Phi Phi is a complete contradiction. Equal parts stunning paradise island and South East Asia’s answer to Magaluf Uncovered.
The narrow isthmus that separates the two mountainous outcrops that make up Phi Phi Don is a rabbit’s warren of massage parlours, identikit Thai restaurants, dive shops, pancake and smoothie stalls and party bars with post pubescent reps peddling their various drinks offers.
In recent years the beautiful twenty something backpacker set have truly bedded themselves in, downing buckets of Thai whiskey and supercharged Red Bull and dancing to dance remixes of the Macarena on the beach.
It’s an odd contradiction.
Phi Phi is one of the most beautiful islands you’ll ever see, and the narrow streets carry some charm. But if this were Ibiza, we’d be smack bang on the San Antonio strip.
The soundtrack never changes and couldn’t be less cool if it tried.
We got into the spirit on night one, downed a super strength bucket and revelled in the fire shows and Double Dutch aficionados. But we haven’t dragged our early 30s bodies down there since.
The party vibe means you’ve got to pick your times to appreciate Phi Phi’s true beauty.
We did an amazing early morning snorkelling tour around the impossibly beautiful and uninhabited Phi Phi Leh, just across the sea. But beware – the later any trip leaves – the more congested the waters will be – some boats we saw had groups of 15 plus!
We opted for ‘The Adventure Club’, and although it was tough getting there for 7:30am after our night on the buckets, at least for one of us it wasn’t to much of a problem (more to follow!)
We saw sharks, so many amazing fish we lost count, a solitary turtle, and about four hundred day trippers paying a tenner to stand on The Beach made famous by the film of the same name. We watched on from our boat.
The only downer was the return of James’s sea sickness; the yellow snappers certainly enjoyed his mid-snorkel chunder though! Those cocktail buckets take no prisoners.
We also rented a kayak and paddled out to see an amazing sunset among the stunning limestone karsts (the proper name for the rocky stacks synonymous with the picture postcard image of Thailand).
James isn’t scuba certified so Chris ventured out alone on day two, taking in a dive on a shipwreck, reef and then a night dive amongst the sleeping fish.
After choosing carefully and heading out early, he missed the crowds. At some dive sites in Thailand you can spot more divers than marine life!
But much to Chris’ amazement, he got one to one attention from Barakuda Divers, and felt like a VIP being one of only a handful of divers on the boat!
Another highlight was scaling the island’s highest point and checking out the three lookouts offering amazing views of the island.
The weather has also been unpredictable – glorious blue skies one minute and torrential downpours the next. It’s a good job we brought our Middle Aged waterproof coats!
Our modest budget hasn’t taken us to the polished resorts on the other side of the island, far away from the Eurodance just yet.
Are we over it at 32 and 33 years old, or should we just embrace our advancing years?! Our party days aren’t over just yet, we just pick our nights out a bit more wisely these days!