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The secret Thai islands Bond & Caprio put on the map

September 19, 2009

By Dian Hasan | September 19, 2009

ko phi phi

The stunning landscape of Phi Phi Islands, Thailand. Photo: flickr member René Ehrhardt

Thailand has developed itself into Asia’s leading leisure destinations, built on its unique culture and clear identity. The only Monarchy in South East Asia is home to some stunning natural beauty, among others Phi Phi Islands in the Andaman Sea, that has attracted Hollywood early on. First it was James Bond “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974), and later Leonardo di Caprio’s “The Beach” (2000). Now the secret location is out, and the amazing limestone formations popping out of the sea welcome island seekers. James Bond island awaits (also known as Ko Tapu).

Some 40 km from Krabi, off Thailand’s south western coast, Ko Phi Phi is a group of limestone islands that just sharply from the surrounding turquoise sea. Phi Phi Don is both the largest and the only one with a permanent population. Phi Phi Leh is much visited but uninhabited. Phi Phi Don divides into two sections joined by a narrow isthmus on either side of which are two superb sweeps of white sand. It is stunningly beautiful with green hills combine with astonishing cliffs plunging down to the water. They also part of the National Marine Park.

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Phi Phi Don, Thailand. Photo: flickr member hn

During the 1940, Phi Phi Don was populated by Muslim fishermen, and even now a good 80 per cent of the inhabitants are Muslim. Later, coconut plantations were introduced, but by the 1970’s travellers had got wind of this remote and delicious paradise. The good news is that as diving and snorkeling are so popular, the fishermen no longer use dynamite and the surrounding coral is in better shape it might be. Conversely, attempts to limit the number of tourists, to better preserve the nature of the place, have failed due to greed.

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Phi Phi Leh, Thailand. Photo: flickr member ebergcanada

Phi Phi Leh is all towering cliffs, caves and sea lake. Tourists visit for a day to swim, but it is also famed as a center of the birds nest soup industry. Swiftlets nest high up in the rocky hollows, and licenced collectors climb three times a year, to harvest these nests, made of saliva.
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When to go: November to April.
Population: 1,500.
Getting there: By boat from Phuket or Krabi,
Photo by: Fabio Sabatini

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Inspiration: Wayfaring

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