Laem Tong; Phi Phi Island
|Laem Tong. Phi
Laem Tong lies at the northern end of Phi Phi Don. By virtue of its remote location this is the quiet end to stay on Phi Phi Island. The 4 resorts starting at the northern tip are Phi Phi Natural Resort, Zeavola Resort, PP Erawan Resort, and Phi Phi Holiday Inn Resort and are all on the beach on the eastern side of the peninsular. This position means that it does well in the hot season and always gets the north easterly breeze to cool you down. It is sheltered from the worst of the westerly winds May to September by a low lying line of hills that protect the main Sea Gypsy Village.
This Sea Gypsy Village sounds a lot grander than it's reality. A collection of tin roof dwellings closely packed together, sandwiched between the Phi Phi Holiday Resort Restaurant of Chaba Seafood and the PP Erawan Resort Solo Bar and Restaurant of Sawadee, is all that can be seen from the beach. The local boatmen sit out in front of the locals Jasmine Restaurant and watch the day go by offering boat rides to passing tourists but most of the time seem to be content on fishing and talking.
The kids go to the mini local School which looks like it has seen better days and is up behind the PP Natural Resort.
The restaurants are headed by Phi Phi island's best the Zeavola Restaurants of the Baxil and Tocada right on the beach. The Chaba Seafood at the Phi Phi Holiday Resort, Sawadee at the PP Erawan Resort and finally the Jasmine in the Sea Gypsy village. The prices and quality range from the exquisite in the Zeavola to the inexpensive and spicy in the Jasmine. For a traveler or tourist this could easily be a 2 week exploration in culinary experimentation.
The main walks are along the sandy beach which is about 500m and the jeep track (without jeeps, there are no cars or bikes on Laem Tong) down to Phi Phi Island Village Resort and Spa on Loh Bagao which takes about 25-40 minutes one way depending on your stride. The walk over to Chong Ku which is where the ferries arrive in high season on the west side is only 180 meters from the east coast and this is a perfect place to take in the sunset dropping behind the hills of Phuket Island 45km away. If you are staying in the Phi Phi Holiday Inn Resort they have a view point up behind the tennis courts which is spectacular as it also has breathtaking views of the cliffs at Lannah Bay and Nui bay.
The islands closest to Laem Tong are part of the Phi Phi Islands and sit in front of the resorts tantalizingly close and yet they are some 4km away. Mosquito island is dominated by the cliffs and lends it name to the clouds of mosquitoes at sunrise and sunset. The soft coral on the southern shore lines are unique to the Phi Phi reefs and many blue spotted ray can be seen here in season. The Bamboo Island is part of the National Park and is surrounded by an extensive snorkeling reef popular with day trippers. There are simple no fan backpacker type huts there.
The excellent Zeavola Resort Phi Phi is a 4-5 star hotel (traditionally 5 star hotels have a full suite of facilities such as tennis courts) and is by far the most accomplished on Phi Phi island. Care and detail have been put into the design and training of the staffing here and the level of service is a matter of pride.
The Zeavola more than lived up to the interest I had seen on the resort in the Phi Phi Island Forum. What a charming place and no wonder it is listed amongst the top Small Luxury Hotels of the World and voted by CondoNeste Traveller as "one of the hippest new hotels in the world".
The name Zeavola comes from the half flower- half tree, the exotic Scaevola Taccada that surrounds the 24 rai of resort and produce a singular and neat style complementing the thatched rooms of the suite rooms. The Zeavola is ideal for couples and honeymooners as the ambiance lends itself for sharing and intimate moments.
We stayed in the large 60m2 Garden Suite which is a low thatched building set behind an ornate double doored entrance. The covered and private area is cool, a place to sit and have a drink from the well stocked mini bar while you control the electric blinds .... The bedroom is a superb place for romance with netted mosquito curtains (not needed for the real thing) set amongst an aesthetically pleasing interior design style full of functionality and fun originality. The outdoor showers keep you close to nature should you wish (there are indoor showers).
The rectangular pool stretches an elegant 18m long,
enough to relax and or lap for fitness. Surrounded by colour full
deckchairs this is a peaceful facility as most guests seem to hang out
by the sea. However, the walls of the pool are painted a dirty green, rather than the more common blue, and for me, this gives it the appearance of a stagnant pond!!! I found it rather unappealling.
The 3 Beachfront and Garden Suites are 60m2 and the Village Suite is 40m2. The Village suite doesn't have the changing area or outdoor shower but does have a pretty Zen like sand garden.
The keys to the rooms are inscribed with fish and marine life that denote numbers. Number 49 was a seahorse and a shrimp. All the staff get into this and can explain the symboligy. After a couple of uses I got the hang of it.
The beach area continues the theme of the Zeavola as a place to enjoy the best of nature in style. From the Bose speakers in the sand playing ambient music, the low futon like sun beds to the bright blues and yellows of the Tacada Restaurant awnings, the feeling is fresh respectful and smart. The views are wide taking in Mosquito Island, Bamboo Island, Koh Lanta, Koh Jum, and the limestone karst scenery on the horizon at Krabi's Phrang Nga.
Dinner at the Baxil Restaurant right on the beach was full of the unexpected like black squid bread and a crab pasta that makes my mouth water even now. The chocolate soufflé is the signature dish of the Zeavola and all my taste buds and senses were replete by the end of the evening.
Breakfast was taken at the Tacada Restaurant on the beach in front of a golden sun rise just 50 meters from the Baxil Restaurnat. The a la carte menu included such delights as eggs Benedictine, the Maharaja meal (Indian curries and breads), the American breakfast with steak as well as usual the fruits, pastries and cereals.
These outstanding kitchens blow away the myth that you can't get a decent meal outside Tonsai Bay and it is no surprise to find out the Swizz American Maestro behind the scenes has cooked for royalty and Hollywood.
The Spa is a celebration of comfort and style set out by the famed Horwath Spa Consultancy firm run by Khun Napali who created Chiva-som in Hua Hin. As a director of the Thailand Tatler Magazine her style and tastes resonate with those in the know. The extensive spa facilities feature 6 treatment rooms and 4 massage rooms each with relaxation rooms, some with private sauna or steam rooms or 15 degrees C cooling showers. The Hair Salon includes Pedicure, Manicure, all in all everything needed to make you feel special.
The Zann Zanook ("Super Fun") does everything from Diving (Thomas is a PADI certified Instructor), shark watching, snorkeling trips, sightseeing and picnic trips and also does some cool Bar BQ arrangements where everything is set up on the beach. The Mahi Mahi wooden speed boat is a great mixture of fast engine and traditional design and line, a boat that is spacious enough for 10 scuba tanks but small enough so you can hop ashore when needed.
Zeavola is staffed by 130 people from May to October and about 160 in
the high season when the resort is full. When we were there, 10 out of the
30 suites were occupied by guests (with another 22 suites available by
high season). Clearly, the most luxurious resort on Phi Phi.........but not our favorite.
Food, Drink and Entertainment
Tai Rom Prao Restaurant
Offers a choice of dining inside or on the outside terrace under the palms. A wide selection of fine Thai, Chinese and European cuisines waits to tempt your taste buds. Our live band plays nightly to entertain you. Breakfast is served as a buffet daily and an a la carte menu is available for Lunch and Dinner Open 07.00 hours to 22.30 hours daily.
Cha Bah Seafood Restaurant
Located right on the beachfront, you can enjoy wood fired pizzas at lunchtime and every evening look out for our special Seafood Market Barbecue night, which is an experience not to be missed, with fresh seafood cooked according to your likes. Open lunch and Dinner weather permitting.
Mong Thalay Bar
Situated on the beachfront overlooking the Andaman Sea and neighboring islands, this is a perfect place to relax any time of the day, providing a friendly, casual atmosphere to unwind with your favorite cocktails or to meet friends while you take in the refreshing sea breeze and gentle lapping waves. During the afternoon, the hotel has a selection of games. In the evening, the resident band performs. Open from 11am-11.30pm with an early evening happy hour.
Sunset Satay Bar
Located on our hilltop lookout with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape and the Andaman Sea, this is the only bar of its kind on Phi Phi. It offers incredible sunsets over the western horizon, while you sip on a cool, tall cocktail or beer. A romantic venue to watch the sunset in Paradise! Open Daily, weather permitting, from 5pm until sundown.