Enter Thailand: Fiery Debauchery in Paradise on Phi Phi Island

Maya Bay, a small island off the coast of Koh Phi Phi. We thought we'd escape the tourists here. We thought wrong.

Maya Bay, a small island off the coast of Koh Phi Phi. We thought we had escaped tourist fever here. We thought wrong.


The beach party scene on the sands of Phi Phi Island was both overwhelming and ridiculous.

I wrapped my internship at Asian Geographic last week on April 26th.

It’s crazy how time flies. It feels like yesterday that I was stepping off a flight from Canada, reeling with jet lag. With two weeks remaining in Asia, I needed to let my wanderlust shine. Thailand was first on my bucketlist. I felt sad departing Singapore, but the city is so small in comparison to the rest of Asia and I needed to start exploring.

It's Brooklyn in the house. A flamboyant bartenders at one of the beachside bars on Koh Phi Phi.

Brooklyn in the house. A colourful bartender at a beach-side bar on Koh Phi Phi shows off his special talent: large holes in his ears & the ability to roll his eyes back. Brilliant.

Koh Phi Phi or Phi Phi Island was the first stop.

I traveled there to visit some childhood friends I grew up with in Saskatchewan and arrived late in the afternoon on a Saturday.

It was about an hour and half flight into Krabi, the closest city to Phi Phi. There was such bad turbulence on the plane during landing and takeoff that I nearly squeezed the person’s hand next to me, until I realized that it was a three-year-old girl. And she was completely calm about the whole situation despite shrieks throughout the cabin from other passengers. I didn’t die and sped through Thai immigration and hopped on a ferry to Phi Phi, which took close to two hours.

Phi Phi is located off the southwest coast of Thailand between the island of Phuket and the western stretch of the Andaman Sea.

I had magically, disgustingly, weirdly fun times — a purely corruptible experience.

There’s not much to say about Phi Phi (pronounced “Pee-Pee”) other than that it’s a beautifully expensive tourist trap. Cats ran through the island’s narrow streets. Tattoo parlors nearly outnumbered the tourists. Thai women aggressively grabbed at every male in sight, while screaming “massage?” (yes, the kind with that type of ending) in a hideously obnoxious tone. Remember the drive-in Chinese food scene in the film Dude Where’s My Car? It was like that but rather than “And then?!” they scream “MASSAGE?!” Terrible marketing technique. Their voices still haunt me.

Surrounded by ruggedly lush islands and engulfed by drunken foreigners, three days in Phi Phi was plenty.

The fire dancers of Phi Phi Island.

The fire dancers of Phi Phi Island.


Drop it like it’s hot: One of Phi Phi’s many pyromaniacs.

We began our first night in Phi Phi being entertained by the beach’s fire dancers, who performed tricks and threw flaming torches several feet in the air. The dancers weren’t the shy type, either. Their airborne infernos on sticks made it dangerously close to the crowd several times. One spectating woman got burnt. The scent of kerosene lingered amongst the palm trees.

After the fire dancers finished their routines real trouble unfolded; the beach club scene here was definitely a site to behold.

Slinky, Ibiza Bar and Stones Bar were the primary party spots: out of hand and nothing like I’d ever seen. It now made sense why Thailand is referred to as the Wild West of Asia.

Beaches transformed into sweaty sandy dance floors. Electronic music echoed off the waves. Thai children painted clubbers’ faces violent orange with zany designs. It was like a tropical Halloween. In the place of candy were a sand buckets full of vodka instead. We met people from every corner of the world. Aside from the perpetual fear of being date raped or robbed, it was an electric time.

Despite their talent, the dancers of Phi Phi aren't immune to burns as seen on this dancer's roasted wrist.

Despite their talent, the dancers of Phi Phi aren’t immune to burns as seen on this dancer’s roasted wrist.

After witnessing handfuls of people urinating and vomiting off the beach into the surf, I decided I wouldn’t be swimming here. Some people are the worst. I glared and prayed for a tsunami wave to sweep them into a lethal whirlpool of their own sewage.


One of the exotic fish we hauled in during our fishing excursion. This little swimmer had a hypnotic hue to him, as well as a strange set of sharp teeth.


My friend Brent can barely contain his excitement after we caught a king mackerel. Just look at how hard those nipples are. Success.

A seductive sunset off the coast of Phi Phi.

A seductive sunset & nice conclusion to a day of fishing off the coast of Phi Phi.

Fishing off the coast of Phi Phi was also a highlight of the trip. Escaping the island with a cooler of beer and a pineapple was my favorite. We caught several tiny fish and landed a five-foot long king mackerel, the prize catch of the day. We stopped at Maya Bay for a brief walk on the beach, went snorkeling and photographed the sunset from the boat.
If it hadn’t of been so late when we got back we would have barbecued the mackerel but instead left it with our guide, Captain Rob, middle-aged Thai fisherman. What a boss. We probably fed his family for a few days.

And then there were our accommodations at Pongpan House — the downside of our Phi Phi excursion. The website for the tiny two-storey Pongpan House actually presents itself as a respectable place to stay. Total Prop-Pongpan-gda. See what I did there?

Beetles and cockroaches became my roommates. Nice little fellows they were — until I found one in my bed. I slept wide-eyed and on-edge. I found a likely poisonous orange and black frog outside my room another night. The bathroom at Pong Pan House made the backdrop from horror movies’ Saw or Hostel seem tame. I didn’t shower for four days and spent as little time in the room as possible.

I would have rather slept in a dirty shoe than Pongpan House. At least a filthy shoe would smell better than the rotting quarters we were situated in.

Other than the accommodations and touristy feel, Phi Phi was great but if I ever return to Thailand’s islands, I’ll be looking into staying at a more secluded, cheaper, cleaner place with less intoxicated travelers and cockroaches.

Next stop: Bangkok.


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