This is the "before" portion of the blog entry. I recently went down to Phi Phi for the 2nd time in my life. The first time I went there it was almost impossible to get a booking because all the accommodation was fully booked. I should have heeded the warning that a really busy Phi Phi Island is not a fun place to be and that was exactly what ended up happening.
For those of you that don't know what Phi Phi Island actually is it is one of the top destinations for tourism in all of Thailand. Some of this was made famous around the world by a Leonardo DiCaprio film called The Beach and even though it was already pretty famous before then, this really solidified it as a truly amazing place to visit.
It is hard to believe when you look at it that this place was basically unused before tourism became a thing in Thailand and even then it took quite some time for it to be built up to the levels that it had achieved by the past few years.
I was there about a year ago and to be honest with you I really liked the natural beauty but the amount of people that were there and the constantly being hassled to buy something any time you went anywhere kind of ruined it for me. I mean it was constant, someone would be approaching you with something for sale if you were anywhere except in your room or underwater snorkeling.
The main attraction is the nearby Phi Phi Ley and while it was lovely, the people in charge (if there even was anyone in charge) of controlling the number of people that arrive there apparently didn't give a damn because the entire beach was shoulder-to-shoulder speedboats and the entire beach was jam packed with tourists.
It was a nightmare but I suppose this is going to happen almost anywhere in the world when you have something this naturally magical.
When I originally booked my 2 nights on the island I thought it wasn't going to be long enough but the place was so slammed with people that I actually hated the vacation and was quite pleased to be leaving.
The Beach where the movie was filmed was crazy packed with people but the main island where all the hotels are was not much better and most of the beach at the main "figure 8 point" of the island was just all boats, all the time.
They had some small, roped-off areas for swimming but the water was actually quite disgusting because all of the longtail boats were leaking fuel and oil into the water. These boats are also extremely loud and the entire ambiance is simply ruined by all of this.
I really felt as though this island had a wonderful opportunity to be a top global tourism destination but due to greed and them packing as many businesses as they possibly can into this tiny space had made it quite the opposite experience that I was hoping it would be.
This of course has a lot to do with my limited budget and I was subjected to staying in the shittier part of the island. If I was willing and capable of paying hundreds of dollars per night there are some hotels that have secured a much nicer ambiance but just like most things in life, that is just for the rich! Instead I got subjected to this basically all the time
Of course Covid-19 hit tourism like a brick in the head and Phi-Phi was not exempted from this. Despite its obvious natural beauty, Thais tended to constitute a very low portion of the customer mix and I don't know exactly why this is - but it is the case. Even after Covid restrictions were lifted domestically, I had heard that almost no one was visiting this island despite the massive discounts that the few hotels that have remained open offered.
A friend of mine invited me to come and join him there this weekend and in a "normal" year attempting to go there this time of year would likely be an exercise in futility. Everything would have been booked for Christmas and New Years quite some time ago.
I'm going to follow up this article with some pictures of what the island looks like now that there has been virtually no tourism for many months. I am going to follow up this blog entry with photos of what happens to an overpriced, over-hyped, over-packed island once all the visitors stop coming. Stay tuned!