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“Beautiful sights but very crowded”

SeaStar Andaman - Day Tours
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Beautiful sights but very crowded”
Reviewed September 25, 2013

The scenery is stunning, but you have to be prepared to share it with LOTS of other people!

We did seastar's phi phi tour. Unlike comments above, we found them to be quite organised in the morning at the marina. It was explained to us that a photographer would be taking pictures, and that when we came back, we could buy our picture on a souvenir plate. But at no time on our return were we forced to look at these plates or any other items.

We booked through one of the street tour companies rather than our hotel and paid less than half the advertised rate. It was low season, so perhaps the big discount was enhanced by that, but we only paid 1400b each.

We had 36 people on our boat (3 engines), but were told their capacity is actually 45. I can appreciate that if you were on a full boat, it would be quite uncomfortable. We had a reasonable amount of room, but any more bodies would have been tight.

The first island we stopped at was only a short ride from Phuket, but I can't recall the name. Unfortunately, it was terrible. It was a very small island, covered in tourist shops and must have had 12-15 boats there. Our snorkeling area was tiny and really difficult to swim in - very shallow and rocky and though meant to be sheltered, the current kept spinning you around and sending you back towards the rocks. We spent less than five minutes in the water and then the rest of the time laying on the sand under a tree. The beach was filthy, full of cigarette butts and other litter. It was a very disappointing start. We thought there were a lot of boats on a similar trip in koh samui the week before, but it was nothing like this!

We then travelled out to phi phi don to monkey beach and for lunch. The ride out was rough, but I found it quite fun... Like a crazy roller coaster! The boat handled the waves quite well, compared to the smaller boat we'd been on in koh samui. For those that complain the drivers don't slow down over the waves... I am sure there would be others complaining it was too slow a journey if they did! The driver did not seem to be getting enjoyment over people screaming as we crashed through the waves (though in samui, they definitely did!). And although it was disappointing that the sides of the boat were too high to enable us to see much as we were travelling, it was far better than getting soaked by the endless spray of the waves that we experienced on the smaller boat in samui!

We had a short stay at monkey beach where they handed out bananas to throw to the monkeys, then headed off for lunch. I was at the tail end of a dose of travel belly, so I didn't eat and can't comment on the quality of the food, but there was plenty of fresh fruit.

We then travelled to another area to go snorkeling. I felt we had enough time there - there were some beautiful colored fish, but they mostly hang around the boats as they get fed. So after a short swim, you pretty much feel like you've seen it all and don't need to hang around too long.

We then headed to phi phi ley, passing Viking cave and going for a swim at Pileh Lagoon. Despite all of the other boats in the area (and there were a lot), this area was simply stunning and to have the chance to swim in such an amazing location was worth it. Just block out everyone else and take in the stunning scenery!

Maya Bay was our last stop. Again, lots of others there and we were in the low season, so I'm sure it can be even worse. But it is still a stunning area and lovely to have seen it.

Overall, the only stop we didn't enjoy was the first one. Beyond that, if you are willing to accept you will be surrounded by a lot of other people and can still realise that you are exceptionally lucky to have the opportunity to be in such stunning areas of the world, you'll enjoy your day. If you don't want to be around others, then don't go!

Can't fault the service of seastar though - we had friendly staff and were well informed at the outset what we would experience. Perhaps not worth their advertised price, but ask around at the street tour vendors and you'll certainly get a better deal!

Visited September 2013
Thank jlfowler_melbourne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Fun trip to Phi Phi”
Reviewed August 19, 2013

We were a little nervous about going to Phi Phi after reading some of the reviews but let me tell you that people are being too hard on Sea Star. They offered a good trip. We paid 2000 baht per person in the offseason which included return transportation from our hotel in Khao Lak.

Our guide was named Bao, and he was full of good energy the whole day.
Our boat was full, but not overcrowded. The ride was was bumpy and loud but not uncomfortably so. He wanted to take us to Maya Beach later in the day to avoid the crowds but lowering tides prevented him from doing so. So, we wound up with the same crowded experience on the beach many others have complained about. It wasn't Sea Star's fault, though.

I was impressed with Bao's environmental responsibility. He refused to let us off the boat at Monkey Beach out of concern for the animals which I admired. We still had a very close look at the monkeys from the bow of the boat (which was just as good). Unfortunately, we witnessed the disgusting behaviour of some of the people on less scrupulous boats who let the people off at that beach. They littered and really interfered with the monkeys. The Thai authorities need to station a ranger at the beach to prevent this sort of thing.

Lunch at Phi Phi island was perfectly good, if generic. If I have one criticism, it's that the lunch spot is not very scenic, but this would be true for most of the boats from other companies which also eat there. It's more of a reality about visiting Phi Phi island in general.

There was a great lagoon we visited early in the day. It would have been best to snorkel there but the tides were dropping fast. We snorkeled on the bay on the other side from Maya Beach which was ok but too short (admittedly I had to split my snorkel time with my wife as we had to look after our toddler. If we had all gone into the water together, it would have probably been adequate time).

We did not visit Bamboo Island. We went to Khai Island, which was kind of interesting but kind of disappointing also as it was also crowded and commercialised. The water was cloudy and snorkeling was not good. I wonder if Bamboo Island would have been better.

Still, it was a beautiful place for a day trip and a good company to go with. I'd recommend it.

TIP: They rent flippers for 100 baht but I could probably have done without them as there just isn't enough snorkelling to be done on this trip to make it worthwhile - at least not on the Khai Island version of the trip. Maybe Bamboo Island would have been different, I'm not sure. ALSO: Choose a day with calm seas for the trip. You'll have a better time than on choppy days.

Visited August 2013
Thank ashapiro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
54 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Fabulous trip to phi phi”
Reviewed July 2, 2013

We had a wonderful trip to the islands and one of the highlights was our tour organiser
who called himself Coco Channel no 1
funny, engaging and so caring we had the most wonderful trip with this company
felt safe, great lunch, fruit snacks lots of water and drinks and a great powerful 3 engined speedboat that took us to the beautiful blue green waters on mosquito bay, Maya bay etc
it was a highlight of our trip
SeaStar your the best THANKS for a wonderful experience

Visited July 2013
Thank hercules800
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
The Entrance, Australia
Level Contributor
152 reviews
62 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
“The worst day of our life”
Reviewed April 13, 2013

This was the most expensive tour we booked during our three week holiday of Thailand and it was the worst experience that we encountered for a number of reasons as outlined below...
1. Check in process at pier was a nightmare and no one seemed to know where people needed to be or what they were supposed to be doing. Staff were all on the young side and walking around in their own little worlds of self importance without actually doing anything.
2. When we were called into our groups and told to walk as a group towards the speedboat I was physically manhandled by a person with a camera and told to smile. Of course my natural reaction was to defend myself and this did not stop the forceful nature of this persons existence. This person had no identifying clothing or "special significance" (except as we found out later - See item number 8)
3. The number of people crammed onto the speedboat resembled refugees fleeing a country rather than a group of people out to enjoy a day. We were then told that it would be a little rough and that should we need to feel sick that "Happy Bags" would be provided.
4. After an hour and a half of travelling we arrived at Tachai Island and was given the choice to alight here and stay on the beach or stay on the boat for a couple of guided snorkeling stops elsewhere in the vicinity. (We chose to snorkel)

At our first "snorkeling stop" and get told that we have ten minutes to go for a snorkel and then the boat would be moving. Off we go into the blue unknown and back we come as per the instructions given to us beforehand.

This is where our day got remarkably unpleasant. The steps at the back of the boat were very short and everyone was having major issues getting back into the boat primarily due to the severe lack of assistance given to us by the Thai crew. they were too busy laughing at the guests as they tried valiantly to climb up onto the first of only two steps back onto the boat. Meanwhile there was a photographer snapping away feverishly at anything that moved. My wife jarred her knee and was in considerable pain once she got back on the boat after the first snorkel adventure and this spelled game over for her snorkeling for the day and we asked the "tour leader' for some Ice or first aid supplies. This was on the boat at 11.10am and we were told that there was no first aid supplies on board and we would have to wait until we got back to Tachai island after our second snorkeling point to get ice and other assistance that was required.

The Thai crew were more interested in playing "jokes" on the guests by blocking them from getting in or out of the boat. No assistance or acknowledgement was given by any of the staff on the boat we were on to any of the paying guests.

5. We got back to Tachai Island in time for "lunch" at 12.20pm, but it seems that lunch commenced at 12 noon for the guests that stayed on the beach and the snorkelers had leftover scraps to eat after all the food had "run out". What was left was not at a safe temperature to be consumed and we were offered bananas as somewhat of a peace offering. At this point my wife had still not received any medical treatment and again we asked for ice as her knee was about three times the normal size and turning purple at a rapid rate. When we still had not received any ice by 1.00pm both my wife and I had really had enough of what this day was turning out to be. Finally (after three requests) we got ice but by then most of the damage of this disastrous day had been done. , and we retreated to a haven on the beach to be alone...among the 2000 tourists sharing this pristine setting

6. At the end of our day the tide was out and we were transferred back to the speedboats by rubber dinghies and this (once again) was nothing short of a disaster. Packed like sardines the balancing act of guests trying to alight the speedboats was dangerous to watch, let alone be a part of.

7. What we thought may happen on the way to Tachai, inevitably happened on the way back to Khao Lak and we needed to bring out a "Happy Bag" for a child who managed to projectile vomit across four or five of the passengers about an hour into the 90 minute return trip. The Tour leader was left single handedly to clean up this mess, apologizing every two seconds to the innocent parties caught up in the unpleasant situation whilst the Thai boat crew stood around chatting as if nothing was going on. This total disregard for he people paying their wages was there for all to see...and made the chorus of laughter all that more real when a tip jar was produced towards the end of our trip requesting gratuities for a job well done.

7. After the speedboat smashed into the pier to its final resting point and we all left the boat we were ushered back to where it all began and told to see the staff to arrange out transport back to our hotels. The confusion of this process was now expected as normal, rather than a one off occurrence and it was accepted by most involved.

8. The shady "Indian" man that physically accosted each person on the way to the pier...well he came back with the rest of his family and friends and all of them were corralling the customers past a table where the mystery of this person became apparent. Turns out that all of our photos were magically transposed onto very tacky souvenir plates available to purchase at a price of 160Baht. Customers that tried to walk away without looking were grabbed and marched past the table so they could "find" their plate and make an informed decision to not buy it, rather than trying to just get past so they could end their day of terror.

This is the first time that I will openly apologize for a review that I have posted, but trip advisor is all about the good, the bad and the ugly...and our experience on this day sits some where between bad and ugly. Tachai Island is a beautiful place but those who visit it are seen as nothing more than walking wallets to the local people that use this utopia as the attraction to steal money from victims that want to see it.

Visited April 2013
7 Thank Stressman101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok, Thailand
Level Contributor
34 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Do not go with them, if you are not prepared for unpleasant speedboat riding for 1.15 hr.”
Reviewed April 10, 2013

Did book both Similan and Tachai with them already paid.
But after the trip from Similan, I needed to cancel the Tachai trip right away,
and asked them to refund most of money that I paid for Tachai.

Nth wrong about Similan Island. This place still stunning.
The water close to beach are all still in teal colour.
Though, they are no much colorful coral left for you to see anymore.

The problem is that SeaStar Andaman does not have a capable to absorb with forces
that keep the speedboat to jump up and down by hitting the wave while the speedboat is running.

I did a trip in Krabi before, and never had such a worst experience like this with other company.

Imaging you were riding on the back of the truck ride up to the hill on the undeveloped road full of bumping.

Just like that. The different thing is that you will vomit several times by seasick until you get tired yourself (I saw mass of them on the boat) .
And to be flank plus the captain just do not know how to ride the boat softly, rather had fun by keep on high speed.

And it will keep continuing for 1.15 hr for one way only.

That will ruin the whole trip after you arrived there...
Seriously. You just wanna go back to the hotel but,
what is waiting for you is another 1.15 hr of hell on the way back.

The only thing is good about the trip is some staffs on the boat were really helpful.

So, be aware for what are you about to jump in.

Tips; I seriously not recommend for elderly person to go with them. You might just get hurt by bumping.

Visited April 2013
4 Thank Thanamwat S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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