A shallow island surrounded by stunning beauty
Everyone goes to Ko Phi Phi. Surrounded by limestone cliffs and picture-perfect waters, the island is stunning. Its regular mention in Must-Visit Travel Lists doesn’t hurt its popularity either.
In the early 90s, its name was hushed among the paradise-seeking adventurers. Ko Phi Phi was a dream come true for those lucky enough to find it. A few years later, in 2000, Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Beach released. Partially filmed in Ko Phi Phi, the movie put the island on the map for everyone to devour. What followed was a boom in tourism that, 16 years later, the island still struggles to cope with. These days, Ko Phi Phi is the poster child for the unfortunate effects of mass tourism.
We were at the end of our four-day stay in Ko Lanta and our next stop was Ko Phi Phi. The easiest way to the island was via the hour-long ferry.
I could tell this trip was going to be different. Compared to the quiet (though eventful) entrance to Ko Lanta, Ko Phi Phi greeted us with the impatient honks of ferry captains, and the arched jaunts of suitcases over the rushed stomps of their owners. We paid the Island Maintenance Tax and exited the pier to the noise of touts selling their laminated versions of the island-hopping tours.
After dropping our bags in our room, we toured the island on foot. Thirty minutes later, we’d walked through most of it.
The island is tiny. Most of the businesses are located in a narrow strip of land sandwiched between two bays. Due to its size, you feel the mass tourism even more. Imagine the crowd that Bangkok’s Khao San road attracts: multiply the numbers so there’s more people coming in than there are leaving; now put them on an island that’s more concrete than sand. That’s Ko Phi Phi.
A previous kayaking tour in Ko Lanta gave me rashes and the thought of being in the ocean again was unbearable. While my friends took a boat-tour to the infamous Maya Bay, I explored the island again, slower.
We stayed for one night. Apart from the short hike to the top, I couldn’t do much. I’m not sure I’d return; Ko Phi Phi’s beauty runs skin-deep.
HOW TO GET THERE
We took the 1-hour ferry from Ko Lanta. Every travel agent sells these ferry tickets. It’s a popular tourist destination and there are several ways to get there. You could buy a bus-ferry combo ticket from Bangkok, even. Once you’re in Surat Thani, use your combo ticket to get to Ko Phi Phi.
WHERE WE STAYED
Natacha Hotel for 1 night. Clean & simple rooms. Right next to the pier; you couldn’t miss it.
Ko Phi Phi is party central; there’s bars & restaurants on every turn. Don’t expect quality Thai food.
EASE OF GETTING AROUND