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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Thailand’s Unsung Treasure - Phi Phi Island



Wazzup Pilipinas!

Thailand’s draw as a one of the world’s leading holiday destinations can never be doubt. It has an almost mystical magic that impels people to explore its treasures, diversity and beauty. The evolution of holidaying trends has seen travelers look beyond Thailand’s mainland and towards the tropical islands peppered around its coastline.

The Land of Smiles is blessed with 1,430 islands, some uninhabited, but each with its own unique charm. One of the most pleasing and fascinating islands, nestled in the blue waters of the Andaman Sea, is Phi Phi. It’s not the biggest, it’s not the smallest, but, arguably, it does play host to the very best of holiday experiences. Phi Phi’s attraction doesn’t stop with the exploring traveler; it has also been irresistible to Hollywood.

In 2000, Hollywood sprinkled its fairy dust upon Phi Phi. Leonardo DiCaprio descended on the shores of the island for the making of the film, “The Beach”. But Leonardo was not the first, or the last. In 1995 Geena Davis graced the island to make the film “Cutthroat Island”. In 2005 there was more Hollywood fever with the shooting of “Stealth”, extensive scenes were shot at Maya Bay on Phi Phi’s Western coast.

Getting to Phi Phi

Many visitors arrive on Phi Phi from the island of Phuket, the dominant island in the Andaman Sea. The Phi Phi ferries leave from Rassada Pier in Phuket Town, located in the Southeast of the island. The crossing to Ton Sai pier takes about 2.5 hours and 3 hours to Laem Thong pier, fares are around 600 Baht per person.

There are also ferry services from Khlong Jilard Pier in Krabi. There are 2 services a day operated by the Chao Koh Group at 600 Baht, taking 1.5 hours. There are 2 further crossing by Andaman Wave Master taking 2 hours costing 450 Baht. Power boat operators also offer crossings to Phi Phi which are faster and more expensive. But, a word of caution, the Andaman Sea is part of the Indian Ocean and can be rather choppy. So, if you are not a good sailor the power boats may not be the ideal option.

What to do on Phi Phi?

For sheer beauty Maya Bay must be seen. Crystal clear turquois water, powdery white sand and lush green vegetation make this the epitome of tropical paradise. Its natural beauty can mean it is busy during the high season, November to April, but never the less, it must be ticked off the ‘Must Visit’ list.

The diving and snorkeling in the waters around Phi Phi is one of its greatest assets. There are plenty of certified dive centers on the island, Discover Scuba Diving and Divemaster to name just two.

Around Phi Phi the are many world renown dive sites, including the King Cruiser Wreck. To feast your eyes upon the very best of marine flora and fauna there is a multitude of dive sites. The shallow waters on the Eastern side of the island are ideal for the novice diver. Swimming through the marine gardens of staghorn and star coral and being amongst the beautiful reef fish is an unequaled experience.

Beach lovers must visit Moo Dee Bay. The bay sports a 500meter beach of pure white sand sandwiched between emerald water and lush green palms, perfect for a lazy day. There is also good snorkeling at each end of the bay and a ‘Rasta Shack’ selling food and drink. The best way to get to Moo Dee Bay is by longtail boat operating near the Tonsai jetty and takes around 20 minutes.

To the Western end of Tonsai Bay, the adventurous traveler can try their hand at rock climbing. Here, a climbing challenge is thrown down by a 200-meter tower of limestone reaching up into the sky. Ideal for the experienced climber and the beginner, there are no less than 48 bolted climb routes to its summit. Anyone that enjoys an adrenalin rush will love Tonsai Tower.

Many visitors fall in culinary love with Thai food. So, why not learn to cook it? Located at Tonsai village is Pum’s Thai Cooking School. Discover the secrets of blending the multiple flavors that meld to create all the wonderful flavors associated with Thai cuisine. Learn about the ingredients and techniques used and cook your own meals, to be enjoyed in the restaurant.

When the sun goes down the bars and restaurants all come to life with a jovial hustle and bustle. But unlike its bigger island neighbors, Phi Phi’s nightlife is more sedate. Emphasis is more on the island’s tropical beauty and tranquility rather than the manufactured hedonism to be found on the likes of Phuket or the mainland tourist hotspots.

Phi Phi, where to Stay?

From the backpacker to the discerning tourist, Phi Phi’s accommodation options do not disappoint. For the younger set, Ibiza House is forever popular. This hostel has a pool, private rooms and dorm accommodation, and is rather well known for its pool parties. Hangover Hostel and Blanco Dorm are also very popular with young backpackers.

Beach resorts are probably the most popular accommodation choice. Prices vary considerably with the star rating. Phi Phi The Beach, Chaokoh Phi Phi Hotel & Resort, Island Village Beach Resort and Zeavola Resort are a few of the many popular choices. Whatever your budget there is accommodation to please, and just like everything on Phi Phi, it is a part of an incredible life experience that remains in the soul.

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