Part of our resort package was a day trip to the Phi Phi Islands. They are stunningly beautiful islands that were made famous in the film ‘The Beach.’ There are actually two main islands, ‘Phi Phi Le’ and ‘Phi Phi Don.’ Our trip included a bit of a cruise/photo opportunity around Phi Phi Le, an hour’s snorkelling off ‘Phi Phi Don’ and then lunch and sightseeing opportunities on Phi Phi Don.
Our hotel pickup was at 7:30 am, straight after breakfast. It was the standard Thai Toyota mini-van with lowered suspension, flash sound system and 10 lucky objects glued across the dashboard: in this case a Harley, F1 cars, a Buddha, animals etc. We picked up our other passengers and then headed for the wharf in Phuket town for our departure. Our boat was a massive 3-deck ferry for maybe 300 passengers. And it was full! The sun was intense so you needed to get on quickly to score a seat in the shade, or pre-book VIP, which is air-conditioned. The stragglers didn’t even get a seat for the two and a half hour trip. Two attractive Russian model wannabes kept the male passengers entertained with their scanty clothes, posing and posturing.
Phi Phi Le looked great, rising like a green/grey mountain from the surrounding sea . The snorkelling was great fun, once they sorted out the crowd control aspects: who is, who isn’t, who wants to hire fins, who needs to change onto another boat and so on. The water, as always, was really warm and a stunning aqua colour. There were HEAPS of fish: probably only saw 4 or 5 species, but they were all around us. A tip: take some bread or some kind of food – they will swarm to you! And another tip: you don’t need to hire the fins, because you are swimming off the boat! An entrepreneurial host on board shows photos of people with cut feet from the coral, then proceeds to make a fortune hiring out fins @ 80 baht a pair. 100 pairs equals 8000 baht equals $260, every day. (The masks and snorkels are free.)
After the snorkelling a nice lunch was provided and then we had until 2:30 to explore the island before departure. We couldn’t believe the number of tourists. It’s not even high season but it seemed at saturation point. There were boats of all sizes moored at both islands, taking up a lot of the beach space. The sea was a little rough, which made no difference in our massive craft, but a few of the speed-boat and long-tail passengers suffered from sea-sickness during the crossing.
We checked out the tourist shops, a few of the accommodation options and had another swim just to cool off. Some people stay on for a day or more, which is fine, but as with any island you are somewhat isolated and don’t have as many options as you do on the mainland. Prices also seemed a lot higher.
By the time we were dropped off at our hotel it was 6 pm, which was fine by those of us on permanent holidays. Some passengers on our bus thought it was a huge investment of time from their limited holiday hours. But it was certainly worth a look.