25.02.2012 - 27.02.2012
We only had 3 days to spare in the islands, and we definitely made the most of it. Phuket is right in the middle of the Andaman, so it was the perfect location for day trips to explore both the east and west Andaman islands.
First we went diving at the Similan Islands. That was an exhausting but fulfilling day. It took a 2 hr bus transfer to the loading pier, plus another 1.5hrs by speedboat to get to the live-aboard dive boat. We only had one day to dive, but it really wasn't enough! The two dives we did were nice, but the spectacular stuff can only be done if you're on the live-aboard for 3-4 days. At least I'll have a reason to come back! But we did see lots of clownfish (nemo!) a couple turtles, a huge octopus, and a couple of us even caught a glimpse of a shark.
Ko Phi Phi Don & Phi Phi Leh
Made famous by the movie "The Beach," Ko Phi Phi is every bit as spectacular as seen on tv. It's not easy to get to though, and it took us quite a bit of exhausted decision making to figure out. There really are only 2 options for day-trips from Phuket: 1. Take a tour that picks you up from your hotel and takes you around several different islands, including Phi Phi, or 2. Take the ferry (which takes longer and it's very limiting because the last ferry leaves the island at 2:30pm) and then hire a long tail boat from the pier in Phi Phi Don to take you wherever you want.
We chose option 2 because we just couldn't handle the thought of being on someone else's schedule and crammed in with a bunch of Japanese or Koreans (I hate to stigmatize, but they can be very rude) on a tiny speedboat. It was also perfect because we got meet up with Sam and Rachel (who were staying on Phi Phi for a week; Jealous!!) and hiring the longtail boat is a reasonable $ 15 when split among five people. In my opinion, getting to go where you want when you want it is priceless.
We sped off to monkey beach first. Imagine dozens of little spider monkeys on the rocks and trees along the shore, happily grabbing bananas out of your hands! Then we headed over to Maya bay on the smaller island of Phi Phi Leh. It's a beautiful lagoon amongst monolithic limestone cliffs. All we could say was, "pinch me, is this real?" We then headed further around the island for some great snorkeling, rock-climbing, cliff-diving, and rope-swinging into the ocean. We finished off the excursion with lunch on Phi Phi Don (the big island) and took the ferry back to Phuket. All in all, one of my favorite days of the entire trip.
Our last day in Phuket was pure indulgence. We slept in, hung out on the beach, got massages on the beach, had cocktails by the pool and did some last-minute shopping. Mircea and Michael treated us for our last Thai meal at our resort's restaurant on the beach at sunset. A perfect end to a perfect weekend.
My best advice when planning a trip here is: 3 days is NOT enough!