep steps and paths leads to the view point from which there is a magnificent view of the twin bays (Ton Sai Bay and Loh Da Lun Bay). From here you can walk over the hill through the jungle and reach the quieter beaches of the eastern part of the island such as Loh Moo Dee Bay o Run-Tee Bay. Another nice piece of beach for swimming is right on Ton Sai Bay itself, walking on the right side of the bay looking out to sea, towards Three Beach. Otherwise from Loh Da Lun Bay you can take the boats to get to the small beaches that open on that side. In general, I do not recommend sleeping in Ton Sai, unless you want to be surrounded by the casino, you don't want to party and you don't want to compulsive shopping. If you do not fall into these "categories" it is preferable to stay in much more beautiful and isolated bays such as Hat Laem Thon (where I was), or Loh Ba Gao Bay and Loh Moo Dee Bay (all on the western side of the island). You can go to Ton Sai 1 or 2 times in the day with the launch to go up to the view point, buy souvenirs or visit the fish and fruit and vegetable market where the locals go.
Phi Phi Leh: Maya Beach, Pileh e Viking CaveUpdate November 2018: Maya Beach has been closed until a later date !!
You can't say you've been to Phi Phi Island if you haven't seen the famous one Maya beach (that of The Beach) a Phi Phi Leh. You can obviously get there from Phi Phi Don by boat, but thousands of tourists arrive every day even from more distant places such as Phuket, Krabi or Railay Beach. I left with the launch at 7 in the morning in the hope of seeing it a little less crowded but the riser was of little use; I realized that you can only hope to see it semi-deserted by participating in a Sunset Cruise (there are several and they cost a lot) in which you sleep on the boat and have the opportunity to see the beach at sunset and sunrise with much less tourists. The half day trip to Phi Phi Leh includes the first stop right at Maya Beach. What to tell you, the bay and the beach are of rare beauty, the bay is semi-closed in a crescent and is surrounded by green cliffs lapped by crystal clear waters. The beach is quite wide and has fine white sand, which gives a beautiful green / blue color to the water. In some places there are also suspended caves that jump into the sea. If it weren't overrun by thousands of tourists with selfie sticks that are unloaded from speedboats and motorboats every minute, it would be by far one of the most beautiful and scenic beaches in the world!
From there the tour proceeds with snorkeling in the beautiful Pileh cove, then to the cave Viking Cave. The latter is an important gathering place for swallow's nests. You will see the bamboo scaffolding on which the collectors climb easily; before going up they pray and offer tobacco, incense and liqueurs to the spirits of the cave.
What to do on Phi Phi Island
Il Andaman sea it is famous all over the world for diving. The crystal clear water guarantees up to 35 meters of visibility and the marine richness in fauna and flora make these seas perfect for diving lovers.
Diving agencies are everywhere, both in Ton Sai and in the more isolated beaches (the same hotels and resorts often have their own diving center) and the recommendations I make are the "classic" ones. It is better to choose European / Western agencies for both language and security, beware of too low prices and equipment (which is not old).
There are several noteworthy spots around Phi Phi:
1) King Cruiser Wreck: the wreck of the King Cruiser which lies at a depth of only 12 meters, and is therefore accessible even to those who only have the Open Water license.
2) Anemone reef: a hard coral reef populated by many clown fish
3) Hin Binda: a submerged pinnacle with hard corals where you can spot sea turtles, zebra sharks, manta rays and sometimes whale sharks.
4) Ko Bida Nok: a karst massif that attracts whale sharks, zebra sharks and barracudas.
snorkelingIf you don't have a diving license, don't despair! There are several spots where you can snorkel and see corals, octopuses, seahorses and many other fish.
One above all is the island of Phi Phi Leh; especially in the semi-closed bay of Pileh the seabed is shallow and full of fish (normally we stop here when you make the trip to Maya Beach and there is a stop of at least 30 'dedicated to swimming and snorkeling). Another well-known destination is Ko Mai Phai (also called Bamboo Island) in the far north of Phi Phi Don; the waters are shallow and you can even see small sharks (if you're lucky!).
Mask and fins can be rented everywhere, you don't need to bring them from Spain.
Thai massageThailand is also famous for massages and I recommend you take advantage of them! You will see them done everywhere. The average cost of a 1-hour massage (the so-called Oil Massage) is 300/400 B - 10 euros and is worth it all! In exclusive beaches the price can go up to 700B.
Rock climbingThe whole Andaman coast (including the islands) is characterized by the presence of limestone cliffs that lend themselves very well to being climbed and Phi Phi is no exception. The main climbing areas are the Ton Sai Tower (at the western end of Ton Sai) e Hin Task (reachable in a short time with the spear). [/ vc_column_text] [/ vc_column] [/ vc_row]
How to reach Phi Phi Island and how to get around the islandPhi Phi Don can be reached by connecting from Phuket, Krabi, Railay, Ko Lanta and Ao Nang. The nearest airports are Phuket International Airport and Krabi Airport. To reach Ton Sai Pier in Phi Phi Don you can take ferries (in high season there are several a day) or a private taxi boat. Many luxury hotels (such as the Zeavola) offer taxi boat connections from Phuket. If there is bad weather only the ferries work. Local Transport: on the island you can only travel on foot or by lances (long tail boats). The price of the boats to move must first be negotiated with the owner of the boat and they are not particularly cheap! For example, a boat to go from Zeavola to Ton Sai costs around 1200 B - 30 euros (one way), while the half-day trip to Phi Phi Leh costs around 1500 -40 euros (there are 400 B per person to add. for the entrance to the Marine Park).
Health Insurance is requiredIn Thailand our health coverage is not valid. My advice is to always take out medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip (country, duration, etc.) and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online (!!!).
Where to sleep on Phi Phi IslandAs also anticipated in the article, I advise you not to sleep in Ton Sai, but in one of the quieter beaches on the western side of the island. I have been to the beautiful beach of Has Laem Thong: Zeavola Resort: the most beautiful eco-chic resort on the island. If you want to treat yourself to a holiday in luxury and absolute tranquility, this is the place for you! 53 teak villas immersed in the jungle, all decorated with local fabrics and period furniture in soft colors. There is an obsessive attention to privacy and silence, a spa specializing in treatments for couples, a swimming pool and of course a beautiful equipped beach. Stratospheric breakfast! There are also other (cheaper) resorts on the same beach, such as Erawan Palm Resort, Phi Phi Natural Resort and Holiday Inn Phi Phi Island.
Where to eatAt the end of the beach Has Laem Thong there is a mini-village with 2/3 restaurants on the beach. After trying them all, I absolutely recommend the "Jasmine": fresh fish, well-made dishes and good service. Try the red curry with prawns or the classic Pad Thai of prawns or chicken. Alternatively you can eat in the restaurants of the various hotels.
What to bring
- Sunscreen 30-50: Thailand is located at the equator and the sun is very strong. You will soon see that you will tan even in the shade with protection, so… be careful!
- Anti-mosquito: essential especially in the evening
- Watertight bag: they sell them everywhere and they cost much less than here. They are very useful both for transfers with spears but especially if the sudden downpour arrives. It's the only way to protect your cellphone and camera from water.
- Travelgum or bracelet against seasickness: if you suffer from the sea (like myself) it will save your life during boat trips and transfers (especially in bad weather conditions). I have found that tiger balm placed under the nose and on the temples can also help.