This week I would like to chat about one of my favorite island getaways in the world. The Phi Phi Islands are located in Thailand, between the large island of Phuket and the western Strait of Malacca coast of the mainland. I have visited this incredible island five times and whenever I am there nothing can steal my happy. The 2 hour ferry ride from Phuket to Phi Phi Don offers stunning views of cliffs that rise like skyscrapers from the ocean. When you finally arrive in the Phi Phi's it is love at first site. Twenty years ago the islands were the ultimate backpackers paradise. You could share a wooden hut on the beach for around $6.00 and the only entertainment at night was the fire shows on the beach. The 2004 tsunami radically changed the landscape and the economy of this tiny island paradise. Phi Phi today is a mix of small budget huts and 5 star luxury cabanas. One could argue that Phi Phi has gone slightly upscale, but the vibe is still laid back.
One of my favorite things to do while in the Phi Phi's is to take an overnight camping trip to nearby Maya Bay. "The Beach", starring Leonardo Dicaprio, was filmed on this tiny piece of paradise. Newly imposed environmental restrictions, designed to protect the island, make camping on the beaches a thing of the past. All camping now must be on a boat, but it's still an amazing night under the stars. Back in the Phi Phi's there are plenty of things to keep you busy. If you're feeling adventurous, take a kayak tour, go snorkeling, hiking, or repel down the island's famous cliffs. If you want to just chill on a white sandy beach, there are several to choose from. In the evening you can still find a few fire shows and restaurants on the beach serve up some tasty seafood. If you're feeling brave then grab a whiskey bucket and participate in a round of drunken Thai boxing. You can even watch transvestites throw some punches in the rink.
Below are a few suggestions on accommodations and things to do on the island. I personally believe in spending my money on activities, so I stay at clean, quiet, 3 star budget rooms.
GETTING TO PHI PHI:
From Phuket take the Phuket ferry, view the schedule at http://www.phuketferry.com/
Phi Phi Pearl Paradise Resort- www.phiphiparadisepearl.com
Phi Phi Bay Resort- www.phiphibayview.com
Phi Phi Villa Resort- www.phiphivillaresort.com
CAMPING IN MAYA BAY:
Maya Bay Tours- www.mayabaytours.com
Garlic 1992 (nothing special about location, but very good cheap food)
Mint (behind Outrigger hotel), beachside dining
Jasmine Restaurant, beautiful candle lit beachside dining
Deaf Gecko Rock Climbing (great climbing company)
The Adventure Club www.phi-phi-adventures.com (excellent diving and snorkel company)
Bob's Sailing Booze Cruise www.phiphiboozecruise.com (it's a party on a boat and offers some great stops around the entire island)