Europe’s 5 best gourmet restaurants for après-ski dining

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/03/17/europes-5-best-gourmet-restaurants-for-apres-ski-dining/

Après-ski is no longer simply about sipping cocktails and glasses of well-chilled Grüner Veltliner on sun-soaked chalet terraces. Today, it can also include some of the world’s finest dining experiences. Even Michelin starred chef Heston Blumenthal has noted his appreciation for Alpine restaurants, particularly in Courmayeur. While most of Europe’s resorts have a tantalising selection […]

The post Europe’s 5 best gourmet restaurants for après-ski dining appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/03/17/europes-5-best-gourmet-restaurants-for-apres-ski-dining/

Après-ski is no longer simply about sipping cocktails and glasses of well-chilled Grüner Veltliner on sun-soaked chalet terraces. Today, it can also include some of the world’s finest dining experiences. Even Michelin starred chef Heston Blumenthal has noted his appreciation for Alpine restaurants, particularly in Courmayeur. While most of Europe’s resorts have a tantalising selection […]

The post Europe’s 5 best gourmet restaurants for après-ski dining appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Top 5 luxury hotel experiences in Las Vegas

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/03/16/top-5-luxury-hotel-experiences-in-las-vegas/

Hotels in Las Vegas are far more than places to sleep. They are actual tourism destinations! Las Vegas is synonymous with luxurious over the top experiences and activities and the hotels on offer are no exception. Here are my top 5 Luxury Hotel Experiences to have in Las Vegas: The Bellagio The Bellagio is one […]

The post Top 5 luxury hotel experiences in Las Vegas appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/03/16/top-5-luxury-hotel-experiences-in-las-vegas/

Hotels in Las Vegas are far more than places to sleep. They are actual tourism destinations! Las Vegas is synonymous with luxurious over the top experiences and activities and the hotels on offer are no exception. Here are my top 5 Luxury Hotel Experiences to have in Las Vegas: The Bellagio The Bellagio is one […]

The post Top 5 luxury hotel experiences in Las Vegas appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Ko Lipe: The Greatest Month in All my Travels

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/ko-lipe-thailand-travel/

a serene beach scene in Ko Lipe, Thailand
In November 2006, I was 5 months into my (supposed) year long trip around the world. While emailing my parents to let them know I was still OK, I saw a message in my inbox:

“Matt, I’m stuck in this placed called Ko Lipe. I’m not going to meet you as planned, but you should come down here. It’s paradise! I’ve been here a week already. Find me on Sunset Beach. — Olivia”

Olivia, a friend from MySpace, was supposed to meet me in Krabi, a tourist destination famed for its limestone karsts, rock climbing, and kayaking.

I looked up Ko Lipe on a map. There was only a small mention of it in my guidebook. It was really out of the way and would require a solid day of travel to get to.

As I looked around the crowded Internet café and onto the busy street, it was clear that Phi Phi was not the tropical island paradise I had envisioned. The crowds were coming back, the beach was filled with dead coral, boats seemed to ring the island, and the water was polluted with a thin film of…well, I don’t want to know. A quieter, calmer paradise held great appeal.

“I’ll be there in two days,” I replied. “Just let me know where you are staying.”

Two days later, I took the ferry to mainland, a long bus to the port city of Pak Bara, and then the ferry to Ko Lipe. As we passed deserted, jungle-covered islands, I wandered to the top deck where a guy was playing guitar for the few people going to Lipe.

After he finished, we struck up a conversation.

Paul was tall, muscular, and thin, with a shaved head and slight stubble. His girlfriend Jane was equally tall and athletic, with curly brownish-red hair and ocean-blue eyes. Both British, they were meandering around Asia with until they were ready to move to New Zealand, where they planned to work, buy a house, and eventually get married.

“Where are you guys staying?” I asked as we lounged in the sun.

“We found a resort on the far end of the island. It’s supposed to be cheap. You?”

“Not sure. I’m supposed to stay with my friend, but I haven’t heard back yet. I don’t have a place.”

view from the bow of the boat arriving in Ko Lipe

The ferry neared the island and came to a stop. There was no dock on Ko Lipe. Years before, a developer tried to build one, but the project was canceled after protests from the local fishermen who take passengers to the island for a small fee, and the developer mysteriously disappeared.

As I got in one of the longtail boats, I dropped my flip-flops into the ocean.

Watching them sink, I yelled, “Shit! That was my only pair! I hope I can get some on the island.”

Paul, Jane, and I went to their hotel, joined by Pat, an older Irish guy, who also lacked a place to stay. The hotel overlooked a little reef and the small Sunrise Beach, which would become our main hangout spots during our time on the island.

I decided to bunk with Pat since I hadn’t heard from my friend Olivia and splitting a room was a more budget friendly. Back then saving a few hundred baht was the difference of one more or less day on the road. Paul and Jane took a bungalow overlooking the ocean. (Their terrace would be another of our little group’s most popular hangouts.)

We headed out to find my friend, who had said she could be found on Sunset Beach at the Monkey Bar.

local fishing boats in Ko Lipe

As we walked to the other side of the island, I could see Olivia was right: Ko Lipe was paradise. It was all gorgeous jungles, deserted beaches, warm, crystal-clear blue water, and friendly locals. Electricity was only available for a few hours at night, there were few hotels or tourists, and the streets were simple dirt paths. Ko Lipe was the place I had dreamed of.

We found Olivia pretty quickly. Sunset Beach was not big, and Monkey Bar, a small thatch-covered shack with a cooler for drinks cold and a few chairs, was the only bar on the beach. After quick introductions, we ordered beers, asked the typical traveler questions, and sat around chatting about nothing.

Pat turned out to be a snorer so, after two nights, I moved into a bungalow in the middle of the island for 100 baht ($3 USD) a night. Nestled behind a restaurant that served the best squid around, this hardwood structure painted red, with a white roof, small porch, and near-barren interior — a bed, a fan, and mosquito net — seemed to be built by the family for a wave of tourism that had never come.

I gave up trying to find new flip-flops. There was nothing I liked or fit. I’d wait until the mainland and just go barefoot in the meantime.

The five of us formed a core group that grew and shrank with the arrival and departure of other travelers. Other than Dave, a young Frenchman, and Sam, a weathered British expat who had been on the island every season for a decade (having once been trapped there after the last boat left), we were the only permanent Western fixtures on the island.

the group playing soccer on the beach in Ko Lipe

Our days were spent playing backgammon, reading, and swimming. We rotated beaches, though we mostly hung out at the beach by Paul and Jane’s. Within swimming distance was a mini-rock with a sheer drop that provided excellent snorkeling. We’d occasionally leave the Ko Lipe to explore the deserted islands in the nearby national park, fish, and dive. There’s nothing quite as lovely as having a whole tropical island to yourself.

one of the uninhabited islands around Ko Lipe

At night, we would rotate restaurants: my guesthouse owner’s restaurant, Mama’s for fresh squid and spicy curry, Castaway on Sunset Beach for massaman curry, and Coco for everything else. Afterwards, we’d move to Monkey Bar for beach games, beer, the occasional joint, and more backgammon. When the power generators were switched off, we would drink by flashlight before going to bed.

The days seemed to pass by endlessly. My original three-day visit came and went. I lost any concept of time.

“I’ll leave tomorrow” became my mantra. I had no reason to leave. I was in paradise.

new friends in Ko Lipe

Paul, Jane, and I became close friends as time went by. We formed a mini-group within the group.

“What are you guys going to do when you get to New Zealand?” I asked.

“We’re going to work for a few years and build a life there. We have nothing that’s pulling us back the UK,” said Paul.

“I’m going there on this trip so I’ll visit. It’s my last stop on the way home,” I replied.

“You can stay with us. Wherever we are,” said Jane as she passed the joint to me.

Sitting on the beach one day, I had an idea.

“You know what would be cool? An eco-friendly hostel. New Zealand would be the perfect place. Wouldn’t it be cool to own a hostel?”

“Yeah, that would be fun,” said Paul.

“We could call it The Greenhouse,” replied Jane.

“That’s a great name.”

“Yeah, seriously.”

Paul said, “I bet we could do it pretty easily. Eco-friendly places are all the rage, and there’s a lot of space there. We’ll have a garden, solar panels, and all the other bells and whistles.”

We were half-serious about our hostel, discussing the details every day: what it would look like, how we would get funding, the number of beds. It was a pipe dream — but dreams like this helped us pass the days on the beach.

We became aware of time again when, one day, our bill at Mama’s was suddenly double.

“What’s going on? This fish was half the price yesterday!”

“It’s Christmas! More Europeans this time of the year, so we raised our prices.”

Ahhh, capitalism at its best.

sunset in Ko Lipe

Christmas also meant something else: I would have to leave soon.

My visa ran only until just before New Year’s, so I would have to leave to renew it before heading to Ko Phangan for the holiday.

I didn’t want to leave.

We were in paradise. Paul, Jane, Pat, and Olivia were staying and I felt like I was being ripped apart from my family, never knowing when I would see them again.

But the visa forced my hand.

Paul, Jane, and I decided to have own our Christmas together. It was only fitting. We wore our best clean shirts and wandered over to Coco’s for its luxury Western dinner.

“I got you guys a gift.”

I handed Jane a necklace I saw her eyeing a few days before and Paul a ring he had admired.

“Wow. That’s amazing, mate! Thanks!” said Paul.

“But this is funny,” he continued. “We got you something too.”

It was a hand-carved necklace with a Maori fishhook on it. It was their symbol for traveler. I wore it for years afterward, a symbol of our friendship, my time on the island, and of who I was.

Christmas dinner in Ko Lipe

Traveling quickens the bonds of friendship. When you are on the road, there’s no past. None of the baggage of home is with you or anyone you met. There’s only who you are right now. There’s nothing to get in the way of the now. No meetings to attend, errands to run, bills to pay, or responsibilities.

I once heard that the average couple spends four waking hours a day together. If that is true, then we had just spent the equivalent of four months together, but it felt like triple that since there was nothing to keep our minds off the “now.”

I’ve never been back to Ko Lipe. The development that’s sprouted would burst my image of perfect. I’ve seen the photos of the concrete streets, the huge resorts, and the mass of people. I can’t bear to see that. Ko Lipe was my beach. The perfect traveler community. I want it to remain that way.

I would run into Paul and Jane again years later in New Zealand, but I would never see the rest of the group again. They are out there in the world doing their thing. Yet for that month, we were the best of friends.

the abandoned teddy bear in Ko Lipe

As I packed my bags and put on my shoes for the first time in a month, I said good bye to Plick Bear, the raggedy teddy bear I found on my porch that became our mascot, and I hoped that the journey ahead would be as good as the one I was leaving behind.

The post Ko Lipe: The Greatest Month in All my Travels appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/ko-lipe-thailand-travel/

a serene beach scene in Ko Lipe, Thailand
In November 2006, I was 5 months into my (supposed) year long trip around the world. While emailing my parents to let them know I was still OK, I saw a message in my inbox:

“Matt, I’m stuck in this placed called Ko Lipe. I’m not going to meet you as planned, but you should come down here. It’s paradise! I’ve been here a week already. Find me on Sunset Beach. — Olivia”

Olivia, a friend from MySpace, was supposed to meet me in Krabi, a tourist destination famed for its limestone karsts, rock climbing, and kayaking.

I looked up Ko Lipe on a map. There was only a small mention of it in my guidebook. It was really out of the way and would require a solid day of travel to get to.

As I looked around the crowded Internet café and onto the busy street, it was clear that Phi Phi was not the tropical island paradise I had envisioned. The crowds were coming back, the beach was filled with dead coral, boats seemed to ring the island, and the water was polluted with a thin film of…well, I don’t want to know. A quieter, calmer paradise held great appeal.

“I’ll be there in two days,” I replied. “Just let me know where you are staying.”

Two days later, I took the ferry to mainland, a long bus to the port city of Pak Bara, and then the ferry to Ko Lipe. As we passed deserted, jungle-covered islands, I wandered to the top deck where a guy was playing guitar for the few people going to Lipe.

After he finished, we struck up a conversation.

Paul was tall, muscular, and thin, with a shaved head and slight stubble. His girlfriend Jane was equally tall and athletic, with curly brownish-red hair and ocean-blue eyes. Both British, they were meandering around Asia with until they were ready to move to New Zealand, where they planned to work, buy a house, and eventually get married.

“Where are you guys staying?” I asked as we lounged in the sun.

“We found a resort on the far end of the island. It’s supposed to be cheap. You?”

“Not sure. I’m supposed to stay with my friend, but I haven’t heard back yet. I don’t have a place.”

view from the bow of the boat arriving in Ko Lipe

The ferry neared the island and came to a stop. There was no dock on Ko Lipe. Years before, a developer tried to build one, but the project was canceled after protests from the local fishermen who take passengers to the island for a small fee, and the developer mysteriously disappeared.

As I got in one of the longtail boats, I dropped my flip-flops into the ocean.

Watching them sink, I yelled, “Shit! That was my only pair! I hope I can get some on the island.”

Paul, Jane, and I went to their hotel, joined by Pat, an older Irish guy, who also lacked a place to stay. The hotel overlooked a little reef and the small Sunrise Beach, which would become our main hangout spots during our time on the island.

I decided to bunk with Pat since I hadn’t heard from my friend Olivia and splitting a room was a more budget friendly. Back then saving a few hundred baht was the difference of one more or less day on the road. Paul and Jane took a bungalow overlooking the ocean. (Their terrace would be another of our little group’s most popular hangouts.)

We headed out to find my friend, who had said she could be found on Sunset Beach at the Monkey Bar.

local fishing boats in Ko Lipe

As we walked to the other side of the island, I could see Olivia was right: Ko Lipe was paradise. It was all gorgeous jungles, deserted beaches, warm, crystal-clear blue water, and friendly locals. Electricity was only available for a few hours at night, there were few hotels or tourists, and the streets were simple dirt paths. Ko Lipe was the place I had dreamed of.

We found Olivia pretty quickly. Sunset Beach was not big, and Monkey Bar, a small thatch-covered shack with a cooler for drinks cold and a few chairs, was the only bar on the beach. After quick introductions, we ordered beers, asked the typical traveler questions, and sat around chatting about nothing.

Pat turned out to be a snorer so, after two nights, I moved into a bungalow in the middle of the island for 100 baht ($3 USD) a night. Nestled behind a restaurant that served the best squid around, this hardwood structure painted red, with a white roof, small porch, and near-barren interior — a bed, a fan, and mosquito net — seemed to be built by the family for a wave of tourism that had never come.

I gave up trying to find new flip-flops. There was nothing I liked or fit. I’d wait until the mainland and just go barefoot in the meantime.

The five of us formed a core group that grew and shrank with the arrival and departure of other travelers. Other than Dave, a young Frenchman, and Sam, a weathered British expat who had been on the island every season for a decade (having once been trapped there after the last boat left), we were the only permanent Western fixtures on the island.

the group playing soccer on the beach in Ko Lipe

Our days were spent playing backgammon, reading, and swimming. We rotated beaches, though we mostly hung out at the beach by Paul and Jane’s. Within swimming distance was a mini-rock with a sheer drop that provided excellent snorkeling. We’d occasionally leave the Ko Lipe to explore the deserted islands in the nearby national park, fish, and dive. There’s nothing quite as lovely as having a whole tropical island to yourself.

one of the uninhabited islands around Ko Lipe

At night, we would rotate restaurants: my guesthouse owner’s restaurant, Mama’s for fresh squid and spicy curry, Castaway on Sunset Beach for massaman curry, and Coco for everything else. Afterwards, we’d move to Monkey Bar for beach games, beer, the occasional joint, and more backgammon. When the power generators were switched off, we would drink by flashlight before going to bed.

The days seemed to pass by endlessly. My original three-day visit came and went. I lost any concept of time.

“I’ll leave tomorrow” became my mantra. I had no reason to leave. I was in paradise.

new friends in Ko Lipe

Paul, Jane, and I became close friends as time went by. We formed a mini-group within the group.

“What are you guys going to do when you get to New Zealand?” I asked.

“We’re going to work for a few years and build a life there. We have nothing that’s pulling us back the UK,” said Paul.

“I’m going there on this trip so I’ll visit. It’s my last stop on the way home,” I replied.

“You can stay with us. Wherever we are,” said Jane as she passed the joint to me.

Sitting on the beach one day, I had an idea.

“You know what would be cool? An eco-friendly hostel. New Zealand would be the perfect place. Wouldn’t it be cool to own a hostel?”

“Yeah, that would be fun,” said Paul.

“We could call it The Greenhouse,” replied Jane.

“That’s a great name.”

“Yeah, seriously.”

Paul said, “I bet we could do it pretty easily. Eco-friendly places are all the rage, and there’s a lot of space there. We’ll have a garden, solar panels, and all the other bells and whistles.”

We were half-serious about our hostel, discussing the details every day: what it would look like, how we would get funding, the number of beds. It was a pipe dream — but dreams like this helped us pass the days on the beach.

We became aware of time again when, one day, our bill at Mama’s was suddenly double.

“What’s going on? This fish was half the price yesterday!”

“It’s Christmas! More Europeans this time of the year, so we raised our prices.”

Ahhh, capitalism at its best.

sunset in Ko Lipe

Christmas also meant something else: I would have to leave soon.

My visa ran only until just before New Year’s, so I would have to leave to renew it before heading to Ko Phangan for the holiday.

I didn’t want to leave.

We were in paradise. Paul, Jane, Pat, and Olivia were staying and I felt like I was being ripped apart from my family, never knowing when I would see them again.

But the visa forced my hand.

Paul, Jane, and I decided to have own our Christmas together. It was only fitting. We wore our best clean shirts and wandered over to Coco’s for its luxury Western dinner.

“I got you guys a gift.”

I handed Jane a necklace I saw her eyeing a few days before and Paul a ring he had admired.

“Wow. That’s amazing, mate! Thanks!” said Paul.

“But this is funny,” he continued. “We got you something too.”

It was a hand-carved necklace with a Maori fishhook on it. It was their symbol for traveler. I wore it for years afterward, a symbol of our friendship, my time on the island, and of who I was.

Christmas dinner in Ko Lipe

Traveling quickens the bonds of friendship. When you are on the road, there’s no past. None of the baggage of home is with you or anyone you met. There’s only who you are right now. There’s nothing to get in the way of the now. No meetings to attend, errands to run, bills to pay, or responsibilities.

I once heard that the average couple spends four waking hours a day together. If that is true, then we had just spent the equivalent of four months together, but it felt like triple that since there was nothing to keep our minds off the “now.”

I’ve never been back to Ko Lipe. The development that’s sprouted would burst my image of perfect. I’ve seen the photos of the concrete streets, the huge resorts, and the mass of people. I can’t bear to see that. Ko Lipe was my beach. The perfect traveler community. I want it to remain that way.

I would run into Paul and Jane again years later in New Zealand, but I would never see the rest of the group again. They are out there in the world doing their thing. Yet for that month, we were the best of friends.

the abandoned teddy bear in Ko Lipe

As I packed my bags and put on my shoes for the first time in a month, I said good bye to Plick Bear, the raggedy teddy bear I found on my porch that became our mascot, and I hoped that the journey ahead would be as good as the one I was leaving behind.

The post Ko Lipe: The Greatest Month in All my Travels appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

The 5 most incredible luxury locations for birdwatchers in Latin America

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/03/12/the-5-most-incredible-luxury-locations-for-birdwatchers-in-latin-america/

If you are a keen birder, there are few places which can rival the sheer diversity of species in Latin America. From the huge flightless rhea, to the tiny jewel-like hummingbirds that can be found across the whole continent, there is a bird for everyone. The most famous residents are species such as penguins, macaws […]

The post The 5 most incredible luxury locations for birdwatchers in Latin America appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/03/12/the-5-most-incredible-luxury-locations-for-birdwatchers-in-latin-america/

If you are a keen birder, there are few places which can rival the sheer diversity of species in Latin America. From the huge flightless rhea, to the tiny jewel-like hummingbirds that can be found across the whole continent, there is a bird for everyone. The most famous residents are species such as penguins, macaws […]

The post The 5 most incredible luxury locations for birdwatchers in Latin America appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

The 5 best luxury lodges of the Eastern Cape

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/03/12/the-5-best-luxury-lodges-of-the-eastern-cape/

South Africa’s Eastern Cape province holds plenty of safari gems for you to discover. The dense Eastern Cape bushland is malaria-free and home to a plethora of fascinating animals, including the Big 5. This makes for a remarkable safari adventure that won’t be easily forgotten. We have selected five of our favourite Eastern Cape game reserves […]

The post The 5 best luxury lodges of the Eastern Cape appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

Posted from https://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/2018/03/12/the-5-best-luxury-lodges-of-the-eastern-cape/

South Africa’s Eastern Cape province holds plenty of safari gems for you to discover. The dense Eastern Cape bushland is malaria-free and home to a plethora of fascinating animals, including the Big 5. This makes for a remarkable safari adventure that won’t be easily forgotten. We have selected five of our favourite Eastern Cape game reserves […]

The post The 5 best luxury lodges of the Eastern Cape appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.

I Still F*ing Hate Koh Phi Phi

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/terrible-ko-phi-phi-thailand/

tourist boats at koh phi phi
Yeah, I used the F word. That’s how much I hate Ko Phi Phi.

I was supposed to visit Ko Phi Phi in 2005, but the deadly 2004 tsunami destroyed the island. Thousands were killed and injured on the island. The entire coast was devastated, with Phi Phi one of the hardest it. It was one of the biggest natural disasters to ever hit the country. Determined to get there and wanting to contribute to the rebuilding, I made it my first stop in Thailand when I quit my job to travel the world in 2006.

Construction was all over the place, tourists were returning — some also helping rebuild — and the government was promising to make the island more sustainable. Spirits were high. Naturally, it wasn’t like the postcards. The inner beach was littered with coral swept in by the sea, but just outside town was beautiful Long Beach, an undeveloped stretch of white sand and turquoise water. I didn’t fall in love Ko Phi Phi, but I thought that if they limited development as they said, this place wouldn’t be half bad.

Fast forward two years.

I returned (twice) while living in Bangkok to discover that they hadn’t kept their promise: the island had become overdeveloped (again). Hotels were everywhere. Boats seemed to endlessly ring the island, ferrying an endless queue of tourists. There were bars on the beach; the little street stall food court near the dock was gone; and resorts, tourists, and loud music were inescapable. Ko Phi Phi had become an overpriced party island. Long Beach was still the only haven, but tiny guesthouses had popped up, chipping away at paradise. You could tell it wasn’t going to be too long before it was wholly consumed by the development sprawl creeping out from town.

Fast forward another two years.

Everything that was bad about the island had multiplied 10 times. Maya Bay, a location made famous by the movie The Beach, was bursting at the seams. The island tours were filled with swim spots where you only saw dead coral. Long Beach, though still beautiful, now had resorts, and a thin layer of boat fuel coated the water.

I left disgusted.

It was crowded, dirty, filled with drunk tourists, terrible food, unfriendly locals*, and an environment destroyed by development.

a busy beach on koh phi phi

Fast forward to last month, when I went back to the island once again.

“I thought you hated this place,” a reader I ran into said to me. “Why are you here?”

“I’m here to update my guide. I need to see this place with fresh eyes.”

He laughed. “Mate, nothing has changed.”

He was right. It’s safe to say that the next time the guide needs updating, I won’t be checking up on Ko Phi Phi. I hated it more than ever.

Maya Bay has been destroyed even more, partially cleared to put in little huts, a snack bar, bathrooms, and even a smoking area. Trash is everywhere.

Ko Phi Phi charges 20 baht to visit (a conservation fee, they claim, though it’s obvious they are just conserving their bank balance), Long Beach has been fully developed with large resorts and hotels, music blasts throughout the island day and night, prices are high for no reason other than people will pay up, and the inner beach, still littered with coral, is now filled with bars, end to end. In the morning, there’s more trash than beach. The water is super polluted with a thin film of…well, I don’t want to know…on top if it. Trash and sewage are dumped right into the water. There were booze cruises, pricey boat trips, a McDonald’s, and more restaurants serving Western food than Thai food. The town’s buildings are so tightly packed that one loses any sense of being on an island.
They literally paved over paradise:

an empty street on koh phi phi in thailand
(That is me standing at one end of the island looking out to the beach across the way.)

As far as I’m concerned, Ko Phi Phi has lost what little soul it had left. It is an ugly, overpriced destination living off the fact people go there because….well, I guess you’re supposed to go there?

I’ve been living in or visiting Thailand for thirteen years. I’ve been all over the country. Ko Phi Phi is one of those places that takes the worst of Thailand tourism and puts it all in one overpriced location. This place has nothing to offer you can’t get on another island. Thailand is full of beautiful, picturesque tropical islands like Ko Mak, Ko Jum, Ko Chang, Ko Adang, and Ko Lanta. Those are the ones you see on postcards, the ones that spur the imagination and entice adventure. And if you want to party, you will find parties equally as good — at cheaper prices — on Ko Chang, Ko Samui, Ko Phanang, and Ko Tao.

I can’t really figure why people go there. I asked people I met. “I hear the parties are good and I wanted to see Maya Bay. I dunno. It’s famous for a reason, right?”

If you’re looking for a beach paradise, there are better islands. If you’re looking for a party, there are better islands. If you’re looking to scuba dive, there are better islands. If you want great seafood, there are better islands. If you’re looking for an inexpensive place to go, well, this place is definitely not it.

Phi Phi has no redeeming qualities.

And I don’t see myself ever returning.

The island can’t support the number of people it gets anyway. Give nature a break. Save your bank account. Find a nicer place. Go elsewhere.

Please avoid this hellhole.

*I don’t fault the locals. If you dealt with the obnoxious party tourists I saw on that island every day of your life, you wouldn’t give a f*ck either!

Note: I know they have recently decided to close Maya Bay in the off season to give it a break. It’s the step in the right direction but I don’t think it will change much. They already developed the island. They need to remove all the structures there, limit the number of people who go, and give nature a time to heal. Given the government’s track record on following through with environmental promises, I won’t be holding my breath.

Photo Credit: 1

The post I Still F*ing Hate Koh Phi Phi appeared first on Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.

Posted from https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/terrible-ko-phi-phi-thailand/

tourist boats at koh phi phi
Yeah, I used the F word. That’s how much I hate Ko Phi Phi.

I was supposed to visit Ko Phi Phi in 2005, but the deadly 2004 tsunami destroyed the island. Thousands were killed and injured on the island. The entire coast was devastated, with Phi Phi one of the hardest it. It was one of the biggest natural disasters to ever hit the country. Determined to get there and wanting to contribute to the rebuilding, I made it my first stop in Thailand when I quit my job to travel the world in 2006.

Construction was all over the place, tourists were returning — some also helping rebuild — and the government was promising to make the island more sustainable. Spirits were high. Naturally, it wasn’t like the postcards. The inner beach was littered with coral swept in by the sea, but just outside town was beautiful Long Beach, an undeveloped stretch of white sand and turquoise water. I didn’t fall in love Ko Phi Phi, but I thought that if they limited development as they said, this place wouldn’t be half bad.

Fast forward two years.

I returned (twice) while living in Bangkok to discover that they hadn’t kept their promise: the island had become overdeveloped (again). Hotels were everywhere. Boats seemed to endlessly ring the island, ferrying an endless queue of tourists. There were bars on the beach; the little street stall food court near the dock was gone; and resorts, tourists, and loud music were inescapable. Ko Phi Phi had become an overpriced party island. Long Beach was still the only haven, but tiny guesthouses had popped up, chipping away at paradise. You could tell it wasn’t going to be too long before it was wholly consumed by the development sprawl creeping out from town.

Fast forward another two years.

Everything that was bad about the island had multiplied 10 times. Maya Bay, a location made famous by the movie The Beach, was bursting at the seams. The island tours were filled with swim spots where you only saw dead coral. Long Beach, though still beautiful, now had resorts, and a thin layer of boat fuel coated the water.

I left disgusted.

It was crowded, dirty, filled with drunk tourists, terrible food, unfriendly locals*, and an environment destroyed by development.

a busy beach on koh phi phi

Fast forward to last month, when I went back to the island once again.

“I thought you hated this place,” a reader I ran into said to me. “Why are you here?”

“I’m here to update my guide. I need to see this place with fresh eyes.”

He laughed. “Mate, nothing has changed.”

He was right. It’s safe to say that the next time the guide needs updating, I won’t be checking up on Ko Phi Phi. I hated it more than ever.

Maya Bay has been destroyed even more, partially cleared to put in little huts, a snack bar, bathrooms, and even a smoking area. Trash is everywhere.

Ko Phi Phi charges 20 baht to visit (a conservation fee, they claim, though it’s obvious they are just conserving their bank balance), Long Beach has been fully developed with large resorts and hotels, music blasts throughout the island day and night, prices are high for no reason other than people will pay up, and the inner beach, still littered with coral, is now filled with bars, end to end. In the morning, there’s more trash than beach. The water is super polluted with a thin film of…well, I don’t want to know…on top if it. Trash and sewage are dumped right into the water. There were booze cruises, pricey boat trips, a McDonald’s, and more restaurants serving Western food than Thai food. The town’s buildings are so tightly packed that one loses any sense of being on an island.
They literally paved over paradise:

an empty street on koh phi phi in thailand
(That is me standing at one end of the island looking out to the beach across the way.)

As far as I’m concerned, Ko Phi Phi has lost what little soul it had left. It is an ugly, overpriced destination living off the fact people go there because….well, I guess you’re supposed to go there?

I’ve been living in or visiting Thailand for thirteen years. I’ve been all over the country. Ko Phi Phi is one of those places that takes the worst of Thailand tourism and puts it all in one overpriced location. This place has nothing to offer you can’t get on another island. Thailand is full of beautiful, picturesque tropical islands like Ko Mak, Ko Jum, Ko Chang, Ko Adang, and Ko Lanta. Those are the ones you see on postcards, the ones that spur the imagination and entice adventure. And if you want to party, you will find parties equally as good — at cheaper prices — on Ko Chang, Ko Samui, Ko Phanang, and Ko Tao.

I can’t really figure why people go there. I asked people I met. “I hear the parties are good and I wanted to see Maya Bay. I dunno. It’s famous for a reason, right?”

If you’re looking for a beach paradise, there are better islands. If you’re looking for a party, there are better islands. If you’re looking to scuba dive, there are better islands. If you want great seafood, there are better islands. If you’re looking for an inexpensive place to go, well, this place is definitely not it.

Phi Phi has no redeeming qualities.

And I don’t see myself ever returning.

The island can’t support the number of people it gets anyway. Give nature a break. Save your bank account. Find a nicer place. Go elsewhere.

Please avoid this hellhole.

*I don’t fault the locals. If you dealt with the obnoxious party tourists I saw on that island every day of your life, you wouldn’t give a f*ck either!

Note: I know they have recently decided to close Maya Bay in the off season to give it a break. It’s the step in the right direction but I don’t think it will change much. They already developed the island. They need to remove all the structures there, limit the number of people who go, and give nature a time to heal. Given the government’s track record on following through with environmental promises, I won’t be holding my breath.

Photo Credit: 1

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