Thursday we flew from Chiang Mai to Phuket, arriving at 2pm. We had pre-booked a hotel in Patong Beach but stupidly took the mini bus which ended up taking hours. We were rather frustrated and eager to get on the beach by the time we had checked in. Patong beach is extremely touristy and it wasn’t very nice at all. You could definitely tell that the tourist season had been affected by the airport closure though as the majority of the deck chairs were empty. That night we went out to explore the nightlife which was very tacky and seedy, think neon lights and drunken people everywhere. You’ll be disappointed to know that we didn’t go to ping pong show…the people on the street try and get you into their bars saying free entry, but your first drink cost you mega bucks. Although that's not what put me off, it’s the list that they show you with all the things you will see in a ping pong show… and I can tell you “ping pong” is very tame compared to what was on that list!
Friday morning we took a 1.5 hour ferry ride over to Ko Phi Phi which we’d heard was gorgeous and we weren’t disappointed. There are no cars on the island and to get to the lovely outlying beaches with all your gear you need to pay for a boat ride. We’d been recommended to stay at Viking Resort by some people we’d met on the overnight train so headed there straight away and were lucky to secure accommodation. We stayed in an awesome bamboo hut with ensuite (cold shower) for the first two nights, and then moved to another hut without ensuite and closer to the beach for three nights. The people were really good and gave us a great discount plus let us use snorkelling gear etc for free.
We spent the next few days laxing on the small secluded beach right in front of our resort. We ate out for every meal (all resorts have own restaurants), explored the shops on the island, Niki had another massage or two and I got a pedicure. From our beach to the main island bit was about 20 min walk over a steep-ish track but it was generally ok until one of the last nights we came back latein the dark over the rocks and I somehow fell into the water, with our camera in my bag! It’s buggered, we are so gutted, but luckily our memory card is ok.
Sunday we had a 7am start (ouch!) to go out on a dive boat for Niki to do two fun dives and I did some snorkeling while the divers were down. Niki found the dives pretty good, much more to see than in Egypt, but he did have some trouble equalizing on the second dive and unfortunately his particular group of four missed out on seeing a tortoise and shark which would’ve been brilliant. The snorkelling was fantastic though, there were so many amazing colours of fish and coral and I really started to relax more even over the very deep water. I didn’t enjoy the sea lice though, you keep feeling pin pricks all over your body, but nothing comes of it.
On the Monday we spent most the day just laxing on our wee beach again and did some snorkelling in our bay which was really cool although I did have a jellyfish brush past my face eww! At 5pm, once it was getting slightly cooler, we headed up to Ko Phi Phi viewpoint which is a definite puff factor walk up many many stairs. Once at the top though you are rewarded with the most stunning views. That night we had some western food for dinner (which wasn’t half as good as the thai food) and then headed to Hippies Bar for a “vodka bucket” and some cool live entertainment including a crazy fire show.
Tuesday we had breakfast on the main island and arrange to go on an afternoon snorkel tour. This departed at 2:30pm and was on quite a large boat but luckily it wasn’t full so there were about 25 of us. We anchored and we swam (or kayaked) to shore at monkey island, which really was monkey island with the little critters running around and grabbing their treats from us tourists…so cute! We sailed past Viking Bay and did some more snorkelling and kayaking but unfortunately the water was quite rough, plus I had a leaky snorkel so it wasn’t the funnest. We moved on from that spot pretty quickly and tried some more snorkelling elsewhere, the staff threw handfuls of rice in the water and next thing we were absolutely surrounded and covered in amazing colourful hungry fish. It was freaky! Next stop was Maya Bay which is the island where the movie “The Beach” was filmed. Needless to say there were tourist boats aplenty here. It was amazing though, so so beautiful. The sand was so fine and pure, kind of felt like flour! We then headed back to the big boat and watched the lovely sunset while eating dinner. Was a neat afternoon with great staff. We had brought a disposable camera so have thankfully got a few hard-copy pics of our day.
Wednesday was our last day on the island so we sunbathed and swam for a couple of hours before sadly heading to the pier to catch our ferry to Krabi at 1:30pm.
We have since heard of much lovelier, more authentic, quieter (and way way cheaper) islands to go to but I think for first timers having a bit of civilisation and party atmosphere was all good.