The Phi Phi Islands also known as Koh Phi Phi (Koh meaning island in Thai) are a cluster of six paradise islands set in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand, and are part of the Krabi province. With crystal clear turquoise ocean surrounding each of them and stunning white sand beaches curving around the islands and their jungle interior. They make the perfect tropical get away, and they can easily be reached from both Phuket and Krabi.
Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest and most developed of all the islands, it’s where the main town is and all the hotels and resorts are located on this island, along with plenty of shops, restaurants and bars, Phi Phi Don is known as the party island! Loh Dalum Bay is the main party hub on the island, every night from 9pm the party kicks off on the beach with fire shows, Thai boxing and live bands all fighting for tourists attention. This is the place to come to drink buckets of booze and dance all night long.
Tonsai Bay is the bustling heart of Phi Phi Don it’s the main village on the island and the main arrival port. There are no cars or roads and everywhere can be reached by foot or bicycle, including Loh Dalum Bay which is a minutes walk away as this part of the island is so narrow.
All around Phi Phi Don are a variety of other beaches which are quieter such as Laem Tong Beach and Loh Bagao Beach. All of Phi Phi Don provides stunning scenery with its jagged cliffs and beautiful bays and beaches, however mass tourism has spoilt the island somewhat with over development and over crowding of tourists.
Koh Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited island that lies one mile from the southern tip of Koh Phi Phi Don. This island is most known for Maya Bay which was made famous by The Beach film back in 2000 that starred Leonardo DiCaprio. Phi Phi Leh offers stunning vertical cliffs capped with greenery, rocky caves, small sandy beaches and colourful coral reefs. Most visitors find their way around Phi Phi Leh on a tour boat.
The other four islands are Koh Pai also known as Bamboo Island, Koh Young also called Mosquito Island, and two islets marking the southern end of the archipelago named Koh Bida Noi and Koh Bida Nai.
With such a heavy foot fall of people and boats coming to the islands, unfortunately much of the coral reefs and marine life that once surrounded the islands have disappeared and much of the islands natural beauty is being threatened by more tourism expansion. Thai authorities are now seeing the effects of mass tourism on the islands and have recently been closing parts of the islands, and trying to reduce the number of visitors. So while planning your trip make sure to check what is open to the public, Maya Bay has been closed to let it recover.
The Phi Phi islands were somewhere I had dreamt of going for many years all throughout my teenage years after I watched the Beach my infatuation for Thailand began, and after I graduated from university my then fiancée (now husband) decided to book a trip to Thailand – our first trip to Asia which sparked our obsession for the continent. For our first trip to Thailand we booked a two week itinerary and went to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.
When we visited the Phi Phi Islands many years ago we opted for a full day tour from Phuket, which included pick up from our hotel in Phuket and ferry to the islands where we cruised around some of them. We got off at Phi Phi Don for lunch and to relax on the beach, before heading off on a long tail boat to some snorkelling spots.
The Phi Phi islands have mixed reviews and they have become like marmite you will either love them or hate them! I think when visiting you have to go with an open mind and manage your expectations, yes they are touristy and over developed, and they may not offer an authentic Thai experience, however the natural landscape is undeniably stunning, and I would suggest not letting anyone put you off going, if it’s somewhere you fancy going I will always suggest doing what feels right for you, and go and make your own mind up about a place.
Personally I liked the Phi Phi islands as much as they were touristy etc, were they the best beaches I’ve ever been to? No I have been to better beaches and snorkelled in better locations, however we had a really lovely day out to the islands and I would definitely like to go back in the future to see how the government has implemented changes and to perhaps make the islands tourism industry more sustainable, so the islands can be preserved and enjoyed by people in years to come.
Transport & Getting Around
Getting to the Phi Phi Islands is pretty straight forward, the islands are located about 30 miles from Phuket and roughly the same distance from Krabi. There are basically two options to reach the islands and that is either by ferry or speedboat.
The ferry is the most popular choice for reaching the islands. Ferries take about two hours from Phuket and about an hour and a half from Krabi or Koh Lanta. The main departure/arrival port in Phuket is Rassada Pier which is located in Phuket Town. In Krabi, the main ferry pier is Klong Jirad Pier, situated just south of Krabi Town.
I would recommend when planning any trip to the Phi Phi islands to check to see what is open as recently the authorities have been trying to help the islands marine life recover so have closed parts of the islands such as Maya Bay. So be prepared and know what your able to visit when planning. A day tour is a great way to visit the islands if you don’t have much time and there is a huge selection of tours to choose from, however personally looking back I wish we had stayed a night or two on Phi Phi.
If you suffer with travel sickness then make sure to take travel sickness tablets before getting on a ferry or speedboat to the islands as the sea can be quite rough! When we visited a lot of the passengers onboard the ferry were suffering with sea sickness, myself included!