As I mentioned in my previous post, there’s a lot more to Koh Phi Phi than sleeping on the beach all day and partying all night. One of the day activities you should do, besides climbing up to the viewpoint, is to go on a Phi Phi Island hopping tour. There are a variety of tours that are offered throughout the island, however the most popular tour takes you cliff jumping, snorkeling (both during the day and at night to see plankton), to Monkey Bay (watch out for those sneaky monkeys!) and Maya Bay (where Leonardo DiCaprio filmed The Beach), and then you end the tour with an incredible view of the sun setting. Overall, there were some really great highlights of the day-long tour, but there were also some drawbacks that had me wishing we booked a private tour.
The majority of people who travel to Phi Phi Island are young backpackers ready for a good party. While it’s true you will likely have some wild nights (think fire dancers, music vibrating throughout the island, and dancing on the beach until the sun begins to rise), Phi Phi is also an absolutely gorgeous little island that is best appreciated during the day with (mostly) sober vision. Besides bumming out on some lounge chairs on the beach, perfecting your tan by the pool, or aimlessly wandering – and inevitably getting lost – the alleyways filled with restaurants and shops, you hands-down need to climb up to the Phi Phi Viewpoint!
In my last post I wrote about escaping the town of Aonang and going on a 4 Island Tour (which, unfortunately, wasn’t that great). If you’d much rather put your butt on one beach for an entire day instead of hopping around, a sure-fire bet is taking a short longtail boat ride to Railay Beach from Aonang. This beach is a popular destination for those travelling around the Krabi area, either just as a day trip or to spend a few nights on one of Railay’s beach-front hotels. Regardless of how long you spend on Railay, you’ll be whisked away by the beauty of the beach, surrounding cliffs, and relaxed vibe.. so long as you can pretend that all the other tourists scattered about aren’t actually there.
If you find yourself in Krabi/Aonang, it’s likely that you’re en route to a different island and are just taking a break from your tedious journey from point A to point B to explore the small town for a day or two. It’s also likely that you’ll want to get away from the town, which is surprisingly crowded and has a less-than-stellar beach, and go on a tour of the outlying islands. One of the most popular tours on offer is the 4 Island Tour in Aonang. As the name blatantly suggests, you’ll be heading on a full day tour to see -you guessed it- 4 islands that are only a short boat ride away from shore. I’m usually a huge fan of island tours, since they’re a great way to explore a range of nearby islands (like the incredible ones I went on when I was in El Nido, Philippines), however I really would not recommend this tour to anyone. Here’s why..
As amazingly wonderful as the town of El Nido is, it’s missing one thing. Because of the looming limestone cliffs to the west of the town, you are unable to see the sunset. This also means it gets dark much earlier in the day than you would probably like. Thankfully, we ended up finding a solution to our lack-of-a-beautiful-sunset problem.
El Nido island hopping tours are one of the main attractions in this charming town. When you head there, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is which tour to go on. Fortunately, I was able to go on two incredible tours: Tour A and Tour C. If you’ve read up on island hopping in El Nido, you’ll probably know that Tour A is highly recommended if you can only do one during your stay. If possible, you should try to get around to going on both tours.
As I mentioned in my last post, El Nido is a must-visit destination with its incomparable beauty and small town charm. When you visit, you will undoubtedly go on an island hopping tour, as it is one of the main things to do here. There are four tours you can choose from, cleverly named Tour A, Tour B, Tour C, and Tour D. These tours are a great way to explore the islands of El Nido and take in all of its rare visual appeal. Tour A and C are the most popular tours, which I was lucky enough to have been able to do both. However, if you can only squeeze one tour in during your stay, I would recommend doing Tour A.
The small town of El Nido exudes this quaint, friendly, and charming vibe throughout. El Nido is not as developed as many other popular South East Asian destinations (though it might very well become just that in the near future), which I really liked about it, so don’t expect a street filled with bars and drunken tourists, or any chain restaurants or shops.
After we had been in Puerto Princesa for two nights, we made our way via van to the -almost- northern most part of Palawan; El Nido. The ride there was pretty painful; it took about 6 or so hours with multiple stops picking up and dropping off passengers (both tourists and locals) along the way in the towns of Roxas, Taytay, and who knows where else. However, I was in for a real treat on the ride back to Puerto Princesa when we were stuck in a much smaller van with the same amount of people, and had a pregnant lady moaning as if she were having contractions and an older woman who was horking into a baggy that she tied around the back of a seat… But, I digress.
Like I mentioned in my previous post on stopping over in Puerto Princesa, there isn’t that much to do in the city center. If you have a day to spend wandering about the city, there are a handful of tourist attractions you can visit during the day and some great restaurants and bars to check out at night. They are all within walking distance, unless you’re incredibly lazy or are on the verge of heatstroke and can’t bear to walk another step. If that’s the unfortunate case, there are plenty of tricycles haphazardly about the streets that will take you to any of the locations below for a nominal fee.