Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi islands (pronounced pee pee) are 48km southeast of Phuket. There are two main islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lay, and four smaller islands.
You can do a ferry day trip to Phi Phi but you will spend four hours traveling there and back and only have four hours at the islands - it is not enough time to fully appreciate this stunning location. It is a better experience to do a speedboat tour or even better if you can stay for at least one or two nights.
Phi Phi appears in most lists of the world's top 10 most beautiful islands. The islands are stunning limestone cliffs soaring from the turquoise sea. There are beautiful sandy beaches, many of which are in sheltered bays. Coral reefs surround the islands and forest covers the rugged hills.
The Phi Phi islands are a very popular destination. They are certainly not an escape from the crowds. During the day, there are lots of speedboats and tour boats buzzing around the islands. It is a little quieter in the evenings after the day-trippers return to base. Still, you can find quiet spots around the islands for a bit of tranquility.
The accommodation is all on the larger island, Phi Phi Don. It ranges from simple beachside bungalows to up-market resorts. From December to February it is a good idea to book accommodation in advance, as the island may be full.
The ferries arrive at Ton Sai Bay on Phi Phi Don. This is the area featured in many picture postcards where Ton Sai Bay on one side and Loh Dalam Bay on the other almost meet. They are separated by an isthmus that is only 200-meters wide at the narrowest point. You need to climb the hills to the viewpoint area to fully appreciate the beauty of this stunning feature. The trek up the trail to the viewpoint is demanding but the view is worth the effort. You can continue on to beaches on the other side of the island.
Of course, the photos on the postcards were mostly taken 20 years ago, before the isthmus was developed. The area is now covered with buildings. There are many budget bungalows and guesthouses. There is a maze of bars, restaurants and trinket shops. There are also a few mid-range hotels. Phi Phi was once a backpacker domain. As the amenities on the island have developed, the island has become more accessible and it is slowly developing into a more up-market destination. The island has also started to attract a young party crowd and there are a few beach parties in the evenings.
The tsunami inflicted a lot of damage on the Ton Sai Bay area. When the tsunami struck, most of the buildings were lightweight bamboo type structures. The tsunami absolutely flattened them. They have now comprehensively rebuilt the area with solid brick buildings. It does not have the same rustic charm but it will withstand a tsunami much better.
There are several other beautiful beaches around Phi Phi Don. Many of them have hotel resorts nestled into the surrounding trees. Some of these are up-market resorts such as those at Laem Thong.
There are no roads around Phi Phi. The main forms of transport are bikes and longtail boats. There are trails through the forest so you can walk across the hills from beach to beach.
You should certainly take a boat trip around Phi Phi Don and to the smaller islands. There are so many beautiful coves and bays, and the scenery is simply stunning. You can rent a longtail for a group for 1,500 to 2,000 baht for a day trip. You can rent speedboats from 6,000 baht a trip. You can visit Monkey Beach, where monkeys come out of the jungle to take food from the tourists. Wong Long Bay is a beautiful enclosed cove with shoals of tiny fish swarming near the beach. There are also several nice beaches along the east side of Phi Phi Don.
The second largest island is Phi Phi Lay, south of Phi Phi Don. This island includes Maya Bay. This is where they filmed the movie 'The Beach' starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Also at this island is Pileh Bay, which is a lovely cove with good snorkeling and a walk through to Maya Bay. You will also pass Viking Cave where local families harvest bird's nests. This is a profitable enterprise with the nests (made from swift spittle) highly prized in Chinese cuisine. They can fetch in excess of $1,000 a kilo.
Northeast of Phi Phi Don is Bamboo Island. This is a beautiful little island with glorious beaches and wonderful clear-water reefs for snorkeling. You may need to pay a national park entrance fee to visit this island, which is 200-baht.
Other activities on Phi Phi include snorkeling, diving, kayaking, rock climbing and rock jumping. Of course, you can also just laze on the beach.
The whole area is part of Hat Noppharat Thara & Koh Phi Phi National Park, which also includes Noppharat Beach on the Krabi mainland.
In a way, it is a shame that the Phi Phi Islands have become so developed and busy. They will never provide that feel of remote escapism again. Of course, we all only have ourselves to blame for that because we all want to see such beautiful locations. Despite the crowds, Phi Phi remains a stunningly beautiful place that offers tremendous appeal to visitors.
Ferries leave from Phuket's Rassada Port every morning between 8:00 to 08:30. During the high season, there is also a ferry at 13:30. Ferries return to Phuket at 9:00 and 14:30. Rassada Port is on the east side of Phuket Town - see our Phuket Town map. Ferries also go to Phi Phi from Krabi, Ao Nang and Koh Lanta.
You can buy tickets at the pier or from tour shops. If you go to the pier, avoid the ticket hawkers and go straight to one of the ticket offices. The return ferry trip is around 700-baht.
You can book a one day tour to Phi Phi through our tour partners at Easy Day Thailand. They offer the ferry tour or speedboat tours that allow you to fit a lot more into your day.
Want to visit the Phi Phi Islands?
Book your Phi Phi Island day trips through our tour partners at Easy Day Thailand for the best price.Phi Phi Island Tours
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Phi Phi is slowly moving away from the backpacker market to a broader range of visitors. You can still find budget accommodation around Ton Sai Bay and along the nearby beaches. Take a walk around this area and you will find guesthouses and huts available from around 800-baht a night during the high season. You can find nicer bungalows from 1,500 baht. This does depend on availability. The islands are busy during the high-season and in December and January, it will be very difficult to find accommodation without pre-booking.
There is now also a good selection of mid to high range hotels. Some of these are at Ton Sai Bay and others around the various beaches on Phi Phi Don. It is always a good idea to pre-book at these hotels, as you will get a better rate. The following are the main hotels. Please see our Phi Phi Map to see the location of these hotels:
Resort (3 star)
2) Zeavola Hotel (5 star)
3) Erawan Palms Resort (3 star)
4 ) Holiday Inn Hotel (4 star)
5) Island Village Resort (4.5 star)
6) Relax Beach Resort (2 star)
7) Phitirom PP Resort (3 star)
8) Cabana Hotel (4 star)
9) Phi Phi Hotel (3 star)
10) Casita Hotel (3 star)
11) Banyan Villa Hotel (3 star)
12) Phi Phi Villa Resort (3 star)
13) Bay View Resort (3 star)
14) The Beach Resort (3 star)
15) Arayaburi Resort (3 star)
See our Accommodation section for more general advice about finding rooms.