We woke up with sunshine pouring through the windows of our cabin at Railay beach. The rain had cleared and the sea reflected the blue sky. Our boat left after breakfast and the views onto Railay’s rocky coastline were stunning and we watched them get smaller and smaller until we lost sight of them. When we arrived to Ko Phi Phi we stepped onto the pier and into the busy, chaotic world of one of Thailand’s most famous and touristy islands. Before we could even set foot on the island we had to pay 20 Baht each. Some kind of tourist tax. Welcome to Ko Phi Phi!
First impressions of Ko Phi Phi
After we’d found our hostel, on the way refusing the offers of several guys to help us carry our bags, we set out to explore. Ko Phi Phi is a small island and there is only one village and no motorised vehicles. The village seems entirely devoted to tourism. Shops selling clothes and souvenirs line the streets, big western looking bars seem totally out of place and tour companies try to get your attention as you walk past. Every restaurant serves western food and you can get alcohol buckets and cheap beer wherever you look. Although this was exactly what we expected from a place like Ko Phi Phi it still felt a bit disappointing. We were happy to find the food market where a few small restaurants served Thai food that was not as ridiculously overpriced as the food in most other restaurants on the island.
Nighttime on Ko Phi Phi
At night Ko Phi Phi changed into a loud, big party with fire twirlers showing off their skills at every beach bar and terrible music blasting into the night sky. We relaxed in the hammocks in front of our hostel, which was right on the beach and far enough from the party scene to be a pleasant place to drink some beers. We enjoyed the fact that we didn’t feel like we missed out on anything by not joining the drunken party.
Exploring more of the island
Because we tend to get restless from sitting on the beach the whole day we decided instead to explore some of the island on foot the next day. We hiked up to the viewpoint where we almost got attacked by monkeys. After dumping the bananas we had in our backpack we continued our way up. From the viewpoint there was a path that led us through the forest to another viewpoint and then over the mountain to a small beach, away from the village. Still not a secluded hidden paradise beach though. A resort was build right on the beach and little bungalows were scattered on the hill side. After a dip we made our way back to the other side of the mountain. A slightly scary encounter with more monkeys and a dozen mosquito bites later we made it back to our hostel where we spent the rest of the day relaxing.
All in all
Ko Phi Phi is definitely a holiday island. It’s not the place to experience authentic Thai culture or find great Thai cuisine. However, if you are looking for a beach holiday and some partying at night and you don’t mind mingling with tons of young sun burnt westerners looking to get drunk at places with names like “The Banana Bar”, then Ko Phi Phi might be just the place for you. Despite it not being our scene, we still really enjoyed our time on this famous Thai island!