It’s not as extreme as Fiji. It’s not as far away from the rest of the world, it’s not as hard to get to, the boat isn’t as far, it’s not quite as expensive, it’s not as empty feeling, but it’s as close as you get. Maybe I should say it’s the easy version.
Phi Phi Islands
The main island is “Phi Phi Don”. The main pier and the backpacker area is on the southside of the long island. The east side up to the northeast side of Phi Phi Don is where more of the resorts are, like the Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island.
Snorkeling out in front of the Holiday Inn Resort and that beach in general, it’s filled with coral. If you go out past the ropes eventually the coral drops off. If I had never been snorkeling before in SE Asia, it would have been amazing. Tons of fish.
We also went to Mosquito Island rented a boat for 900 THB for 2 hours ($28).
Definitely never saw any of the more interesting things, like sharks, turtles, sting rays, octopus, etc…
Going in low-tide in general is ideal because the visibility isn’t perfect, and some of the coral would otherwise be way down there.
Getting to Phi Phi
From Phuket or Krabi you need to take a two hour ferry boat. The boat roundtrip isn’t cheap, it’s like $30 per person roundtrip, or to get to the Holiday Inn Resort it’s $46 because you have to get a connecting ferry.
The worst part about this isn’t the boat ride it’s that Phuket is ruled by a taxi mafia that monopolizes the prices. So a ride from the Phuket airport to the pier is probably $35 one way. Maybe you could first get a bus to Phuket Town, and then you’ll be close to the pier.
There is only one option – the Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi. It’s 35,000 IHG points, which is either insane or cheap depending on the season. From what I hear, the hotel goes up to a few hundred dollars a night, although I don’t see that on IHG’s website.
Regardless, it was $100/night and we did cash stays given the Big Win promo was almost over and we hadn’t finished. But given that the InterContinental Koh Samui is only 25,000 points, I’d say 35,000 is insane.
However, all the hotels there are over priced in terms of cash, because of its remote location. The hotel itself isn’t glamarous but it’s still awesome.
As plats, we were given an hour of free drinks at the bar each night and a bungalow right on the beach. This bungalow was pretty decently sized, but the best part was that it was on the beach and all ours.
The beach right out in front of the hotel and all the way up the beach in general, is awesome. There’s almost no need to see anything else.
Other things to do
If we go back, we’ll likely do the boat tour to Phi Phi Leh. Phi Phi Leh is incredibly touristy, but iconic and dream-like.
There is a snorkel spot called “shark point” that may be worth doing. Apparently it’s where all the (small) sharks hang out, and since we didn’t see any sharks elsewhere, maybe we’ll go next time. Unfortunately it was on the opposite side of the island from where we stayed.
Lastly, they have plankton tours they do at night. Some tours have you spend the night in Phi Phi Leh or right on the boat, but apparently you can see it from all over if you take a boat at night. Next time as well.
It’s not the Yasawa Islands, Fiji, but it’s a lot cheaper, which is because it’s not actually in the middle of nowhere. Despite being tiny, there are a number of hotels and it’s not that far from mainland.
But the main thing is that the water isn’t as clear. Beaches are awesome, the scenery is awesome, Thailand is awesome and the water is good. Actually, it’s great if you’re comparing to Florida.
It’s been my favorite place in Thailand so far. I’ve been to many places in Phuket and Krabi, but would much prefer Phi Phi to either. It’s also the experience. Other islands including Langkawi and Bali… it’s an easy trip. Phi Phi is also easy but it feels like a journey. You feel alone.
Maybe it helps that we’re traveling in martial law, which has got tourism to an all time low (which is ironic because there has been no violence since martial law started). Off peak season is always my favorite season… unless it’s someplace cold.