Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trip To Krabi, Thailand: Phi Phi Islands - Maya Bay + Viking Cave + Snorkeling At Loh Samah Bay

Photo By: Elin Chow

Included in the Aonang Cliff Beach Resort's Krabi Romance package which we had booked for our Krabi trip, my husband and I were given the option to visit either the Phi Phi islands or the Hong islands by speed boat. After much discussion, we decided to go for a full day island hopping tour to Phi Phi islands due to its reputation of being one of the most naturally beautiful islands group in the world.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi islands are a group of six islands located in Krabi province, off the south-west coast of Thailand. The six islands are namely, Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Phi Phi Leh, Bida Nok, Bida Noi, Bamboo island (Koh Mai Phai) and Mosquito island (Ko Yung). 

All-inclusive tour

We were surprised to learnt that Aonang Cliff Beach Resort actually booked us an all-inclusive tour trip from Ao Nang to Phi Phi islands, which included tour guide, 6 different stops around Phi Phi islands, unlimited flow of iced refreshments, lunch at Phi Phi Don, snorkel usage, insurance and round trip transfers between the pier and hotel.

Tour itinerary 

Maya Bay > Pi Leh Bay > Viking Cave > Snorkeling at Loh Samah Bay  > Lunch at Phi Phi Don > Snorkeling at Hin Klang > Bamboo Island

For easy reading, I will be breaking my visit to the Phi Phi islands into two different blog posts. My first blog post will cover my trip to Maya Bay, Pi Leh Bay, Viking Cave and Loh Samah Bay. I shall cover the rest of my visit to Phi Phi Don, Hin Klang and Bamboo island in my second blog post.

Things to bring along

- Water proof bag
- Sunscreen lotion
- Towels
- Sunglasses 
- Flip fops / Sandals
- Extra clothes
- Camera

After confirming our booking, a four-wheeled truck picked us up from Ao Nang Cliff Beach Resort at 8 am sharp in the morning and transferred us to the pier to board a speed boat.

After a brief introduction by the tour operator, we proceeded to board the boat that carried about 30 + tourists from all over the world. Once everyone is seated in the boat, the tour guide greeted us warmly while the boat set sail for our first stop of the day - Maya Bay.

Be prepared to get wet or even drenched as the ride can get a little bumpy at times. Do not expect to stay dry on a speed boat even if you do not intend to jump into the waters. Thus, I would advise you to keep your camera in the dry storage underneath the passenger's seat to keep it safe from the waters.

However, I was even more concerned about sea sickness on choppy waters. For people who are susceptible to sea sickness, I would strongly recommend you to take some motion sickness pills several hours before your trip.

How to minimize sea motion sickness

To minimize sea sickness, I would advise:

1. Sleep well
Having insufficient sleep or feeling exhausted actually makes you more susceptible to motion sickness. So be sure to rest well on the night before your trip. Try to relax and look far at the horizon while you are travelling on the speed boat.

2. Stay hydrated

Remember to take frequent sips of water to avoid dehydration while you out in the middle of the sea. However, avoid any excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption before your trip.

3. Have a light breakfast
Having a greasy and heavy breakfast is definitely not advisable. It is always best to eat something light and bland before you depart for your trip.

Maya Bay

Enclosed by 100-metre high cliffs on three sides, Maya Bay is an beautiful uninhabited bay consisting of several small beaches. The main beach boasts a 200-metres long coastline with fine white sands.

Famed for its stunning landscapes, Maya Bay has become one of the main tourist attraction of Phi Phi island, especially after 'The Beach', starring Leonardo Dicaprio was filmed here in 1999.

How to get there

As there is no accommodation on the island, Maya Bay is only accessible in the day by boat. From Ao Nang, you could either hire a long-tailed boat (90 minutes ride) or speed boat (45 minutes ride) to the Bay. Alternatively, you can also book a half-day or full day island hopping trip with your hotel or one of the many tour operator located on the Ao Nang Walking Street which will visit the Bay along with other few attractions in Phi Phi islands.

The best time to visit the Maya Bay is between November to April, when the sea tends to be calmer, thus allowing easier access to the Bay.

Toilets are located about 5 minutes walk away from the beach, but you would only want to use them when you are extremely desperate. I could not really describe how stinky and dirty the entire place were. It was just horrific!

Just in case you have to use them, go through the short-cut entrance located beside the Maya Bay signboard and continue on a brief jungle trail. You should be able to spot the toilets located at the end of the trails.

I could not describe how much I love everything in Maya Bay. From the fine, white sandy beach, the impressive and breath-taking rocks formation to the clear and turquoise blue sea water. For a moment, I felt as if I had arrived in paradise!

Unfortunately, this place is not peaceful or secluded at all. In fact, we were feeling really disappointed to find the entire place crowded with tourists from all over the world. 

During the peak seasons, do not be surprised to see as much as 50 boats carrying thousands of tourists arrive at the small beach everyday! 

I am actually glad that we arrived early, around 9.30 am in the morning. Although the Bay was already crowded with people, it was still not too bad. So, if you wish to avoid the crowds and enjoy some tranquility on the beach, do visit before 9 am. however, in order to do that, you might have to throw in more money to book yourself a private boat instead.

There are nothing much you can do at the beach except swimming, sunbathing or just enjoy laying out on the warm and soft sands. Take your time to admire the beautiful scenery before your eyes and snap as many photos as your heart desires.

Of course, it was really hard to get a nice photograph of the place without having someone else in it. So I figured it out that it will be nice to snap a photograph of my feet buried in the sands too.

Although crowded, Maya Bay is still worth a visit. But still, I found the island a little over-rated. Without the intense crowds, I believe I would have enjoy and love this place so much more.  

We were given an hour to explore and relax on the beach before moving on to the next attraction of the day.

Almost every tourist who visited were busily taking tons of quick selfies with the stunning landscapes. I wish we could feel the same excitement as the other tourists. But we could not. We hate the crowds, the hoards of boats docking at the shore and all the trash which the people have brought to the island. So we were actually glad that we left the place after an hour, just before the beach got extremely crowded.

Leaving Maya Bay, we proceeded to the next stop at Phi Leh Bay, where our boat stopped briefly for us to snap some quick photographs. Please remember to bring your trash with you before you leave the place. Do not leave them on the beach.

Phi Leh Bay

Located on the western side of Maya Bay is Phi Leh Bay, a small lagoon that is only accessible to speed boats and long-tailed boats. Just like Maya Bay, Phi Leh Bay is also surrounded by 100-meters high limestone cliffs on 3 sides.

It was a pity that we did not managed to snap any photograph as we did not stop here for long. Or at least long enough for me to retrieve my camera from the dry storage underneath the passenger's seat.

Viking Cave

Tham Phaya Nak, most commonly known as the Viking Cave, is a cave located on the northern side of Phi Ley Bay. Its name was derived from the ancient cave paintings of long boats, resembling that of the Viking, which can be found on the eastern and southern walls of the cave.

The cave is also home to thousands of Swifts, where they built their nests with their glue-like saliva. Matured Swifts' nests are then harvested in large number to make Bird's Nest soup, a famous Chinese delicacy that command a ridiculously high price in the market.

Unfortunately, to protect the paintings and swifts' nests, the Viking Cave is not open to tourists to visit. Most of the tour boats operators would stop close to the entrance of the cave for tourists to see inside and snap some photos.

In order to harvest the Bird's Nests, bamboo scaffolding has been erected within the cave to enable the locals to climb and reach the 100-meters high ceiling.

On the eastern side of Phi Phi Ley, we arrived at Loh Samah Bay, a popular dive site for snorkeling and night diving trips.

Sanitized snorkeling equipment was provided as part of the tour, but if you prefer to use your own ones, please feel free to bring it along with you. 

The tour guide also brought along some bread to feed the fishes as to attract them to the snorkelers. Such fish feeding is a common practice that should be strictly discouraged or banned as it is proven to have caused serious disruption to the natural marine ecosystems.

Avoid any contacts with the delicate corals while you snorkel. Even a soft touch from you can cause irreversible damages to the corals.

We were given about 30 minutes to snorkel at Loh Samah Bay before we headed off to Phi Phi Don for lunch. So, stay tuned for my next blog post for more of my island-hopping adventures at Phi Phi islands!

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  1. Hi! I need help Hehe.. will be traveling to Phuket soon. Will be staying there for a day, and we are off to phi phi don for 3 days...any advice?? There's toooo muCH information in the net..don't know where to start...would really appreciate some help ^^

  2. Hi! I need help Hehe.. will be traveling to Phuket soon. Will be staying there for a day, and we are off to phi phi don for 3 days...any advice?? There's toooo muCH information in the net..don't know where to start...would really appreciate some help ^^

  3. Love this place :)
    You’ll peruse the stalls of Ao Nam Mao market, visit the sacred Tiger Cave Temple — home to a golden Buddha and partially built into a limestone cave — and even cruise via longtail boat upon the Krabi River. You will really enjoy this.

  4. Pack your swimsuit for a speedboat ride from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi for a tour of Island most beautiful and well-known Thailand.,

  5. That's an amazing article. I personally love Phi Phi island cause the beauty is unreal. Would love to visit it again

  6. This is a great read and really sums up my time i spent in Phi Phi islands a few months back, Maya bay was overcrowded when i visited also but still got some amazing photo opportunities of the beach earlier on without so many people there, i booked my tour online with thier speedboats only carry 12 passengers as we wernt overcrowded on the boat (I have experienced over crowding on some of the other thai islands) it made the day much more special! i would also recommend a visit onto the monkey beach, one of my favorite places there!

  7. Hii Elin, Phi-Phi Island is a Amazing Place for visiting, I loved that place,,, Hope you enjoyed a lot there... Thanks for sharing this moments with us,,, Awesome pictures...!!!