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My Phuket to Phi Phi Ferry Adventure

3 November 2014
by Colin Gallagher

Phuket Ferry Pier
Taking a Phuket to Koh Phi Phi ferry, all the way to Tonsai Bay has never been a problem for me. The regular departure point, Rassada Pier, is very basic with few mod cons, but there again, who needs them as long as you have free wifi access and a decent cup of coffee for that early morning start. A number of kiosks are selling overpriced snacks (80 baht for a bun) and drinks, but good quality coffee is available from early morning. I am willing to pay a premium for good quality coffee at 7.30am in the morning just to keep me awake. Today, I'm travelling with Andaman Wave Master - I've made my booking through PhuketFerry and I've checked out the ferry prior to checking-in and it's big (always a good sign) clean and looks seaworthy, so I’m not at all nervous.

My Ferry Check In
Check-in was quick and easy by friendly, well presented staff. Nothing over the top, but you get what you pay for. My PhuketFerry reservation was awaiting me, so no problem whatsoever. Confirmation was sent in plenty of time for me to print it out and present it to the check-in staff. I showed them my pre-printed e-ticket, and was given my sticker, which distinguishes the boat ferry company you travel on. You are then directed to you awaiting boat. I suggest getting to the pier at least 30 minutes before departing. Anytime after that, and it starts to get very busy with lots of over-excited tourists with suitcases bumping into you plus you can get the best seat on the ferry.

Ahh, Phuket Weather
Approximately, 6-8 large ferries from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi set sail daily, complete with with hundreds of passengers from all over the world - it's a real celebration of diversity! All ferries depart roughly around the same time, but all with one thing in common destination, Phi Phi Island. Today, mother nature was on my side and I was blessed with glorious weather, which from past experience, makes this a very smooth, comfortable sailing trip. In not so nice weather the ferry crossing can be a little on the bumpy side but rest assured, these ferries are big and seaworthy.

Getting Onboard
On board, the ferry was very clean with lots of seating for everyone, despite the number of tourists. Lots of space to walk around and take photos. You are given an opportunity to upgrade to first class, but due to the extra cost of 500 baht per person and the length of the journey, it really isn't worth it, especially if you are travelling on a tight budget.

What to Expect
People of all shapes and sizes, young and old, those newly arrived (you can tell by their skin colour) and those hardened sun worshippers sit around enjoying the calm, sea conditions and the beautiful view, as we set sail out into the Andaman Sea. Parents watch closely over their children, although most are asleep. Complimentary coffee, buns and water is available for the first hour of your journey. Free water is available throughout the journey. Toilets are very clean, which is always a nice bonus. The on-board staff were very friendly, offering advice to some confused looking tourists. The bottom deck has a large TV screen, so you can sit back and watch a movie if you don’t feel like walking around.

A Ferry Diverse Crowd
People of all nationalities seemed to be on-board. A newly-wed couple from Indian couldn't take their hands off each other, while another, obvious newlywed couple from Korea were more interested in taking selfies and photos of each other. I got talking to three lovely Irish girls who were on route to Australia via Thailand. First stop, Phuket to Koh Phi Phi for a week before hitting the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan. Although they were still hung-over from the night before, that didn't stop them opening some cans of Chang beer. They were also full of praise about the ease of their journey.

Phuket to Phi Phi on the Andaman Sea
As you head out into the Andaman Sea you are astounded by the beauty of limestone jutting out of the sea, all of which a familiar sight on Thailand's landscape. After about an hour and 45 minutes there was great excitement, when the captain announced over the loud speaker that we were approaching Maya Bay, which is situated on Koh Phi Phi Ley, all part of the Phi Phi Island but separated by water. There was a sudden stampede to one side of the boat by eager tourists, all wanting a photograph of Maya Bay in the distance. The boat slowed, allowing for eager, Leonardo Di Caprio fans to capture the beauty of this very very busy bay. I counted at least 25 speedboats and it wasn’t even 11am. Our finally stop before Tonsai was to allow all sight-seeing tourists to transfer to another boat in the middle of the sea. All done very calmly and with grace. We arrived at Tonsai Pier just after 11.00am, some 2 and half hours after departing.

Safety Quality-Checked Ferries
Ferry boat travel is still a very safe, convenient, comfortable and a cheap mode of transportation, especially for those travelling on a budget. Safety on-board has now become a priority for ships captains, as there is now a more noticeable presence at Rassada Pier of officials checking safety before each boat departs.

Advice:
Leave lots of time to find Rassada Pier
Check-in at least 30 minutes before departure time.
Make sure you have applied sunscreen if you intend sunbathing on deck as it can get extremely hot.
There is a small entrance fee of 20 baht to enter Phi Phi Island, which goes towards cleaning the beaches.
Sit back and enjoy the journey.

Altogether, a very enjoyable experience from the ease and friendliness of the staff at the pier to the on-board service, cleanliness and safety of the boat. I highly recommend it.



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