On the Andaman coast close to Phuket and Krabi, the Phi Phi Islands are an island group in Thailand including Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Phi Phi Leh, Bida Nok, Bida Nai, and Bamboo Island. It is Thailand's island-superstar which was designated as Thailand's national park in 1983. With its cream white sand beaches, tranquil blue sea water, natural limestone caves and unspoiled natural beauty, Koh Phi Phi stands out from the more than 30 outlying islands around Phuket and has become one of the most popular Thai islands in recent years. Maya Bay in Phi Phi Leh was used as a location for the film The Beach shot in 1999. From then on, the forward life on the island has been changed and it gradually become a hot tourism spot. People flocking to the island, made it a strange mixture of partying budget travelers and resort-dwelling tourists.
Koh Phi Phi is the superstar among Thai islands. Its beauty is a large chunk of allure. When you approached by boat, it rises from the sea like a fortress, the spectacularly straight cliff shooting out of the sparkling sea water. The island group has turquois water, glistening white sand beaches. People can swim with the various marine lives in the sea and enjoy the colorful coral reefs. The islands are near Phuket and Krabi, Phi Phi Leh is completely free of human inhabitants, and Phi Phi Don is without roads. There's no schedule, no hustle-and-bustle, no reason to be in a hurry.
Koh Phi Phi Don in the north is the largest, most populated island and the only inhabited island in the island group. It is 10.19 sq. km., 3.5 km wide and 8 km long. It is shaped like an irregular dumbbell, lush and green limestone mountains on the both ends. The center of the island was formed by two intersection half-moon-shaped bays with crystal clean and blue water and cream white sands. The island is extremely narrow in the middle, only about 80 meters at its narrowest point. You can see water on your both sides in one place from where you stand. There are some fishermen live on the island and there are resorts, restaurants, bars and all kinds of entertainment.
The extensive Tonsai Bay is the dream place for tourists with glistening white beach, dancing tropical coconut trees and stunning crystal blue water. Loh Dalum Bay on the back of the Tonsai Bay is one of the most beautiful bays in the world and it is also the famous place for diving and snorkeling in Thailand. Located in the north of Koh Phi Phi Don, Laemthong Beach owns vivid turquoise water and magnificent underwater world and also has lots of scenic sites. Climbing along the mountain to the island watchtower, you will enjoy the panoramic view of Phi Phi island.
Around 1.29 sq. km., sitting just about a kilometer and a half away to the south of Koh Phi Phi Don is Koh Phi Phi Leh which is an uninhabited island with incredible straight cliffs small sandy crescent beaches. There are several huge limestone caves with beautiful stalactites hanging from them. Prehistoric people, elephants, ships and other murals carved inside the caves on the walls can be found. It was said that the caves were the dens of pirates of Andaman Sea, so the caves were called “the pirate caves”. The caves are home to a large number of swifts and rich in swifts' nests, therefore, they were called “Swifts' nests caves”. Until now, only the famous Viking Cave had been open to the public but the island has been close to protect enviroment since October, 2018. Koh Phi Phi Leh became famous worldwide when Koh Phi Phi Leh was used as a location for the film The Beach shot in 1999. She has stunning beaches, Pires, Maya, crescent bay, deep blue water, colorful sea life...Even the air is full of romantic flavor.
Enjoy Phi Phi Island
Phi Phi Islandwas determined as Thailand's national park in the year of 1983. It is a place full of sunshine. The soft powdery white sand beach, the tranquil emerald clear sea, magnificent limestone caves, and colorful marine life make the islands stand out among the more than 30 islands around Phuket and attract thousands of visitors every year.
People who love tranquility must love Phi Phi Island. Spending a few days here to slow down your pace of life to feel the beauty of nature. Taking a short one-day tour to Phi Phi island, perhaps, you can see the breathtaking scenery, however, it is hard for you enjoy the romantic atmosphere of the island. Never not willing to spend your holiday, Phi Phi islands will satisfy all your imagination for tropic islands and beaches.
Pull a deck chair to enjoy the sunshine of gentle breeze in the beach, turn a few pages of an interesting book leisurely, sip the fresh squeezed tropical colorful fruit juice, or stay in a daze, or doze off with the accompaniment of the sound of ceaseless wave lapping at the shore softly. You may like beach sports, then be sure to come here. Diving, snorkeling, swimming, skiing, kayaking, surfing and so on.
There is an exotic view in Koh Phi Phi Leh – the hundred meters high spectacularly cliff shooting out of the sparkling sea and between the steep cliff wall and the stalactites in the cave, there are full of swift's nests. These are the tonic and luxury delicacies of Chinese cuisine. Bamboo scaffolds for gatherers to climb and pick the nests can be seen hanging everywhere over the walls and caves and some of them are straightly on the roof of the caves where the swift's nests are gathered. The work is very dangerous and difficult, and accidents often happen. Visitors can witness the whole process of nests collection on the Koh Phi Phi Leh. In order to protect the ecological environment in the island and around the sea, the government of Thailand close the island prohibit the visitors to approach. People only can visit it on boat sailing around the island since October,2018.
Maya bay is located in the southwest of Koh Phi Phi Leh. The entire island is rocky and has very little sand, so the beaches of Maya bay are particularly surprising. Maya bay is surrounded by mountains on three sides, with white sand beach and famous for the movie "the beach". The small beach is encircled by hundreds of meters' steep cliffs like a huge hand protecting the Maya bay, only a narrow access left providing a feeling of isolation. Because of the movie, the bay became more and more famous. People have been flocking to the island and made the environments destroyed. So it was closed to protect the coral reefs, marine life and the natural environment on the island. Visitor only can go to the surrounding area by boat and get on the island is forbidden now.
Because of the depth of the sea and spectacular view of the marine lives and the coral reefs in the sea, Maya Bay has become a diving paradise.
The broad Tonsai Bay is the ‘transportation hub’ of Koh Phi Phi Don where the only pier of the island is located here. Here is also the most prosperous “commercial center” as well. Small alley shops are bristling on the street, from internet cafes to travel agencies, from 7-11 to souvenir shops… Every daily necessity can be found in around here. Bars, restaurants and hotels make it a lively place from morning till night. But there is no shortage of shimmering white-sand beaches, dancing tropical coconut groves and breathtaking turquoise waters. Visitors who like the buzz can find everything they need in Tonsai bay, while those who prefer the tranquil should consider staying in a more remote area.
Generally, Tonsai Bay is the first stop when you arrive at Phi Phi island, and this is the only pier of the island, so there is no need to worry about traffic problems.
There are several huge limestone caves on Koh Phi Phi Leh. The caves are homes to petrel around the sea and there are abounds nests of petrel in the caves. Near the sea, you may see workers collecting petrel's nests. Viking Cave is one of the most famous one in the island and only one had been open to the public before. Since the island was closed to protect the ecological environment, the cave was also closed. On the wall of the cave carved prehistoric people, elephants, ships and other murals, especially a variety of ships, Europe, Arabia, China and other types of ancient ships, as well as more advanced steamship, simply like the world seagoing ship exhibition, so you can imagine what a busy waterway it was. But it was said that these caves were once the dens of the pirates of Andaman sea, so they also called "pirate caves".
Located at the northern tip of Koh Phi Phi Don, Laemthong Beach is less traveled than the bustling Tonsai Bay. Except a few hotel guests, few people stay long, so the beaches are especially clean and almost private. The sea water here is pure and the underwater world is colorful quite suitable for diving and snorkeling. There are several hotels near Laemthong have very good reputation except the only trouble: the transportation. AS there are no roads on the island, you have to take a boat from Tonsai Bay to Taemthong. There is only one small restaurant near the beach, but the prices are reasonable and the taste is good. The restaurants attached to the hotel are much more expensive. If you are not staying at a nearby hotel, just make it a stop on your tour around the island.
45 minutes north of Koh Phi Phi Don, Bamboo Island is incredible. The water is amazing blue and the sand is creamy white which is looked just like the paradise you expected to explore in your heart. The island is part of the national marine park and is inhabited only by the nomadic sea gypsies and the part rangers that monitor arrivals. The surrounded shallow coral reef has been recovering from the 2004 tsunami. It is a great place for kayaking, dipping, snorkeling, and diving.
What and where to eat
Most of the hotels and restaurants on Koh Phi Phi Don are located in the prosperous Tonsai Bay area. While the conditions in the other areas of the island are relatively simple. You may only have three meals in the restaurant attached to the hotel. If you are picky about the food, it is better to stay in the hotels not far from Tongsai Bay.
Tonsai Bay: The bars here are lively at night as any other resorts in Thailand, with everything from high-end restaurants with magnificent ocean views to street food. The best and cheapest are all kinds of seafood: lobster, crab, all kinds of sea fish, shellfish...Simple roasting and boiling are delicious and reasonably priced.
Special recommendation: enjoy a beach dinner, with a breathtaking view of full of stars, and the sea moon in the sky and the gentle waves patting the shore softly, cool sea breeze caresses your face… all these will make you think you are in a dream.
Tip: the local taste is a little spicy, if you do not use to spicy food, you can tell the waiter directly when ordering.
How to Get Koh Phi Phi
The most convenient way to Koh Phi Phi is flying to Phuket first and then take a boat to Koh Phi Phi Don, which takes about 1.5-2 hours. If you are in Bangkok, you can choose to fly to Phuket or Krabi which depends where do want to visit most.
So far, there are trains running between Bangkok and Phuket or Krabi and it takes about 16 hours. Visitors can take trains from Bangkok to Phuket or Krabi first and then take a boat to Koh Phi Phi Don.
It takes around 14 hours to complete the nearly 900 km journey from Bangkok to Phuket. You will finally arrive at Phang Nga Rd bus station. There are more than a dozen buses leave for Phuket from Bangkok every day departing from Bangkok south line bus terminus at Pinklao – Nakhon Chaisri Road. The bus to Krabi is also from here.
By Public Ferry
After arriving in Phuket or Krabi by various transportation means, we can finally go to Koh Phi Phi Don by public ferry. If you book the tickets from a travel agency in Phuket, you can take the Mini Bus provided by the agency to the pier (Ko Sirey, Makham Bay,Chalong Bay). It takes about 1.5-2 hours to Koh Phi Phi Don and it costs about THB250. In downtown of Krabi, there are minibuses and taxis to the pier. Visitors can take ferry from Jao Fa pier to Koh Phi Phi Don, which takes about 1.5 hours.
By Speed Boat
You can also charter speed boat for a round trip from Phuket to Phi Phi islands. You can book at hotels. The price is about THB5000 and it subject to change. UME travel and make a private one-day tour for you to Phi Phi island from Phuket.
Getting around in Koh Phi Phi Don
Koh Phi Phi Don is quite small. It takes only 5 minutes from Tonsai Bay to Loh Dalum on the north side on foot.
There are no roads on the island and you have to take a boat from Tonsai Bay where the pier located to the breathtaking beaches in the north of island. It takes around 30 minutes by a boat to the northernmost bay, THB100 per person, only two shifts a day. You can also charter a boat around THB600. Catering, entertainment and other facilities on the island are concentrated in Tonsai bay and around area, so you need to consider the traffic when booking a hotel.
By longtail boat
Longtail boat is the main transportation means in Koh Phi Phi Don. It is as convenient as a Taxi in the city, so it is also called “Taxi Boat” Each one can take 5-6 people.
The best time to Phi Phi Island
The best time to visit Phi Phi Island is from November to next May. Phi Phi is hot all year round, and it is affected by the tropical monsoon so there are only two seasons, the rainy season and dry season.
From November to next May of each year, it is the dry season and the islands are hardly affected by rainfall. The sea water is very clear and turquoise and people will feel cool and comfortable. Even if it is not in dry season, as long as it does not rain, diving and swimming will be no problem, but you will feel muggy. During the rainy season, which last from May to September, the fun in the island will be lost when you meet heavy rain, so be sure to pay attention to the weather forecast before going to the islands.
There are hundreds of shops all over the island, especially around the Tonsai Bay. Here, the lively and bristling shops can provide people all kinds of services. Various souvenir shops, diving shops, Thai massage shops, hair salons, bars and restaurants. People who cannot live without internet can go to internet bars however the charge is not cheap.
Tip: if you buy some souvenirs, the cheapest is usually the worst. It is worth paying a little bit and have the best experience possible, rather than saving THB200 and get bad experience.
What (not) to wear
Koh Phi Phi is hot all year round, so only bring your summer clothing. The dress code on the island is very relaxed as opposed to staying on the mainland. Swimsuit, bikinis and shorts are acceptable when you walking around during the day, but be aware it is not acceptable to sunbathe topless on any of the beaches as the island has a large Muslim community. Sitting in the restaurant shirtless, especially in the evening is not acceptable either.
Phi Phi Island is essentially a small village of fishermen and local gypsies. It has a very informal and relaxed mood. You will spend most of your time in bikinis, swimsuits and T-shirt here so don't pack too much, save your evening gowns and high heels.
There are perfect accommodation facilities in Koh Phi Phi Don. Secluded bungalows on private beaches in the stunning quiet places in walking distance from the Tonsai Bay. The accommodation around Tonsai Bay is much more convenient, but if you want your peace and tranquility, you can choose the hotels around stunning deserted beach - Laemthong Beach but not very convenient to go out. Do not book a cheap hostel in the middle of the island as I do not want that you come crying on my shoulder.
Environment protection: Protect the beautiful environment on the islands when you come. Due to man-made destruction, numbers of corals has been greatly reduced. Damaging the natural environment, such as coral reefs will be punished to jail between half a year and lifetime imprisonment.
Sunscreen:To avoid ultraviolet ray, sunscreen is a must. A hat or cap is also necessary when you sailing on the sea. Do stay in the midday sun, taking a nap in the shade or hotel instead will be more comfortable. Drinking fruit juice is cooler than carbonated drinks.
Water: the water on Koh Phi Phi is salt, so the tape water is not drinkable.
Petting wild monkeys: The monkeys on the island are very cute and fascinating but they are wild animals. Please just observe them from distance if you do not want to end up the trip in a clinic having your rabies vaccination ministered. Please respect the signs and do not feed them which is really harmful to them for altering their nature behavior of hunting. If they rely on food given to them by human beings, they will stop hunting and then come to the town to make tragic for them and as well as the residents.
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