After an amazing time on the island of Koh Yao Noi, Tom’s birthday was coming up so we decided to head to Koh Phi Phi. I had been there 2 years prior and I really loved it. In my head it was a stunning place, I imagined pulling up to a beautiful harbour and being welcomed in the island by authentic Thai wooden shacks with smells and flavours that were being cooked all around you.
How I was wrong. Getting off the ferry we felt like cattle, welcomed by angry Thai people asking for money, a fee which you had to pay in order to enter. This was fine, as many of the Thai islands do this, however it said the fee was for the cleanliness and upkeep of the island. Well, I would like to know what exactly they do with this money as the island is now a shambles. I don’t know what it was, whether I had changed since I last visited or whether the island had changed?
That night we went and sat on the hustle and bustle of the beach party that occurs every night. It is a chilled out environment and nice to sit on bean bags, sipping a cocktail and watching the very talented fire dancers. However, after being in such authentic, beautiful places, it just felt wrong. Phi Phi is now a place where young people go to get out of their face every night, drinking buckets of god knows what and not going to Thailand for the right reasons. I must admit, when I came last time I did the same. It’s that same old ‘backpacker trail’ that most people do when they come here. It just felt like we were in a 18-30 holiday, everyone was dressed the same, girls in denim hot pants and hightops and boys in low-cut vests each with the same dodgy arm sleeve tattoo. It literally was like Geordie shore.
There was one thing about Koh Phi Phi that I loved from last time and it was the stunning beaches, in particular Long beach. You can either trek there which takes about 20 minutes or get a long tail boat across the island. We walked there on the way and everywhere we looked there was either piles of rubbish or construction sites. When we arrived at the beach I was so disappointed, it didn’t look anything like I remembered. I kept saying to Tom “It must be round the corner, keep walking” but we had walked nearly the whole length of the beach when I realised, this must be it. The water which I remembered to be a beautiful turquoise blue colour with soft white sand was now a rubbish filled sea and a big construction site on the sand where it was actually a struggle to find somewhere ‘clean’ to sit. I felt embarrassed, the island was a mess. We decided that day (after one day of being there) that we would move on as soon as we could. The one thing I was most looking forward to coming back here was visiting Maya bay again, that really was the highlight last time I came. But after hearing poor reviews by other backpackers and judging by the state of the island this time, I didn’t dare go back as I didn’t want to ruin my precious memory of it and how beautiful it was back then.
This is just my opinion of the island, after having been there 2 years before I could really notice the difference. I can understand why people still go there, it’s a party island and I know that the surroundings of the islands are beautiful and I’m sure the other side of the island is nice (I wish we had stayed longer to explore but the time was right to leave.) But I just think you could be in Malia or Zante, the Thai culture is just not there anymore, the island has been taken over by Europeans that just want to get drunk, it wasn’t for me. (Hence, no pictures from there.)
We left on Tom’s birthday morning and headed to Koh Lanta. I felt bad as it was his birthday and it was kind of a shambles, but we had found a really good hotel deal in a 5 star hotel so we were looking forward to some luxury. It was a lovely hotel and we had our own private pool and jacuzzi bath, after being in Asia for a while with no hot water and using a tiny shower, it was pure bliss!
We hired a scooter the next day and explored the island, as we were there during rainy season, the weather wasn’t great. We went to most of the beaches on the West coast, they were nice but again extremely dirty. We were told that during off-peak season they no longer clean the beaches, which is a real shame as they do get filled up with rubbish and makes them look unwelcoming. Also in off-peak season, a lot of the restaurants and bars were closed and it shocked us how hard it was to find somewhere which was open for dinner. There were a few other tourists too just walking up and down the town trying to find somewhere to eat. We stayed in Koh Lanta for a couple of nights then decided to move on. We had planned to do some of the smaller islands such as Koh Kra, Koh Lipe and Koh Kraden. However, low season meant no ferries! We did manage to find a way to get to Koh Lipe though, it involved a long old mini bus ride and a near death speed boat trip but we got there…