Of all of the Thai island's, the island of Koh Phi Phi is perhaps the most well-known. Ever since featuring in The Beach — the Hollywood movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio — Koh Phi Phi has adorned travel guides and itineraries around the world as one of the go-to places in Thailand. With stunning natural landscapes and notorious nightly parties, here’s what you need to know about Phi Phi island.
Unlike fellow Krabi island Koh Lanta, there’s not ferry to transport vehicles across to Koh Phi Phi, nor is there a bridge to cross to get there — it’s only possible to arrive via the sea. Ferries headed to Phi Phi depart several times daily from piers in both Krabi Town and Ao Nang, with a journey times of roughly two hours. Ferries from Krabi Town depart from the Klong Jilad pier, whilst those from Ao Nang leave from the Nopparat Thara pier. Prices are usually between 350 and 500 baht per person, depending on which tour agent you purchase them from. Ferries are basic, but some have a sun deck, where it’s possible to catch some rays whilst you’re waiting to arrive.
As well as ferries, another option to take is a speedboat. Speedboats offer great flexibility in terms of when you want to leave for Koh Phi Phi, and can get their much quicker than a ferry, but for a much greater cost and usually with some comfort sacrificed.
Arriving at Phi Phi Island
Ferries will arrive at the Tonsai pier, located in the centre of the island but to the west of where the majority of hotels are. Unlike other Thai islands, Koh Phi Phi is small and almost wholly pedestrianized; there are no roads on the island, and not scooters or motorbikes to rent. Its small size means it’s very walkable, though those who’ve booked a hotel towards the north of the island may struggle to carry bags up the hill in the heat. Fortunately, many hotels have bellboys waiting at the pier to pick up guests who have just arrived, armed with trolleys to carry your bags to wherever it is that you’re staying. After a quick check in and checking-out of your room, you’re free to explore the wonders of Phi Phi island.
A small but perfectly formed Thai island, Phi Phi is easy to navigate. The bulk of the bars, restaurants and hotels are located in the central area of the island, which features a number of cosy streets and shops practically on top of one another. The southern side of the strip of land which connects the two main island landmasses features Tonsai Pier and a number of shops, whilst the northern side is home to Loh Dalum beach.
Phi Phi is home to a number of stunning beaches that have really helped to put it on the map. For those who are interested in beachfront Koh Phi Phi parties, Loh Dalum beach is where it’s at. Centrally located and easy to get to, this long strip of beach houses a number of fun bars that keep the party going all night long, and it’s also the best place to catch a fire show. Though as well as being a party hub, Loh Dalum is a gorgeous beach in its own right, with soft sand and temperate water that’s ideal for swimming in.
For those who have relaxing on their minds, quieter beaches can be found in abundance too. The likes of Long Beach, Pak Nam Bay, Lana Bay and Moo Dee Bay are much more peaceful, with soft sands and clear seas look as if they’ve been stripped straight from a postcard. Access can be a little tricky on foot, but longtail boats from the pier are more than happy to take you to each of these places.
For something in-between party and peace, Laem Tong beach is a happy medium. The beach itself is tranquil and gorgeous, yet there are tonnes of activities to get involved in in the sea itself, from water sports to snorkeling, and a number of bars and restaurants nearby. All of the beaches on Koh Phi Phi are beautiful in their own way, but none can quite match the majestic Maya Bay.
The star of the aforementioned The Beach movie, Maya Bay is a breathtaking bay that’s surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs on three sides. The main attraction of Phi Phi, Maya Bay tends to get busy quickly, and it can be hard to find a place to rest on its humble beach. Thankfully, there are ways to get around this. Arriving at midday will see you struggle for space, but a number of tour operators offer early morning tours where it’s possible to beat the crowds and enjoy this gorgeous spot in relative peace. Whilst waking up at the crack of dawn can be difficult, it’s more than worth doing it here, as it’s easily one of the most beautiful places in the whole of Thailand. Maya Bay is accessible via speedboat or longtail boat, both of which can be booked either at a tour agency on the island or by speaking to the boat captains themselves.
Almost just as big a reason for visiting the island as Maya Bay are the infamous Koh Phi Phi parties. The liveliest of all the Krabi islands, the centre of Koh Phi Phi is packed full of bars offering cheap drinks, great music and a number of different drinking games. The star of the show is undoubtedly the Reggae Bar. A large bar with a boxing ring inside, punters are encouraged to step in, strap up and fight one another, with the prize of glory and a free bucket at stake. Not for the feint hearted, it makes for an interesting night out and an even more interesting dinner party story should you take party. Away from the bars, parties at Loh Dalum beach go on until the early hours, offering you the chance to dance the night away with the sand between your toes and a bucket of cocktail between your lips.
As well as beaches and parties, Phi Phi has plenty more to offer. There are a number of tours which take in some of Phi Phi’s most beautiful sights, such as the Viking caves and Pi Leh bay. There’s also the opportunity to make some furry friends with a stop off at Monkey Beach, where overly-friendly monkeys aren’t too shy about coming aboard your boat and say hello. Beneath the waves, there’s also the opportunity to go snorkeling or diving, where you’ll discover that Phi Phi is just as beautiful beneath the surface as it is on top of it.
Like everywhere else in Thailand, drugs are a big no-no here, so don’t even think about getting involved — it’s just not worth the risks. Crime isn’t particularly prevalent, but care should be taken to keep valuables hidden away or kept in a locker or safe in a hotel or hostel. Phi Phi’s Worldmed Clinic is open 24 hours per day should something go wrong, and can be reached at 080 428 4444.