Thailand Part 2 – Phi Phi Paradise

3 Mar

After our busy Bangkok trip it only took one hair-raising 4am taxi ride, a domestic flight, a bus shuttle, a dodgy bakkie ride, a 2 hour ferry trip and a short longtail boat taxi, and we arrived in Paradise, I mean Long Beach on Koh Phi Phi Don.  Long Beach is around the corner from the main buzz of Phi Phi which is Tonsei Village.  It’s either a 5 minute longtail ride away (+- 200baht) or a 20 minute walk past the other resorts hidden in the “jungle”.

Long Beach from our bungalow

Long Beach from our bungalow

We stayed at the Phi Phi Paradise Pearl, and our beautiful bungalow was practically on the beach.  We found it easy enough to walk to the village for lunch and sightseeing, but then bliss to walk back to relative quiet of Long Beach which just has hotels, no shops, to flop into the crystal water that laps the white sand.  The Tonsei beaches by contrast I found to be much more crowded, noisy (with  boat traffic) and relatively murky, bordered by shops and hotels on all sides.   That said it’s actually a pretty village in a beautiful setting and while I can’t vouch for the famed party atmosphere at night I loved all the restaurants, colourful shops (every second one being either a dive shop or a tattoo parlour!) and jungle encroaching wherever it can.

On our first day we were content to snorkel  with the tropical fish just off the beach by our bungalow, read and relax in the sun, and then get incredible Thai massages under the trees next to the hotel.  For supper we treated ourselves to the “Fish Barbeque” where you literally pick your fish  (or crab, prawn, squid etc.) from the ice-packed display and then they braai it for you while you get to help yourself to salads.  My red snapper done in aluminium foil with herbs was enormous and delicious.

The next day we’d booked a “half day snorkel trip” around Phi Phi Leh, which is Phi Phi Don’s twin, uninhabited island.   Our longtail took us around steep limestone cliffs rising out of aquamarine water  and in and out of picturesque coves of white sand and jungle.  First we cruised past Viking Cave which is a major collection point for birds’ nests (a concept I still fail to understand), then stopped at Pileh lagoon for a quick snorkel and a swim before stopping at Lo Saman for the most breathtaking snorkelling I’ve ever done.  I couldn’t fathom our fellow tourists who were content to sit and fry in the sun on the boat with such an incredible world of colour just 2 feet below… Next stop was at the famous Maya bay (Leo’s “Beach”), which was stunningly beautiful but packed with literally thousands of tourists.  On the way back we stopped at “Monkey Bay”, but unlike the other spots this little beach was strewn with rubbish and I found it a bit sad to be gawping at monkeys chewing on plastic bottles.

Baked chicken and rice pineapple

Baked chicken and rice pineapple

Back at Tonsei village my lunch of baked chicken and rice in pineapple is worthy of mention (available on menus thoughout Thailand).  We then made our way up the viewpoint about 1.5km from the village center.  It was a steep walk and I thought I was going to combust from the heat, but the postcard view at the top was worth every step. So was the crushed ice & watermelon juice.

The next day we got up early to snorkel at Shark Point, apparently a place where you are practically guaranteed to spot placid black tip sharks.  We were not so lucky (like trying to spot a lion in a game reserve), but it was an outstandingly beautiful spot with an amazing variety of life and colour.  It made us so excited for the diving coming later in our trip.

The rest of the day entailed more exploring of Tonsei Village (scoping out the hotels on the far side which have intriguing names such as the “Nice Hotel” and “Popular Hotel”), drinking fresh coconut juice on the beach, bikini shopping and about as much resting as we could squeeze in.  These three days were our main downtime opportunity as all too soon it was time to catch another ferry and meet up with four of our friends in Phuket for some much more fast paced sightseeing…!

 

6 Responses to “Thailand Part 2 – Phi Phi Paradise”

  1. Astrid March 6, 2012 at 5:25 am #

    Wonderfully told, Cathy. One is able to travel with you and ‘feel’ it all!

  2. Pat March 6, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    Thanks for Part 2 Cathy. A lovely vivid description. Really enjoyed it.

  3. Anne March 11, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    The food sounds great!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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