Long Beach, Phi Phi

2 Feb

There has recently been some comments on our Facebook page asking us to stop updates – prompted by the apparently gross weather many places in Europe. And I can see why blog posts about tropical beaches might be slightly annoying in the middle of the winter. However, we have just found your next holiday destination, so I think you would like to hear me out. That is, if you are headed for Thailand as a couple or a family.

Enter Phi Phi’s real slice of paradise: Long Beach.

For some reason, we were of the understanding that the only places that were inhabited on Phi Phi were Ton Sai Bay and the tourist village stretching to the pier as well as a few five-star resorts on the other side of the island. By chance we happened upon Phi Phi tourist information, just off the pier, where a girl from Bristol told us what neither Rough Guide nor Lonely Planet did.

Sheltered by limestone cliffs and jungle, Ton Sai Bay is – as expected – gorgeous. However. The beach itself is so shallow that swimming is tricky, if not outright impossible. And secondly, at night-time it becomes the most happening place in town.

But there is another beach. A short longtail boat ride or a 40 minute walk from the pier you find Long Beach. Google it now and you´ll see flapping palm trees on a long, sandy beach with calm water so clear that you don´t even have to put your head below the surface to see fish. Amazing. On top of this, the beach offers some of the best snorkeling around the islands. Apparently (our backs are burnt like toast, so we will have to check this out in a few days..) you may spot shy and harmless (triple checked) sharks at the far end of the beach if you get up before 7 am.

Whereas Ton Sai Bay and the tourist village cater to twenty-something backpackers, on Long Beach people seem to have come on package holidays. The longtail boats ferry in suitcases and bags, elderly German couples and Swedish families with small children. These live on the seafront bungalows, which is where you should stay if you´re here on a short vacation (my favourite – Paradise Pearl Bungalows). If you are travelling for a longer time, check out the hillside bungalows (the cheap-o ones like ours are on top of the hill). There are also a number of restaurants along the beach (just as cheap as in the village itself), a mini market, and a couple of excellent massage places.

And this brings me to the conclusion: it´s not just better, it´s also cheaper! We were royally ripped off in Ton Sai Bay. Ok, I´m exaggerating – if we hadn´t discovered Long Beach in its full glory I would warmly recommend Sunset Bay Resort to all of you. But, now for less than half the cost (!) we get a superb beach which is so, so quiet. And the money saved treats us daily to an additional one hour massage, four Pad Thai's, six coconuts, two ice creams and one mango sticky rice. On Friday and February, the tourist season took a small dip, and the price became even lower.

As you might have guessed, we have delayed our departure for Ko Lanta. On Phi Phi, the concept of ´slow travel´ is easy to embrace.


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