Koh Phi Phi has 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.
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!
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, providing you with stunning sunrises. Isolated from the hustle and bustle on the rest of the island.
This champagne beach area is the perfect place to break away from 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 upon 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!
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.
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.
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!