We booked a room after having seen very convincing pictures of bungalows on the beach. We arrived at Phi Phi harbour and were met by staff who took us on a 10 minute walk away from the beach and further into Tonsai town (the main town - shops, tourists, restaurants). We then walked passed a sewage plant that had cleverly been disguised with flowers and plants. I can only describe the smell as nose-burning and lasted for a good 4-5 minutes. In fact someone has cleverly graffittied 'Poo Garden' on the entrance sign to the sewage plant - which included a bench for people to sit (??). On the other side of the walkway there was a lovely view of rubbish bags piled high and a building site. So far I was confused - there was no beach in sight...we reached J.J.'s and checked in. We then began the climb - the climb which after 3 days of going up and down was to give me buns of steel. We seemed to have picked the room (you select your room when booking) that was furthest up the hill - typical. No beach in sight I was still confused.
The bungalow itself is one room with a bathroom. It has a little decking for you to sit outside on. The room is small but nicely decorated with Thai wooden wall features, a large bed, flat screen tv with cable, mini fridge and storage area. The bathroom is a good size and is good with a large walk-in shower. We paid 2500THB which was pricer than other hotels we stayed in and we got a lot less than other hotels we'd stayed in but Phi Phi accommodation is generally more expensive and not as good.
With regards to the beach, the website must have been old as it's since been updated. I'd seen comments about the original J.J's being washed away with the Tsunami but I don't know if that's true. Either way the bungalows are about a 10 minute walk from the nearest beach. That's not a bad thing as it means you're away from the absolute madness that is Tonsai. This is a party-goer's dream, European bars and restaurants litter the maze-like streets. It gets absolutely rammed when the masses awake around 10am and go in search of hangover curing fried breakfasts - which by the way you will see EVERYWHERE. Signs saying 'proper English breakfasts' are everywhere, be warned the sausage is 95% always a frankfurther. We actually stayed over New Years Eve and New Years Day. On NYE we actually did a day trip (read on for more details) so were quite tired and actually went to sleep around 10.30pm so missed all the NYE celebrations. The next morning we were up early to see the sights and came across some very dazed, confused, half naked, painted looking people - it was quite amusing. Oh definately look for a bar called Stones Bar - which is next to Hippies Bar - this is at the end of the beach strip, it's approximately a 10 minute walk from J.J. - you can ask around to be pointed in the right direction - it is a beautiful beachfront bar.
To be honest the main beach - the one 10 mins away, Loh Dalum, isn't that amazing and you'll probably be looking at doing day trips to the other more prestine beaches, like Maya Bay - the one from the film 'The Beach' (by the way you can get a brilliant day trip to 5 bays including Maya, lunch, snokelling and kayaking kit for 500THB per person with Blue Skies tours - bargain. You can book these day trips anywhere - there are tour operators everywhere).
If you do want a beach front hotel then you MUST stay on Long Beach at the Paradise Pearl Hotel. It's obviously a little more pricey but it's on Long Beach which is far nicer that Loh Dalum. However you do need to take long boats to and from Tonsai if you want to get in on that party action, boats cost around 100THB per person each way and it only takes 10 minutes. If you want to stay in Phi Phi Palm Tree Resort. This is literally 100 metres away from the Pier and right in the centre of Tonsai but the hotel looks fantastic and it has a lovely pool. Obviously you will pay higher prices but the hotel is so much nicer and there's a restaurant and that lovely pool.
I wouldn't go back to J.J Bungalows - only because I will just pay a little bit extra and stay somewhere with a pool. Also those stairs and walking through Poo Garden every day was just a killer. I'm not saying that it's not a good accommodation as the staff are really nice despite their limited English then try to help. I would recommend J.J's for backpackers and people travelling on a strict budget.
Oh FYI Phi Phi island is covered in cats - this is no exaggeration, there are cats literally everywhere. Walking down a short street you will see around 30 cats - no joke. So if you have allergies or just don't like cats then maybe think about staying in Long Beach and visiting Tonsai (you wont be missing much). However if you're a cat lover, like me, then get yourself a hotel room in Tonsai and pack some anti-bacterial gel.
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- Also Known As:
- j.j. Bungalow Hotel Ko Phi Phi Don