After a week in bustling Bangkok we decided to get out of the city and hit the beach! Many of the travel blogs we have read speak highly of the Thai islands so we couldn’t wait to experience the sandy beaches and warm waters for ourselves.
We decided to visit two Thai Islands, Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi. We enjoyed them both, for completely different reasons. Here are some of the adventures we had on these beautiful Thai Islands:
Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi: Two Very Different Thai Islands
Quiet and Peaceful Koh Lanta
Our experiences on Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi were like night and day.
Koh Lanta is a much quieter island and for us it was quieter still because we visited during the off season. I imagine that this is one of the Thai islands which will get busier in the peak season, but in June there was no music from nightclubs drowning out the sounds of the waves and we almost always had the restaurants to ourselves when we went for dinner in the evenings.
This can be a blessing, because it gave me a chance to get lots of work done in my beach side “office”. (See the little huts in the background of this photo?) So far, I think this is the most beautiful place I have ever worked on my writing. We stayed at the Lanta Miami Resort in a beach bungalow only steps away from the ocean.
For the week that we were there we lived an idyllic life, relaxing into our own schedule and slowing down to an island pace. The resort had an infinity pool which was almost always empty so I swam in it almost every day. Although there were a few other guests at the resort, we could easily pretend that we ruled the island.
Our New Friend
When you are in the Thai islands you will notice many stray dogs and cats wandering around like they own the place. One night on Koh Lanta we were walking back to the resort from a local restaurant down the one long road which stretches across the island. Out of the shadows emerged a scruffy but friendly looking female dog who trotted up to us inquisitively. Lee extended his hand, she sniffed it and he stroked her head.
She then proceeded to walk along beside us the entire way back to the resort. Whenever the occasional car would go by, she would position herself between the cars and us while looking back to make sure we were OK.
“She’s protecting us,” said Lee and he was right. Our new friend escorted us all the way back to the resort, sat on vigilant look-out as we drank a few beers on the porch, then fell asleep curled up outside of our door after we went to bed. We named her Chang, after the Thai beers we were drinking.
When we woke up she was gone, probably off to look after some other hapless tourists.
We loved Koh Lanta. However, after a week or so listening to the frogs at night and seeing only a handful of people every day, we were ready to move on.
Koh Phi Phi: Party Central
After a scenic but seasick voyage between the Thai Islands in the Andaman Sea we arrived in Koh Phi Phi.
Noise. Music. Market Stalls Selling Jewelry, Sarongs and Flip Flops. Restaurant patios overflowing with people. Fire Poi Demonstrations on the Beach. Theme nights at the Irish Bar. Busy streets packed with bikes, tourists and locals.
This island was a complete parallel universe to the one only a short boat ride away!
Koh Phi Phi has a reputation for being a drunken party island full of obnoxious Westerners and this certainly has some truth to it. However, it is also obvious why visitors tend to gravitate here. The island is gorgeous and has a lot of fun travel adventures to offer. There are no motorized vehicles on the island and there are no roads, only a maze-like tangle of narrow streets and pathways. In fact, the island is so small and remote that Google Maps only displays it as a big rock in the sea.
We stayed here just over a week and had a great time hiking to the viewpoint, watching the fire show, enjoying the nightlife and much more. Phi Phi was great for socializing with other backpackers and having fun.
However, drunken Westerners are not the only thing that you might have to contend with if you visit Phi Phi…
In this photograph you can see that I am relaxing on a hammock outside of our beautiful wooden jungle hut. However, what you don’t see is the colony of ants which later started to crawl out from between my computer keys!
I’ll admit that I have a history of eating next to my computer, so I’m sure after I left the laptop on the floor of the hut these little critters moved in and started having a feast on the crumbs between the keys. Every few seconds as I was trying to write travel articles that morning an adventurous ant would emerge from underneath the delete key or the escape key and start wandering up my screen!
Luckily my laptop has a tendency to get pretty hot, so when they could no longer take the heat the tiny invaders moved out and left me to work in peace.
Fancy Some Boxing?
At the center of the Reggae Bar in Koh Phi Phi there is a huge Muay Thai style boxing ring where patrons volunteer for the chance to strap on the gloves and have their own “Rocky” moment.
I wonder who came up with the idea, “Let’s get tourists drunk and then talk them into beating the crap out of each other for a free Bucket of booze!” Whoever they were, I’d like to thank them for a very entertaining night.
As we walk down the cobblestone lane ways between the market stalls, cafes and restaurants on Koh Phi Phi we saw so many Westerners in their short-shorts, bikini tops and muscle shirts limping along with huge bandages or casts on their legs, knees or arms.
Why are all of these young visitors getting hurt? Nomad Matt explains it in detail in this post but it basically comes down to a combination of alcohol, rented motorbikes, peer pressure and stupidity.
I’m all for being a bit crazy on a travel adventure. However, if you don’t have a licence or any experience riding a motorbike back home on the streets of your own country, what makes you think that you will be able to weave in and out of traffic and dodge potholes on the crowded foreign streets while drunk on buckets filled with Sangsom, Red Bull and Coca Cola?
Boat Trip and Snorkeling
If you are looking for a bit of a day trip from Koh Phi Phi, we would definitely recommend the half day snorkeling and boat trip tour to the surrounding small Thai islands. It is available at almost all of the travel shops around the island and it is a 4-5 hour round trip for only 250 baht (8 dollars) each.
We visited Monkey Beach, where the bold Monkeys will walk right up to you with their hand outstretched like they are thinking, “where’s my food, man?” Don’t bring your backpack onto the island, as they are talented thieves and might snatch it away from you. One guy on our trip got his packed lunch stolen by the monkeys and another girl lost a water bottle to a clever monkey who figured out how to open it then sat on a rock pouring the water into his mouth.
We also visited Maya Bay, the famous beach from the Leo Dicaprio film “The Beach”. While the movie is pretty lame, the beach is absolutely stunning.
The trip also involved snorkeling, which I had never done before and absolutely loved. I look forward to doing more snorkeling on this trip!
Tanned, tired and happy… we eventually had to wave goodbye to the Thai islands and hop on a boat to Phuket. However, Thailand has no shortage of islands so we have plenty more to explore.
Have you ever been to any Thai islands? Share your stories with us in the comments!