A friend of mine visited a few weeks back, so once my summer school ended, we decided to hoof it down to Phuket to spend a week or so. We decided to visit Koh Phi Phi first, and if I'm honest, we never made it anywhere else.
Getting to Phuket is quite easy. We took a VIP bus from Mo Chit (the northern bus terminal) in Bangkok all the way to Phuket's "Bus Terminal 2," and it was about 1,080 baht each. This is far more than we paid to return VIP (680 baht each), but this was literally the nicest bus I have ever been on in my life... and I've been on my fair share of buses. First class on Delta Airlines can't hold a candle.
The bus ride took about 12 hours (overnight), so we arrived in Phuket around 7:00 a.m., and decided to visit Phi Phi first in our whirlwind tour of the island so we headed straight to the port. I couldn't tell which beach the boat to Phi Phi left from, but I know it cost about 200 baht on a baht bus to get to it, and 1,000 baht each roundtrip for the 2ish hour ferry ride to and from the island.
Just go ahead and expect transportation to be a complete rip-off in and around Phuket; it's easily four times as much as getting around Bangkok, but hey, what can you expect when you're visiting paradise?
The ferry ride to the island is spectacular. It truly feels like you're in a movie; mountainous islands in sight, beautiful blue water, sunshine, warm... it's lovely. My friend and I hadn't bothered booking any of this in advance, travel or hotels, so we decided to go straight to the beach with a few spirits and relax the day away. We spent a solid day-11:00 a.m. to sunset-on the beach, and it was beautiful. The island has many beaches, but we honestly never made it past the "party" beach... next time I visit, I will do my best to see more of the island.
We wondered around until we found a place to stay. There are many, many places to stay on the island, and it wasn't "high season" anymore, so we had no problem finding a place a short walk from the beach for 400 baht/night (for both of us). It wasn't much more than a hostel with a fan and shared showers, but when you're on an island in paradise, what more do you need?
Night on the island is an entirely different beast. During the day, there's plenty of cute places to eat and shop, beaches, and a generally chill atmosphere. At night, every night, it's not remotely the same. It's crazy. That's all I can say. Beach raves all night, Thai men throwing and playing with fire on the beach all night to ridiculously loud club music, drinking, smoking... it was like The Hangover in real life. I've never seen anything like it in my life, and I've been known to party a bit.
But, that's not all there is to do on and around the island. One day, we took a 400 baht longboat tour with other random people around to "Monkey Beach" on a nearby island, then to a beautiful national park island of some sort to explore and do some snorkeling. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Pristine beaches (albeit littered in some places), monkeys everywhere, crystal clear water... again, it was like being in a movie. We got to meet some really cool people, got some gorgeous pictures, and can officially say we did something besides party around the party island.
There's really not much else to say about Phi Phi. I liked it a lot, especially because if you're the type that wants to party, there is that in abundance. But if you're the type that does not, the island is still a wonderful destination; it has the best of both worlds.
Unfortunately, although it's not that expensive for what it is (no more than a club in Bangkok would be), money can get tight fairly quickly. This is especially true due to the fact that my wallet was stolen out of my pant pockets while I was swimming. But, hey, they say be careful, and I wasn't. So, after a few days, and out of money, we had to head back to Bangkok, without even seeing more of Phuket than the bus station again.
That trip was miserable. Not only was it the culmination of multiple days of raving on party island, but the bus ended up taking 13+ hours to get back to Bangkok. Ugh. Even so, it was so worth it.
I can't wait to go back to visit Phuket and Krabi... although next time I go, it will be more of a relaxing trip than a "I'm on vacation so I'm living it up." There are so many beautiful places to see and fun things to do... there isn't enough time or money! I love Bangkok, don't get me wrong... but I can't imagine how awesome it would be to live somewhere like Phi Phi.
It would be awesome. Dangerous, but awesome.