Koh Phi Phi Don is an island off the coast of Krabi in Thailand. It’s a popular getaway while in Thailand. At the pier in town the tide of tourists flows constantly, grabbing a bite, booking tours, or shopping. Approaching on the ferry Phi Phi Island rises on the horizon as a mysterious paradise with jungle covered sea cliffs towering out of the sea. The water is a clear deep blue. Tropical fish glide in schools beneath the pier as you pull into the village. Once you’ve arrived and paid the twenty baht fee you’re thrust into the bustling vacation chaos of one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations.
The pier at Ton Sai Bay welcomes all with a thin strip of beach crowded with long boats and eager Thais waiting to get you on board. In Phi Phi Don village only four things exist for you to do: eat, shop, tan and book tours. So if you’re not doing the first three then you’re probably all about the second. It pays to bargain but most of the places seemed to have a had a price point they stuck with. Still you can book diving, snorkeling, kayaking, sightseeing or swimming trips around Phi Phi or to nearby Mosquito and Bamboo island to the north. To the south there’s Phi Phi La with the popular Maya beach made famous by that infamous Leo Dicaprio movie. You won’t be evading drug runners or discovering any idyllic bohemian villages, but it’s pretty nonetheless. Whether you’re beneath initial impressions while approaching phi phi on the ferry so expect the teeming masses to be streaming through the narrow streets and covering every inch of white sandy beach.
One thing you notice on Phi Phi are the hotels. If you’re not staying at one of the five star luxury resorts then prepare yourself for a rude awakening. The decent Guest Houses and hotels will cost you and you’ll find yourself paying because the other accommodation makes the Bates Motel in Psycho seem like the Hilton. In the low season I could have simply arrived and found something, but I booked ahead and immediately regretted it. Shabby, smelly, and sinfully dirty summed up my hotel experience, though I promptly found a nicer though costlier substitute. After checking in I made my way through the village opposite Ton Sai to Loh Dalum Bay where most of the folks staying in the village spend the day tanning on the beach.
Most of the tourists seemed a combination of twenty somethings bumming around partying and older couples on a romantic getaway with a few families thrown in. During the day most seemed content to lay away in the sun. Other than that there’s the rabbit warren of twisting village streets to explore all the stalls, restaurants, cafes and bars. Hawkers in shorts and T shirts catcall passerby competing to lure as many as possible into their establishments. The constant catcalls gets tiring but soon you tune it out and it becomes a background drone of “hey, you, Chocolate man, got something for you” or “Hey, Man, Hey Man, Hey Man.” or my least favorite “My brother, my brother”. What I did like was that WIFI was everywhere though you had to have the password for the day from each place.
I spent my couple of days on Phi Phi alternating between the beach and sightseeing trips around the area. Instead of heading back to Phuket I should’ve stayed a few more days. Still, I wanted to be back for Muay Thai kickboxing!