Relax! Ko Phi Phi Don

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December 8th 2014
Published: December 11th 2014
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Relax! Ko Phi Phi Don

So I had a few reservations about going to Ko Phi Phi (koh pee pee) island. It's very popular with tourists, particularly young backpackers, and there are reports that the island has become over commercialized and is now just resorts and people partying all night. However, it's also one of the most beautiful islands, with a lot of hiking and outdoors options. So we booked a place which was highly recommended on a secluded beach out of the main action, to try to get the best of both worlds. It's more expensive (about $40/night) but the reviews sure make it seem worth it.

We catch a ferry from Krabi, and it's more of a proper ferry than the long boat from the day before. It takes 2 hours or so. We arrive and it's just stunning. Yes, there are a lot of bars and restaurants and hotels on the beach front, but there aren't high rises and the development isn't egregious. It's no Miami or anything and still feels very manageable. We sort our way through the crowd until we find a guy with a Relax Ko Phi Phi sign, our resort. He tells us to leave our things with him, and to come back in 30 minutes. So we walk around the center of town for a bit, which is a square of shops and convenience stores in a narrow isthmus between the two main beaches. Cam picks up some "Ray bans" for around $4.00 and of course we score some Sam Som rum, in case of emergency.

We get back to the boat and load up with a few other passengers. There is a gay European couple who videotape everything, and another couple consisting of a very white young man with red hair and a conspicuously older Thai woman. More on that later.

The long tail boat ride takes about 30 minutes until we arrive in - paradise. The beach is about 400 meters of white sand, and our resort is the only resort on the beach. There is a main welcome area and dining area, free yoga on the beach, snorkeling, kayaks, and a scuba instructor. We are served fresh juice and are taken to our bungalow, a small wooden cabin with a canopy and a front porch with lounge mattresses. We then come to find out there is only electricity from 6pm-6am and no hot showers. A bit rustic, but adds to the charm.

We decide to catch the evening yoga session led by Sabine, a strong and beautiful woman from Holland who is on vacation, but enjoys teaching, so does so on her holidays. Yoga on the beach with nothing but the sound of the waves is so serene, and we practice through the sunset. The group gives us advice on how to plan our day tomorrow, and we have dinner and a few cocktails. We have an evening swim and call it a night.

We rise at 6 for sunrise yoga which is breathtaking, we do sun salutations and a lot of meditation. Wish I could start every day like that. After breakfast we head to the "city" center, or the main beach. There is a path from the resort which takes about an hour, 30 minutes through the jungle and then 30 minutes more. There are 3 viewpoints along the way. It's hot, and we are both in our skivvies just 15 minutes in. The jungle is shaded at least, and we see a huge snake as a bonus. At the top, we meet "Nancy", a small monkey who appears to be the gate owner's pet. She has a leash on and is tied to a chair. Unclear if she's liking this arrangement or not. We pay the 50 cents or so for access to the viewpoints. The first viewpoint is great, but the second is top notch. You can see both beaches flanking the central isthmus and water for miles, all while resting on the flat rocks. We break here and then make our way to the city. This time we head to the eastern beach which seems to be where the action is. That being said, there are probably only 20 people total on the huge beach - may be because it's still shoulder season. We take a swim and a walk and have some drinks at a bar. You can tell this is where it gets crazy at night - signs for beer pong and shots and some kids are already getting started. We make the sweaty track home, and again pause at the viewpoint, where I'm engaged in conversation with a man who is chewing something which makes his whole mouth orange and red and black and he sort of dribbles with each of his words. I read later that it's likely betel mixed with tobacco. He starts taking about Pistouros and how his girlfriend probably did something wrong to make him shoot her, and how marriages in Thailand aren't lasting long anymore. I leave at the quickest conversation break.

We arrive back sweaty but satisfied and get showered up and take a delicious nap on our front porch. We had entertained heading back up to the viewpoint for sunset, but it started raining and got cloudy, so we wouldn't have much of a view. So we opted for Thai massages on the beach instead - rough life. The Thai massage consists of a lot of elbows and feet and pressure points and stretching and bending. Your body feels really loose and relaxed after. One woman told Cam, "if you cry, 100 more baht!" after he winced a bit. The women also carry on full blown Thai conversations during the whole thing, interrupting only for "head here!" "Turn over" and "Do like this!" An experience. We then grab dinner and cocktails and we got ready for the "fire show."

Three of the hotel workers are performing the fire show that night. I wasn't all that excited about it, sounded a bit gimmicky, but man was it awesome. These guys were throwing around balls on strings ablaze in flames and twirling lit bow staffs in the air. They were so quick the streaks of light in the sky looked like a laser light show. It probably went on for 60-90minutes, so cool.

The crowd is a bit livelier tonight, maybe as we are all kept in because of the rain and the fire show. We start ordering bucket drinks, Nd fruity concoctions in coconuts, and Cam befriends the red headed man to get the scoop on his situation. He is a 28 year old German man, we'll call him Klaus, here for vacation. We had heard him and his Thai lady friend talk over breakfast, and it was obvious by the questions they asked that they did not know each other well. At one point, the woman brought out some small bills and gave them to him and Klaus said, "it's almost like you are paying me." We were curious. Turns out, our man had been a guest in the woman's hotel in Bangkok earlier that week, and he invited her to the islands with him. She hadn't had a vacation for a while, so she agreed. I'm sure there is far more backstory, and she really looked about 20 years older than him, but we left it at that. He told us her daughter was picking them up from the airport... I wonder how old the daughter was.

After a night of drinking and dancing and some new friends, we turn in. Ko Lanta next.


Relax Ko Phi Phi is a perfect place to stay if you are willing to spend a bit more and if you want a secluded spot. The food is good (not great, but totally acceptable) and everything is a bit more pricey. Also, if you want to leave the island at night, you have to hire a long tail boat which is around $40 one way. So if you want to be in the action, probably not the right spot. However, we met a German girl who had stayed on the main beach, and she said she only got an hour of sleep both nights and ended her stay early. So you decide.

Banana shake with rum. Do it.

Viewpoint number 2, well worth it.

Free Nancy.


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