The boon and bane of the Phi Phi islands

Koh Phi Phi Don, destroyed by tourism

I arrived at Phi Phi Don on the 11.30 ferry and was welcomed by an unfriendly Thai lady asking for 20 Baht entrance fee for the conservation of the island. Stepping off the pier, my first impression was ‘What a shithole’.

Phi Phi Don does not have any streets, and seems like a maze for ‘farangs’. The narrow alleys don’t have names or house numbers, so finding your hostel is like searching a needle in a haystack. After 45 minutes of getting lost and asking directions, Richard and I took a break for a fresh fruit shake. They are a great refresher in the afternnon heat and You can find them on every corner for 30-60 Baht. After another 10 minutes in the maze, we came across a restaurant with the sign of our accomodation upfront ‘Tapear resort’. From here a guide took us up a hill to the actual hotel. We passed huge piles of trash and a tiny sewage river on the way, which confirmed once again my first impression: a run-down tourist island which might have been a nice place a few years ago.
Artificial lake phi phi

After check-in, we went exploring the rest of Phi Phi’s center. Travel agencies, sketchy bars and massage places seemed to have taken over the island. A quick escape to the beach did not make it better. It was low tide and the few puddles were filled with dirty, black water and used condoms….no way I’m swimming in that.

Phi Phi Don is one huge party island with beach bars starting their infamous fire shows around 20:30 each evening. That’s when the fun begins: Free buckets are offered to people who dare to do the fire limbo completely naked. Needless to say that burnt nipples and hair are frequent at this point.
Fireshow at slinky beach bar koh phi phiFireshow at slinky beach bar koh phi phi

I decided I could not stay three days on that island and went to book the Maya Bay Sleep Abord tour for the following day.

Koh Phi Phi Lee – Hell by day, paradise by nightfall

Maya Bay is a shallow bay surrounded by a ring of steep limestone hills on Koh Phi Phi Leh, the second largest island of the Phi Phi Islands. The bay has superb marine life and is a favorite spot for divers. Maya Bay became world famous after the 2000 movie The Beach was filmed there. – Touropia

The Sleep Aboard Tour to Maya Bay is the only way to avoid the large tourist groups that visit the beach throughout the day. We had the chance to enjoy the peace and quiet of Maya bay after the last boats leave at around 6.30 pm. After the magical sunset we spent a lovely evening in the base camp, had great chicken BBQ and played games. Once the night falls, you get to swim with sparkling plankton under the stars. Around 11pm we were given sleeping bags and could choose a cozy spot to sleep on the boat, ready to experience one of the most beautiful sunsets at 6am.

So far this has been the best experience of my trip. Here some pictures:

Maya bay sunsetMaya bay sunset panoramaSleep aboard maya baymaya bay sunrisehouse on cliffs ko phi phiViking cave ko phi phi lee

 Next: Koh Lanta, not same same


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