Sailing into Koh Phi Phi, it would be easy to feel like you have arrived in paradise. Crystal clear water, the whitest sand and the colourful long tail boats bobbing along on the still waters, it appears to be the island hideaway that you will have dreamed of when visiting Thailand.
Unfortunately the initial beauty of Koh Phi Phi did not live up to my expectations and I was actually devastated to not enjoy my time there. So much so that I nearly talked myself into going back, just to try and convince myself that its gorgeous beaches were totally worth it. Here is why they’re not.
You Will Get Mithered.
When getting off the boat onto the island you are immediately hit with an ‘island tax’ to enter. This isn’t mentioned by boat operators so I was seriously glad I had change on me! After paying your island tax, you are hit with a gazillion people trying to sell you any kind of boat tour, diving, pub crawl under the sun. For me, an island paradise is all about chilling out in serenity, not the hustle and bustle I have come to expect from busy 18-30 resorts in Europe. Part of me thought that it would stop once we were away from the pier and nearer to our hotel. Oh how wrong I was! Every time we left, we got hounded again. I mean, how many people can sell the same boat tour?
It Is Majorly Crowded.
Stupidly, I also thought a small island could only hold so many people. We visited in October which, is not known as being a particularly busy time of year in Thailand thanks to the their rainy season. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop the tourists hitting Ko Phi Phi and the beaches were extremely busy. We didn’t get out to any of the boat trips as I had enough of them being forced on me, but anyone who has been to Maya Bay, made famous by the film The Beach, will tell you that the whole place is spoiled by the sheer amount of people and boats pulled in.
It Is Expensive.
Living in Manchester, I am used to City prices. But the prices on Koh Phi Phi are something else! You can expect to pay double what you would in Bangkok and, considering it is such a big City, that was a real shock to me. The hotel we stayed in was of poor quality compared to the other places we stayed in Thailand and cost double the amount of the plush places we had stayed in both Railay and Bangkok. I wouldn’t mind so much if the cocktails were anywhere near as incredible as the ones I drank in Bangkok. Instead you will be the odd one out if not drinking spirits with mixers from a bucket whilst cheering on fellow tourists having a punch up in a boxing ring. Yes really.
Drinking Is The Only Thing To Do.
Which brings me onto the next point. Other than a boat trip or diving, drinking seems to be all people do here! It reminded me of Spring Break in the States where groups of early 20’s types go out in their bikinis, get drunk with shots being poured directly down their throats, skinny dip and take in a fire show. None of these things scream Thailand to me and whilst I’m not averse to a beer on the beach watching the sunset, the club style atmosphere could not be avoided.
It Is Being Destroyed.
Visiting Koh Phi Phi was the first time my eyes have truly been opened to the horror of overdevelopment and the damage litter is doing to the environment. Since the disaster of the tsunami that devastated the island and killed over 2000 people, it has been built up to a new level. There is even a full paved area leading from one side of the island to the other, WHY?! People come here wanting island life, not paving over the beautiful sand. We didn’t snorkel but heard people who did talk of a mass of dead coral. The beaches are full of plastic bottles and broken glass bottles, left from the parties the night before. For a place that has been made popular by beach residing hippies, it is a sad sight to see such a beautiful place being destroyed.
It Is The Only Place I Got Sick.
Now this could be completely coincidental, as I know most people end up with some sort of tummy bug when in Thailand, but Koh Phi Phi was the only place I got sick. And boy, was I sick. I’m talking every 30 minutes throughout our last night in Phi Phi, to the point that I was actually worried that we might not be able to leave and travel to Phuket. I have had tummy bugs before so am always extra careful about what I eat and drink when abroad, antibacterial gel is my best friend. There was no escaping it here but, one thing I will say, is the pharmacy drugs are literally magic. I boarded the ferry to Phuket having just taken my first dose and the tummy gripes stopped instantly, or perhaps that is because I was leaving.