Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Indie Guide Thailand: Koh Phi Phi

Backpacking the Islands: Drink your Face off in Paradise 


Is Phi Phi for Me (Me)? 

There are only 3 reasons to come to the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi. You either want to a) rip yourself off with overpriced diving b) pretend to be Leo and fatten up your FB photo count with The Beach albums that no one cares about or c)  drown your face in buckets of Thai whiskey, sleep all day and then do it again, repeat, repeat, repeat.


From my scientific research based wholly on personal affinities and anecdotal evidence, I've concluded that 83% of people come because of the insane party vibe. They then partake in other more wholesome activities merely to avoid being the King of Absolute Waste-Casedom slash validate their existence as  real human beings with feelings that don't reek of booze.

Came here a couple years ago with mon ex amour. Loved it. Came back this year. 

This spot on the west side of Thailand truly is awesome though. The island is tiny with no cars. Everything is jammed packed together creating an amazing village community with the streets lined with cute dive instructors manning the shops, beach bars, restaurants and Thai street stalls. The downside to these close quarters is that it is hard to escape the nightly madness and parties on the beach so if you are coming here with your rosy cheeked toddler and vacay fun, for the love of good parenting, don't.

And like a lot of the Thai islands, the local culture has been eroded/evolved to feel more like a deep fried Euro-nugget rather than the vibrant Asian island I imagine it once was. Visiting this drunken foreigner Disneyland may be your bucket of alcohol, or it may not be. The one thing everyone can agree on is that it is outstandingly beautiful. Depending on your tolerance for inebriated 20 something year olds and your affinity for beauty, it may be worth a visit.

For me and most people I know, it definitely is. But, hell, give me a couple years and I will probably be pushing cougar slash creepy-old-lady-without-a-life territory (recently turned 25, it hurts more than arthritis to see all these 19 year old Brits!)


Phi Phi Friends that we met up with in Koh Phangan. Party doesn't stop in the Islands. 

Anyways, everyone has their own recommendations on what's the best on the island. If you're my friend (Caro!!) and are brave enough to face daylight here are mine.

How Long to Go For


  • 4 days is ideal. You can party hard and see all the sites in this amount of time. Personally, I stayed for 7 days and definitely started to get antsy and bored. Partying is groovy but I don't like just sleeping all day or lounging on a tiny beach that is shitty to swim in. Plus, there is no beach volleyball. Others have stayed 10 days or a month and just love it. Depends on what you're looking for.


Where to Stay


  • Mr. Local Dorm. Really good air condition and an amazing place to meet people. Everyone from that hostel has rejoined in other parts of Thailand. The management is laid back and as far as Phi Phi goes, it's not that expensive. Bad sides? Toilets block quite a bit and are not that clean. Shower pressure not hard either. If you have a good budget and want luxury, this is not for you! The social aspect is its best quality. People I met there ended up all meeting in Koh Phangan and having more mental moments! 
300 Baht/night.


Cost of Living


  • Expect to spend 800-1000 Baht/day3 cheap meals + dorm rent + 2 buckets of alcohol) and then more when you want to do the fun stuff besides slink around Slinkys.  If we use chicken fried rice for our price comparison, in Bangkok it's 20-30 Baht on the street and the cheapest you can get it here is 60. In Koh Phangan Haad Rin it's 50. The cheapest dorms are around 300 Baht, whereas around Thailand you can get it for 100. Diving is more, alcohol is more. The reason being because electricity and rent is extremely expensive here. So locals are not trying to rip you off, but just the cost of living for everyone is higher. The price of paradise, I suppose. 

Things to Do


  • Hike to the Viewpoint. About a 30 minute walk to the top of Koh Phi Phi. It's beautiful and not too physically taxing. Worth it for your Facebook vanity. Also, it's free!

It's Leo!! Or..just my German colleague with a girl's name, Robin

  • Camping Trip in Maya Bay (THE Beach!). Most people just do the day trip with snorkelling and a couple hours on The Beach but that sucks because tourists storm the site like tweens at a Bieber concert. Kind of lose the dumbfounding effects of the raw beauty. Best way to do it is cough up the dough and camp out, singing songs around a 'fire' drinking and laughing and ultimately falling asleep to the waves and watching the sun turn the water sparkling purple to blue in the morning. Holy shizzle. TIP: The only thing I recommend is bringing your own sleeping bag and pillow because the equipment SUCKS. Didn't sleep a wink cuz my bag was damp and full of sand. Ugh, I'm a princess blah blah, whatever.  Also, if you're in a couple, defo do this! I wallowed in my (normally loved) singledom and wished someone would ask me to marry them. The Beach Effect. 


Price: 2500 Baht with free meals, 2 free buckets, snorkelling.


  • Kickbox for Booze. Get in the ring at Reggae Bar and weigh the weight of your balls. Having no formal training and experience I merely wanted know what it was like to punch another person in the face. You know, the dreams where you try and try to punch someone but you keep missing? Well, I had had enough. It was awesome and hard and exhilarating. TIP: Don't drink before hand for risk of puking (ahem, Chanine!). Even if you don't drink, you risk puking. Basically, someone is blowing chunks. But hus is the consequence of having your head beat in repeatedly. Watch my video against a giant butch British beast!



  • Lounge at the Rooftop Banana Bar. One of the only rooftop bars in Koh Phi Phi, you can watch movies nightly at 7 pm and/or get super mellow there daily. They sell stuff over the bar. The Mexican food is great for munching. 


Things Not to do


  • Diving certification.  The diving is better in Koh Phi Phi but it is also hella expensive. It's about 12,000 Baht and that doesn't include your accommodation. I recommend doing it in Koh Tao (like I did) for 9000 Baht + lodging and then doing fun dives in Phi Phi. The island is losing a lot of business because of its high prices that are all fixed. Hopefully in the future they will realize that poor backpackers are not willing to front that dough.

Conclusion

Koh Phi Phi is one of the most expensive places in Thailand but also one of the most partylicious. If you are backpacking in Thailand for months or merely there for a couple weeks, this should definitely be one of your stops. There ain't much else to do there except drink and the things I've listed above, but hell is it worth it. Get in and get out quickly with some of the best memories of your life slash trip in Thailand. Bon chance, backpackers!

And please, if you have any advice, recommendations on hostels or things to do, please let the rest of us know! 

Music: Beachside Bonheur from Cali


This is the perfect music for summer and beach-time bonheur  by Ko Ko. First found off my amazing Frenchie friends' music blog, Les Radis Sanglants, I have since fallen in love. Whether you are in Thailand, Indonesia or Toronto, Float brings the soul of summer joy! Cheese cheese, shut it and listen.

Download: Float- Ko Ko.mp3