Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beaches - Phi Phi Islands

So I am experimenting with different features for this here blog and I have thus far added hotel reviews and a feature discussing strange animals.  Today I am going to try my hand at a different type of feature that I would like to incorporate into the site, "Beaches."  I love beaches.  You probably love beaches.  They are one of the most appreciated naturally occurring  features on the planet, and have a way of defining the regions that possess them.  

The Phi Phi Islands are rocky palm swept islands surrounded by aquamarine waters.  All in, there are 6 islands that bear the Phi Phi moniker, with Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh headlining.  Phi Phi Don possesses the only village and population in the Phi Phis, while Phi Phi Leh is uninhabited national parkland made famous by "The Beach" starring Leo DiCaprio.  "The Beach" is the infamous Maya Bay, a partially protected bay surrounded by rock with a white sand beach in the center looking out to sea.  At night, plankton glow in the bay, lighting it up from beneath the water.    

The islands fulfill the basic requisites for tropical paradise with white sand, clear water, and great reefs to poke your mask into.  From a standpoint of natural beauty, they are perfect.  While the setting could not be more idyllic, it has an also ran type of feel with young backpackers everywhere.  Ever since "The Beach" was released, droves of young adventurers have boarded boats bound for these small islands like pop culture pilgrims.   The Phi Phi experience is lessened by these hard charging party monsters, as they have come to define the culture of the island.  If you are looking to party of course, then you have found a great spot.  The rest of us can find quiet respite fairly easily, but there will be bros.

Phi Phi Don has a very laid back island vibe.  The village is the main area for commerce in the Phi Phis, and you can buy necessities, arrange tours/dive trips, or find a place to stay while in the village. The island has many resorts and hotels, several of which can only be reached by dragon tail boat taxi from the village.  The village is fairly crowded, and during the high season, expect to brush elbows with the international party crowd.  During my time in the village, it felt like a Bizzarro Spring Break.  I stayed on the north side of the island away from the crowds.

The Phi Phi Islands are worth the trek.  Phuket is over developed, but Phi Phi provides the island feel that made Phuket an international destination to begin with. I give the Phi Phi Island beaches a 8.5 out of 10.

Getting to Phi Phi
The easiest way to get to Phi Phi is to fly into Phuket and take a boat onward to the islands.  Phuket is serviced by a number of southeast Asian hubs, with flights on AirAsia from Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore being the best bargains.  From Phuket, you can grab the boat from Rassada Pier at 8:30 or 1:30.  A return ticket costs 1100 Baht at most.


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