Posted by: James Shannon | April 21, 2011

Return To Thailand: Krabi And The Phi Phi Islands, Exposed!

After my lengthy rest period in Labuan, it was time to jump on my new favourite airline, Air Asia, and begin the first leg of my trip towards my new destination, the South of Thailand.

Satiated by a sumptuous slice of buffalo chicken pizza, I then fell into a nice nap, as the second leg involved an one hour Skybus ride (!) from the Kuala Lumpur LCCT to KL Sentral, the central transportation hub in the city.

Upon arrival, I bought my Malaysian Railways (KTM) ticket to Pandang Besar, and then within Thailand, from the border to Hat Yai, in the troubled Deep South of the country, giving the trip a slight element of danger (Islamic insurgents carry out daily attacks throughout the region on Buddhist monks, authority figures, English teachers, etc). Fortunately, Hat Yai had not been attacked for over four years, so I felt secure enough!

I burned away the remaining hours in an internet cafe in Chinatown, and then, with about a hour to spare, I returned to the KTM train platform. It was here that I banded together with my second group of travellers on the trip. I struck up a conversation with John and his girlfriend Kerry (both English). Shortly thereafter, another travelling couple (their names escape me at the moment) also joined up with us.

We then boarded the sleeper train, and we rolled away, departing Malaysian soil under the cover of night. At 8AM the following morning, we arrived at the border checkpoint of Pandang Besar, got my second Thai Visa stamped, and like that, we were back in the Land of Smiles!

With all that travel under our belts, it was time for some grub … the group poses while we have some duck+rice … mmm mmm good!

Hat Yai wasn’t my end destination in this travel marathon however … Krabi, with its limestone karst mountains, and easy access to Koh Phi Phi and Railay Beach, beckoned.  After a tuk tuk ride to the bus station, we were off on yet another transit ride.  After five hours northbound, we arrived to one of the more visually spectacular regions I have been to in Thailand…

Krabi Thailand from the roof of the Pak-Up hostel … notice impressive limestone karsts standing guard over the Krabi River, in the background…

Heading back down the stairs inside Pak-Up Hostel … one of the best values, bar-none, for hostels on this trip.  Uber comfy bed, rain showers in the washroom, amazing design, stylish lobby, and a happening rooftop bar/restaurant … all for 200 baht a night ($6.70 CDN)!  Highly recommended!

Viewed from the Krabi ferry terminal, the scale of the limestone karst formations in the distance is in full effect

Climbing up to the top deck of the ferry to Koh Phi Phi.  Many of the passengers, myself included, chose to lay out on the deck outside — good decision, as the experience on this day was nothing short of a slice of heaven!

Arrival at Koh Phi Phi Don (the bigger of the two Phi Phi islands) … gotta love Thai Engrish!

Wasting no time on Phi Phi Don, we rented a longtail boat to take us to Koh Phi Phi Le, better known as location of Maya Bay, which was the shooting location for “The Beach”, the famous backpacker movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Approaching Phi Phi Le, a veritable limestone fortress…

 The Beach, with considerably more people then before the movie was made.  Despite the crowds and the speedboats, it’s quite spectacular!

The crew poses for a pic on our longtail boat

We had the boat driver take us around the entire island; we discovered this tropical fjord, where the water was shallow, and the bioluminescence was off the charts!

Just outstanding…

Nothing to say … just take it in (clicking to expand the pic helps)

In spite of the crowds, Phi Phi was a special place … will have to camp here next time I’m in Thailand!

After a long day seeing the sights in the Phi Phi Islands, we wasted no time in making plans to see another major beach in the region, Railay Beach.  However, this missive is getting long, so it will have to wait until next time … hang it there folks, ’cause Railay is one special place, quite possibly my favourite beach of the entire trip!

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