Phi Phi Island
Most people refer to the beautiful Phi Phi Islands as one place – when in fact, various islands make up the area. Phi Phi Don is the largest island and is the only one that has accommodation (apart from a few tents on Phi Phi Le).
As explained in a previous post, 2 main areas make up Phi Phi Don – Tonsai and Laemtong. Most of the hotels are located in Tonsai and it’s apparently very popular and lively. Laemtong is much more chilled – picture your- dream-honeymoon-chilled.
Most boats from Phuket and Krabi stop at Tonsai Bay. To reach Laemtong, you can either catch a longtail boat from Tonsai Bay or you can take the Andaman Wave Cruiser.
Phi Phi Erawan / PP Erawan- booking
A few friends recommended that I stay on Phi Phi Island. They complained that their day tour from Phuket used 4 hours in travel time (2 hrs there and 2hrs back) – which didn’t leave nearly enough time to relax on the island. I did some digging and found a hotel that I could use my FNB Ebucks to pay with. The Ebucks website had only one option available on Phi Phi Island, the PP Erawan.
The Tripadvisor reviews for the PP Erawan clearly stated that the resort was not in the best condition. I wasn’t planning to spend a lot of time in a hotel room so I reckoned it was worth it. I emailed the PP Erawan as I was nervous about booking with through the Ebucks website but they confirmed everything. Email communication was excellent and they advised us how to reach Laemtong.
I felt pretty fantastic after being carefully escorted off the ferry and into a longtail boat by the staff of the Andaman Wave Cruiser. The beach has a surreal beauty and a tranquil vibe. No Patong craziness.
We were guided to the reception area (3 steps away from the beach) where we were greeted with a man pouring water over our sandy feet. Wow, I thought – this is luxury! We were given juice and towels to cool off.
We arrived about an hour before check-in. Check-in times are pretty standard worldwide so I’m not sure why the other guests were surprised. The staff welcomed us to leave our bags there, get changed in their facilities, use the towels and go relax on the beach. I took the first opportunity I could to jump into the sea. Ah, heaven.
We were also told that wifi is only available in the lobby – but I already knew that from what I’d read on Tripadvisor. The other guests were now, really, really annoyed.
The many beach chairs provide much-needed shade, literally steps away from the beach. The pool has seen better days but it was pleasant to swim in.
When we finally checked in, we were led to our room and as expected, the room wasn’t very fancy. It’s all about the location, people!
The room has seen better days and I’m sure at some point, the PP Erawan must have been really nice. They had a tea & coffee station, ample water and very expensive sweets and chips in the room (available for purchase). The bed was extremely hard! Every time I sat down on it, I would get the shock of my life. I like a firm bed but this was just hard as a brick.
For the 2 nights we stayed there, we couldn’t get the safe to work but we weren’t too bothered. Laemtong seems like the kind of place where people can’t run really far with stolen goods.
The information booklet made specific reference to mosquitoes and they weren’t kidding. Even though they spray the place on a weekly basis (with probably some strong pesticide), mosquitoes are everywhere and if you will be bitten if you walk around in the evening. We managed to use half a can of Bayguard in 2 nights so our room was okay. Peaceful Sleep did nothing to deter these evil mosquitoes.
Breakfast was served in a spectacular spot. You don’t get much better than this –
They had an interesting assortment of food. Basically, something for everyone!
Laemtong Beach Life
There are 3 other hotels that share the quiet Laemtong beach with the PP Erawan, namely, The Phi Phi Natural Resort, the Zeavola (a diving based hotel) and the Holiday Inn. The other hotels are all 5-star, top of the range places.
The water is warm and salty and didn’t have too many of those pesky “sea lice”. There’s not many aren’t waves so it’s perfect for kids. The sand can get a little rocky due to dead coral washing up but it’s not a big deal.
When I was there in May, low-tide occurred from about 3 – 5pm. You can walk really far out into the ocean and clearly see fish, crabs and clams all about. Amazing – but it does make it difficult to find any water to swim in! If you keep walking you will eventually find some water that you can snorkel in and see some corals reefs. Perfect for beginners to practice in.
Laemtong is isolated so I was worried about the price of food and other items there. We stockpiled some pot noodles, water and whatever we thought we may need while we were in Phuket. I would agree that the prices are inflated (compared to Patong) but they aren’t that bad if you’re just staying a couple of days. But please – bring some after-sun from home. That stuff is expensive!
There are various restaurants on the beachfront. Some had jazzy live music, others had fire displays. The food was (obviously) mostly seafood based. At the Zeavola, we peeked at the menu to see the average price of dishes ranged from THB500 to THB900 per person. You can be prepared to spend that at a nice restaurant in Cape Town.
A margarita pizza at another restaurant called Sawasdee cost around THB500. We just weren’t willing to spend that amount at that stage of our holiday, even to the sweet (but cliche) melody of the girl of Ipanema playing, a perfect complement to any beach paradise.
Between the PP Erawan and the Holiday Inn, there is a small area called the “Sea Gypsy Village” where some local people live. The Sea Gypsy Village sounds rather rustic but it’s not really, there’s a sign indicating where it is, a grocery shop (with no prices on any items), about two takeaway places and juice bars (mmm the juice was good) and the highly rated Jasmin. There is a boat area just in front of the Sea Village (and another one in front of the Zeavola_ where you can easily arrange for a longtail boat tours. You can read about our tour by longtail here.
It was a Friday night but we had long lost track of what day it was. We headed to the Jasmin. It was very busy and we had to wait for more than 30 minutes to get a table. We were directed to ocean-facing chairs in the meantime. Having my feet in the sand and the sweet sound of the waves lapping gently, I could have waited much longer. They played reggae which suited the rustic wooden beach bar interior.
The vegetarian options were slim. I had a vegetable green curry (THB200) and my partner had a seafood/prawn curry which cost THB250. We tried to find out if our dishes came with rice but the waiter struggled to understand us. We thought we ordered rice but it never came. Our waiter just looked at us a bit confused and smiled. English in general, is not very prevalent in Laemtong.
I liked that the Jasmin charged a 2.5% surcharge for the children’s school and it is the best-priced restaurant on the small strip. That said, it is extremely popular and we waited quite a while for a table. The food was worth it – even though I was restricted to vegetarian as nothing appeared to be halaal around Laemtong (and I don’t eat seafood). Apparently, Tonsai has a big Muslim population so it probably would be easier to find something there.
Laemtong is one of the best places I’ve been to. If I’m lucky enough to go there again, I’d try to stay another night so that I could relax a bit more and check out Tonsai Bay. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford one of the 5-star resorts in Laemtong, then go right ahead! Otherwise, consider staying at the PP Erawan if you are looking for affordable, peaceful accommodation on Phi Phi Island. You get the 5-star location and service for a fraction of the price. I do hope that they’ll upgrade the resort in future, though.
PP Erawan Palms Resort / Phi Phi Erawan Palms Resort