Why visit Koh Phi Phi?
The Phi Phi islands have become famous as a result of the popular movie ‘The Beach’ (the book is even better), but more rightly because of the way they capture most people’s perception of paradise.
Phi Phi actually comprises six islands, with Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh being the two main ones. The one that you’ll be staying on and we’ll be referring to, is the popular island of Phi Phi Don, while Phi Phi Leh still remains uninhabited.
Just like in Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie, you will feel like you’ve ventured into a world you thought only possible in your dreams. The strikingly blue sea seems to wash away all of your worries whilst you laze on the powdery white sand.
However, keep in mind that you won’t be the only one searching for this, meaning Koh Phi Phi has become very busy and touristy over the years.
If you can put up with other tourists, this island, situated on the west coast of Thailand, offers more than just beaches. You can adventure to new heights whilst rock climbing or island hop until your heart’s content.
Where to stay on Koh Phi Phi
As we mentioned earlier, Koh Phi Phi Don, is the only island in the archipelago that offers the majority of accommodation. The other islands remain largely uninhabited, with the option to camp on certain ones.
Location #1: Tonsai Village – the centre of it all
When arriving at Koh Phi Phi Don, you’ll be dropped off at Tonsai pier, situated in the south of the island. This is the place to go if you want to witness a beautiful sunrise, while the other side, Loh Dalum beach is perfectly set up for observing the sunset.
Around Tonsai Pier, you will find more luxury accommodations compared to the other side (Loh Dalum). Starting with fewer accommodations on the west side of the beach, the number of options start increasing as you walk toward the east side.
Loh Dalum Beach
Only a few minutes walk to the other side of the bay at Loh Dalum beach, you’ll find plenty of bars, restaurants and many more accommodations.
This is also where the majority of hostels are based, meaning it’s the place to party and where your night will inevitably end at Slinky’s.
Both of these bays are located in Tonsai Village, the central hub of the island. The whole area is lively and thriving, with anyone looking for a party flocking here at night!
Some of the island favourites you should try out include:
- Kongsiam Live Bar for great live music. You may even be lucky and witness a guest performance from the owner himself!
- Banana Rooftop Bar for great Mexican food whilst watching the glorious sunset.
- Stockholm Syndrome for beer pong, cheap buckets and sometimes even free shots.
Due to its proximity to Ao Tonsai pier, the village is also a great jumping off point to catch a boat to other areas of the island.
Location #2: Long Beach – close to the action, but not too close
It seems that every island in Asia has an appropriately named beach called Long Beach, and Koh Phi Phi is no different.
Long Beach is only a short walk away from the eastern end of Tonsai Bay (the port where you will arrive), but the rocky cape that separates the two also creates a completely different vibe.
This means you can enjoy the tranquility and stillness that the white sands diffuse, whilst only being a 5 minute boat ride away from the hive of the island. Less day-trippers tend to come to this area of the island too, so your days can remain uninterrupted by the hordes trying to get that perfect pic!
Location #3: Laem Thong – an escape for some peace and quiet
Also known as Golden Bay, for good reason, Laem Thong is located on the far Northern tip of the island. Isolated from the hustle and bustle on the rest of the island
This champagne beach area is the perfect place to break away from the other tourists and life. The few accommodation options you’ll find on this part of the island are all located on the east side of the tip and are mostly the more exclusive resorts.
Only accessible by boat, it really does give you the feeling of your own private oasis. If you decide you do want to rejoin the masses, it’s a 40 minute boat ride away to Loh Dalum and Ton Sai Beach.
However, the isolated location doesn’t mean you will get bored whilst staying here. There are plenty of activities in Laem Thong dedicated to the sea. Sunbathing, snorkelling, scuba diving and kayaking to name a few. You can also take your adventures further afield to Bamboo Island five kilometers away along the coastal path (read more about this in the things to do section).
Location #4: Loh Ba Kao Bay – tranquality at a lower price
For cheaper accommodation options than Laem Thong, whilst still maintaining a similar sense of seclusion, Loh Ba Kao bay could be your best option.
Right on the beach you’ll find two exclusive resorts that most of us can only dream of, boasting infinity pools and luxury loungers.
Behind these there is a selection of cheaper accommodation in the form of homely bungalows ranging from $25-$40 per night.
Follow the small winding river at the northern end of Loh Ba Kao and you’ll stumble upon a mangrove forest and a small village with a good selection of amenities. Repping the typical bamboo construction you imagine on a tropical island is Oasis Bar & Restaurant and Red Tuna Restaurant, which are both definitely worth a try!
When you’ve had your fill of relaxation (if that’s even possible), Tonsai pier is only a 30 minute boat ride away, costing around 1,000 baht for a single journey or 1,500 baht return if you strike a deal.
How to get around Koh Phi Phi
Due to Koh Phi Phi Don being such a small island and having a very mountainous landscape, there are no motorised vehicles on the island.
The only thing considered close to transportation are the trailers that can carry your luggage from the pier to the place you’re staying. Most accommodation will arrange for someone to pick you up on arrival at the pier. Just don’t forget to leave a little tip for your porter as it’s hard work doing this in the sweltering heat.
When staying at Koh Phi Phi, you are left with only two options: walking and boats.
Depending on where you stay on the island, most places are accessible by foot. This is especially true if you stay in the downtown/village area where cafes, restaurants, bars and pretty much everything you need is within walking distance. (Don’t worry, we’ll discuss where to stay later on!)
Outside of the main Tonsai Bay village area, you will most likely need to jump on a long tail boat to get elsewhere. The longtail boats will be needed to take you to the north and west of the islands to visit places like Loh Ba Kao Bay, Nui Beach and Monkey Beach. These short trips are likely to cost between 150-200 baht.
If you’re looking to take on the challenge, there are several paths winding through the hills of the island leading you to breathtaking viewpoints and beaches. Although, we don’t recommend these tracks when making your way to your accommodation. It’s probably just better to save your energy and use one of the boats.
To travel from Koh Phi Phi Don to one of the other Islands like Koh Phi Phi Lee (the island of the famous Maya beach), you can book a boat tour or take a long tail boat from the main pier.
Best beaches on Koh Phi Phi
Over the years as Koh Phi Phi has shot to fame, some travellers have come to believe the beaches are now too popular and busy.
Sure, this can be the case for some, but like most Thai islands, they just keep on surprising you with new hidden gems. Koh Phi Phi still continues to do this!
Top Pick #1: Nui Beach (west)
Nui beach is the hidden gem you don’t want to tell anyone about, but you just can’t resist sharing.
The secret continues with the underwater world that has made Nui bay it’s home. Slowly, whispers are spreading news of Nui being a snorkelling and diving haven, with Camel rock being the star of the show.
To reach this gem you can hop on a longtail boat from Loh Dalam, a few minutes away for around 500 baht, or hire a kayak which will take you around 30 minutes to reach the bay.
Top Pick #2: Long Beach (south west)
Long Beach isn’t only a great area to stay in on Koh Phi Phi, it also offers a stunning stretch of powder white sand that slopes into the perfect aqua blue ocean.
Just 200m off the coast, blissfully going about their day, you’ll be able to spot black tipped reef sharks. The place where they tend to circulate around is Shark Tail point, a very cleverly named rock. There’s no need to worry, the sharks tend to swim around on the sandy floor as if you’re not even there.
Top Pick #3: Moo Dee Bay (south east)
At Loh Moo Dee Bay, it’s impossible to feel moody when you’re surrounded by…no one. A bit further away from the action means that in the morning you’ll often be one of the only people on the beach.
To add to this secluded paradise, there is only one Rasta-style restaurant, leaving the beach undeveloped and untainted by tourists.
To make that run into the refreshing water even more worthwhile, you can opt to hike the 45 minute trail from Tonsai East. However, if walking isn’t your style, it’s only a 15 minute boat journey from Tonsai pier.
Top things to do in Koh Phi Phi
#1 Hop between the Phi Phi islands on a boat tour
Sure, Koh Phi Phi Don might provide you with everything you wished for, but the other five islands still deserve some of your attention.
The best way to do this is to board a longtail boat and spend the day visiting an array of sites and islands dotted in the surrounding ocean. You can choose to join other travellers on a longtail boat tour or hire your own private boat to explore at your leisure.
We recommend a full day boat tour which you can book with Klook.
At just 650 baht ($20.39) per person, not only are you booking with a reputable company, but they also offer a price guarantee. If you find the price cheaper elsewhere, they’ll pay you back twice the difference! You can’t really lose.
The highlights of this boat trip are:
The crown-jewel of the Phi Phi islands due to its starring debut in “ The Beach” . Unlike in the movie, the 100m high cliffs aren’t able to hide this paradise from the outside world, so you’ll likely have to enjoy Maya Bay with hundreds of other tourists.
Update: Note that the Thai government decided in 2019 to close Maya Bay for 2 years, until mid-2021. This was due to the bay receiving too many visitors that were destroying the natural habitat.
Still located on Koh Phi Phi Don, you’ll find Monkey beach. The lush vegetation that cuddles the cove is home to a group of monkeys that will definitely want to say hello.
This won’t be out of politeness but more that they want to steal any food you have on you! Keep your wits about you as the monkeys can sometimes get quite boisterous.
Don’t just admire the wildlife on the shore, the crystal clear waters are blossoming with sea life and coral waiting to be admired.
The Thai’s were very clever when naming these islands, as Bamboo Island got its name from, well you guessed it, having lots of bamboo plants.
Also a great day trip from Koh Phi Phi Don by itself, there’s a small bar on the island to keep you hydrated whilst you laze on the sand that runs nearly the whole perimeter of the island.
Moreover, there’s enough spectacular coral reefs to keep you enthralled for the whole day, one that spreads up to 500m from the shore.
As Bamboo Island is part of the National Park, there is a 400 baht entrance fee upon arrival, so make sure you have some cash on you.
Not far from Bamboo Island is Mosquito Island. Yes, as the name suggests it’s got mosquitos galore. Doesn’t that sound appealing?
It’s the snorkelling opportunities that brings people here. Under the sea, once you start exploring the breath-taking coral and swimming alongside colourful fish, you forget all about those buzzing little creatures!
#2 A different kind of boat trip…
There’s no judgment here if your check-list for a boat trip has to include alcohol!
Still offering you the chance to visit places like Monkey Beach and Maya Bay, you’ll just be accompanied by a live DJ and a fully stocked bar on this boat tour!
Blanco Boat Party has great reviews, costs $28 for a 6 hour trip and has kayaks and snorkelling equipment available to use.
We can’t think of many things better than getting to experience the picturesque Phi Phi islands whilst dancing alongside like-minded travellers!
#3 Admire the sunrise or sunset from Koh Phi Phi viewpoint
Cited as one of the top things to do during your stay is to hike to Koh Phi Phi viewpoint.
Standing at the peak you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled views of the strip of land (Tonsai Village) connecting the two sides of the island. (not to mention the snacks, drinks and ice-creams that also serve as wonderful rewards at the top)!
There’s actually three stages to this viewpoint. You can begin your ascent at the back of Tonsai Village. The path is well marked and paved most of the way.
Upon reaching viewpoint 1, you’ll be greeted by some concrete chickens, a view and an entrance fee of 40 baht.
If you want to venture further, viewpoint 2 is another 15-20 minute climb. You’ve got this far, why stop there?
Being the furthest away, viewpoint 3 tends to be less crowded and thus a more tranquil atmosphere to absorb the views. You will need to pay an additional 20 baht, but the view is more than worth it plus you’ll get a free bottle of water. You can’t get a better seat for the sunset than this!
#4 Scuba dive to new depths at Anemone reef or the King Cruiser wreck
With so many beautiful bays and idyllic islands surrounding Koh Phi Phi, it’s no surprise that snorkelling and diving is one of the top things to do here.
The crystal clear waters provide great visibility for divers to inspect the intricate cracks and crevasis within the coral, providing shelter and homes for a whole host of sea life.
If you decide to embark on a boat trip, you’ll be treated to some of the best snorkelling sites around the Phi Phi islands, including Shark Point.
For those more interested in diving there are plenty of dive schools offering highly rated courses to gain your PADI.
Best dive sites on Koh Phi Phi
There are some really awesome dive sites within reach of the island.
Two of the favourites are Anemone Reef where you’ll be greeted by clownfish, turtles, leopard sharks and yellow tiger-tail seahorses, to mention a few.
The second favourite is the King Cruiser wreck, 1.5 hours off the coast of Koh Phi Phi. After colliding with the Anemone reef, this cruiser has found it’s final resting place 32 meters under the water just waiting to be explored.
#5 Become a spider monkey whilst rock climbing
The towering limestone cliffs provide the perfect climbing playground for both experienced climbers and those wanting to test their upper-body strength.
Note that there used to be several companies offering climbing tours, however these seem to have closed over the years.
The main climbing activities now all seem to have moved to Krabi, but if anyone knows of any companies still operating on the island, please share your experience in the comments!
#6 Enjoy the nightlife on Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is up there amongst some of the best Thai islands to party the night away on!
The main street and beaches are lined with bars and small vendors selling 2-for-1 buckets of Thai whiskey at low prices. As you wander these streets you won’t know where to look, with a number of fire shows, fire rope jumping and beer pong balls bouncing everywhere!
While the name Reggae Bar doesn’t exactly go hand-in-hand with the atmosphere, it’s without any doubt a remarkable bar to stop by.
In the middle of the bar, you’ll find a boxing ring, hosting live fights every night. The first few will be put on by professional Muay Thai fighters, but later in the evening they open the ring up to travelers.
Whether you’ve been waiting for the moment to dare your friend to take on an opponent in the ring, or you’re just there to watch the defeat of some crazy travellers, a bar like this you’ll only find in Thailand.
How To Get To Koh Phi Phi?
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Bangkok||5hrs-18hrs excl. transfer time||950 THB-1,700 THB ($31.50-$56.50)||Bangkok to Koh Phi Phi|
|Phuket||2hrs||350 THB ($11.50)||Phuket to Koh Phi Phi|
My favourite places to stay in Koh Phi Phi
Enjoy the stunning sea views from the dormitory sun terrace! Excellent location within walking distance to restaurants, bars, and beaches. Super friendly staff that are willing to go out of their way to assist you with all your needs. Enjoy the large comfortable beds, privacy curtains with each bed and free wifi throughout the hostel.
- Great location
- Sun terrace
- Friendly staff
- Comfortable beds
Single bed in dorm room starts at $18 per night
Located 700m from Ton Sai Bay and just 400m from the beach, Tropical Garden Bungalow is an excellent place for those looking for a little more privacy. An outdoor pool with a swim-up bar is the perfect place to relax and meet other travelers. Restaurant on-site and continental breakfast included each morning. Walking distance to all bars, restaurants, and amenities yet still far enough to get a peaceful sleep.
- Swimming pool
- On-site bar
- Close to beach
- Breakfast included
Private rooms start at $25 per night
Enjoy the luxury that this resort has to offer. Located in the Ao Ton Sa area of Phi Phi Don, this resort is walking distance from the Ton Sai Pier, bars, restaurants, amenities, and the stunning beaches. Take a dip in the outdoor infinity pool overlooking the island and the Andaman Sea or enjoy relaxing on the terrace taking in the views. The air-conditioned rooms offer privacy, cable TV and your own refrigerator. The perfect place to enjoy all that Phi Phi Don has to offer!
- Swimming pool
- Terrace with sea views
- Great location
- Breakfast included
Private rooms start at $39 per night
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?