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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

What To Expect: Koh Phi Phi Half-Day Boat Trip

The Phi Phi Islands in Southern Thailand are one of, if not the, most beautiful and breathtaking places I have ever been to. Beautiful bright turquoise waters, dramatic mountain and cliff scenery and a gorgeous bustling little village to accompany makes this island a cut above the rest. If you are visiting Koh Phi Phi, I highly recommend doing the half day tour around the island - you will not be disappointed! Below you will find exactly what to expect on the tour along with my own personal experiences and highlights.



SHOP AROUND FOR YOUR TOUR TICKET
Firstly, I think it is worth noting that it is worth shopping around for your tour ticket. Lewis will not settle for a ticket until he has scouted out the absolute cheapest one (which can be annoying trawling around all the different tour agencies, but it always ends up a blessing as we end up saving money every time) so its worth looking around. Pretty much every tour agency on the island sells full day and half day tours, and all at different prices. We opted for the half day tour because it was far cheaper than the full day ones (which include after parties and mini bar crawls - something we weren't really interested in) and because on the half day tour you visit pretty much all the same places as the full day (minus a few) and can be back by 1.30pm, leaving you the rest of the day. In the end we got our half day tour ticket for 400 baht (roughly £10) - which was pretty good considering some agencies were selling the exact same ticket for 1500 baht (£34)!!

WHAT TIME DOES IT START/END?
There are two options to choose from when booking the tour - morning or afternoon. Morning starts at 9.30am (but you must be there at 9am) and finishes at 1.30pm and afternoon starts at 2.30pm (again you must be there earlier) and finishes at 6.30pm. We opted for the morning tour because, as I said earlier, it meant that we could get back and still have pretty much the entire day to carry on exploring the island.

MEETING SPOT & BREAKFAST
On the morning of our tour we met at the tour agency that we bought the tickets from and were taken to a restaurant on the main beach (Tonsai Bay) where the boats and tours depart from. Breakfast is included in the tour - a traditional Thai buffet style breakfast offering rice and chicken stir fry along with tea and coffee. We simply gave our ticket receipt to one of the guides there and were given a 'half day' sticker which allowed us onto the boat.

STOP #1: MONKEY BEACH

The first stop of the tour was the notorious Monkey Beach. Ironically, it is called Monkey Beach because it is literally a beach full of wild monkeys. The boat pulled up in the turquoise waters to reveal monkeys perched all over the surrounding cliffs. The tide was right in so the only way to get to the beach was to jump in the water and swim over. The tour guide provided some bananas to feed the monkeys - one literally leaped off the cliff and down onto the boat to have a bite! Before this trip, I wasn't aware that monkeys could swim - but when there is bananas involved they definitely can. It was amazing to watch them all playing and taking our food; some came right down and literally took the bananas out of our hands. When we swam through to the little beach there were a couple of monkeys just sat chilling, completely unfazed by us. It was an amazing opportunity to just sit with them and take in the beautiful surroundings. I would strongly recommend taking a waterproof case for your phone or a GoPro so that you can take pictures - unfortunately I did not and therefore I was only able to get this one picture on the boat.



STOP #2: VIKING CAVES

The second stop is the Viking Caves - although it is not really a 'stop'. The boat pulled in near the Viking Caves, allowing us to have a good look. The caves are pretty impressive to look at; they are surrounded by tall limestone cliffs and jagged rocks. They are called the Viking Caves because of the paintings of different boats that have been found inside them. The Viking Caves are also home to the colony of swiftlet birds and are where the harvesting of swiftlet birds' nests takes place - a local profitable business. The birds nests are edible(!) and are believed to be good for the skin and for health. In order to harvest the nests, scaffolds and structures are made out of bamboo and the harvesters then climb onto these scaffolds in order to gather them. Unfortunately our guide did not speak too much English so I had to find all of this information out after the trip! It was very cool to see all the same.



STOP #3: PILEH WALL 

Pileh Lagoon was the third stop of the boat trip. Here we were given snorkelling masks and were allowed to swim around the cliffs in search of some marine life. The area was beautiful - and we certainly did find marine life. Lewis and I found ourselves immersed by fish of all colours and sizes, and were able to swim right through them. It was a really good experience!



LUNCH
We were then given lunch on the boat which was a fried rice dish. It was actually really good, and tasted very fresh. We were also given plenty of fresh watermelon and drinking water too.

STOP #4: PILEH LAGOON

After we had all filled up on lunch and regained some of our energy after snorkelling, we were taken to Pileh Lagoon where we swam for around 30-45 minutes. The lagoon was, naturally, absolutely beautiful and one of the most breathtaking places I have been to. The waters were bright turquoise and the cliffs that surrounded us were stunning. It was a real paradise! We dived off the boat, floated in the waters, swam around and took in the striking surroundings. If you're not too keen on swimming then that is absolutely fine - plenty of people stayed on the boat and just took in the surroundings from there.



STOP #5: MAYA BAY

The fifth and final stop of our trip was the famous Maya Bay. The boat pulled up near the bay and we had to pay a National Park fee of 400 baht (£10). Luckily we already knew about this as we had looked into the tour, but a lot of people were taken by surprise and did not have the money on them - some were even unable to enter Maya Bay and stayed on the boat! Once we had paid our guide (we weren't quite sure where the money went after that...) we had to jump off the boat and swim over to a big net which you have to climb up in order to reach the bay. The currents were stronger here than in the other places we had swam at and visited so it was far more of a challenge (especially climbing up the huge net!), but it was doable and admittedly it did make the trip more adventurous. Once up the net, we walked down to find a beautiful lagoon surrounded by cliffs. We then walked through a small forest which lead to Maya Bay - the beach made famous by the blockbuster 'The Beach' starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Despite reading that the beach would be completely crowded, it wasn't too bad. There were quite a few people, of course, but nothing compared to the pictures of crowds that we had seen. We were visiting in early July, so it was low season and fairly quiet. The beach was absolutely stunning - bright white sands, turquoise waters and striking cliffs as far as the eye could see. I was expecting the beach to be a little bit overrated because of the film, but it was nowhere near - it still took my breath away and amazed me. We were given an hour on the beach where we swam, sunbathed and took in the incredible views. We then had to make our way back to the boat the same way that we came - down the net and through the water. I thought that the net was going to be very difficult to get down at first, but it was actually fine. For some tips and advice for visiting Maya Bay, read my What They Don't Tell You About Maya Bay post. Once back on the boat, we had some more water and were then taken back to Tonsai Bay where we had first left that morning.




The tour was amazing and, personally, I would say for £10 it is completely worth it. It is important to note that we were visiting in low season so the crowds were not too bad, so if you are visiting in high season it may be a different experience - but the experience that we had was one that I will never ever forget.

14 comments:

  1. Wow it looks as though you had an incredible time. I'd really love to visit Monkey Beach! X

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  2. This place looks incredible. Definitely worth £10 for the tour!
    theemeralddove21.blogspot.co.uk

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  3. It looks absolutely incredible - what beautiful photographs! And brilliant value, especially after you've shopped around!

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  4. Wow what an absolutely amazing sounding day tip, I would love to do something similar myself!

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  5. What a fantastic trip you have had. Monkey Island sounds menacing!

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  6. That's a lot of places to explore in half a day, sounds like a great trip and definitely one I'd do if I went to Thailand x

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  7. That's a really great price! So much to explore I would need more this half a day. Monkey island sounds so good but I'm be worried they would chase me haha

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  8. This looks like such a beautiful place and such a good way to explore. The sea is gorgeous. How cool is Monkey Island!

    Ami xxx
    www.ami-rose.com

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  9. Wow good job he shopped around you got it for a great price. It looks like you had a lovely time. Monkey beach sounds great, I didn't realise they can swim either.

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  10. Oh Wow, what an experience. It is somewhere I hope to visit one day, but child free so it will have to wait

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  11. Wow this looks so amazing - I will definitely be visiting here when I finally make it to Thailand!
    I am also someone who will hunt for the cheapest deal :)

    Dani x

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  12. It's a steal for this type of money. I would love to see all those wild monkeys. I bet they were incredible to watch and observe.

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  13. Wow it looks absolutely amazing. Thailand has been on my list of places to visit for such a long time and its definitely going to be one of the first places we go when the kids are grown up haha! x

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  14. This looks so amazing. Everything is picture perfect. This is something that seemes to be worth more than 10 dollars. Good deal.

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