Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Day 1 – We first went to Thailand 2.5 years ago just after we got engaged and after an amazing experience knew that someday we would want to go back.  Once we realized we were headed to Hong Kong it became much more of reality than our original plan of coming 10 years later.  Our main destination for this trip was always going to be the beaches and islands of the Andaman Coast but since almost every international flight routes through Bangkok, we elected to leave after work on Friday and do a one night stopover.

Since we previously had been to Bangkok we had no desire to check out all the temples or rooftop bars from the Hangover as we already hit those last go around (If you are going for your first time we recommend Moon Bar instead of Sirocco).  We opted instead to explore some of the other places we didn’t get to but weren’t necessarily any less touristy.  After a little delay with our flight, checked into our hotel and immediately went out to Sukhumvit Soi 11, a road famous for lots of restaurants and bars that attract tourists.  After walking around a bit and grabbing a quick dinner we headed over to Nana Plaza.  This area is probably easiest described as one of Bangkok’s Red Light Districts.  It’s a long street and square plaza surrounding by Bar’s and Go-Go Dancing clubs, some of which were advertising “real lady” as opposed to lady boys which is common in Thailand.  After some people watching and a drink here we were spent from a long day of work and travel so headed back to the hotel.

Our flight to Krabi the next day wasn’t until the early evening so we decided to check out another area in Bangkok known for its backpacker crowd.  From what we heard the place is bustling at night but Khao Sang Road was fairly mellow around brunch time.  We had a surprisingly delicious breakfast there (Sarah had an off the menu curry, Scot had french toast) and a few drinks before killing another hour with a foot massage.  With our time running short in Bangkok, we headed back to the hotel via tuk tuk to grabbed our bags before heading to the airport.  Bangkok is only a 2 hour flight from Hong Kong and there are still a couple of spots we want to check out so we hope to be back before we depart Asia for good.

Due to a rainstorm that came down at the airport we didn’t land in Krabi until pretty late so we went straight to the beach town of Ao Nong, where our hotel was and ate a late Thai dinner at Golden Buddha Restaurant.  Ao Nang was basically a pit stop for us as our only reason for staying was so we could get an early start the next day headed to Railay beach.  We did hear that if you are in the area Ao Nang is little more relaxed then Krabi Town so for a night or two it’s not a bad place.

One of the biggest reasons we wanted to head back to Thailand and specifically Railay Beach was for the chance to stay at the Rayavadee Resort and Spa.  When we first went to Thailand we heard about the “Grotto” Bar which is essentially a bar built into a cave with gorgeous sunset views, it lived up to the hype but had no idea the kind of resort it was situated on.  Once we saw the private treehouse style villas we knew we wanted to come back and stay there. After an early morning workout in Ao Nang we were picked up and taken to the private Rayavadee boat for a 20 minute trip to the resort.  We arrived just before lunch and checked into  our “treehouse” before exploring the resort grounds a bit.  We decided to head to the pool which is situated on Railay Bay Beach to grab a few rays and some lunch.  Unfortunately it shortly began to rain so we retreated to our hut to relax and enjoy the luxury of it for while.  The Treehouse huts are essentially 2 floors, the top being the bedroom and bathroom and the bottom being a very comfortable living space (with free cookies).  The  huts are rounded though and the tops of them are very much in the trees and forest that cover so much of the grounds.  The resort plays host to a variety of nature including 2 different breeds of monkeys that you will see roaming the area.  After relaxing for a bit we got ready (Sarah was a big fan of the luxurious handmade on site shampoo and conditioners so worth grabbing them if you have the room in your suitcase) and headed to the Grotto just  before sunset for a few pre dinner cocktails and snacks.  After enjoying another gorgeous sunset view we headed to dinner on site for another authentic Thai meal.

Day 4 – Since we had some previous familiarity with the island we knew that one of the activities we wanted to do was climb/hike up to one of the view points.  It really is more of a climb than a hike as its pretty vertical over lots of red clay and rocks and you have to use the assistance of ropes and tree roots to get yourself up.  After snapping some pics up there we slowly got ourselves down to shower and wash away all the red clay.  We ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant along the beach (acai bowls for both of us- delicious!) and headed for a massage and a quick relaxing dip by the pool before checking out to head to the other side of Railay Beach.

The next hotel we stayed at was the Railay Bay Resort & Spa, where we had stayed last time we had visited so we were very familiar with the layout of the hotel. We grabbed lunch by the ocean at the hotel restaurant, lounged around by the pool enjoying some beers until it was time for dinner. Krabi is very much a resort town, so most of the restaurants are connected to hotels. So, after doing a small hike to explore the side of the island we’d never seen before, we stopped along the way at a hotel restaurant for some dinner and stopped for some live music at a dive bar on way home.

Day 5 – The next morning we took the ferry to Ko Phi Phi, which takes about an hour (but feels longer if you’re sitting next to a rude Eurotrash guy who doesn’t believe in deodorant). We checked into the Phi Phi Cabana Hotel (also a repeat from our last trip to Phi Phi) and went straight to the pool for some lunch and drinks. Side note: the waiters at the pool are a little slow, but they have good memories – after the first day, each time we came down they’d ask if we wanted a vodka & soda/ vodka & sprite immediately. We got massages pool side when a small rain cloud came through the area and blocked the sun- massages at the hotel cost about $18 USD which isn’t much, but it’s about 2.5-3 times what it will cost you if you have a massage in town. That evening we headed into town to play cards and have sunset drinks at one of the beach bars (they clearly didn’t serve wine very often because each time my glass came it was literally filled to the brim of the wine glass). We headed to Breakers, a western-ish restaurant in the heart of the “going out” area in Phi Phi, for dinner.

Day 6 – The following morning we hiked up to the Phi Phi viewpoint from a different angle than we had the last time we were there, and explored a bit on the various trails up on the mountain before coming back to the hotel to hit the pool. We relaxed and ate lunch at the hotel, then got ready for the evening and took longtail boat to the other side of the island. We had been negotiating during the day with a couple of longtail captains trying to get someone to give us a ride around 5:30 but they kept saying they wouldn’t go past 4/ 4:30. We found out why when we finally got someone to agree to 5:30- it was the choppiest and scariest ride we’ve experienced in a long time! By the time we reached the other side we were thoroughly soaked from the waves crashing over the side of the boat, and were well ready for some drinks at the Beach Bar. The Beach Bar is a fun, laid back atmosphere where they let the patrons of the bar write their names in paint on the walls and floor to commemorate your trip- we wrote ours twice. After a few drinks we headed to dinner at the Knockout Bar and Grill (this is the reason why we ventured to the other side of the island- it’s the best Thai food we’ve had in Thailand). After dinner we took a much less choppy ride back to the other side of the island and got a late night massage and checked out the beach scene with the party-ers and fire goers before bed.

Day 7 – We started the day with food and drinks by the pool, then tried to go to Only, a beach bar that we had seen signs for on the previous few days. We walked all the way there to find it was closed, but ended up another bar for sunset drinks. The service was absolutely terrible, but the drinks were pretty good. We got dinner at Charlies before trying to play jenga at Dublins over a Bucket. A Bucket is literally a children’s beach pail that they fill with booze and your choice of mixer, that you can walk along the beach and enjoy.

We headed to the beach for a big night (we were hoping to fire jump rope again) only to find a quiet beach with a very somber mood. After some inquiry we discovered that the King passed away that day. The King of Thailand was incredibly beloved, and he was the longest reigning monarch ever (he ruled for 60+ years)- as such, all entertainment was required to be subdued for a mourning period of one month. In Phi Phi, this meant that you could still drink alcohol, but you had to do it quietly- in Bangkok and some of the more residential areas, alcohol was prohibited at all public places. With our moods a bit down, we headed back towards a much tamer town, played some one-on-one (quiet!) beer pong before heading to bed.

Day 8 – On the next day we started at the pool, but it was clear that we weren’t going to get much sun through the rain clouds, so we headed into town to grab lunch back at Charlies. On the way back from lunch we stopped by Breakers to play cards and have some drinks as we waited out the rain. We met two drunk Delta pilots who were on a 48 hour vacation between long haul flights- they were super excited to have a few days of partying only to find that the mood was very subdued and somber. The Delta guys played cards with us for a while and got in trouble a couple of times for trying to play music on their portable speaker. After several unnecessary shots we grabbed a late dinner before heading to bed.

Day 9 – The next day we woke up early and took the ferry to Phuket (from where we would be flying back to Hong Kong the following day). We checked into the Renaissance, which was one of the nicest hotels that we have ever stayed in for the price. We relaxed by the pool and grabbed lunch before heading to the gym to get a quick work out in. That evening we had massages, then had a few drinks at one of the restaurant bars before heading to the Thai restaurant on the resort for our last Thai Dinner.

Day 10- On our final day we woke up worked out, and watched the Cubs make an amazing comeback from being down by ~8 runs in the 6th inning of on the of the NLCS games. Shortly after breakfast we headed to airport, sad to leave another amazing trip in Thailand.

All in all, it was another fantastic trip to that part of the country.  We knew some day we’d get back there but never thought it would be so soon.  Hopefully it gives another chance to come back someday after we conquer the rest of the places on our wish list.

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