I drank a piña colada. I rocked gently in a hammock, enjoying the late-night sea breeze. I dug my toes into the sand and gawked at a school of striped fish swimming between rocks. I watched crabs scuttling out of the waves. I slept on a bamboo bed in a chic treehouse-style resort. I only inhaled a little bit of salt water. It was the perfect tropical getaway thanks to the Viking Nature Resort on Koh Phi Phi in Thailand.
The Phi Phi Islands are located to the west of the Thai mainland just before you reach the large, well-known island of Phuket. Koh Phi Phi Don is the most famous and most populated, although Koh Phi Phi Leh has also gained notoriety (the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach” was filmed there, and everyone you meet will mention this a million times).
To get there, I took a ferry ride from Phuket that entertained us with “Mr. Bean” reruns for the entire three-hour journey. The ferry makes a few stops on the Phi Phi Islands, but I got off at Tonsai Bay, where Viking Nature Resort had a longtail boat waiting for me.
We jetted off across the most gorgeous, turquoise water I’ve ever seen. After spending so many years seeing unappetizing mustard-colored foam wash up on Venice Beach, I didn’t realize the ocean could still be this beautiful. The water at Koh Phi Phi Don is clear and calm, surrounded by huge limestone cliffs covered in thick greenery.
Slowly, the Viking Nature Resort materialized out of the foliage. It’s also beautiful: there is a rustic wooden swing out front, and someone was getting a massage underneath some palm fronds. No sooner had I hopped off the boat into the perfectly temperate water than I had a jar of sweet tea placed in my hand. While I waited for my room, I sampled the sweet and sour fried fish (delicious!) and cocktails (delicious!) from the onsite restaurant. I splashed around in the water on the secluded beach out front and wondered how I’d gotten lucky enough to experience this.
Finally, I was led to my room. I stayed in Makmai 3C, one of two upstairs rooms in the luxurious Makmai villa. The room is a brisk walk from the lobby and restaurant that involves steep inclines, dirt paths, dodging tree roots and a formidable flight of stairs up to the actual treehouse — but the payoff is incredible!
There is a large wooden balcony equipped with a personal hammock, several sets of bamboo tables and chairs, and a fabulous view of the ocean through the trees. The interior was equally impressive: rustic wood and bamboo furniture, high ceilings, a beaded shell curtain in the doorway, a spacious bed, a shower that I wish I had known produced salt water before I stuck my entire face into it.
The room came with complementary breakfast and great service from all members of the staff. One night’s stay in the Makmai room was 2,800 THB, which is roughly $77. Pretty wildly expensive by Thailand’s standards, but an incredible deal for the lavish experience.
I could have spent weeks basking in the luxury of the Viking Nature Resort, and I hope I’ll get the chance to go back.