I've said it before and I'll say it again, our favorite country to visit while living in South East Asia continues to be Thailand. We've been to Phuket and Krabi, we still want to visit Chang Mai and soon there will be a boys weekend in Bangkok but to "get away from it all", I highly recommend KO PHI PHI. If that name sounds familiar, it's because Phi Phi was one of the more devastated areas of the 2004 Tsunami, it is also close to where they shot scenes for the DiCaprio flick, "The Beach". Well, I am happy to report that Phi Phi is back up and running at full strength and it's a great location for a weekend away.
The only way to Phi Phi is via boat so you have to fly into either Krabi or Phuket, taxi to the dock then take a 1-3 hour boat ride (depending where you depart from and how old your ferry is). You could charter a speedboat but that's far more expensive and only saves you 1/3 of the time. Also be weary of hotels that offer you "Airport Transfer" some places will charge you double of what it would cost if you just hailed a cab at the airport and booked your own ferry at the pier (judgment call - follow your gut).
Once in Phi Phi, the ferry drops you off at the main pier which is extremely congested with arriving and departing passengers as well as Hotel hawkers picking up reserved customers and trying to drum up more business. There are no cars on Phi Phi so you have to walk to your hotel, luckily the island is so small and compact, a 20 minute journey is about all you have to endure at the most. The island is covered in tourist shops, scuba schools, restaurants and food stalls but surprisingly very few "Beer Bars" unlike most major Thai towns. Phi Phi seems to be a popular destination for European tourists as we were one of the only English speaking couples in a sea of Russian, Swiss and French accents. Add to the fact that it was Chinese New Year weekend and it made for an extremely busy place! Word to the wise, do your best to speak some Thai and you will be treated very well.
We had great weather on Phi Phi and enjoyed the beach right outside our hotel, where we drank some umbrella drinks and saw some fire-dancing in the evening. We ate some amazing thai food at our three favorite restaurants: Pum (a small chain of Thai-cooking schools that serve amazingly fresh dishes), Anna's (mom & pop style Thai home cooking done right) and Papaya (a shoddy looking hole in the wall that dishes out fantastic Thai food). We also got tattoos done traditionally with the Bamboo stick! Michelle got the Thai word for "Breathe" on her wrist while I got the Thai "43", my lucky number, on my arm. I was expecting more pain from the bamboo but it wasn't too bad and overall the tattoo was quick. This is Michelle's second Bamboo tattoo, the first being the five flying birds on her forearm she got last year in Krabi.
We would definitely go back for another relaxing weekend in Phi Phi, perhaps to scuba or get another, larger tattoo but it made a good first impression. Here are the PICS to prove it!