Koh Phi Phi and Krabi: Balancing Crowds and Calm

Travel is a balancing act; travelers must create equilibrium between highs and lows, adventures and creature comforts, iconic locations and less traveled paths, socializing and introspection, and splurging and saving.

In my travels, it’s important for me to balance crowds with calm.

I don’t mind spending a day in the midst of crowds at popular spots (after all, crowded places are usually crowded for a reason), but I am a serious introvert. After a few hours of rubbing up against other bodies, I need my space. I found that a day trip to crowded Koh Phi Phi followed by some time on secluded Tubkaek Beach in Krabi balanced the scales perfectly.

Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi, Thailand.

I couldn’t put off Koh Phi Phi anymore! I’ve been living in Thailand for almost 2 years now, and though I’ve been reluctant to visit because of the extreme crowds, I still wanted to see this iconic piece of Thailand. My boo and I took a boat trip around the islands with Ao Nang Speed Boat Tours. On this busy 7-hour tour, we snorkeled, snapped photos, and explored various congested spots, like Maya Bay.

Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh:

Maya Bay is extremely touristy, but I expected nothing less. The island may be uninhabited at night, but by day, it’s an unloading dock for boats stuffed with tourists. However, it remains a quintessential Thailand beach featured on glossy magazine covers and in movies…

Maya Bay Koh Phi Phi

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A young Leonardo Di Caprio once washed up on Maya Bay’s shores in The Beach, which has made this a must-see spot for many. If I had been one of the few wayward characters to settle on this island paradise, I would have worked damn hard to keep it a secret too.

Although it’s no secret,- sorry Sal, cat’s out of the bag- I believe its attention is warranted.

Maya Bay Koh Phi Phi

The scenery and energy of Maya Bay overpowered the throngs of people. A crescent of limestone formations, overgrown with mossy green plants, jut out of teal water and protectively surround a patch of fine, white sand. Colors aren’t complacent here; even the garlands that adorn bobbing long tail boats seem ultra vivid.

I embraced the crowds.

I was happy to be one of the many faces drinking in this stunning scenery with wide eyes. I want as many people as possible to see beautiful places like this that invoke a tingling feeling- a feeling that assures you you’re witnessing a piece of the world that has some magic left in it.

Maya Bay Koh Phi Phi

As we continued the tour in our packed speed boat- I was in awe of the way hues of blue and green dominated my line of sight.

Lom Samah Bay, Koh Phi Phi Leh:

Lom Samah Bay Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi

Tonsai Bay, Koh Phi Phi Don:

Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi

By late afternoon when we finished the tour, my hair was coarse and windblown, my shoulders were nice and rosy, and I was ready to do some relaxing- in a more secluded place.

Koh Phi Phi

Krabi, Thailand.

As happy as I am that others are flocking to the beautiful sites in this world, I’m just as selfish as the characters in The Beach who wanted a simple and secluded beach spot.

Tubkaek Beach, Krabi

Tubkaek Beach Krabi

Tubkaek Beach:

Tubkaek Beach is a small, private beach in Krabi that offers a view of limestone islands in the distance and unique, windblown rock formations (above) at the southern end of the beach. It was a quiet, calm oasis (even though Tubkaek Beach, too, has had its claim to fame in the wedding scenes of Hangover 2).

Anyavee Resort Krabi

I stayed at gorgeous Anyavee Tubkaek Resort, a large resort with open, Arabian style doorways and a lush outdoor area dotted with lotus flower ponds. I spend a lot of quality time on the beach watching the long tail boats and doing handstands, of course. The scenery here was just as fulfilling to me because I had time- and room- to take it in.

Anyavee Tubkaek Resort, Krabi

Anyavee Resort, Krabi

long boats Krabi Thailand

Lotus flower and bee

purple motorbike Thailand

Tubkaek beach at night Krabi

Journey to the famous places of the world even if thousands of others are feasting their eyes on the same sight. It’s important to share the beauty of the world with others, to savor it together, to feel entangled in something bigger, to witness the magic of places with people we’ve never met. But know that a sunset all to yourself- in a quiet corner of world- might be just what your soul needs.

“I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever…” – Richard, The Beach 

16 COMMENTS

  1. mike oconnell | 18th Jul 15

    wow, great pix and wonderful insights !

    • Words of a Wanderer | 25th Jul 15

      Thanks!! I took the pictures with my new camera- I’m really happy with how they turned out! 🙂

  2. tamarasw | 22nd Jul 15

    Absolutely gorgeous scenery. I’m ready to go!

    • Words of a Wanderer | 25th Jul 15

      Well, pack you bags! It’s definitely worth a trip. 🙂

  3. Tim | 24th Jul 15

    A gorgeous part of Thailand for sure and no surprise that tourists and travelers from all over descend on these beaches. beautiful photos.

    • Words of a Wanderer | 25th Jul 15

      Thank you!

  4. Revati | 24th Jul 15

    This reminded me of my thoughts when I first sat at Maya Bay. I was feeling so let down. It was so crowded you couldn’t hear yourself think, and there wasn’t a spot of sand free to even lie down properly. And then I went hunting for the loo. Inside, I entered the secret quiet world of Leo’s the beach, and on the boat ride back from the island, all of us were quiet, just staring out towards the island we were leaving, so I know everyone experienced their own piece of paradise, even if just for a moment.

    • Words of a Wanderer | 25th Jul 15

      Thanks so much for your comment. That’s a great way to put it! At first, I too, was baffled that I couldn’t even lie down, but you have to enjoy it for what it is! Glad you found your moment on the island- I hope everyone can find theirs. 🙂

  5. Milosz Zak | 24th Jul 15

    I think this place was also featured in one of the Bond movies as well. I haven’t had a chance to see the LD film, yet.

    • Words of a Wanderer | 25th Jul 15

      I think you might be right! I’ve tried looking into it, and can’t figure out which stop exactly which spot is used in the movie. I know though that there is also a separate “James Bond Island” (Khao Phing Kan Island) that is also pretty popular one where they filmed some of the scenes.

  6. Emma Hart (@EmmaHart7) | 26th Jul 15

    Visiting popular places, even if they are crowded, I guess is all part of travelling. It’s nice to share that experience with other people but I’m like you, I would long for that bit of peace and quiet and enjoy somewhere a bit more secluded to balance it out 🙂 I’d have to go check out “The Beach” though, just because… 🙂

    • Words of a Wanderer | 27th Jul 15

      Yes you’re right… it’s all part of the travel experience. 🙂 But you can’t go wrong with some peace and quiet afterwards! Definitely check out The Beach…. It’s an odd movie, but it’s a classic!

  7. Andrew and Emily | 27th Jul 15

    Like you, there are certain places which we dread visiting just because it’s going to be full and ruined by large crowds of people (locals and tourists). Despite always wanting to have somewhere on your own though, like you say, sometimes you just need to embrace it, join in and enjoy it for the experience that it is! Looks so lovely there too!

    • Words of a Wanderer | 27th Jul 15

      Yes! That’s something I’m definitely still working on- embracing it and enjoying it for the experience that it is. 🙂 It was lovely there! Despite the crowds, I’d still recommend it!

  8. One Girl: One World | 27th Jul 15

    Gosh, I really need to see that movie! I want to go to Thailand for the beaches, so it’s funny I still haven’t seen the beach. I really like your attitude! It can be frustrating to be surrounded by tourists sometimes at major landmarks but it’s important to appreciate them anyway, and be grateful that others can share in the experience!

    • Words of a Wanderer | 2nd Aug 15

      Thanks for your comment! You should watch The Beach! It’s definitely an ‘interesting’ movie, and there’s some cool shots of the Koh Phi Phi! When you make it to Thailand, make sure to spend plenty of time on the islands and beaches 🙂

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