Who wouldn’t want to go to Thailand with its white sand beaches, green waters, and friendly people? While Thailand’s tourist economy is booming, Phuket and Bangkok are shoobie paradises. During my venture, I had the opportunity to tour Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lae (and pray to escape the hoards of people). I was excited to swim at Maya Beach where The Beach starring a young and sexy Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed. (What tween girl in the 90s wouldn’t jump at a chance to see this?) Therefore, I decided on a full day trip by speedboat with the Crystal Sea Marine Company.
The cost of the tour was about 2000 Thai Baht which equals to about $57. Since I booked with my hosts, they were able to bring the price down for me. The official brochure prices are 3,200 Thai Baht for adults and 2,200 Thai Baht for children.
The tour included a small breakfast (coffee, tea, snacks at the Royal Phuket Marina), motion sickness medicine, insurance, all snorkeling equipment except fins, life jackets, buffet lunch, Marine National Park fee, drinks on the boat, seasonal fresh fruit, guides (English, Chinese, and Russian available), crew and captain, and minibus pick up and drop off at your accommodation.
One of the things I really enjoyed about the facilities was the speedboat was very clean. We weren’t allowed shoes on the boat so we had to remove them and put them into a bag. The Royal Phuket Marina is definitely true to the name because the port was also very clean and well maintained. The staff at each location maintained toilets and provided bins to keep the areas beautiful for other guests.
One of the pros of the speedboat tour is you don’t have to worry about bringing your own food and drinks. Water, juice, and soda are available to all guests on the speedboat. Since you’re gonna be out on the ocean and in the heat all day, I recommend your bring your own 2L bottle of water. At noon you stop for lunch at a private beach side restaurant. It’s a buffet style so you can eat as much as you like. At the end of the tour you can relax on Khai island with a coconut (you have to buy it yourself) and fresh watermelon and pineapple is provided by the tour company.
What I liked most about the tour was the guide. He spoke very good English and was very easy to understand. He gave instructions on how to stay safe and a detailed explanation of the trip. He was also very strict about the rules. He’s a no nonsense type of guy and he wanted the tour to be enjoyable for everyone.
This trip was excellently planned. I really liked how attention and detail was paid to the times and our schedule was always on time.
What I didn’t like about the tour is there were way too many people. The insane amount of people took away from the beauty of Thailand. For instance, because there were so many people, the beaches were crowded and the ocean wasn’t clean and clear because of people kicking up sand, sunblock, sun oil, etc in the ocean. Sometimes I felt like I was trying to avoid the mass hoards people rather than really enjoy the location.
What I really dislike about group tours is the time limits. I love to take photos and I hate having a time constraint. When on a tour with other people, some guests are just rude and go over the time limit causing everyone to wait and have a shorter time span at the next location.
You can’t see much
Since we were in a speedboat, the people at the front and end of the boat were able to see much more than those in the middle. When we stopped on Monkey Island, I couldn’t even see the monkeys and we probably stopped for a total of 15 minutes. Again, due to the massive amounts of people, when snorkeling, I was mostly trying to avoid people just to see some tropical fish.
I was especially disappointed with Maya Beach, but what do you expect when a famous actor filmed a movie there? Since there were so many tourists, I could actually see the sun oil and sunscreen residue floating on the sea surface. It’s not cute. I really liked the tour, but I’m not a fan of large masses of people on a tour (if that makes sense). I wish I had more time at some of the locations.
Here’s the deal: for the tour quality, I would give an 8/10 for how excellent the service was. If you like tours where everything is planned and done for you, I would suggest going on the Crystal Sea Marine tour. You won’t be disappointed with the service quality and planning.
For my experience with a mass amount of other tourists and how soiled something beautiful has become, I would give my experience at Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lae a 4/10. Yes, the locations were great, but after living on Okinawa for 3 years and experiencing a clean and untouched ocean, I would prefer going lesser known places. If you’re like me, you hate large groups of people, go to other islands or lesser known places. Koh Phi Phi isn’t as beautiful as it once was and you’ll be disappointed with the mass tourism.