Tourist spotting in Phuket and Koh Phi Phi
My buddy Greg joined me after my visit to Vietnam. He only managed to take 2 weeks off for this trip so we decided he meet me back in Thailand after my short trip. Last year he joined me as well for the first time and this time around we went around Thailand again. First stop was Phuket! It was my first time in Phuket and eventhough I read that it’s one of the more expensive places to visit due to tourism, I wanted to check out the “nature” and islands in the area. I love diving and that was one of the reasons why I decided to check out Phuket, despite the tsunami from 2004. https://youtu.be/dDbJfflLR0M
There were a few famous beaches that every travel agent was offering in their tours. Koh Phi Phi was the most famous one from the movie The Beach with Maya Bay beach and probably it is/was one of the more “secluded” and “hidden” beaches. The tour we took took us to Koh Phi Phi island, some snorkeling area and ending with us chilling on Khai Nok island.From the beginning I knew that the place would be packed with tourists everywhere and I wasn’t disappointed. Tons of boats and Chinese tourists were present on the so called “hidden” beach taking pictures. I doubt you could take any picture without anyone in it. The place itself was pretty cool though, if you ignore the shouting touts and tourists. Next they took us for some sightseeing at Loh Samah Bay and Pileh Lagoon. We passed by Viking cave on our way to Phi Phi Don Island and passed by Monkey beach as well, but I don’t remember seeing any monkeys there. Maybe it was just a bad timing? We ended the tour on Khai Nok island, which was just a small island surrounded by lounge chairs on the sandy beach area. In the middle there were food stalls grilling up some fresh fish and all kinds of delicious seafood. In short, this place was just to get you to spend money, sit on your ass and relax the shit out of the place. All in all the tour was…. touristy. As a backpacker/adventurour you wouldn’t like it so much, but it’s the only way to see the Phi Phi island. And even if you see it, the experience just isn’t the same when you’re surrounded by that many people.
The first couple of days I was comparing and negotiating prices for this tour, but also diving prices. I managed to find the cheapest one on walking street and booked 1 day of diving with 3 dives. Despite the damage done to the reefs, I still had a great time diving. You just can’t beat the feeling of swimming in between the fish and “deep” in the water itself. I definately recommend it and Asia is a great place to learn and dive. I even saw a turtle! I took my actioncam with me for the first time and managed to snap a few shots, but I was holding it the entire time so I couldn’t really get close ups of things. I’ve already bought a stick for next time!I was able to see octopi, turtles, lobsters (!), blacktip reefshark, seahorses, some lionfish and a bunch of mantis shrimps! They also had a wreck dive available but not on the day that I was diving. So I contemplated on diving an extra day as well. I was able to negotiate an even cheaper price than the first and 2 days after I was doing another 3 dives! The King Cruiser wreck was pretty cool and easy to swim through. The current was pretty strong though at times, but nothing too bad. After the wreck we went to a previous dive site and a new one to look for some more different types of species. Didn’t regret the second day of diving at all! Just writing about it gets me all excited all over again!
Daytime activities and nightlife
During the day when I wasn’t diving, we walked around the busy streets and shopping malls doing some window shopping and sightseeing. We didn’t venture that far, mainly walking street and the beach. During the day there’s not that much to do in the center besides hanging out on the beach and trying your hand at the parasailing and jetskiing. I just took the chance to catch up on some movies at the cinema for 1/3rd the price back in Belgium. At night we ventured out for some drinks on walking street and checked out some bars and clubs. I’m a huge fan of live music and at night the many bars are blasting all kinds of music from every side. Walking street is also (mainly) the home of all the Gogo bars, you will see tons of girls dancing on table and around poles. And the funny part is that you can see tourists passing by with their kids happily taking pictures. Not to mention the dozens of Asian tour groups with their flag. https://youtu.be/sAD3AF06d-8 We did manage to find a bar with a great hip hop live band where we often spend a few hours pre-drinking. We would go bar hopping from time to time, but our favorite was still Monsoon bar. Be sure to check it out if you’re into pop and r’nb cover bands! https://youtu.be/kpauKVBLOMw Phuket was as touristic and commercial as I expected it to be. But even with that thought in the back of my head, I was still somehow to enjoy the atmosphere and let it pass due to the great diving experience in the area. The cost was indeed higher than other places in Thailand, but if you’re stopping by for a just a few days you’re gonna be fine. If I had the choice, I would’ve just spend 1 full day walking around, sightseeing and checking out the night life. Then I would spend 2-3 days just diving and getting into the water. But that’s just me of course. Oh, one night I steered away from the busy tourist area and went to the nearby nightmarket for some cheap grub and hanging with the “locals”. I sat near a fountain with a fresh watermelon juice listening to a streetartist playing his accoustic guiter for about an hour. These are the simple things that make me happy. Keep on traveling!