We had done the speed boat trip to Phi Phi on our last visit.
Coming from coastal northern Australia, we found sitting on the beach/swimming for 2 hours at Bamboo Island no novelty and not much of an attraction for us (For others, I am sure it is).
This time we decided to make our own way. The idea was to catch a ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi, then hire a longtail boat up to Laemtong Beach for Christmas lunch at Jasmin Restaurant.
We chose Andaman Wavemaster Royal Jet Cruiser and splurged $68 AUD return each for Premium Class seats including pick-up and return to our hotel. We booked on-line.
As soon as we arrived at the pier we were lead away by one of the staff, like VIP’s, on to the boat and up to the “Premium Class” deck.
Premium Class was the whole top deck of the modern boat. We were lead into the room and couldn’t believe the opulence for a “ferry”, air-conditioned and furnished with oh-so-comfortable leather lounges, other cushioned seating along the sides, coffee tables, wide screen TV, glass walls, its own toilet/washroom and a small café where a delightful Thai lady served free coffee, tea, cakes and snacks all the way and “extras” such as bringing around iced pineapple slices. Beer could be bought. The whole roof top was a private sun deck.
Being on the top of the boat we had the best uninterrupted view all the way over to Tonsai Pier.
On the way to Tonsai we were approached by Sawat, a young man who works as a tour guide on the boat. We explained our idea for the day still not sure if it was feasible or harebrained.
No trouble. For $15 AUD each, Sawat organised the longtail boat and stopped with us all day. The longtail cost 1200 Bht. May be a bit high but we got “more”.
When we arrived off Tonsai, Sawat lead us down like Rockstars (well, aging rockstars) to the stern of the boat. Within seconds our longtail appeared, we stepped on board and were on our way while the ferry still had to turn around and dock to let the “ordinary” folk (sorry) off.
We could have gone snorkeling but we had done that with the speed boat and having seen the Great Barrier Reef at home we were not impressed enough to want to do snorkeling again. We had passed Maya Bay on the ferry and had seen the almost unbroken line of boats and people on the beach. We had been before and so gave that a miss, too. Sawat was happy to take us to either if we had wanted to. One of our party wanted to see the monkeys so we went to a beach near Monkey Bay for our private viewing.
We headed off around Phi Phi Ley and then right up the eastern side of Phi Phi Don to Laemtong Beach at the top north-eastern corner. I’ll skip the details of the scenery all the way – majestic and magnificent.
Laemtong Beach has no vehicles and no traffic – just a white sandy beach, crystal clear water and magnificent scenery. There are 3 resorts there, set close together. Between them is Jasmin Restaurant.
Jasmin Restaurant is a small old “quaint” wooden structure built on the sand. The furniture is made from driftwood and the tables and seats are right on the sand, steps from the water’s edge. It must be close to Paradise.
Lunch was served very quickly – the most delicious Thai dishes or you could choose barbequed fish caught that day. The drinks were icy cold. Lunch for 4 including 2 beers and 2 cokes cost a total of 1,260 Bht (!). I told the owner it was the best Christmas lunch I had ever had.
After lunch, Sawat took us for a walk around the resorts and across to the other side of the island. We saw the height the tsunami had reached and where they desalinate sea water for their use. We decided then and there that one day we would spend at least a few days at Phi Phi Natural Resort.
It was then back on to the longtail. We went around the top of Phi Phi Don and right down the western side to Loh Dalum Bay. We had sailed around the whole of Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley. We went ashore, walked though the markets to Tonsai Bay and had 45 minutes to sit in the shade and have a cool drink before re-joining our air-conditioned cabin on the ferry.
Highly recommended if you want something a little bit more adventurous and want a say in where you would like to go.