Koh Phi Phi was exciting for a lot of reasons, but would I go back? – Probably not. Koh Phi Phi is a small island with an even smaller area that is developed, and pretty much only exists for tourism. This was the first place we went with no motorized vehicles of any sort. It is known for its beach parties and tours of Maya Beach where ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed. Its waters took my snorkeling virginity and I’ve never seen such a wild fire show on the beach.
There was some intrigue to see what the hype was all about, but at the end of the day, it is an island that has become totally dominated by tourism and party culture. I’m not saying you won’t have a good time, but after experiencing what other places and islands in Thailand have to offer – it is hard to get on board with all the hype.
Ko Phi Phi Day One
I think my blood almost reached boiling point. Up until this point the heat we experienced was pretty tolerable. But there we were, wandering around with our heavy backpacks trying to find our hostel, dripping in sweat. We checked into Coma Hostel, dropped our bags and then went over to Adventure Club to check in for our snorkeling trip later that day. We got our gear sized and went through a short amount of paperwork.
Then we wandered into Papaya Restaurant for lunch, per recommendation of Pedro (our snorkeling guide). Chris, the owner of Papaya, speaks 26 languages. It is mind blowing. We wandered around some of the markets for new swimsuits and a dry bag and then went back to our hostel to get ready for the snorkeling trip.
Our hostel here was probably my least favorite, but we also spent the least amount of time in it. Coma Hostel sat on the opposite side of the island from the parties (I’m assuming that’s how they named it Coma – because its one of the few hostels you can actually sleep in on the party island).
We paid for a private room/bathroom and our shower was a spout in the wall of our bathroom, so the floor of the bathroom was always wet and muddy. We could clearly hear the conversations of people next door. I am not complaining. I was so tired by this point that I slept through pretty much anything, but it was not at all glamorous.
We boarded a long tail boat and my legs began to quiver. I am moderately to severely anxious of anything that has to do with the water. I am not a strong swimmer and tell people I can’t swim for sake of both parties not finding out whether I can save myself if a situation were to arise. We get to our first spot and our guide, Pedro (shown above), finishes telling us and 2 others on our boat about the type of sea life we may encounter and what to do in the very rare occasion we see a shark.
I nervously suction my mask to my face multiple times, afraid I don’t have it on right. One after one, my fellow boat companions jump in the water. I decide to own my fear and ask for the ladder to get in. I’ve never been one to enjoy jumping in water, even with a life jacket. Pure. Panic. So, I wrench myself down this ladder and hold onto the last wrung a little longer than everyone wanted me to. Hyperventilate for 1-minute floating there with my face above the water, and then tell everyone that I just need to acclimate and will catch up.
I begin swimming to keep up with my group. I calm myself enough to finally put my face below the water. I take a few deep breaths through my snorkel and slowly keep drifting. Within 5 minutes of trying to get my breathing under control, I stop breathing. A shark appears below me swimming the same direction as me. I stop moving as the guide told us to on the boat and try very hard not to hyperventilate. Luckily the water was rather deep in this area and the shark moved quickly out of view. I hurriedly caught up to my group.
After that, I was able to semi-calmly experience so many amazing things under water and see so many species I would never have seen. We stayed out until sunset and got back in the water at dark to see the bioluminescent plankton. It was pretty darn wild.
We went and got cleaned up and went to Garlic 1992 as recommended by our hostel. This restaurant had burned down and was being rebuilt, so we were warned not to be put off by the atmosphere. The food was incredible and we were finally convinced to get a drink “bucket” and split a bucket of a delicious mojito. I was skeptical that it would be a premixed, syrup-based drink, but when we asked they listed and showed us how they made them from fresh ingredients. I think I still dream about that mojito.
We then wandered down to the beach where all the night-life was coming alive. Fire shows, neon paint, and dancing (see a section in the video below at 4:06). The Stones Bar, Blanco, and all the surrounding bars are where it is happening at night. We bounced around between them all night. Then we decided we needed a change of pace and checked out Reggae Bar, assuming it would be as named. We were very surprised to get in and be seated in front of a wrestling match.
And then I slept so hard.
Ko Phi Phi Day Two
For breakfast, we found a place called Mango Garden. It had a more modern feel, and they served a lot of foods with…yep, you’ve guessed it – MANGO! I think we were both a little nervous about how we would hold up on this all-day party boat.
Blanco Boat Party
It’s actually pretty wild how inexpensive this was (well I thought so). 1700 Baht equals roughly $51. This got us on a large boat from 12:30p-7:30p that provided:
- Open Bar
- Snorkeling, kayaks
- Tour of Monkey Cove
- Tour of Maya Bay from the movie “The Beach”
Apparently, we were semi-charming on the boat, because we managed to make some friends that wanted to grab dinner and head to the bars with us after cleaning up.
We met up at Grand PP Arcade for dinner (I truly don’t understand how some of these places got named). It was a lovely place for dinner.
Then we wandered down to the beach where we joined the party dancing in the sand, the short-lived rain storm, with neon paint covering our bodies. ‘Twas maybe too much fun for the night before we had to head to our last destination on speedboat. YOLO (cringes).
Ko Phi Phi Day Three
The thing about our hostel (called COMA for a reason), was that there was no outside light coming in. We were essentially staying in a cement block. So, we woke up with an hour before we needed to check out thinking it was 4am. The nice thing about most of the hostels we stayed at is they allow you to keep your bags at the hostel for a few hours.
We grabbed breakfast at Acqua Restaurant. It did the job. I think we convinced the owner to integrate mimosas onto her menu.
There are multiple information/tour desks around the island. We booked our speedboat through one to get to our last island of Koh Yao Yai. While we were killing time before, we decided we really needed a bloody mary after our sins of last night. Don’t do it. No matter how much you think you need one. They don’t exist on the island, and if they manage to make you one somehow, it may be the worst drink you’ve had in your life.
They threw our bags onto the speedboat and helped us in and we waived goodbye to Ko Phi Phi. God Bless.
Check out the other cities I visited in Thailand!