Island Hopping in Thailand

After exploring Northern Thailand, I was ready for the beach.  For the first stop, I was deciding between Phuket and Krabi but in the end, I decided to go to Krabi for 2 main reasons:  1) There is a direct flight from Chiang Mai and 2) My friends told me that Krabi has the limestone cliffs that you picture when you think of Thailand beaches.  Normally, I like to stay at mid-range accommodations; somewhere in between a hostel and a luxury resort but since I was celebrating my 35th birthday, I decided to splurge.  I stayed at Rayavadee Resort and they really did treat me like a princess.  I would like to preface that I don’t usually spend this much money on hotels and I only stayed one night.  The moment I arrived the property, they delivered a birthday cake, wine and island drinks.  The resort itself is stunning and it’s right on Railey Beach.  I got to do everything I love: watch the sunset, swim in an infinity pool and eat delicious seafood for dinner.

The most convenient thing about staying at Rayavadee is that the ferry dock is right on Railey Beach.  I want to say there’s a dock but there’s no physical dock; you just walk into the water to board the boat.  There’s a ferry once a day to Ko Lanta which was my next stop.  I chose to go to Ko Lanta after my friends said it’s laid back and boho.  Most of the beach destinations in Thailand are infamous for being party towns.  I’m a little too old for late night raves on the beach.  I cannot recommend the place I stayed on Ko Lanta so I won’t even mention the name here.  Ko Lanta doesn’t have the dramatic limestone cliffs like Krabi but it’s quiet and chill.  You can rent motorbikes and explore the whole island.  There are a ton of cute boho beach restaurants and bars.  It’s the perfect beach getaway if you want to read a book and relax.

I heard conflicting reports from friends about Phi Phi Island.  It’s the island that became famous from the movie “The Beach.”  It’s a teeny tiny island that receives hundreds of thousands of visitors.  I decided at the last minute to check it out for myself since Phi Phi was only an hour ferry ride from Ko Lanta.  By the way, ferries are the best way to get around the islands in Thailand.  They are inexpensive, convenient and you get to be on boat.  I stayed at Phi Phi Relax which is on the East side of the island.  It’s away from the main area which is both good because you’re away from the madness but the downside is the only way to get to and from the hotel is by long tail boat.  The hotel was a little expensive ($100/night) for what you get which is a bare bones beach hut with no AC but you are right on the beach.

The main attraction on Phi Phi is Maya Bay (The Beach) and the thing to do is to hire a long tail boat to take you there.  I negotiated with a boat driver on the pier to pick me up at my hotel before sunrise, take me to Maya Bay and drop me off at the pier.  I was leaving Phi Phi the same day.  We agreed on $80 which is very steep for Thailand but that’s the going rate for boats in Phi Phi.  To avoid the massive crowds, you should arrive the bay just before sunrise.  I got there at 6:30am and there were already 2 boats there.  I have to say that May Bay is a little overrated at this point because it gets so crowded!  My favorite spot was the lagoon on the other side of the island.  There’s no beach but I couldn’t believe how turquoise the waters were.  The color is unbelievable.  A lot of people go to Phi Phi for the beach parties.  To each their own but why would you travel thousands of miles to paradise just to party, black out and not remember this beautiful place?  Phi Phi is probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to but has been ruined by tourism.  Those are my 2 cents.

I spent a week in total in Krabi, Ko Lanta and Phi Phi which was not enough time to see everything.  My overall impression about the islands in Thailand is that if you want relaxation and a chill beach vacation, you need the money to go to a resort.  Who has that kind of money?  I’m not a traditional backpacker because I’m not 20, I don’t party, and I need my own room.  I’ve outgrown the backpacker lifestyle on the so it’s hard to find something in between.  I don’t mean to put a negative review on the islands of Thailand but I just want to be honest and tell you my experience.  You can make the decision yourself.

Monkeys and welcome drinks at Rayavadee

The infinity pool with dramatic backdrop

Birthday pool party

No filter needed in this epic sunset shot

Dinner at the Rayavadee cave

Making a birthday wish

Sunset in Ko Lanta

Ko Lanta style bodega

Phi Phi Don

Relaxing on Phi Phi

Long tail boat is the preferred mode of transport

On my way to Maya Bay

Sunrise at Maya Bay