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Koh Phi Phi islands

Updated on 10.06.2018

Ko Phi Phi Don Island Bay in Krabi Region near Phuket Thailand ©Odyfolio

Visit The Koh Phi Phi Islands is a must-see for your stay in Phuket and Krabi. This small islands archipelago of the sea Andaman is a treasure of Thai nature. The main island is called Ko Phi Phi Don and it is the only one to be urbanized, so here is where you book your hotel. In the center of the island is the ferry port and the starting point for excursions at sea. We will explain you how to go to Koh Phi Phi (boats, transport on site), give you our opinion to book your hotel, as well as tips for planning your sea excursion to the wonders of the archipelago: Koh Phi Phi Ley with Maya Bay (made famous by the movie The Beach), Viking Cave, Piley Lagoon and Loh Sama Bay. On Ko Phi Phi don, Monkey beach (the beach with the monkeys) and further north the beach of the deserted island Bamboo Island. We will give you explanations to book at the best price the sea ballads to discover the archipelago, its beaches, snorkelling and diving sites.

Presentation of the islands

Arriving in the bay of Ko Phi Phi Don, the main island, we feel the frenzy of the tourist activities of the place with a multitude of boats of all sizes arrive and depart. When disembarking you must pay a tax of 20THB, not included in the price of the ferry ticket. The first surprise, there are no cars or taxis, apart from a few electric utilities for deliveries. Many hotels have employees waiting with signs on the pier. Otherwise you have to find your way with your luggage in the narrow lanes until your accommodation. Luggage carriers with their trolleys will offer their services (up to 200THB for hotels furthest from the pier). It is not essential but practical when you arrive so you do not have to look for accommodation among hundreds of restaurants, massage parlors, travel agencies and tattoo centers. We quickly understand that the whole island lives at the rythm of the tourists. Not the right place to find tranquility. On the other hand, it is a base of first choice to plan your excursions at sea. Many restaurants and bars will animate your evenings: good atmosphere, correct prices. Here we are far from the sulphurous neighborhoods of Patong, with a rather young clientele looking to have fun without excess. We advise you to spend a minimum of two nights, and to plan in the middle of your stay a full day trip at sea. Then, go find more tranquility in the South Islands or on the coast to Krabi, with hotels offering better value for money in a more wild environment.

Traditional Long Tail boats moored in Ko Phi Phi Don Bay, South Thailand in the Andaman Sea ©Odyfolio

The island of Koh Phi Phi Don is very pretty, and ideal to party in the evening, but it is to Koh Phi Phi Ley that you have to go to see the most beautiful landscapes of Thailand. Embark on a half-day or full-day cruise to discover the archipelago (see further our advice to book your excursion at sea).

Koh Phi Phi Ley is achieved by boarding an organized tour. From the Phi Phi Don pier, allow 15 to 30 minutes of navigation depending on the vessel. You have the choice between a small traditional wooden boat (Long Tail), a powerfully motorized outboard, or a slower but more comfortable vessel.

The major attraction of Phi Phi Ley Island is Maya Bay, immortalized by the movie The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio, Virginie Ledoyen and Guillaume Canet. Directed in 1999 and released in theaters in 2000, it is the story of a young man traveling across Asia in search of adventure, who finds a map leading to an island paradise whose exact location is a known secret of a handful of idealists having made their sanctuary. Well, in reality, the island is no longer secret at all with dozens of boats dumping thousands of tourists each day, causing traffic jams and queues to dock in the bay. We are far from paradise lost. In our opinion, it is indeed a beautiful site, but unfortunately too much busy. Arriving on site, we remember the city tours leaving at 6.30am in the morning to escape the crowd, and we regret not having taken this option. As this is a must include in most cruises at sea, you will certainly go there, but the density of the crowd will certainly prevent you from making beautiful pictures. by sinking into the land quickly reached the other side of the island, where there is a nice lookout point on Loh Samah Bay, which some call the observation point of Leonardo Di Caprio. It is also another point of entry on the island to reserve for the more sporting ones (see our article on Maya Bay).

Bay of Ko Phi Phi Ley Island, in Krabi area not far from Phuket in Thailand, where the film The Beach was shot ©Odyfolio

Located north of the island of Koh Phi Phi Ley, and easily accessible from the neighboring island Koh Phi Phi Don, the Viking Cave houses a colony of swallows. Pay attention to the bamboo scaffolding that allows workers to harvest the nests, much appreciated by the rich Chinese. It is possible to disembark and visit the cave (free entry).

The Viking Cave on Ko Phi Phi Ley Island in Krabi near Phuket, Thailand. ©Odyfolio

On Koh Phi Phi Ley, apart from Viking Cave and Maya Bay, another site is worth seeing. First Piley Lagoon, which offers views of dizzying cliffs falling steeply into the ocean. Here no beach but the entrance of the rocky gorge is a beautiful spot for the observation of marine life with snorkelling.

Bamboo Island

Bamboo Island (Koh Mai Phai) is an islet of white sand surrounded by turquoise waters. Here we are the opposite of the Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Ley islands: almost no urbanization, far fewer tourists, and no cliffs falling steeply into the sea. To get there, book a tour for the day or half day including a stopover on the island, or rent a traditional boat from the pier of Koh Phi Phi Don (from 1500THB for a few hours).

Bamboo Island, located north of Ko Phi Phi Ley Island, is located in the Krabi area near Phuket, Thailand. His local name is Koh Mai Phai. ©Odyfolio

To see and do in Koh Phi Phi Don

The island of Koh Phi Phi Don, for most tourists, will be a stopover city where hotels are expensive and not always good value, with a large number of restaurants, massage parlors, travel agencies travel, tattoo shops, dive centers and souvenir shops, and a nosy nightlife.

But the island also offers some nice walking routes with the key to beautiful observation points. A nice walk to do is climb the mountain not the trails and discover nice observation points, which will take you to the north of the island. Around the island, several snorkelling sites (rather accessible by boat) exist including Monkey Beach (possibility to see monkeys) and Shark Point (some non aggressive sharks walk there).

Monkey Beach, located on Ko Phi Phi Ley Island in Thailand, is home to many monkeys. ©Odyfolio

Tips for booking your hotel

In high season (November to April), the islands of Koh Phi Phi are invaded by tourists. Better to book in advance, because if you are looking for a property when you arrive, you will pay a lot for average quality. All hotels are concentrated on Ko Phi Phi Don, most of them in the center. There are over a hundred establishments for all budgets, but unlike the rest of Thailand, prices are relatively high. Whatever your budget, to have the best value for money, we advise you to reserve the longest in advance.

There are very few 4 or 5 star luxury hotels, and of these, there are only two that we highly recommend. In the lower categories there is more supply, but again only a few establishments are of good quality for their category, with prices higher than the average of the region. Many hotels have the annoyance of having a lot of noise (bars or clubs nearby, open until 2 am). We advise you to stay only a few nights on the island, then continue your way to Phuket or Krabi where you will find a more abundant and better hotel offer.

View from The Cobble Beach Hotel, located on Ko Phi Phi Ley Island in Thailand ©Odyfolio

How to get to Koh Phi Phi

To get to Koh Phi Phi, you have to take a ferry. The island is particularly well connected with Phuket (departure from the pier Piers Rassada), Krabi and Koh Lanta.

From or to Phuket, it takes two hours of navigation. It is possible to book your ticket in advance through an agency, or buy your ticket the same day at the port. There are not so many connections, so plan a little bit to avoid long hours waiting at the pier. By the time we write this article, there are many connections between Phuket (Rassada Pier) and Koh Phi Phi (Tonsai Pier) with departure times every 90 minutes or so, with prices varying according to the company. and of the season. In speed boat, the crossing lasts only one hour, and it is usually more expensive.

From or to Krabi (Klong Jilad Pier), count two hours by ferry, and one hour by speed boat.

Between Phi Phi Islands and Koh Lanta there is an hour of Ferry sailing.

It is quite difficult to find ferry timetables and up-to-date fare information. We also found that most web sites report incorrect schedules. While waiting to find sources of reliable information, we advise you to inquire on the spot the day of your arrival, and when it is possible to book with a local agency.

Arrival at Ko Phi Phi Don aboard a ferry from Phuket (Andaman Sea, Thailand) ©Odyfolio

Restaurants and bars in Koh Phi Phi

There is a multitude of restaurants and bars in the center of the island and it is difficult to review them all. We simply advise you to stroll through the streets of the city center and sit at the one you like. As everywhere, if there are people, it's a good sign. Prices start at 80THB for a main course. Many restaurants have adapted to Western tourists and offer only hamburgers and pizza. We advise you to check that the card offers local dishes, excellent and much better for the health.

Side bars, again there is plenty of choice. For a drink (or even eat) we recommend the Carlitos bar, located at the edge of the South Beach, with live music and shows. Alcoholic consumption from 80THB. For nightclubs, head to the north beach of the island.

Map and location of Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi Islands are located in South Thailand, in the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean). The islands are close to Phuket Island. They are administratively dependent on the province of Krabi.

Location of Phi Phi Islands (Koh Phi Phi Islands) in Krabi Province, South of Thailand ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Phi Phi Islands are located in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Phi Phi Islands are an archipelago of islands located in the Andaman Sea, near Phuket and Krabi ©OpenStreetMap contributors