“Where will you be for Easter?” my mother asked a few months before our trip. As I looked at the dates, I realized we would be in Koh Phi Phi! So I sent her a google photo of the longtail boats in Maya Bay.
Krabi was certainly the most beautiful location we visited! I’m lumping locations into one here, because we essentially visited 3 different places in Krabi, including Krabi Town, Koh Phi Phi, and Railay Beach. We spent 1 night in each location, so I should be able to squeeze it all into one post, but looking back, it seems like we were there so much longer, because we saw and did so much!
Like I mentioned in my Koh Tao post, we got up at 4am for the 6am boat/bus to Krabi. What I failed to mention was that my voice was almost gone the night before we left for Krabi, my throat still hurt really bad, and I was feeling so crappy. We arrived at the pier, tickets already purchased, but again, were unsure what to do next. The line was really long and took forever to get through. We got our sticker to wear, which told the crew where you were going, and we were off! The ferry portion was about 2.5 hours with stops at Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, and our final stop on the main land. When we got off the boat, the crew directed us to the the proper bus to get on. The bus ride was about 2.5 hours as well, and brought us to the Lomprayah bus station, where we would eventually get on our taxi to our hotel. Overall I think it was about 7 hours total.
Front Row Seats on the Bus!
I’m not sure what we were expecting for where we were going, but we were not impressed with the area we were in. Our guest house was super cute, and the staff was really nice so that was fine. When we were booking it, Booking.com mentioned how close the hotels were to the center of town, which we assumed was the place to be, but in reality, we probably wanted to be on the ocean where it was super beautiful. I guess it depends on what you want to do! We are all about making the most of a situation, so we found some pretty cool things to do!
Our hotel, The Sasi House, was in an area that seemed to be more of a local spot. As we looked online to see what to do in the area, we found Wat Tham Suea, the Tiger Cave Temple. We spoke to the ladies working at the front desk, they arranged a taxi for us and gave me some suggestions on what to wear at the temple. If you don’t come dressed properly, you can either purchase or rent something that will cover your knees and shoulders. I came dressed properly, but just not for the hike I was about to take in 90 degree weather. Capri pants and a t-shirt would have been just fine, but I wore a long dress and a light weight cover-up for my shoulders. When we arrived at the temple, we walked around a bit to take photos, then found the stairs that take you to the top.
The Tiger Cave Temple is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in this province, with 1,237 steep stairs to be exact! Some steps are over a foot tall. Apparently the monks make this climb every day! Before you start climbing, you have to stop in the Tiger Cave! According to Wikipedia, back in 1975, a monk used to come to the cave here to meditate, an would see tigers roaming in the cave, which is how it got its name.
Once we saw the Tiger Cave, it was time to climb! We certainly paced ourselves, but it was still really hot, steep, and we felt out of shape! On the beginning of the climb, some kids were feeding the monkeys. BAD IDEA! The monkeys might look cute and fun, but they are evil little animals! At first it was kind of fun, but we had to practically climb over them to keep going. I just imagined getting bit and that did not seem fun. While I was trying to take a picture of one monkey, another one jumped on the railing next to me, and tried pulling my earring off! While taking a picture of another money, he leaned in to me in an aggressive way and showed his teeth! A man coming down the stairs said I should probably get out of there FAST. AHHHH!!
Haha me trying to walk by the monkeys so scared. Notice my sad voice….!
After several water breaks along the way, we made it to the top in about 30 minutes. We were pretty exhausted, so we sat in the shade a bit, had some water and a banana before we made our way to the main attraction. At all temples, you must remove your shoes, and dress “politely” or “neatly” out of respect for the monks and buddha.
The view from the top was so worth the climb! The Buddha was huge and majestic, there were shrines all around, and incredible panoramic views of the rain forests and landscape. Visitors and other Buddhists were at the top to admire the view and pay their respects to the Buddha. I am not a very religious person, but it was really beautiful watching people knee down to pray and pay their respects. I left feeling at peace, and wanting to learn more about Buddhism. Going back down was a different challenge, because the steps were super steep, the stairs narrow, and our legs super shaky! I was thankful for the railing! Our driver was there early, and so were we, so we decided to leave because we were pooped.
Our hotel was very close to the weekend night market, which we obviously had to visit! We walked over, and started our adventure! From crispy fried pork on a stick, to coconut shakes, and mystery foods, we tried so many things! We were stuffed by the time we left, and I think we MIGHT have spent a total of $7. It was here that we recognized that Krabi has a large Muslim presence, in addition to Buddhists, and we would notice this more on Railay Beach.
We purchased our boat to Koh Phi Phi online, which included a taxi to the pier. I didn’t know it at the time, but Koh Phi Phi is considered part of Krabi. The taxi picked us up in a 15 passenger van, we got to the pier, showed the lady our reservation on our phone, and we were on our way! About 90 minutes later, we made it to the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi, made famous by the movie The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio! When we got off the boat, we did our usual wander to figure out what to do, and we saw a man with a sign for our hotel, P.P. Charlie. He showed us on a map where the hotel was and asked if we could walk, which was no problem since it was about 400 meters away. We arrived at the hotel, hot and sweaty, and one of the hotel employees came over with a cold water and a frozen towel for us to cool and wipe off with. What a nice touch! When we finally got to the counter, Tiago spoke for me since I had no voice, the lady said we could not check in until 2, and it was about 10:30. Since we only had 1 full day here, we had them hold our bags, we changed into our bathing suits, and found the boat tours to the famous Maya Bay!
I’m glad we visited Maya Bay, but I would never do it again, unless we did it differently. First, the long tail boat to Maya Bay was 1500 baht (about $45) for a 3 hour tour. For me, this was a MUST DO, so we paid and bit our tongues. The ride in was absolutely amazing, because it was really hot, the breeze felt nice, and the tall rock formations were just so majestic. When you arrive in Maya Bay, the water is a bright turquoise, but it is also filled with about 50 other boats, which takes away from the beauty. When you dock the boat, you have to then pay another 400 baht each ($24), to step foot on the island. This detail was not mentioned to us when we booked the trip. Also, the guy collecting the money was alone with a fanny pack and no sign. You just pay and can enter, but who knows if he was ripping us off?? We arrived, and our guide told us we had 2 hours here. 1 hour too long for us. Before we set up shop on the beach, we decided to follow the walking path to Lo Sa Ma Bay. Along the way we saw a giant spider in a web that we got a few shots of. At the end, there is a pool of water, with a set of stairs to a viewing point. As we got up to the view point, there was an annoying couple taking 500 selfies in different positions, kissing, looking off in the distance, etc. We noticed another couple getting really irritated with us, so we shared our disapproval together. When it was our turn, we offered to take their picture, in return for ours, and we were both done in about ¼ of the time it took that couple, which of course we joked about.
We walked back to the main beach area, put our stuff down and got in the water with the 500 other people. We swam in the deep water for a bit and took some pictures in my water proof phone case . Once I had enough of the hot sun, I made my way to the shade to hangout and take some more photos of the long tails until our driver came to bring us back. If I could have done it differently, I would have maybe done a group tour, stopped here for 15 minutes, and continued on an island hopping tour, or even done a cave tour when the tide was lower. Live and learn I guess! It was still breathtakingly beautiful. I was also feeling pretty crappy at this point but trying to be a trooper, couldn’t talk more than a whisper, but enough was enough.
As soon as we got off the boat back on the main island of Koh Phi Phi Don, we made our way to the clinic. After Tiago explained my symptoms to the nurses and they noted my 100 degree temperature, they called the doctor to come see me. She saw my throat and mouth (which now had sores all over it) and said “oh my goodness, you have quite the infection!” She gave me 4 prescriptions including an antibiotic, mouth sore medicine, vitamin c, and their version of Tylenol for the fever. All for only $72. How much would this have been in the US without insurance?? Some quick math has me well over $500. They ordered me to rest, take my meds, only drink warm fluids with lemon and honey, and not talk.
After the clinic, we made our way to our hotel, and the first thing I did was take all my meds. We were a bit disappointed with our room, because the website made the room look so magnificent, but I think they only showed pictures of the newly renovated rooms. We were stuck in a super old room, without a view. Oh well! At least we were only here for 1 night. We then made our way to the pool, where Tiago grabbed a beer, a water for me, and a pizza to hold us over. The sunset was magnificent from the infinity pool, and once it started getting dark, we went back to the room for a nap. My coughing was getting out of hand so a nap wasn’t happening for me. Instead, I decided to take a walk through the main street area, get a pedicure, explore, and get more cough drops. The ladies at the massage place were so nice, and got me some tea, but they probably also thought I had the plague ha-ha! I was really feeling so miserable, but tried my hardest to make the best of it and suck it up.
I returned to the hotel and Tiago had just gotten up from his nap. We both got dressed and ready to go have dinner and check out the party scene. Try communicating in a loud environment with no voice. It is not easy, which made me more irritable. Tiago had to get good at reading lips and my made up sign language. We got dinner at some pirate restaurant, where I had tea and soup. TEA AND SOUP. It was still 90 degrees and humid. I was sweating a lot, but it made my throat feel better at least! From this restaurant, you can see many other bars and restaurants, including a beer pong bar across the way. The most disgusting thing was they were playing with beer in the cups, kept dropping the ball on the nasty street, and kept playing. EW!
I later learned that the movie The Beach caused this place to flood with tourism and completely change. I found this photo on Google of Koh Phi Phi in the 90s and now. Wikipedia states that Koh Phi Phi’s beauty is is leading to its own demise, with too many tourists coming to visit, as well as too many establishments built to accommodate the traffic.
Later on, instead of cramming into a crowded spring break like bar, we took a walk on the beach to Slinky Bar. Some girls in bunny ears gave me a flier for it after I had my pedicure. Before we got there, Tiago found a place selling buckets and got his famous vodka, red bull and lychee juice bucket to walk around with. We walked into the beach, and saw a sign that said “No Outside Drinks.” We hesitated at first, but then realized there was literally no one to enforce this rule. ON we went! There seems to be an overall lack of rules in Thailand in general. There did not seem to be any security officers here, there were people doing super dangerous things with no one telling them not to, people peeing in the open, fighting, etc. We felt like we were at the Full Moon party again! DJs blasting EDM music, neon lights, people in body paint, fire dancers, fire shooters, and people just raging out.
We decided to stay by the water and just people watch at first. We found a place that was really jamming, and stood to watch a guy lighting a stick on fire, ramming it into the ground, which caused air through it to blow fire. It was HOT and so dangerous! Then another guy took his flaming ball on a rope, and flung it around in a circle hitting the water causing sparks to go everywhere, including on us! Ok time to move a bit! As we stood at the water observing all the scenes, a really nice girl, Jemima, from England came over to talk to us. She explained that she was staying in a hostel, and her friend was up in the room, and she lost her other friends so she needed to hang with someone. Safety first! Apparently we looked trustworthy, so she stayed with us for a while. I felt so bad because I literally could not talk. Eventually she said “ok guys, let’s go dance over here!” and led us right into the crazy dance scene. I still feel like crap, cannot stop coughing, but went anyways. There was a rope up above us, and some crazy guy climbed up and hung from it dancing like a fool. I thought for sure this would end in disaster, and I had us move a bit. People were really belligerent and annoying, but I tried to enjoy as much as I could. Tiago played body guard for Jemima, as she had to keep asking guys to leave her alone. Thailand is an amazing place for single people apparently! We ended up having a great time, and Tiago said that meeting her was meant to be! We probably would have been wallflowers otherwise. At 2 am I called it quits and said we needed to go back. We would be getting on the boat in the morning to go to Railay Beach.
We woke up early enough to have the hotel breakfast buffet which was amazing and get packed up. We got to the pier, and just like we did getting here, I pulled my phone out and showed the agents our reservation. The e-mail confirmation said to show the confirmation number OR print it out. Since we didn’t have a printer, we naturally showed them the phone. They said we needed to print it, which of course we started to panic. They told us to go to the coffee shop around the corner, which we did. I sat down to log into my e-mail, but because Google is so great with security, they were going to send me a text or call with a code, BUT we didn’t have a SIM card for here. I asked the lady if I could forward her the e-mail from my phone, and she said that they were not allowed to do that. We go BACK to the pier, and explain the situation. We get “you must print it out.” AM I IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE!? I can’t print my pass, but we must print the pass…I guess we are stuck here! We proceed to tell them we were unable to and that we are running out of time. He then has us follow us, to what we think is a new location, but it is the same spot. Tiago is now raising his voice explaining we CAN’T print the passes! Now we are hot from lugging our stuff around, upset, and it is almost time for the boat to leave. I explain to Tiago that he cannot raise his voice because Thai people do not do well with confrontation. I am now almost in tears, and we finally beg them to do something for us, because we got on the 1st boat with showing my phone, the confirmation does not say anything about requiring us to print it out, and they make a call. Finally, they are able to take a picture of our phone confirmation with the information provided, and they let us on the boat.
We are both drenched with sweat after this debacle. We both say that I need to write about this awful encounter and remind people to PRINT YOUR PASSES AT THE HOTEL! All of our hotels were nice enough to print tickets and boarding passes for us. My pulse sped up just writing this, because this was really our only encounter that really upset us. Me being me, almost cried with frustration, and Tiago almost lost his shit. Lesson learned not to lose your cool with Thai people, but it is ok to be firm and demand what you need if you are being ripped off….and print your passes!
After the 90 minute ride back to Krabi, we arrived at the pier, and the usual routine began. We get off, get our bags, wander, then figure out how to get to our next spot. We learned that the area of Krabi we were going to, Railay beach, was only accessible by water taxi. We found a deal that included a taxi to the boat, then a long tail boat to Railay beach. This was 600 baht total. We got to Railay beach and I could have sworn we were in Jurassic park! Even though this isn’t an island, it felt like it was because you were surrounded by water and huge, lush rock mountains, that did not allow for roads to access this area.
Our hotel was RIGHT off the dock, which made finding it really easy. This was one of the best rooms we had all trip so far!! The bell hop walked us to our room after we checked in, which was huge! A nice king sized bed, a huge bathroom with a shower and a separate tub, and it was ground level, so no elevators or stairs needed! We got settled in and made our way to the awesome infinity pool, overlooking where our boat came in on Railay Beach East, as well as the lush cliffs surrounding us. We also ordered some pool side food and coconut shakes. When it got closer to sunset, we took the walking path to Phra Nang Beach, which was really cool! On the way there, there is a paved path to walk along, which is right up against a cliff with all kinds of cave and stalactites hanging down. OH and MONKEYS again! When we got to the beach, the trash was over-flowing, which naturally attracted tons of crazy monkeys!
At Phra Nang Beach, there is also a place called princess cave, where there are tons of phallic shaped statues! Such a weird thing to come across. Legend has it that since ancient times, fishermen would create and offer a phallic symbol to the cave where a mythical princess lived. This was supposed to provide them safety and success at sea, as well as fertility!
At this point, the antibiotics were in me over 24-hours and I was feeling much better, but I still had no voice, and my cough was pretty persistent which was annoying. We swam in the ocean during sunset, but because it was so cloudy, there was not much to see for the sunset. The rock formations were really awesome, and the beach was pretty quiet, so we enjoyed our time here.
We walked back, showered and decided to walk over to Railay Beach West for dinner at one of the resorts. We didn’t realize, but since this was Muslim owned, they did not serve alcohol at the restaurant. Fine by me because I wasn’t drinking! I opted for tea with lemon for my nagging cough. At this restaurant they had a station set up with ice, and tons of different fish to choose from. You would simply pick out the fish you wanted, pay by the weight and they would grill it up however you liked. We went with the red snapper, grilled with local herbs, some giant prawns, and a grilled vegetable kabab. This meal was absolutely amazing! It was probably our most expensive meal by far on our trip, but it was still only about $50. Pretty cheap for American standards!
The next morning, we had the complimentary breakfast buffet which was really nice, and made our way back to the beach with the monkeys and cliffs. As we walked there, we saw tons of people hiking up and down from the view-point which was super muddy. We didn’t want to do this barefoot, but also didn’t want to dirty our sneakers, AND it was way too hot for this, but it looked cool either way.
When we got to the beach, there were people rock climbing with a climbing school, which looked like a lot of fun. They had half and full day adventures to do this for all levels. This looked really fun, but we were just looking forward to relaxation while we were there. We hung out in the water for a bit, then walked over to Railay West, where we swam some more, had lunch on the beach and made our way back to our pool to kill a little time before we got our taxi boat back for the airport. The krabi airport was very small, and super easy to get through security. We grabbed some snacks to hold us over, before our 2 hour flight to Chiang Mai!