1. Have a good driver/guide that can negotiate for you
Phi Phi is made up of six islands, situated in the southern part of Thailand. To reach this islands you’ll have to take a boat from the port of Phuket.
I took the hotel driver to reach the point from where the boats leave for the islands and i asked him to buy for me the boat ticket. I found this more easy to do since i didn’t speak the local language nor understood from the brochure which type of tour would better suit my needs (for example i wanted to do snorkelling, but not scuba diving and to have the lunch included). Don’t forget to always ask for a receipt.
2. The BEACH is overcrowded
If you’ve seen the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo di Caprio (or read the book with the same name) you would assume Maya Bay (one of the Phi Phi islands) is this idyllic, wildlife retreat in the middle of nowhere.
Well, you’ll be surprised to find out the reality of the situation: there are dozens of boats that are dropping tourists there every few minutes and it’s so crowded that if turn away you’ll get lost from your group. Wearing a tourist bracelet didn’t help me at all, after 5 minutes I got lost, I couldn’t even recognize the boat I came with (trust me they all look the same, being so many and changing location all the time to allow others to came inside the bay).
3. Don’t sit in front of the boat
For the way from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands and also for the return, this is the best advice i would give to anyone. The boat trip can last more than 90 minutes and the watercraft is moving in high speed, so your ass will jump up and down so badly, that if you don’t hold on tight you might actually fall out of the boat (especially around Phi Phi the sea gets a little rough).
!There are life jackets for everyone, make sure you are wearing one!
4. Best buy ever: the water-protective cover for your phone/camera
If you are planning to do snorkelling, scuba diving or simply swim around this heavenly place and you want to take photos, make sure you grab one of this before you enroll for the trip. They sell them for as less as 5 $ at any gift shop in the port. Are easy to carry, transparent, with a hanging strap and enough space to fit your type of phone.
5. Drink a lot of coconut water
I cannot think of a better way to keep yourself hydrated (remember it’s a full day trip to the islands in a tropical environment) than drinking plenty of water, and if possible, coconut water.
This low-sodium drink is a natural source of electrolytes – that help reduce the amount of water lost when we sweat, urinate etc. In Thailand, coconut water is a very popular and cheap drink (less than 1$ even) so why not take advantage while you are there?
6. Best time to visit: from December to March
This is simply because from April to November you have rainy season in Phuket, and even if you don’t see heavy rains all the time, when it happens (sometimes) the streets get flooded and travelling gets difficult.
7. Spicy food
Thai cuisine combines all tastes and flavours from sweet, sour, hot to salty. But even the not-so-spicy food in Thailand seems pretty spicy to me. The trick that i use in order to be able to eat thai food is that i have it with plenty of white plain rice (if you have time, go for a cooking class in Phuket, it’s good way to learn about the Thai way of cooking).
My all time favourite dish is the famous Tom Yam (Goong) soup, which is a spicy (hot and sour) shrimp soup with mushrooms, lemongrass and lime flavour.
On Phi Phi Islands you’ll find a great variety of seafood – you should not miss the barbecued spicy crab or the hot fried prawns with noodles.
Other popular dishes are pad Thai, the papaya spicy salad, the spicy beef salad and for the dessert: mango sticky rice.
8. Lady boy story
I would never forget how feminine and caring had been our tour guide (part of the boat personnel), taking care of anyone feeling seasick and making sure we are all feeling comfortable.
Her name was Monica and she was actually a lady boy. Now this can be a little tricky for someone not aware of the Thai ladyboy culture and refer to them as men. Different than other lady boys, Monica was not wearing make-up or female clothes that could suggest this. The only things that could tell you about her identity were: (obviously) her name, her soft voice, her feminine attitude and gestures, her walk (as if she was constantly moving on a catwalk).
So to make the long story short, if someone is acting as a woman, she probably wants you to threat her as one!
9. Pack well
Even if for the islands you’ll only need comfortable clothes to move easy, I would recommend that you bring a hat or a scarf to protect yourself from the sun.
If later you’ll go visit the temples in Phuket, just remember that the main religion practised is Buddhism, so there you should:
- remove your shoes before entering the temple
- avoid tight fitting clothes or short sleeves, cut jeans, shorts – you got the point
- respect the Buddha statues/images (Note: if you are planning to buy some of them to bring home with you – you should first check the regulations, some rules imply)
9. Respect for the culture
Thai people do own a legendary smile. They are usually peaceful, easy-going people but remember that respects goes both ways.
They are very fond of the royal family, so you should never joke about their leader (it’s a criminal offense in Thailand).
Also, they don’t particularly like that you touch their heads (hair also) or pass something over their head. If you meet a monk, again, avoid physical contact.