Status Update (Asia)

Koh Phi Phi


AUGUST 27 – AUGUST 31

We left the mainland of Krabi, Thailand on 04/09/18. In the night before we just walked up to one of those many small ticket booths you can find pretty much everywhere in touristy locations here and bought two tickets for a ferry the next morning. There are different companies that offer ferries – in fact for every person transportation service there are like 3 or 4 different biggest companies you could choose from. We didn’t inform ourselves before we booked the ferry and maybe we should have done that because the companies vary in terms of pricing, included services and safety. In that particular case everything worked fine but you’ll get an example for a blindfolded booked bus ride that didn’t went so good in a future blog post!

You better inform yourself about bus/taxi/ferry companies before booking tickets. The ticket offices sell different tickets from different companies (because they have different time schedules and the choice of the correct company for you often depends on the time you need the ride) so first ask them which companies are suitable for you, then do a little google research about their quality of service – TripAdvisor may have some comments from former customers – and then decide which you should choose. We mostly don’t have to leave at a certain time, so we are able to choose the company we like the best and don’t have to stick to the only company that fits into our schedule.

But yeah, luckily our ferry was good – not extremely comfortable but safe with overall okay kinda service. Btw if you travel with technical stuff (laptop, camera,…) you definitely want to keep that in a separate bag. On ferries they often stack all the passenger’s bags to one big heap on the outside of the boat, as on the inside there is not enough space. Imagine your camera gear buried under 50kg of luggage! And even worse: what if it suddenly starts to rain? No thanks!

From AoNang Beach to Koh Phi Phi

We booked our airbnb only some days before – like we always do. Plans change all the time and if you booked all your accommodations and tickets for ferries and busses before your journey even starts, you’ll find yourself completely stressed out, trying to stick to deadlines and either not having enough time in some locations or having to much time in others. We actually wanted to stay in Koh Lanta for only four nights but ended up being there for two weeks! But that’s another story for a future blog post! 😉

Quick side info: Koh (or actually correct: Ko) means island on Thai and can be found in front of every name of every single Thai island. So don’t be confused that Google Maps says Phi Phi Islands – that’s just the English name for Koh Phi Phi. 

So when we booked our stay on Koh Phi Phi we asked our contact person if their accommodation offers a free pickup service from the point where you arrive. You should always do that! You’ve to think about the following: You travel to another country. You don’t know sh*t about it’s infrastructure and public transportation. In Germany taking a taxi is very expensive – in Thailand it’s cheap and you use it all the time. So think about how you will get from the airport you’re arriving to your accommodation. As I said, taxis are a great option in Thailand, for example. Or shuttle services you can find at airports. But often hotels offer a free pick-up from airport and you can save a lot of money by asking for that. 

The beach next to the town
Our stay

In this particular case the pick-up service from the harbor was a little bit different. Koh Phi Phi is a quite small island that is not designed for cars. When we got off the ferry we felt like we were in some kind of a fun park because there were only walking streets (that are more like narrow alleys) and everywhere are fancy theme restaurants and souvenir shops. As a german living in western Germany I had to think about the Phantasialand immediately. So in this case our pick-up service wasn’t a taxi or tuk tuk, it was just a guy with a wheelbarrow for our backpacks. On our way up the hill we realized that most of the resorts and hotels on this island would offer a pick-up service because we would have never found the way to our resort by ourselves! Just take a look at Koh Phi Phi on Google Maps. There are barely any streets marked on the map and each resort follows closely after another (often you can’t even see where the bungalows of one resort stop and where the bungalows of another one start). 

Koh Phi Phi from above

I gotta say that Koh Phi Phi wasn’t the right destination for us. Yes, it has beautiful beaches with monkeys on them stealing your stuff if you have it unfixed to your backpack (which you could only access by boat if you don’t want to make your way through the jungle – just take a look at the map above) BUT it’s generally more designed for party-all-night kinda people. First we thought we made a mistake with booking our resort because it was located so far from the main area (about 15 min walk) but we realized the first night that we were in fact lucky to stay there as the town starts to get crowded in the evening and parties last all night. So if you’re looking for something like that, Koh Phi Phi is your place in Thailand! Cheap and strong drinks, sociable people everywhere and a ton of bars and restaurants that are open all night. Of course that was not what we were looking for but we realized that Koh Phi Phi’s beach bars are different. Here you can chill out on beach mats, watch the stars, have a drink and listen to transcendental music until the sun rises again. Quite every single one of them also offer special VERY relaxed experiences on demand… if you know what I mean. Maybe this is rather of your taste?

Party Boat Tour

For our next day we booked a party boat tour. It was quite expensive for us traveling on budget but we thought we should make this experience once in a lifetime. It actually turned out great, although we could possible have booked a cheaper tour. We paid around 40 to 50$. The following was included:

  • 8 hour boat trip with 8 or 9 stops
  • unlimited water, softdrinks and alcohol
  • unlimited watermelon & lunch
  • around 15 to 20 people
  • speedboat with bass-heavy music system

You find offers like this around every corner and you’ll be addressed by people selling those tours every couple of minutes. You could walk around, listen to every offer and decide depending on price and included services but you can never be sure that you’ll get what they promise you so either you look up the reviews of every agency online or you just hope the best and book anything. We booked a tour offered by Black Sails Adventure. We stopped everywhere they said we would, our guide was a really cool guy and we had a lot of fun meeting the people that shared the ride with us. The only downsides were that we didn’t see any sharks (which isn’t the agency’s fault – I’m going to sue the sharks!) and the glowing plankton which we were supposed to see at night was more like a faint glimmer you could notice when you move your hand through the dark water. But as everything else was as expected, they’re passing.

The guide took photos with his GoPro and we got them all for free

Quick tip in between: if you’re going to Monkey Beach make sure not to wear a hat! Also leave yellow things on the boat, the monkeys may mistake them as bananas. As they love investigating your stuff, you maybe want to leave your backpack on the boat as well. If a monkey is willing to climb up your shoulder just let it do so – it’s okay if they are the ones coming to you. You in return should not try to touch them as they’re getting aggressive easily. If your guide knows what he’s doing, he will tell you about all this but just in case you’re unlucky and book a bad tour… I warned you.

These things happen sometimes

That’s pretty much everything I have to say about Koh Phi Phi. It wasn’t the place for us but looking back we had a good short time there and we maybe could have made more of it by trying more of the activities offered around every corner. You could rent a kayak and explore the nearby located small islands, for example. That’s supposed to be really cool and I gotta say the area around Koh Phi Phi has to offer really beautiful beaches. Just expand your stay if you enjoy the island – that’s the best way of backpacking. Don’t plan too much ahead and give yourself the freedom to stay where you want to and to leave places you don’t like. Just take it easy.

Want to see more? Picture series of Thailand is online! Go take a look https://martinklengel.com/portfolio/thailand/

 

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