In a nutshell
Phi Phi Island, aka Koh Phi Phi, is a hotspot for holidaymakers, honeymooners, and budget backpackers. No one’s immune to its natural beauty of karst limestone cliffs, lush green jungle, beaches, and warm emerald seas (not to mention the ‘celebrity’ beach at Maya Bay!)
Why go to Koh Phi Phi
It’s the iconic picture perfect postcard of a Thai tropical island. Koh Phi Phi is actually made up of two islands; Koh Phi Phi Don and its smaller sister, Koh Phi Phi Leh – accessed by day trips only.
While over the years Phi Phi has become notoriously popular among the boozy youth looking for a good time, if you’re in search for quiet seclusion in paradise, there are some hidden gems along the east coast of the island far away from the late-night party scene, too.
Please note: You’ll have to pay a THB20 fee at Ton Sai port upon arrival which goes towards the clean-up of the beaches and islands.
Phi Phi is unmistakably beautiful, despite the increasing overdevelopment. While the island only spans 28 square kilometres, most of that is lush tropical forest, fringed with white sands and inviting waters. Koh Phi Phi boasts more beaches than you can count on one hand, from Ton Sai, Lo Dalam, Monkey Beach, and Long Beach towards the southern side, and Laem Thong, Ao Lo Bakao, as well as the smaller Pak Nam, Rantee and Toh Koh beaches towards the north-east side. Let us not forget the Hollywood hit The Beach’s Maya beach (which basically put Phi Phi on the map for travellers and tourists) over on the neighbouring island.
The island also offers stunning snorkelling and diving opportunities, with some of the best spots in the Andaman Sea doable in a day trip. You can even get PADI certified on the island, too, if you’re not already.
If you’re into your rock climbing then Phi Phi is a number one destination. Its steep karst cliffs are waiting to be scaled and promise some of the most incredible views across the water.
When to go to Koh Phi Phi
Attr: Edgardo W. Olivera (cc by)
One of the best things about a trip to Phi Phi is that you can plan it for any time of the year.
Thailand enjoys year-round warm temperatures, between 25-35 degrees Celsius (77-95 degrees Fahrenheit). Phi Phi has two main seasons: the dry season (which is also the high season) falls between November and April. Many travellers like to plan their trip around Christmas and New Year, to escape the cold in their home countries for the promise of warm oceans and clear blue skies over the festive period.
The ‘wet’ season prevails throughout the second half of the year, which is also the low season. During this time, it’s typical to experience heavy downpours for an hour or two each day (there is still plenty of sunshine!) and on the positive side you will benefit from quieter resorts and ‘off season’ prices, should you be looking to save some money.
Where to stay on Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi tends to be on an expensive side. That does not means that you won’t find deals under THB1000 – it rather means that the quality of accommodation on Koh Phi Phi you get for this money is a far way inferior to what you can get anywhere else in Thailand.
In general, it is a good idea to book in advance if you are visiting during the most popular periods (well, we hate booking in advance, but it works really better with Koh Phi Phi!). Touts meeting arriving boats, can help with accommodation – in case you have not booked, see what they have on offer.
Where to eat on Koh Phi Phi
The food in Phi Phi has changed over the years and now it predominantly caters for the Western clientele rather than those looking for authentic Thai food.
Over in Ton Sai and the north-eastern side of the island you’ll find some larger, more upmarket resorts with seafront restaurants offering a wide menu with everything from seafood, to western dishes, and traditional Thai, whereas if you stick more central, the lanes are packed with everything from Mexican restaurants, pubs with classic English ‘pub grub,’ brunch menus, and a few great Indian restaurants, too.
There’s also a popular ‘all you can eat’ buffet which, needless to say, welcomes quite a crowd! If you want to find some authentic Thai food then you’ll be hard pushed, but we’ve found some hidden gems and a cooking class, too, to get your tastebuds tingling.
How to get around Koh Phi Phi
Paved roads are limited on Koh Phi Phi and the main means of transport to move between the beaches is longtail boats. Otherwise just walk!
How to get to and from Koh Phi Phi
Ferries are a popular and affordable option, they are large enough to offer both an inside air conditioned seating area, as well as a sun deck for those wanting to top up their tans. If you are coming from Phuket, the ferry will take around 2 hours from Rassada Pier to Ton Sai in Phi Phi, and tickets will cost around THB500 for a one-way ticket. Ferries from Phuket run daily at 8.30am, 11am, 1.30pm, and 3pm.
Should you be coming from Krabi, the ferries will leave from Klong Jilad Pier running daily at 9am, 10.30am, 1.30am, 3pm, and 4pm.
You can also get a ferry from Koh Lanta’s Saladan Pier at 8am and 1pm for around THB450 one way. Phuket and Koh Lanta also offer a speedboat transfer once a day in the morning for around THB900 which cuts your travel time down significantly, albeit it at a higher price. Timetables may vary due to weather conditions.
Is Koh Phi Phi safe?
Phi Phi in general is a safe place to visit. However, due to the nature of the people who visit – and of course depending on where you stay – you could find yourself mostly among boozy tourists than peaceful Thai people. While bar brawls are not an everyday occurrence, be mindful to manage your drinking and those in your group, and be wary of those around you. You might also see or be offered illegal substances, but please remember that you are a guest in a foreign country and Thailand has a notoriously strict anti-drugs policy, so the laws will not be in your favour if you get caught doing anything you shouldn’t.