Birthday Celebration in Koh Phi Phi

Published on 5 August 2023 at 01:28

You would be hard pressed to find a more memorable spot to welcome in a new decade of living than a Birthday in Koh Phi Phi.

The Beach. You know the one. Not as in "Hey, let's go to the beach". As in capital T and capital B, The Beach. Made famous in 2000 when a fresh-faced Leonardo DiCaprio went topless in Thailand in a particularly good movie (6.6/10 on IMDB) based on an excellent book by Alex Garland (4/5 on Good Reads). Well, that "The Beach" is located on one of two islands located east of Phuket that share the name Koh Phi Phi (Pronounced Go Pee Pee, chuckle), with the other being the set for the next chapter of our travel adventure "Linda wanna Koh Phi Phi ". After her previous one-night visit with Sandra four years ago, Linda's wish for her X0th birthday was to spend it back on this island. So, here we go!

After waving goodbye to our villa in Rawai we took a taxi van to Rassada Pier where we boarded a large, air-conditioned ferry for a 2-hour ocean cruise across the Andaman Sea to Koh Phi Phi Don, the larger of the two Islands and the only one with accommodation and swimming available.

Travel Tip: Due to the popularity of the film, the smaller island of Koh Phi Phi Leh and its stunning Maya Bay became so popular with tourists that the marine ecosystem declined significantly, to the point where the government made the brave decision to shut it down. Four years have passed, and the sea life has rebounded so you can now pay a premium to visit again to sit on The Beach where Leo smoked a J or three, but it is now illegal to swim in the lagoon where he made out with that French girl. Anyway, back to the Don...

It was all hands-on deck for photos as we pulled into the main bay area, which is bookended by giant limestone cliffs. We disembarked onto the main wharf which brings you straight into the middle of the busy tourist district that is jam packed with all the things that we tourists need to have a fun time. Including a very out of place Burger King and McDonald's right up front?

It's better to look to your left where you can enjoy the iconic view of colourful Longtail Boats lined up, side by side.

We stayed put on the pier as we were transferring onto a Longtail boat to our surprise accommodation which was located a few bays over - The Beach Resort in Longbeach! (No, not that The Beach. Purely a coincidence. That movie reference is now irrelevant for all future beach references.)

The Beach Resort has private units perched on the side of the hillside that looks out over a bay and across the sea to Koh Phi Phi Lei. Our unit had a king-sized bed, a separate bathroom, air conditioning, and panoramic views of the bay from our balcony.

We had unit 105, and Linda had the neighbouring unit 104. Sandra had pre-arranged for Linda's unit to be decorated for her birthday and they did a wonderful job with flowers and balloons providing a special welcome.

The resort has dedicated the beachfront to their dining area. We selected one of the tables beneath swaying coconut palms decorated with lights, dug our toes into the sand, and enjoyed cocktails whilst witnessing the sun set across the bay. We also got to meet the resident resort kittens, including one particularly friendly chap who has a tail that is folded back on itself, who we christened Kinky. So, Sandra, Linda, Tony, and Kinky sat chatting and drinking until well after the sun had dipped in behind the limestone cliffs. It was an awful night. Sorry, awe-filled night. 

Thursday was Linda's Big Birthday!! We decorated the table for her arrival at the buffet breakfast then, because the day was drenched in sunshine despite the wet forecast prediction, we spent much of it in one of the two pools at this resort. We chose the pool closest to the bar, which we had all to ourselves for the day before taking a short afternoon walk for massages. In the evening we dressed up for the birthday dinner, which we had to move under cover as the rain had finally arrived. 

The following morning, we packed up and gave Kinky his final pat as we are moving on to the second of our memorable locations for "birthday weekend". We once again boarded a Longtail to motorboat our way back to the main pier where we were met by a porter and his wagon for a personal escort to.... Coco Beach Resort.

Located a 10-minute walk from the main centre of Phi Phi, this resort is a tropical paradise with individual chalets made almost entirely from bamboo. Even the aircon units have a bamboo facade to keep up the appearance. This time the private beachfront is dedicated to a giant swimming pool complete with swim-up bar, which was the perfect spot to relax and take in our new surroundings.

For "Birthday Boxing Day" dinner we headed back into the main area of Tonsai Village, with its winding alleyways bustling with fellow holidaymakers and tour salesmanship, to a favourite restaurant of Sandra's from the fleeting visit in 2019 - Anna's. This busy spot is perfect for a sit-down dinner and offers a menu that includes authentic European dishes including my choice of a Vienna-style pork schnitzel complete with mashed potatoes and gravy. Yumbo! They also hold the current badge for top Pad Thai on the trip to date, which they achieved despite adapting their recipe for Sandra to exclude any fish sauces. A rendition of Happy Birthday from the entire restaurant was lovely end to the day.

Sandra and I woke early the next day as we were ready for a physical challenge - to trail walk up to two viewpoints that were rumoured to look back across the main bays. We initially employed Google maps to lead us to the starting point of the climb, before realizing that there were regular "Tsunami Evacuation Point" signs directing us towards higher ground and the same spot. After the first few rounds of steep stairs snaking their way upwards between various hostels we were, as our UK friends say, sweating buckets. At the first viewpoint we paid 30 Baht each to the family who own and upkeep the land, and it's worth it. They have prepared a gorgeous garden setting with various photo spots that overlooks Tonsai Village and the bays on either side of the island. 

The hike to Viewpoint 2 is easier, with a concrete footpath taking a gentler gradient upwards. This elevation provides an even greater view across the island, and we timed our run with the opening of a Cafe perched nearby for well-deserved Iced Americano coffees. The return trip took us longer than expected and we missed the hotel breakfast so had to settle for a famous toasted ham and cheese sandwich from 7 Eleven. 

When you check in at Coco Beach, they give you a little card that provides titbits of useful information about the resort. The final bullet point was most interesting: "We apologize for possible disturbance from our neighbours". What could this mean? Were there renovations happening nearby? Were the monkeys particularly vocal at this time of year? Nope, neither. There are however nightly dance parties on the beach across the bay, with super speakers that keep the drum and bass pumping until 2:30am, even in quiet season. The first night we were able to pop in our earplugs and, with our beer blankets on, have a surprisingly good sleep. As this was our final night on Phi Phi, and of Linda’s holiday, we decided to head out after dinner to join in the raucous.

We had seen fire from our side of the island so assumed that the festivities included a fire dancer or two. Wrong. Try thirty and replace dancing with extreme limbo (the bar is on fire), extreme jump rope (both ropes are on fire) and then add more stuff on fire that you light with an actual flamethrower.

We had bottled drinks before upgrading to one of the infamous large cocktail buckets, which I watched with an eagle-eye as the bartender prepared to ensure the ingredients were legitimate. They were, and it was a delicious Blue Hawaii Bucket that took a while to get through as the breaks to dance barefoot on the sand became more frequent the more, we sampled. We ended the night dancing in the sea as the tide came up, before heading back to our comfortable beds and leaving the younger folk to see out the night together. 

After ten fun-filled days and nights, the next day was time to farewell Linda as we were boarding ferries heading in different directions. Hers, back to Phuket and a flight home to South Africa.

Ours, on to the next chapter of our adventures in Ao Nang.....


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Linda
10 months ago

Thanks for this wonderful memorable 50th Birthday spoil and time together. It will always ne remembered and treasured thanks Sandra and Tony and for the well documented blog. Take care. Lots of Love