This post is part of the series Phi Phi Islands
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This post is part of the series Thailand
Other posts in this series:
If you haven’t been to Koh Phi Phi before and you’re planning your very first trip, there are a few things you should know in order to get the most out of your trip! I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my experience in Phi Phi Islands so I’m putting together a comprehensive travel guide, which will hopefully answer most of the questions.
The Phi Phi Islands are at the top of every Thailand bucket list out there and to be honest, this made me a bit afraid. I don’t like crowded places and tonnes of people around me … especially when the place looks like heaven like the Phi Phi Islands do.
Many people come to Phi Phi Islands just to visit the most famous beach of Maya Bay, widely known after the movie “The Beach” with DiCaprio was filmed here. There is no doubt – Koh Phi Phi has changed during the past 20 years. Many of you who are planning a trip to the Islands are questioning whether Koh Phi Phi has lost the magic due to the mass tourism going on… But you should ask the same question when you’re heading to Venice, London, Paris or Barcelona. My answer is: it has changed, but the magic is still there! There is a reason why so many people want to visit a certain place and the reasons for Koh Phi Phi are numerous!
Quick Facts about Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is 2 main Islands located in the Andaman Sea (a marginal sea of the eastern Indian Ocean). The Islands are part of Krabi Province. Koh Phi Phi Don is the bigger and the only island with permanent inhabitants. The island is about 9.73 km² (8 kilometres in length and 3.5 kilometres wide). Both Phi Phi islands are non-volcanic islands. The islands are largely made of limestone and a flat land located under the sea level connects them.
Phi Phi Don is where the people live, and tourists stay during their trip to Phi Phi. Phi Phi Don is famous among backpackers and party people as it is a hub of activity.
Most of the development of Phi Phi Don is around Tonsai Village where all ferries and boats arrive from Krabi and Phuket. If you’re not a party animal, I would not recommend staying in this area as the island is famous for its 24/7 parties. There are also other, quieter resorts on beaches further afield.
There are zero roads and almost no motorized vehicles on the island. The transport on land is by foot or bicycle, and between all the beaches by longtail boats.
The second Island Koh Phi Phi Lee is smaller uninhabited island, part of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. Compared to Don, Phi Phi Lee is an undeveloped and hotel-free island. There are no accommodations on Phi Phi Leh, and camping is prohibited, meaning it’s only accessible by day trips. The Islands became famous in the year of 2000 for Maya Bay where the movie “The Beach” with DiCaprio was filmed.
*Maya Bay in Phi Phi Leh is now closed indefinitely until further notice.
Koh Phi Phi: Weather, Climate and Seasons
March – May: the hottest months in Koh Phi Phi. The average temperatures are between 28° and 35° with humidity levels steadily on the rise.
May – October: the monsoon season in Koh Phi Phi starts in May, the average temperature is 29°, the prices are low and the rains heavy! The wettest months are May, September and October.
December – March: the dry season in Koh Phi Phi, but you can expect some raindrops at any time of the year.
November – February: the coolest season in Phi Phi. The average temperature is between 23°C and 30°C. From December to March the humidity is slightly lower and the night temperatures rarely drop below 20 °C.
Getting to Koh Phi Phi
It doesn’t matter where you are coming from (Phuket, Krabi, Ao Nang), you will arrive at Phi Phi Don. Ferries depart from Phuket and Krabi, but in terms of distance, the Phi Phi Islands are much easier to access from Krabi than Phuket. That’s the reason why the tickets from Krabi are cheaper than those from Phuket. The frequency of ferries and times depends on the season, waves and weather.
In Krabi tickets can be purchased on almost every corner and cost about 400 Baht for roughly a two-hour trip. From Phuket it takes about 3 hours if you travel by ferry and about 2 hours by speedboat.
Tonsai Pier is located in the centre of Tonsai Bay in the north of Phi Phi Don. It also the main arrival and departure hub for Koh Phi Phi. Tonsai Pier is absolutely busy with people coming and going, locals selling trips, drunk backpackers, small shops, street food, etc. If you are coming or going to Phuket, Krabi or Koh Lanta this is the place where all ferries come and go. On arrival, everyone should pay 20 Baht entry fee to Koh Phi Phi. The water here tends to be quite polluted due to the vast traffic, so this place won’t be my number one choice for swimming and snorkelling.
Phak Nam Bay
Phak Nam Bay is a small bay and home to a small fishing village located on the east side of Phi Phi Don. If you’re looking for a more secluded place to be in Phi Phi Don, Phak Nam Bay is one of the places you are looking for a more peaceful place to stay. The downside is – there is only one resort where you can stay so if you are going for Phak Nam Bay I would book in advance.
Long Beach is the place where we chose to stay. It is located on the southeast of Phi Phi Don and has the best views over Phi Phi Lee. You can walk from Tonsai Pier but it could be a long journey, so going for a longtail boat is quite reasonable! Here you will not find so many locations, and 80 % of them are bungalows. Make sure you book in advance, otherwise it could get pretty expensive.
Laem Tong Beach
Laem Tong Beach is probably the most beautiful and quiet place in Phi Phi Don since it can be reached only by boat! The reason why not so many people travel from Tonsai Pier to Laem Ton is that it takes about 45 minutes by longtail boat. You can choose among 4 high-end resorts and several cheaper locations, but again – I would book in advance.
Monkey Beach is located on the northwest of Loh Dalam Bay (Phi Phi Don). The monkey beach can be reached by foot, by canoe, or by longtail boat.
The name comes due to the fact that here you can experience many monkeys! But please don’t feed or make them angry… Admire them, enjoy looking at them but try to avoid feeding them and allow them to forage naturally.
Loh Dalum Bay
Loh Dalum Bay is located on the opposite side of Tonsai Pier. It is a beautiful beach but very busy! Here the party is 24/7. If you are searching for some party – this is your place to be. Beach bars and restaurants offer some spectacular fire shows at night and the partying lasts well into the early hours.
Best Things to Do on Koh Phi Phi
Bamboo Island is a small beautiful island located in about 13 km from Tonsai Pier and about 5 km from the north of Phi Phi Don Island. Bamboo Island is the most north-easterly island of Phi Phi Archipelago and is a well-known place for snorkelling, swimming or just relaxing.
As it is a bit remote and less famous than the beach of Maya Bay of Phi Phi Leh, there is still some space on Bamboo Island beaches during the peak season from December to March. And if you are lucky enough to be there before the tourists come, the island can make you feel like in a paradise when you arrive!
You can find more information about Bamboo Island here:
Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
Although Koh Phi Phi has not as good diving location as Koh Tao, snorkelling or scuba diving is still worth it when you’re there. The best place for snorkelling is around Bamboo Island and Phi Phi Lee – you can spot many black-tip sharks there – amazing!
Exploring Maya Bay
!!! One of the world’s most popular and beautiful beaches, made famous by Danny Boyle’s movie “The Beach” in the year 2000 has been closed since June 2018. Leonardo DiCaprio made Maya Bay more popular than ever which brought some 5.000 visitors to the bay each day.
Maya Bay was meant to be closed from June 2018 to October 2018. But the four-month rejuvenation program was not enough for the complete recovery of the nature in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. Thailand’s most-visited tourist destination is still to be closed indefinitely. The marine ecosystem requires more time in order to recover from the damage caused by millions of tourists, the pollution from litter, boats and sun cream.
Go Kayaking Around the Islands
If you rent a kayak you can explore the beautiful limestone cliffs around the island. Kayaks can be rented at multiple places along the beach.
Enjoy a Traditional Thai Massage
… As anywhere in Thailand! My very favourite thing to do is to enjoy a good old Thai Massage!
Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint
You can hike up to the famous Phi Phi Viewpoint and admire the island from up above. The hike is short, relatively easy and manageable in flip-flops and bikini.
Take a Long-tail Boat Ride
If you are in Koh Phi Phi or wherever in Thailand, you just have to experience being on a long-tail boat (also perfect for photos!)
Have a Walk
Koh Phi Phi is actually ridiculously small and completely walkable. You can completely explore it within several hours.
Relax on the Beaches of Koh Phi Phi
The beaches of Koh Phi Phi are exceptionally beautiful with white sand and clear turquoise waters. Although there are many people around, you cans till find some beautiful spots (e.g. The Long Beach) where you can spend a few hours under the shade of the palm trees or in the beautiful water.
Koh Phi Phi is well known among youngsters and backpackers for its vibrant nightlife. One of the most famous parties is the neon party at Apache – some good music, fire shows, rope jumping, limbo and other fun stuff. People start playing drinking games in the afternoon and this continues all night long.
Eating and Drinking
Koh Phi Phi Don has plenty of good restaurants and bars, but just have in mind – the prices are much higher than the rest of Thailand due to its popularity!
Safety on Koh Phi Phi
Don’t drink the water! It is not potable. Water from the tap will make you sick and that is definitely the last thing you want during your trip to Koh Phi Phi!
Don’t do drugs! Technically, imprisonment of anywhere from 1-20 years and 20,000-400,000 Baht may be applied.
Although it is not unusual to see people smoking e-cigarettes in Thailand, this is technically breaking the law as possession and smoking e-cigarette is illegal.
Be aware of the Sun! The sun is also something different than the sun we know from Europe … Always wear a sunscreen with 50+ SPF! Not kidding, it will heart if you don’t!
Don’t drink and drive! It is tricky enough when you are sober … The roads are dirty and in a bad condition. You will notice a lot of travellers around the island with bandaged appendages or the so-called “Thailand tattoos” from motorbike accidents.
It is a really good idea to invest in travel insurance for scuba diving because you never know what could happen and when you might need it!
What to Pack for Phi Phi Islands?
Umbrella or Raincoat: Because of its tropical location, whenever you travel to Phi Phi Islands you will see some afternoon raindrops during your stay for sure! Thailand is a tropical country so escaping the rain and humidity is not really possible. So you better bring an umbrella or raincoat every time you travel to Phi Phi Islands.
50% DEET Spray: There is no vaccination against malaria or dengue fever so you have to prevent the mosquito bites as far as you can. Malaria could be a problem if you’re hiking through the jungle or doing mountain trekking during the rainy seasons. The best solution: use 50% DEET spray, wear long sleeves and trousers and sleep inside mosquito nets.
Sunscreen: Sunscreen is veeery expensive in Thailand! 100 ml cost about 15 €, so make sure you have enough in your bag. Be aware of the Sun! The sun is also something different than the sun we know from Europe … Always wear a sunscreen with 50+ SPF! Not kidding, it will heart if you don’t!
Medicaments: Traveller’s diarrhea is a common problem too. I would recommend you to choose what and where you eat more carefully, and also to bring some anti-diarrhea pills (like Imodium) with you.
Nappies, Sanitary Towels, Panty Liners, Tampons: These are also very expensive and sometimes difficult to get on the Phi Phi Islands.
Enjoy the day!
Continue reading this series:
The Best Beaches in Ko Lanta, Thailand