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Booking our trip we really didn’t know much about Phuket except it was a popular destination and it was the jumping off point to get to the famous Phi Phi Island. We worked with a travel agent to book our flights and hotels and he had suggested avoiding the heavily touristy area of Patong, so we stayed a couple beach towns over at Kata Beach. It was a quieter, more family-friendly area but it still had shops and restaurants.
The weather wasn’t too great when we got there so we spent the afternoon walking around and figuring out our plans. We decided to take two different boat tours on our two full days.
Phi Phi Island Tour
Our first tour was a half day trip to Phi Phi Island. We left bright and early and piled on a large tour boat with plenty other passengers. As we were cruising the sky was pretty dark and several times raindrops started to fall. I began to really question our decision to book our trip during rainy season.
The boat ride out to Phi Phi Island took a couple hours and in the mean time we passed several other islands, including where they filmed the movie The Beach, but we didn’t get off of the boat.
Finally as we arrived at Phi Phi Island, the sun began to shine and it appeared the weather gods were on our side.
At this point there was an option to stay on the boat and go snorkeling with the guides at a different location and then return to Phi Phi for lunch. Since our time on the island was already so limited, we chose to do our own thing and skip out on the included lunch as well.
A friend we had met at Elephant’s World had shown us her pictures from the Phi Phi Viewpoint and we knew we wanted to make sure we made it up there. She warned us that she had taken a “back” was that was much longer and more difficult than the “stair” way from the center of town. Guess which way we (accidentally) ended up going?
Of course- through the steep dirt road, through the villages we went. We must have somehow missed a sign for the other path. Go figure.
Finally we made it to the top! Even with the clouds the view was pretty remarkable.
After taking a rest and more than enough pictures we headed back down the “easy” way, which is really just a long, steep flight of stairs. We grabbed lunch, did some shopping and lounged on on the beach before it was time to get back on the boat.
Overall, we only got to spend a few hours on the actual island which was really disappointing. The main part of the island has lots of accommodations and attractions but the surrounding beaches also had quite a bit of rubbish on them to. We both decided that if we were to do it again we would have spent at least one or two nights on Phi Phi Island but further away from all of the noise and activity. I wish I would have read this blog post before we went, because I feel like where Kelly stayed would have been perfect.
James Bond Island Tour
Learning from our mistake of taking the large (read: slow) boat the previous day, we decided to book a speed boat tour out to James Bond Island on the second day.
This tour was much smaller, only about 12 of us in all, and we got to see a lot more in the same time frame.
Same dark, cloudy weather. Note: rainy season in Thailand is not the ideal travel time.
Life jackets on and ready to go!
First stop was Panak Island, where we the tide was so low we were able to walk through caves. We also saw plenty of these little guys.
Once we came out the other side of the cave, this is what we saw. It was hard to show in a picture how huge and tall the trees and formations surrounding us were.
“Take a picture like I’m in jail.”
How creepy are these fish that were swimming in the mud. When the tide goes up you have to canoe through the caves. There was also some quicksand that hilariously a guy got stuck in while we were there (relax- he’s fine).
After the caves, we drove a little further to a different area where we met a larger boat filled with canoes and guides.
Travis and I were the first to hop into our boat with our lovely, and informative ladyboy guide (because we wouldn’t be in Thailand if we didn’t have a ladyboy guide).
He was pretty daring and a couple times we had to lay all the way down as we squeezed through tight openings and low hanging branches.
Floating through the big, green sea and taking in all of our surroundings was pretty amazing.
Next we paid a visit to “James Bond Island” where they filmed The Man with the Golden Gun. The weather was not looking too hot, so we poked around and took some pictures before heading off to the Muslim village for lunch.
Next stop was the Muslim floating fishing village, Panyee Island. The village has about 1,600 residents all living in houses held above the water on stilts.
Nowadays they don’t get all of their income from fishing but have branched out into the tourism industry as well. Several restaurants are open on the island and serve as pit stops for many boat tours (and apparently on The Amazing Race too). We had a delicious lunch with the rest of our boat before we set off on our own to explore the village.
The village was a lot larger than we realized and we felt like we were walking through rows and rows of stalls selling food, drinks and souvenirs forever.
Finally we were able to branch off from the shops and do some exploring around the true village- the homes and the Kohpanyee School.
Their beautiful mosque in the background. I read on Wikipedia that they built it from the money they have earned through the tourism boom, not sure if that is true but it was pretty impressive.
Apparently their boys soccer team is really good and competes with other village and mainland teams.
Naturally, the teacher in me loved seeing the school. I was pretty impressed that the students were pretty unfazed by the tourists walking around and peeking in their classrooms.
That concluded our James Bond Speed Boat day tour. We really enjoyed this tour and felt like you really got a lot more bang for your buck since you didn’t spend any extended amount of time on the boat going from location to location (compared to when you take the large tour boats). Next stop: Koh Samui!
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