Backpackers go dewy-eyed at the drop dead gorgeous island gem, Koh Phi Phi, with it’s translucent waters, jutting limestone cliffs and perfect white sandy shores. There is no doubting it is one of the most beautiful spots in Thailand.
Koh Phi Phi is actually made up of two separate islands, Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don. Phi Phi Leh is the uninhabited National Marine Park where you can take a long tail boat to explore ‘The Beach’ (Maya Bay) made famous by Leonardo Di Caprio in the Hollywood version of Alex Garland’s epic novel. Phi Phi Don is the main ‘traveller’ hub packed with travel agents, hotels, restaurants and bars. Wherever you are on the island you’re just a kayak ride away from a beautiful deserted beach.
Places to Stay
There are heaps of places to stay on Koh Phi Phi, from bungalows on the beach to hotels with pools for those flashpackers amongst us! As there aren’t any roads, the minute you get off the ferry you’ll be received by a whole heap of friendly Thai people offering to carry your bags in a man-powered trailer and encouraging you to stay at their guesthouse. The best thing to do is dump your bags with a nominated lazy person, whilst the rest of you go and explore and check out all the options. But just incase, here are a few options…
Gypsy Village: About ten minutes walk from the main pier, these pink huts cost anywhere from 500-900 baht/night, depending on the season. They’re basic, but upgrades to air conditioning are available if you’re splashing the cash.
Advantage: free snorkels!
Seashell Hut: Found right in the heart of the town, on Phi Phi Corner, Seashell Hut is far from traditional Thai style! Far from the party beach, it’s a good option if you want to grab a decent nights sleep. Small rooms, but with lots of light, a wrap around balcony and TVs in the rooms.
Dee Dee Beach House: Think wicker huts, set around a quaint little garden and you’re on the right lines. Fifteen minutes from the pier, this is one of the cheapest options. And there’s a great Thai Masseuse next door!
JJ Residence: Want a little more luxury than a simple wicker hut? Then JJ is for you. Five minutes from the pier and from the centre of town, there’s even a pool here. Expect to pay around 1,500 baht per night.
Beware: if you hadn’t already realized, prices are steep on this tiny paradise island! Expect to pay a lot for very little…
Things to do:
There is so much to do on this beautiful little island. From rock climbing, to cliff jumping, amazing snorkeling, awesome dive sites and many other adventures. And, when the sun goes down it’s party time as the beach fills with revelers enjoying music, fire shows and buckets a-plenty!
- Take a Longtail Boat to Bamboo Island: If white sandy beaches are clear turquoise waters are your thing, then be sure to spend a day at Bamboo Island. Go early morning if you can, to avoid the crowds! Expect to pay around 200 baht per person, for the boat trip there and back.
- Visit Maya Bay – The Beach: Take a boat to the famous Maya Bay. The best way to do it is to book onto a boatrip that includes snorkeling, kayaking and trekking on the island. Expect to spend a whole day! But be warned, you won’t be alone at this tourist hotspot.
- Trek to the viewpoint: If you’re an early riser, then trekking to the view point is well worth the effort! With incredible views across the bay and all the way out to Koh Phi Phi Ley, it’s that picture-postcard view that will take your breath away (if the hike hasn’t already).
- Drink buckets on the beach: Phi Phi is not only famous for being the setting of The Beach, but also for it’s nightlife. With bars lining the beach, dance floors, fire dancing performances and music heard from across the island, it’s the ideal place to let your hair down and make some friends. Be sure to get a roti or a baguette on your way home to soak up that whisky.
- Learn to dive: Surrounding the main pier are dive shops galore. With resident leopard sharks, lots of wrecks and clear waters, this is the ideal place to get your PADI qualification! Trust us, you won’t regret taking the plunge…
It’s super easy to get to Koh Phi Phi, wherever you are!
From Bangkok: Any travel agent will arrange your trip down to Koh Phi Phi. The easiest/cheapest way is to get a combo ticket, for the bus and ferry. Usually around 1000 baht for the whole ticket. Or you can travel by train and then catch the ferry. A more scenic route, but also more expensive.
From Koh Phangan/Koh Samui/Koh Tao: Again, visit any travel agent on the island and they will organize your combo ticket. It’s a ferry to the mainland, then a bus across the peninsular, and one last ferry to the island. Around 400 baht.
Where to go next?
The Khao Sok National Park: For out of this world scenery, get a ferry back to the mainland and a bas over to Surat Thani. From there, take a minibus to Khao Sok. Take your hiking shoes, a snorkel and your camera… Read more about the Khao Sok National Park here.
Khao Lak: For uncrowded beaches and a little peace and quiet, head to Khao Lak. Get the ferry to Phuket and then grab a bus to Khao Lak, which leave regularly throughout the day.
By Laura Davies