Koh Phi Phi was not what I had expected it to be. I must say I stumbled on it randomly, but have found it to be “the paradise island” all the backpackers seem to look for (watch “The Beach” for reference, even if only for young Leo).
Arriving in Phi Phi there were little signs of paradise: an overwhelming heat, locals yelling at tourists to convince them into staying in a “very very cheap” guesthouse and a huge crowd of tourists swarming onto the little island. Making my way through stashes of neon-colored “same same” tank tops and other touristy souvenirs I managed to find my hostel (which was booked and recommended by a very nice couple I met in Krabi). The Dome Paradise Dorm (which doesn’t seem to be on the web) is located next to a restaurant called Papaya and the Dojo Bar & Rolling Stoned Bar. It is family owned by very kind locals. The dorm itself is very basic, but has all it needs for a cheap place to sleep (bed and air-conditioning).
I arrived in Phi Phi around full moon, therefore the first couple of days the island seemed empty (everybody was at Koh Phangan for the Fullmoon party). After the full moon was over load of full-moon party gangers came to PP (for more party).
If you fancy to spend some time on the beach you have to wake up early. PP seems to be dead before 3-4pm (most shops and bars are closed). Chill by the beach before the tide goes out and it becomes too hot to stay under the sun. I’ve also found that the water seems cleaner early in the morning. The beach where all the clubs (Slinky, Woody’s, Ibiza, Stoned Bar) are is not a place where you’d like to swim – the water looks pretty nasty. I enjoyed staying at the IBIZA beach bar, having a mango shake and reading (they have free wifi!) on a sun bed for just 100B a day.
In the afternoons we used to rent a long boat & driver until sunset and head towards other bays nearby. Make sure you choose a boat which has loudspeakers and a jack to plug in your phone! Before boarding we stocked up on snacks, fresh fruit shakes, Changs (Thai beer), buckets and enough ice to survive the afternoon. We went to see Maya Bay (film set of “The Beach”), a beautiful bay which was completely packed with tourists taking pictures (mostly “OMG Leo has been on the same beach!! Let’s lick the sand” – kind of people). To step on the beach you need to pay! Most of the people in our group stayed on the boat (from where you could see the bay perfectly), played frisbee (in the same water where Leo swam!!) and enjoyed themselves.
If there’s something PP seems to be famous for, it’s the wild parties it offers every night. The island awakes to life at night – the streets are filled with backpackers walking barefoot in neon tops, jumping a rope which is on fire, getting tattoos on the street and drinking sang song whiskey buckets or Changs. You just need to follow the crowd and get to the beach where you’ll find lots of clubs – they all seem to be the “same same”: mainstream party hits, fire-shows, drunk backpackers and lots of dancing. The Stoned Bar has a pool table and a bigger variety of music: from trap/ dubstep to reggae where many people are on laughing gas and weed and rave under the night sky. They also have amazing drinks made with fresh fruit.
After a couple of weeks in Asia I got used to street food and was looking forward on having more curries and pad thais before leaving Thailand. Unfortunately PP is mostly packed with Western restaurants with menus that have very few local dishes. I found a very nice papaya salad at a stand by the beach (right between Woody’s and Slinky’s). I tried out some restaurants and my favorite was Papaya (right next to my dorm, in a small street by the Rolling Stoned bar). In a small side street nearby there was a small local restaurant, which made only Pad Thai (personal favorite: yellow noodle chicken!) – the best I’ve ever had! If you’re looking forward to expensive Western food – this is the right place! You’ll find american breakfast, pizza with mayonnaise and even all-you-can-eat barbecue!
I found PP to be way more expensive than the rest I had seen in Thailand. Since it’s very touristy you’ll find lots of western restaurants with the same prices as back in Europe.
– clothes: 100-650 B (tank top – Levi’s vintage shorts)
– boat: 300 B / person for a whole afternoon (we were about 7 people)
– food: 80 – 300 B (street food -thai meal at western restaurant)
– drinks: 70 -200 B (7 Eleven Changs – fresh fruit cocktail at the bar)
– hostel: 300 B / night (it doesn’t get much cheaper, most hostels are around 400-500 B/ night)
– ferry to Koh Lanta 250 B