One of the most talked about places to visit when coming to Thailand is Phi Phi Islands, known as one of the most beautiful natural Islands in the world.
Phi Phi Islands are part of Krabi province and consist of 6 islands altogether, and they are under protection by Hat Noppharat Thara – Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park.
The largest Island being Ko (Thai for ‘island’) Phi Phi Don, and subsequently, Ko Phi Phi Leh, Ko Mai Phai, Ko Yung, and Bida Nok and Bida Nai are the smaller surrounding islands.
Phi Phi Islands
A good one-word description of Ko Phi Phi would be ‘Paradise’. Surrounded by the Andaman Sea, the views are just fascinating, and the waters are crystal clear. The beaches are lined with beautiful soft white sands. The limestone mountains are an impressive feature that you will see in Bida Nok or Bida Nai.
The marine wildlife and coral located here is simply amazing. Being on Ko Phi Phi gives a fantastic atmosphere of being on an island away from main civilisation. This can be a rather tranquil experience! Especially when dawn sets in, the stars come out, and the crashing of waves hits the limestones.
Phi Phi Islands are not as built up as Ko Samui, Ko Phangan and Phuket for instance. Nevertheless, it can offer certain things the other islands can not. The sheer beauty of the natural landscape, and a vibrant but non-sleazy atmosphere. And a very clean and compact feeling when in the central villages of the Island.
Phi Phi Islands became internationally prominent when featured in the film ’The Beach’ back in 2000, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. However, this was mainly just Ko Phi Phi Mai – Maya Bay.
Since then tourists who visit Thailand flock to this destination for a few days excursion at a time. With easy access from many places in Phuket and the mainland, this is a hot spot for tourists and backpackers alike. As well as partygoers who have finished with the heavy partying in Ko Phangan and just want an island to relax on before heading back to mainland reality. Below you will see a section on how to get to Ko Phi Phi and all the possible routes and way of transport you can take.
Things to do in Phi Phi Islands
Ko Phi Phi offers a wide selection of activities to keep you occupied while on your visit. Perhaps a spot of kayaking through the caves, or snorkelling through the reefs in the crystal clear waters. Even diving with the sharks is an option at Phi Phi Islands. Beware: not for the faint-hearted!
You can head over to Viking Cave and explore the caves on the edge of the Island. Or go and make some new friends on Monkey Island/Bay. Beware of the monkeys, they are wild, and being scratched is not the best of ideas for your holiday. Also make sure you close your bags, as they love to take things and run away.
A wealth of beach activities includes jet skis, windsurfing, diving to see the fascinating coral features surrounding the Island. Beach activities depend on the season – beach volleyball, feeding fish, or swimming will keep you more than occupied. Or perhaps you only just fancy sunbathing on the sun loungers with a cocktail or a beer in hand.
If you prefer busy nightlife, then stay on Phi Phi Don central area and head to Tonsai Village.
Getting from Phuket to Phi Phi Islands
When you plan to head from Phuket to Phi Phi Islands, there’s a number of ways you can get to the Island depending on your preference.
Phuket to Phi Phi Ferry
Firstly and most popular way is by ferry. There are two places in Phuket where the ferries depart, Rassada Pier, and Sea Angel Pier. A daily service is active from both piers and leaves Phuket at 8 am, 10 am, 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. Depending on the season, and how busy the area is, it is advised to double check the times on the websites before planning the trip.
Expect the trip duration to be around 1 hour and 45mins depending on conditions on the day. Prices for the trip vary depending on where you go from. For example, if it’s Rassada Pier, you are looking to pay around the 600 baht mark one way, and if it’s a round-trip, around 1000 baht (USD $28.50). There are of course cheaper ways. For instance, if you book with a guesthouse on Ko Phi Phi, then sometimes the ticket can be included in the package, or discounted to around 300-400 baht. So it’s a good idea to look around.
Another option is to leave from Sea Angel pier using the Sea Angel ferries. The price is just slightly higher than Rassada Pier – 600 baht one way or 1100 baht return.
Speed Boat from Phuket to Ko Phi Phi
If you would rather a quicker and more luxurious trip over to Phi Phi Island, then have a look at going on a speed boat. Speed boats, depending which tour company you chose from, set off from different locations. Some can be private sites like Dolphin Seaway Pier, which offers quite a few amenities (live music + bar) before heading off on the speedboat. You would be looking to spend around 3500 baht (USD $100) for certain speed boat tour trips, which are better known as all inclusive. All inclusive tours would usually consist of return boat ride, national park fees, extensive lunch buffet, all of your snorkelling gear, a tour guide, water, fruit and snacks on the way and on the way back, and transfers to and from your hotel. There are many cheaper options out there too.
A cruise boat, all-inclusive tour, including transfers, drinks, coffee, tea, fruits, buffet lunch, snorkel gear, tour guide and insurance can cost you around 1500 baht per person (USD $40). Some charter and tour companies offer private speedboats for you own private group usually up to 10 people. So it could be more cost-effective and worthwhile looking into this option if you are in a larger group. The tours depart Ko Phi Phi Islands at set times that are shown on your ticket or itinerary. So make sure you are aware of this, so you don’t miss it!
Bare in mind, unless you stay at a guesthouse overnight on Ko Phi Phi Island, you will be restricted to roughly about 4-5 hours of actual time on the Island and surrounding Islands, excluding all the travelling.
High season in Ko Phi Phi
High season prices can be relatively expensive, so make sure you look around for good deals on tour packages. The two largest islands that are most talked about and featured is Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Le (Leh) which features Maya Bay, aka ‘the Beach’. Visiting the famous Maya Bay usually has a standalone fee to set foot on the beach of around 500 baht, because it can become overcrowded. Best thing to do is to make sure you check with the tour guide that this is in the itinerary. Another good tip would be to check that snorkelling equipment, such as face mask, flippers are also included, as the outlets on the Island can charge up to 300 baht for renting a pair.
Ko Phi Phi has a tropical climate year round, so from high season Jan- April it can be scorching hot, and sometimes the sun can be very deceiving so always take sun block before heading out there; otherwise you will pay more than triple for this in the shops on the island. May to December is low season, but you will still get many weeks of perfect weather to explore the Island. When it rains, it rains like thunder, but not so prolonged as compared to places like Europe. Mosquito repellent is vital if you head out there in low season, probably advisable even in the high season depending on what blood group you are – take it anyway!
Ko Phi Phi Don
Ko Phi Phi Don offers a vast selection of activities for everyone to enjoy, the Island is action packed! If you are the adventurous type and like to explore then head up into the jungles. Head down to explore the lagoons. More of the adrenaline type – then take on some rock climbing! Perhaps you fancy making some new friends, so head down to Monkey beach where you can meet the monkies themselves. Best to go when the tide is out, so you have more beach space to walk on, as it is relatively small.
Activities on Ko Phi Phi Don
If you feel like just chilling out and relaxing, then head away from the main attractions of the village, and you will find there is simply no better place to relax than on a quiet spot on the Phi Phi Islands, away from the main built-up two villages of Phi Phi Don.
If you are looking for a night out on the Island, then Phi Phi Don has a great nightlife. The main villages in Phi Phi Don usually become very busy with tourists and backpackers. You will find quite a selection of small shops, where you can purchase handmade Thai items, get pictures done, ornaments and much more. There are also many dining spots and bars to keep you occupied throughout the day and night.
One of the favourite activities for the young is Phi Phi pool parties. They normally start around noon and run till late hours. Infinity pools, ‘beer pong’, buckets of drinks and beautiful views are here for you to enjoy. The one with the best view would be PP Princess Pool party.
Something a bit more relaxed may be on your agenda, then head over to the Sun Flower beach bar and restaurant. One of the favourites on the islands for chilled out relaxation with evening fire shows and live acoustic music. Prices are fairly reasonable for alcohol here too.
Anyone is welcome to partake in Muay Thai and test your skills or lack of them. Doing so will earn you a bucket of alcohol for free.
Nightlife on Ko Phi Phi Don
Looking for more of a clubbing atmosphere? Carlitos beach bar and nightclub turns into a vibrant place during the night time. From around 10 pm onwards, the atmosphere with its loud music is very clubbish. In the daytime, it’s more of a family friendly place.
The Reggae bar is highly popular in the central village of Tonsai, Phi Phi Don. Here they showcase live Muay Thai fights, live music, buckets of drinks, and sports screens for major sports matches broadcasts.
Rolling Stoned Bar is another favourite of an evening time. It’s laid back at times depending on the music, acoustic, to pop, to rock, to hard rock. This place is known to be the best spot for live music in the whole of the Island.
Accommodation on Ko Phi Phi Don
Accommodation on Phi Phi Don is mainly in the Tonsia Village and central parts of the Island, with some places dotted around the beach front. Prices can vary depending on your taste, but you will be looking from around 2000 baht (USD $60) up to 7000/8000 baht (USD $200) for one night. Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort and Bay View Resort, and Zeavola Resort tend to be the most sought after, so book early, as they will be booked up quickly especially in the high season. If you are on a budget then a beach resort such as Phi Phi Charlie, or The Beach Resort Phi Phi maybe more up your street. There are plenty of options, however, and remember it is a good idea to have a look at the guesthouses which include the tours on the island.
Ko Phi Phi Leh
Phi Phi Leh (or Phi Phi Le – you will notice many guides spell this differently) is another hotspot for divers, with its crystal clear waters coming out from the lagoon. Located in the south of the Phi Phi Islands where the coral and reefs seem to be somewhat more flourished than in the north of the Island.
Known for the Famous Maya Bay featured in the film ‘The Beach’. This particular section of the Phi Phi islands can get very overcrowded with tourists. For this reason, you are only given a set amount of time to spend chilling out on Maya Bay, and can not stay overnight at this spot.
The Beach itself is absolutely breathtaking, and everything it lives up to.
Take note if you have seen the film, the lagoon is not enclosed; they used CGI to make the two high rock formations as one. If you go here, you will notice that there is a gap between the rock formations and so looks out across the Andaman Sea.
Mosquito Island, as most refer to it, is a small remote Island that is part of Ko Phi Phi. A fantastic diving spot here because of the coral and reefs, like most of the Phi Phi islands. You can get to this part of the Island by longtail boat from the main island. The snorkelling is profound, and the coral reefs you can see is quite stunning, so make sure you take a waterproof camera! When the dawn sets in (around 5 pm), you will see thick black clouds which are mosquitos. In fact, that’s why the island is known as Mosquito Island. So if you tend to attract mosquitos, it is advised you leave the Island early on!
Known as Bamboo Island, this Island is unique compared to the other Islands that make up Ko Phi Phi. There is no high peaks or rocky mountains. It’s just sand and sea. Being fairly small, this can get quite full up in peak seasons, so make sure you get here early. You can acquire tents here to camp. There is nothing like camping watching the sunrise on this particular Island. It is an experience in itself. There’s also a small mini bar on the beach with refreshments and beverages.
Situated approximately 1km from Ko Phi Phi Leh, Bida Nok is known for its amazing natural limestone face. Due to the distinctive underwater marine and coral life, it is also prominently more known for being one of the best diving sites in Thailand.
100 metres south of Bida Nok we find Bida Nai. The island again is famous for its amazing limestone and underwater marine diving. Fantasea Reef, which is nearby underwater, is the hot spot for divers who come to visit Ko Phi Phi Island.
If you haven’t been to Ko Phi Phi Island, you must put it on your bucket list of things to see and do. It is simply quite amazing. Some prefer to visit the Island out of season for a more quiet tempo in the central spots. But in the peak season, it is the number one hot spot in Thailand for tourist excursion.