Changing up the style of our other posts, it'll make more sense as you read along.
After time in Northern Thailand, it felt appropriate to take a break from the mountains and try to squeeze in some sunshine before rainy season goes into full effect. Unfortunately, the rain was taking over and our time in the Andaman Sea region was brief. However, American Buddha Co. did face some travel challenges that we wanted to share for any future visitors, no matter the season.
TRANSPORTATION: The travel to in this area was fairly expensive compared to the rest of the country. When arriving to the Phuket airport, factor in at least 600 baht taxi ride to Phuket Town. If you’re traveling from there to the islands, you then add transport to the pier, ferry tickets, cleaning tax upon arrival of any island (though it doesn't look like those funds are being put to use) and transport from there to your hotel or resort. $$$
ACCOMMODATIONS: The accommodations are not nearly as nice for the same prices you're paying in Northern Thailand — most are overused, under-managed, dirty and most likely under some sort of unsafe construction without notice.
EATING: In regards to food, there were very few options that appear clean or safe to eat. By no means do we snuff at mom & pop stands/restaurants — that's the fun of travel — but the infrastructure in this region does not support cleanliness for food preparation. We settled on a lot of cup of noodles 😔
SERVICE: Unfortunately, you can’t keep expectations too high for hospitality — that picture was quickly painted for us when stepping off our overpriced public ferry onto the pier and having a woman scream into a megaphone for a 20 baht cleaning tax. Tourism had definitely hit this region too fast, which has brought greed to the people here. Very few were willing to help answer questions or make honest recommendations, which is completely different from our experiences up North.
As a younger traveler, these things might not be as important. Phi Phi definitely seemed enjoyable for Westerners who are looking to snorkel by day and play beer pong or bong beers by night. For us, sadly those days have passed.
The biggest disappointment was the pollution. All of the sidewalks, piers, beaches, hotels and restaurants are littered with trash. It doesn't quite live up to the photos depicted on Instagram or Facebook. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem the government is doing anything to preserve or clean the region.
The American Buddha Co. suggestion: if you were to come to this region and you want to relax, you might need to spend the extra bucks and privatize your trip: transport, accommodations, guides, etc. Or maybe look for other islands all together and hope that the government uses those cleaning tax dollars to help preserve what natural beauty is left here.