Saturday, December 29, 2018

Travelogue: Koh Phi Phi

Some years ago, I brought Dumpling to Krabi for a surprise trip. Then she was still in K2 and I wanted to bring her away to do something different before formal school starts. We both have fond memories of the trip with us spending time in the pool, doing island hopping and snorkelling in the open sea, walks on the beach etc.

It has always been my wish to try and bring her to Krabi and Koh Phi Phi again. Interestingly, that’s rarely a choice destination amongst my friends with children. In fact, many ask why that choice and what do we and can do there. 

With that, I thought to share a bit on what we did in Koh Phi Phi as my first ever vacation post (I usually am very lazy to take notes and photos conscientiously when on vacay!)

:: Getting to Koh Phi Phi
If you have not been there before, here’s some background on PP. Koh Phi Phi is a standalone island where you will need to take a ferry to get there. If you are travelling out of SG, I guess the easiest way is to either take a flight to Phuket and then change to a ferry or to head to Krabi then change to a ferry.

I have always preferred Krabi to Phuket as it is less crowded and I prefer the small streets at Ao Nang.

Here’s a ferry schedule from Krabi:

:: Getting to hotel

You can either arrange for a hotel transfer via your hotel in Krabi or you can do it online. Here’s a link to where I got my hotel transfer from (about 150THB cheaper than the hotel quote). I have stayed in Krabi Ao Nang thrice – Golden Beach Resort (this is located like at a corner, on one end of the shopping area), La Playa (not entirely new but not as old as Golden Beach but the breakfast selection was good) as well as GLOW, our latest choice there (great if you have young children as there’s a children’s room and a lap pool and the hotel is really nice and rooms are nicely decked out).

:: Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is somewhat a tad like Sentosa where it is standalone but with many stalls and shops, which reminds me of the pasar malam (night markets) here in Singapore. During my recent visit, there’s even a McDonald’s now but sorry, no Starbucks yet. :p

There are many choices for hotels and resorts, and the only advice that I can give is to choose one which is nearest to the places you wish to visit, for e.g. the diving centre.

 :: Activities
Once you are in Koh Phi Phi, I guess many would think of snorkelling and island hopping. But if your child is minimally 10 YO, here’s 2 recommendations which you can consider.

Not many know but Koh Phi Phi boasts of a cooking school where you can learn how to cook some of your favourite Thai dishes. For that morning, Dumpling chose 3 dishes and I chose another 3 (be prepared to spend 3 hours there including the eating time!) 

If your child has never done cooking before and you are worried about things such as an open flame, fret not as Pum Cooking School uses induction stoves. 

Upon entering, R2 who is a chef there, conducted the class in English for us. A simple note book plus condiments tray, etc., were all prepared in advance. 

To be honest, I expected R2 to delve right into the cooking class but what was interesting was that he took the time to explain to us and got us to sample the various condiments and sauces used commonly in Thai cooking. 

Did you know that the fish sauce used in their cooking is made from sardines, which is different from Chinese fish sauce and even those used in Vietnamese cuisine? We also learnt about the types of chili used and when to use them in the various Thai dishes. 

 After getting "suited" up, we are good to go!

If you are worried about the cleanliness / hygiene level, you can rest assured that Pum Cooking School runs like a well-oiled engine where the ingredients are also prepared in individual portions, placed neatly on plates at your designated cooking stations.

One of Dumpling's dishes was Phad Thai. You can tell how passionate R2 is in sharing and imparting his knowledge. He was also very encouraging towards Dumpling. Before we started cooking, R2 shared that he really likes it when young children show an interest in cooking and also told me to try and be "hands-off" so that she can attempt it on her own.


Dumpling also chose to cook Gluay Buat Chee (bananas in coconut milk) for her dessert. Though she was unwell on that day and as the cooking class progressed, her energy level plummeted, she still wanted to try her hand to learn to make this dish. 

And in case you are wondering if it is all child labour, here's 2 of mine ~ Thai Beef Salad and Sweet & Sour Chicken.  

  • Sea sport! 
Choices are a plenty when it comes to sea sports / activities. Besides island hopping, you can also consider snorkelling. Many dive centres run these eco snorkelling tours; we originally signed up for one but we cancelled it as there was a sudden surge of jelly fish that few evenings. 

If your child is 10 and above, you can also consider "Discover SCUBA". Dumpling completed only half of the course (with Blue View Divers ~ this was the same place that I went to when I got my open water licence years back!)  as unfortunately she was sick so we will need to return back in a few months time.

Here's sharing some photos!

Caroline, one of the owners of Blue View Divers, with Dumpling at a pool session right outside the centre. Pool session with a gorgeous view! 

The pool session goes through basic drills (clearing of mask, retrieval of your regulator, etc), hand signs and safety checks etc., before going into the open sea for the actual dives.

Dumpling was a real trooper as she told us to go ahead with our own dives while she waited for us at the dive centre. Here's some photos of the various fish we spotted:

Moray Eel

African Clowns (feisty these ones are!)

Koh Phi Phi being a standalone island has its own convenience stores and pharmacies peppered throughout it. As Dumpling started having fever shortly after, we were quite relieved that we were able to get paracaetamol, electrolyte sachets (she threw up) and lozenges (ya, she had the full works) etc., all on the island, though they were easily selling for twice the amount as compared to main land Krabi itself. There is also a medic centre if you need to see a doctor (so guys, please purchase your travel insurance!) 

Importantly, while their tap water is ok for general brushing and washing up, they are not suitable for drinking hence your resort / hotel will typically provide you with a regular sized bottle for each person staying there, which is hardly enough. So you will need to purchase them from the mini marts / convenience stalls. 

Food wise, choices are aplenty. From pizzas to thai food to seafood places which overlook the beaches (great for evening sunsets!) 

to simple food stands selling pancakes and sandwiches / burgers 

The pricing is pretty affordable. Most of these restaurants also offer free WiFi too! We will be back at Koh Phi Phi in a few months time and will update our travelogue! 

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