Koh Phi Phi
Tezza's Thai Islands and Beaches Travel Bits
April 22, 2006
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I got back to PP again mid March. I could never understand those moaners who reckoned the place was dire. Did they hang around Ton Sai/Loh Dalum 100% and never check out gems like the small bays on the lower east coast, not to mention the area around Long Beach?
Walk over from Long Beach to Loh Modee beach on the dirt “road” heading uphill from the eastern end (you will need to cut down to the right of the huts in the new Sea Gypsy village just past the crest - total trip takes 10-15 minutes). Loh Dalum itself is a very nice, sheltered beach with one restaurant/bar in the middle and a makeshift fishermens’ tent village at the far northern end. Heading north along the rocks from here (not at high tide - you need a long tail then) for about 4 kim are about half a dozen beaches from small to medium, all with one or a few small bungalow setups which are as laid back as any place in the Trang or Ranong islands. Check Travelfish for Ao Toh Koh Bungalows to get some idea.
For months travel-site posters have complained of the difficulty of finding a website offering accommodation in any of the more popular Phi Phi locations for under 1000baht. They should visit http://www.phiphihill.com where large comfortable fan bungalows are available high season for 600 baht. Click on the photos, particularly for the upper restaurant, which must have one of the best views per baht in Thailand.
Phi Phi Hill is located high on the eastern headland of popular Long Beach. It has about twenty 600 and 650 baht bungalows with sunrise views towards Ko Jum and the mainland, a similar number of 1000 and 1500 (fan v aircon) bungalows facing the sunset, the best of which have similar stunning views to the restaurant, over Long Beach, Ton Sai bay and cliffs and across to scenic Phi Phi Ley. Unannounced on the website are six 400 baht bungalows with outside bathrooms on the south west headland corner with panoramic views towards Ko Lanta and Ko Jum.
I paid 650 baht for one of the front row sunrise bungalows, the cheaper 600 ones being in the second row. My view was not fabulous, being tree interrupted (some front rowers are better), but I spent most of my viewing time in that fabulous restaurant. For my 650 I got a really big bungalow with nice deck, fan, hot water, towels, soap, shampoo, toilet paper, good insect screens, comfortable twin beds, some hanging space and storage units, big mirror in the bathroom. The bungalow was clean and in good condition.
I didn’t get a chance to check the dearer bungalows, but they were even bigger and most had much better views. The 400 baht cheapies were rather tiny verandah-less boxes with very clean outside bathroom facilities. And each had a view arguably as good as the best sunset bungalow.
You usually expect to pay a premium if a restaurant has a fabulous view, but this one was one of the cheaper ones on my trip. Eg, their large Changs and great banana shakes were the cheapest I found in ANY bungalow place, and I stayed in some cheapies. The food itself was good and the service fairly good (sometimes a bit slow) and friendly. I didn’t try their second beachside restaurant, which is located on the beach-end rocks at the foot of the staircase up to the main resort, but this is also a pretty scenic place to hang about. Ah that staircase, great if you are fit. If not, you will be fit by the end of your stay. Note there is a travellator type lift to haul your heavy bags up on arrival. If you have booked they send their longtail over to the pier at Ton Sai for a free transfer on arrival, although you are expected to pay the standard 80 baht taxi boat fare to them for the trip back.
It takes a two minutes to reach popular Long Beach for nice swimming at all tide levels, good snorkeling around that island you can see in the photos and some nice shade under two sections of casuarinas when you tire of the sun. A signpost to “ Small Beach ” just behind the upper restaurant takes you down a steep track to a very tiny sheltered beach in a small cove further east. You can short cut the walk to Loh Modee by taking a track from the northern-most sunset bungalow into the rainforest , turn left, turn right.
Now here’s an unknown gem. If you turn right first interesection on that rainforest track instead of left you walk down in three minutes to a lovely little bay where a French girl and her Thai husband have established Poh’s, with about half a dozen attractive bungalows for 500 baht high season, a nice restaurant and a really nice smallish beach area. This bay has just about gotta be on the southeast corner of the island, and prior to this trip I didn’t know it existed. The bungalows etc are quite new.
There are other good cheap places to be found. My visit was still high season, there was a good number of visitors (although fewer than a previous March visit) and yet Long Beach Bungalows (the last before the new high end bungalows on the eastern end of Long Beach ) were offering their rearward bungalows with bathrooms for 300 baht. Beats the old Paradise Pearl (now split into 3 different operations) which had their rearward places at 800 baht. Quite a lot of redevelopment going on in this westward Long Beach section.
Similarly, there seemed to be no bargains in town. Want a room above a shop front and across from a 3 am disco for 600+? - or a tent for 200+? Well they are available here. No wonder newcomers with scant knowledge of the island who stagger off the ferry looking for a place are often unimpressed.
I didn’t check the newer area up higher around the reservoir which last trip seemed to have an abundance of lower priced places, but no doubt there are even more there now. I doubt this area got any tsunami damage - too high and south east of pier.
A quick word on tsunami damage/recovery. I was under the impression that the whole low spit between Ton Sai and Loh Dalum beaches had been wiped clean. However the south east quarter of this area was still intact, with the buildings east of the pier (we are talking about the streets around the Ton Sai Bakery) still the originals.
However the other three quarters does appear to have been flattened. The western area seems the worst affected - everything, inclluding my old favourite cheapy SunSmile is gone, except the huge diesel engine of the old power station which must weigh three tonnes and is bolted to a concrete slab. The hospital has been rebuilt but closer to the beach, there is a huge 4 or 5 star place nearing completion in the mid sections of Loh Dalum beach and there are quite a few smaller places in various stages of completion.
The north west section seems to have had more rebuilding with quite a lot of new shops, restaurants and accommodation completed.
Just a note on personalities. There were two huge guys, built like wrestlers, bald heads, tatts galore, tanned almost black, wearing black fisherman’s pants only, Brit working class accents, lounging around the dive center on Long Beach . Looked like ex-Royal Marine clearance divers, rip the firing pins out of anti-ship mines with their teeth. I’d love to see Count Contrarian or any of the other fisherman’s pants hecklers from the TT forum give those guys any crap.
More info: http://phi-phi.com
Update May 18
Okay, my report is a bit light on for higher end places, although Phi Phi Hill would please most.
A new place that caught my eye is PP THE BEACH RESORT - this is located on the far eastern end of Long Beach where a few older bungalows and the small Sea Gypsy village once were. We are talking very nice bungalows built up the hillside, with pretty good views. There is a swimming pool. I noticed the daytrip speedboats from Phuket were using this place for their luncheon BBQ.
BTW, the Sea Gypsies have relocated to a new village just over the crest to Loh Modee.
In past visits two other nice places caught my eye:
BAYVIEW is an elevated hillside place overlooking the beach about half way between Long Beach and town, with pretty excellent views. It only takes about 10 minutes to walk into the village from here.
VIEWPOINT is another elevated place with similar great views, situated on the eastern slopes of Loh Dalum. 5 minutes to town. Bit of a hike to a nice swimming beach when the tide is down at Dalum, however.
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