The Perfect Jungle and Beach Combination
The Phi Phi islands (pronounced “pee pee”) are a six islands dreamy archipelago and National Park situated at one hour boat distance south of Phuket that offers amazing tropical scenery, relax, endless sandy beaches, luxury resorts or hippy beach huts and nightlife all at the same time, hence its popularity.
The famous film “The Beach” starring with Leonardo Di Caprio has been shot in 1999 on Maya beach and since then mass tourism development and the devastating tsunami in 2004 have caused a lot of damage in this protected area.
We only had a day at disposal to visit the main highlights of this nature lovers paradise. Here is what we managed to see joining a full day guided trip from Phuket for 1500 Baht per person.
1 . Maya Beach
Film setting and great snorkelling location due to the presence of a big coral reef. This beach on Koh Phi Phi Leh, the wildest and less crowded island, is now indefinitely closed to tourists to let the ecosystem recover from pollution and disrespectful snorkels. Speedboats can can only stop for a few hours and visitors can swim at distance in these turquoise waters perfect for spotting tropical fishes such as clown fishes, jellyfish, and other fish swarms.
The landscape is compelling with green cliffs measuring 100 metres sheltering this gorgeous bay on three sides. Beaches are white and powdery as flour and below the water surface colourful corals and fishes will surprise you with their beauty. To enter the bay, a National Park entry fee of 400 baht is required and it is generally included in the tour prices.
2. Viking Cave
Another remarkable site on Koh Phi Phi Leh is the Viking Cave (or Tham Phaya Nak in Thai). Located at the bottom of a tall limestone cliff on the north east side of the island and this site takes its name from the paintings found on the walls of the cave which represent different boat types, including what seems a Scandinavian drakkar.
These paintings look quite recent, and were possibly realised by sailors taking shelter in the cave during a storm. This spot is now famous for the curious little monkeys living on these cliffs. It is forbidden to feed them, but unfortunately many tourists keep throwing food at them to draw them closer and take pictures with them regardless of the law and the animals’ health.
A make-money popular activity in the area is harvesting swifts birds’s nests using dangerous bamboo scaffolding in order to sell them at very high prices. This sad tradition is popular in the Chinese culture, where these edible nests are believed to grant good skin health.
According to a local legend, a long time ago a group of sailors have been stranded on one of the limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay without food following a violent storm. The sailors survived until the rescues arrived only thanks to eating these bird’s nests found in a cave.
3 . Loh Dalum Bay
This long sandy bay is a popular stop during tours to have lunch and have time to rest and sunbathe on the beach before continuing the journey. The water is very shallow and reaches everyday 28 Celsius degrees making it perfect for families and children. The water stays at knee’s height after several meters distance from the beach.
4. Bamboo Island
The last stop of the day before heading back to Phuket is Koh Phai or Bamboo Island located north of the more popular beaches. The island is deserted and flat, high coconut trees are delicately brushed by the wind producing the only noise you will hear apart from the waves gently crashing on the shore. It is an idyllic wild island where you can spend a few hours snorkelling, sunbathing, making a picnic or explore the jungle behind you. Just remember to keep it absolutely clean and bring with you your trash!
This quickly became one of my favourite spot on earth and I felt like stepping into a travel guide, walking on the powdery and silky sand, enjoying the silence and realising how lucky we are to live on such an amazing planet!
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