Islands in Thailand can be relatively affordable, if you know where to go…
I travelled to three: Koh Phayam, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Tao. Some were the perfect hidden Paradise – affordable and all. Others were more luxurious and yet, if you know where to look, it is possible to even live cheaply on those.
I compiled a series of Thailand Island Hopping, where I share my expenses and opinions about each Island I travelled to.
Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is one of those places that either love or hate. It’s a bit like Marmite. My first impression was a bad one – especially after coming from Koh Phayam. I had found my perfect Paradise Island which was quiet, secluded and had everything I liked and imagined an ‘Island Paradise’ to be and had arrived in a busy place with too many tourists, too many boats (the fact that most beaches have so many boats floating in the water, does not make me want to swim in it…), too loud and too artificial. On a good note: it had loads of beautiful cats on the Island.
I even ranted about it when I arrived. I was not happy. Then, I also realised how expensive the place is. You easily pay at least double for everything (from water to food to anything else that is a necessity) on Koh Phi Phi than you would in Bangkok. We had booked a place last-minute through booking.com and the only place we found was quite secluded – in Lana Bay (on the other side of the island).
It would have cost us 600 Baht (about 12 Pounds) to hire a boat to get to the place. As Budget travellers, this was way too much – so we decided to walk. We hiked a good two hours up to the viewpoint (absolutely stunning) and through the Jungle. It was hard. We each carry about 20kg each and this stretch had an elevation of about 200m. But we made it – and actually loved this little adventure. Thank goodness for the trekking days back in Nepal. We had practised long hikes for days. Only that in Nepal, we had Porters to carry our backpacks.
The bungalows at Green Beach Camping are nice. But be prepared to find little cockroaches crawling on the floor. As I was typing the last paragraph of this post, I had a small roach wander on my arm. Not impressed. Considering you are paying 800 Baht per person (!) and it was the cheapest place we could find on the Internet…well, I don’t think I need to say more. However, what was indeed great: we got to see a secluded part of Koh Phi Phi and yet the water on the other side was still so polluted from the many boats – it really did not entice me to go for a swim.
We were there in High Season and wandered around the streets of central Koh Phi Phi the next morning to find something a bit closer and there were loads of accommodation options available. We rented a private bungalow with own shower for 600 Baht (not per person – for the bungalow!). So…the advice on the Internet about having to book for Koh Phi Phi before you arrive, otherwise you will end up sleeping on the beach, is misleading and simply wrong. I did not share the same experience.
Just make sure to see the room before booking, as we saw places so dirty…with a mouldy stench…I could not quite believe what people are prepared to sleep in. There are many nasty rooms on Koh Phi Phi. Beware of the central part aswell, if you want a good night’s sleep. After dark, the place turns into Ibiza. Boom Boom Boom non-stop. Loud music and loads of teenagers & 20-somethings getting drunk. It’s not a pretty sight. At least not if you are not into these kind of things.
We booked a day trip to visit surrounding bays, snorkel with beautiful colourful fish and visit the famous Maya Bay. I do must say: Maya Bay IS stunning. I’ve never seen such crystal clear water and white sand – ever. It’s an experience I would not have wanted to miss – despite my ambigous feelings towards Koh Phi Phi.
However, after staying here for four nights – strangely…the place started to grow on me. I was nice to be able to find decent WIFI connection again. I guess, it’s all about adaptation – and we humans adapt very quickly. It’s nice to have experienced such stark contrasts: Koh Phayam and Koh Phi Phi – two veritable opposing ends on a scale.