I thought I’d write a quick JBR of our five night holiday in Phi Phi - I’ve noticed a few questions here lately about staying there with kids, so hopefully this will be helpful! Or possibly very long winded and boring ;-)
Firstly, an introduction - we are a family of four, two kids aged 7 and 2. We are Aussie expats who have been living in Singapore for the last two years, Chiang Mai in Thailand before that. So as much as I like to think of Thailand as a second home, this was our first family trip to Koh Phi Phi, and I had a lot of questions.....huge thanks to the regulars on here who help out!
We arrived on a Jetstar flight from Singapore that landed at 9:30 pm. It sounded like a great idea when I first booked it (on sale!), but quickly realised that it was not an ideal time to be arriving with two sleepy kids in tow. So after a bit of research, I booked us in to the Maya Phuket, which is a five minute walk from the airport - didn’t even need a taxi :-) This hotel is a gem, I’ll review it properly elsewhere, but for a quick stopover I highly recommend it! The rooms are huge and we were upgraded to a pool access room - not that we got to use it :-( After a quick breakfast the next morning we were picked up from the lobby by our pre-arranged transfer through phuketferry.com. This probably cost us a few dollars more than if we had‘ve booked something off the street, but for the convenience, it was totally worth it. (And when you’re travelling with kids, convenience becomes priceless ;-))
I think it was about $48 for the private van, and the ferry tickets were $13 each for the 12:20 ferry. Hot tip - apparently young kids can travel free on the ferry (at least they did on the way home!), but when you book the tickets online, you’ll be asked to select how many kids are travelling aged 2-12. So, maybe don’t book for the kids and see how you go when you get there.....we only booked one way, and bought the return ticket once we were on the island. It was 350 baht for each adult, so about the same as what we paid online.
Anyway, the transfer and check in for the ferry was easy and smooth, and so was the ride - I was slightly worried we’d need the sick bag, but all good! The little guy tends to throw up in the taxi on the way to the airport, but apparently boat rides are ok? Go figure :-) And so two hours later, we were on the island! We had booked for five nights at Phi Phi Villa Resort, and there was a guy waiting on the pier holding up a sign for the hotel. Checked our names off the list, loaded up the bags on to his cart, and off we went :-) It turns out that the section of beach that Phi Phi Villa fronts on to is connected by a path that winds along the edge of the island from Tonsai Pier -when I was doing my research and looking at the location on Google maps, I didn’t realise this was the case - I had it in my head that we’d be jungle trekking. Instead it is a very civilised and paved walk, which is lined with shops and restaurants and hotels along the way - super easy! It’s probably a 10 minute walk at most, and we did it every day when we headed out for dinner.
So, the hotel. You know, I agonised for soooooo long over which hotel to book for this trip. It seems like all the hotels on Phi Phi get such bad reviews, unless you’re prepared to pay a fortune - and I’m really not. I wanted something right on the beach, with snorkeling, not too many boats, an easy walk to shops and restaurants, around $100 a night, nice, modern decor, clean and preferably with no bedbugs. Too much to ask? It seemed like it. In the end we chose Phi Phi Villa because it filled most of this criteria, and was the only one in the area that we wanted that had rooms which were absolute beachfront. We booked the ‘luxury beachfront villa’ so that the kids could run right out onto the sand, plus it came with two king size beds, so plenty of room for the four of us :-) And it turned out to be absolutely the right choice! Not only was it spotlessly clean, all the linen and mattresses seemed to be brand new (the mattress even still had the plastic on! No bedbugs!). There was plenty of room, and best of all, the view was unbeatable. Actually, in all our walks, this was the only hotel in this stretch of the island that had beachfront rooms - so it was perfect for us. On top of that, there was a restaurant about 20m from our room where we could duck down and get fresh fruit shakes and baguettes for lunch, and a minimart a few metres further on for snacks. It was everything we needed for the five nights :-)
So for the next few days, we alternated between swimming at the beach, swimming at the pool, playing in the sand, and people watching. It was clearly a very productive holiday ;-) Another hot tip - when the tide goes right out (around 3pm), walk down the beach to the left towards the Bayview Resort and head into the water near the rocks. You can wade out for hundreds of metres and the water won’t go past your knees - all the way out to where there’s some coral. The water is so clear here that you won’t even need to put your head under the water to see the fish - it was great to do this with the little guy who can’t snorkel yet. So incredibly beautiful!
For eating, we tried a few different places for dinner, and all were good - we were paying between 700 and 1000 baht for the four of us with drinks - pretty cheap really! I definitely recommend Amp Cafe (try the chicken and cashew nuts!), Papaya, Efe (yummy Mediterranean), and Unni’s. Oh, and get a rolled ice cream from any of the stalls that sell it for dessert - this is something my eldest was addicted to in Chiang Mai, so he was thrilled to find them here too :-)
We only did one snorkeling trip, which was on a private long tail boat for the four of us plus some friends - seven of us in total. We paid 2000baht all up, and headed out at 3pm towards Koh Phi Phi Leh. We skipped Maya Bay (we’d all been before on day trips, and apparently if you set foot on the sand you have to pay an additional 400baht?), so instead we stopped at a couple of places around the outside of the island to go snorkeling - which was just so stunning. The water is unbelievably clear, and the fish and coral is abundant - I highly recommend! Then we headed off to watch the sunset over the water, before going to a little cove alongside Phi Phi Don to snorkel with the bioluminescent plankton once it got dark. It was such a great experience - my eldest adores snorkeling, and the little guy fell asleep before we even got to the first stop and spent most of the trip asleep in the hammock on the boat - he looked extremely comfortable :-)
And that was pretty much it! We had a flight back to Singapore at 10pm on the Saturday night, so we checked out of our hotel on the island at 10am to catch the 11am ferry back to Phuket. We then checked into a hotel called The Tint in Phuket Town - the room was only $30 and it was a perfect way to kill the six hours between getting off the ferry and leaving for the airport. We freshened up, got some lunch, did some shopping, walked around the old town, had a nap, and then hopped in a car to take us to the airport (700baht, organised through the hotel). Killed some time at the airport, then legged it back to Singapore via Jetstar. All done! It was a quick holiday, but I’m very glad we did it - a nice beach break for us and the kids :-)
Hope this is somewhat helpful if you’ve made it to the end - sorry for all the rambling!