Early December for any expat living in Thailand used to be a collection of public holidays. If carefully arranged and planned in advance (as it is prime high season), this is perfect season for island hoping. We also set up our minds to scuba diving in the Similan islands with a diving liveaboard.
This is an itinerary for a full week of beach and diving - first a liveaboard trip from Phuket on board of the MV Giamani for their Northern Route going through the Similans & Surin national park then finishing the final days in Koh Phi Phi.
We flew from Bangkok on Sunday around 1 pm to arrive around 4 pm in Phuket, which enabled us to finish late work on Friday and relax, prepare our stuff on Saturday. We got picked up by the organizers and brought directly to the boat when we met our fellow travelers. Since the weather had been quite terrible the previous week, we learned that a lot of people cancelled ! We ended up being 3 for this 4 days diving onboard! One dive master per person, absolutely great care and experience for sure ! And the weather was good for the whole time for us.
Onboard we went up to the similans were we dove along the way up and finished with a nice late afternoon view of the viewpoint on top of the Similan island national park HQ beach right after all the day trip from Khao Lak were gone. Then continued up to Surin through Koh Tachai and Koh Bon to dive the famous Richelieu Rock. Richelieu rock is an amazing somehow looking pinacle coverd in soft coral and fish where we saw cuttlefish, octopus fish, lots of fish action, shrimps and small critters of every genre ! Amazing dive site !
Back to Phuket on the following Thursday afternoon, we had booked a small convenient guesthouse in Phuket town so that we could transit conveniently for the second part in Koh Phi Phi. ( The pier is quite close from there ). We booked through the guesthouse the transfer to Koh Phi Phi and the next morning we were off. The ferry boat is massive with hundreds of people in it and does a small far away stop to Maya bay for photos. In Koh Phi Phi you are disembarked at the pier where we found our hotel longtail boat. The hotel we chose as Koh Phi Phi relax and that was a mistake. This was overpriced, touristy and we felt like being ripped - off. Of course we knew that no-island accommodation is good value for money but this was bad. Food was bad thai food for foreigner & overpriced. All transport to/out from their beach is chargeable per pax ! And they only propose their own tour, forget about trying to escape what they have in store for you. The check-in and check-out transfer to the ferry pier on the main beach is also chargeable: 150 thb/pax. From the hotel you have a nice beach and also a good 1h walk up a path to the view point. From this you could walk up and down the hill to the main beach if you wanted to.
So now I can say we went to Phi Phi - but I will not go again. Very much the horrible touristy experience I was expecting and I got just what I expected. ( evenso I tried escaping it by paying for more pricey accommodation ... ).