Pictured on many postcards with its sandy beaches, bays with crystal clear waters and towering limestone cliffs, the Phi Phi islands are among Thailand’s most famous destinations. Part of Krabi province, the islands are located in the Andaman Sea between Phuket and Krabi and can only be reached by boat.
The islands are part of the Had Nopparat Thara - Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park. The clear waters, abundant marine life and corals make the islands a major destination for divers looking to explore the underwater world of the Andaman Sea.
The Phi Phi islands with their palm tree fringed beaches, crystal clear waters and steep limestone cliffs became known after the movie “The beach”. Since then the islands have seen a dramatic increase in visitors, which has had a negative impact on marine life and corals in the area.
Koh Phi Phi Don & Koh Phi Phi Leh
Phi Phi consists of Koh Phi Phi Don, Koh Phi Phi Leh and several small rocky islands. There are two small villages on Koh Phi Phi Don, the largest and only inhabited island. Ban Tonsai village is packed with hotels, guest houses, shops, bars and restaurants. Most ferries to the islands arrive in Tonsai bay. There are no cars on the island, people get around on foot, bicycle or longtail boat. In 2004 the island was hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami that did very substantial damage. Koh Phi Phi Don has been completely rebuild since then. Koh Phi Phi Leh is uninhabited. The island draws great numbers of daytrippers to its famous beach Maya bay, where the movie “The beach” was filmed. The islands are best visited during the dry season from December to April.
To do & see Phi Phi Islands
The islands offer outdoor activities as relaxing on the beach, diving, snorkeling, rock climbing and sea kayaking.
Phi Phi Don viewpoint
A fairly steep hike leads to the viewpoint on Koh Phi Phi Don, nearly 200 meters above sea level. From the top visitors will be rewarded with stunning views of Koh Phi Phi Don and the Had Nopparat - Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park. Best time to go is early morning or late afternoon avoiding the mid day heat. Admission is 20 Thai Baht per person.
With its sandy beach, jungle and steep limestone cliffs Maya bay on Koh Phi Phi Leh is Phi Phi’s most famous beach. It is the location where the movie “The beach” was filmed. The clear waters and coral reefs attract many snorkelers. Since the island is part of a Marine National Park, there is no accommodation. Maya bay is easily reached by longtail boat from Koh Phi Phi Don. A National Park entrance fee of 200 Baht is charged. The beach is very popular and can get very overcrowded with package tours from Phuket.
A small island in a very picturesque setting surrounded by crystal clear turquoise waters, Bamboo island’s white sandy beach is a great place for relaxation and snorkeling. Bamboo island is a short boat trip away from Koh Phi Phi Don. During high season the beach can get very crowded.
Diving & snorkeling
The Phi Phi islands attract divers from all over the world wanting the explore the amazing underwater world of the Had Nopparat - Koh Phi Phi Marine National Park. Many species of tropical colorful fish, muranas, turtles and harmless leopard sharks can be observed swimming between the corals at sites as Anemone reef, Koh Haa and King Cruiser shipwreck. Half day or full day snorkeling trips can be booked at local travel agent or hotel. Many dive shops on Koh Phi Phi Don offer beginner courses and several day PADI open water courses.
The beautiful natural environment, steep limestone cliffs and spectacular views make the Phi Phi islands among the most attractive places for rock climbing in Thailand. The main climbing area is the Tonsai tower at the end of Tonsai beach. Climbers will find several dozen routes of varying difficulty on the 150 meters high limestone cliffs with splendid views of the island and the sea. Other climbing routes include the Ao Ling wall near Tonsai tower and the Hin Tak wall, where climbers can try several routes with lots of monkeys along the way. Climbers can rent equipment and hire a guide from one of the climbing shops on Koh Phi Phi Don. Courses can be booked from half a day to several days for beginner to experienced.
Getting to the Phi Phi Islands
The only way to get to the islands is by ferry to Koh Phi Phi Don.
Phi Phi is most easily reached from Phuket and Krabi town. Several ferry companies offer transfer with boats of varying sizes and age. The main pier at Phi Phi is Tonsai pier at Koh Phi Phi Don. Several ferry companies also stop at Laem Tong. Ferries depart from Rassada pier in Phuket and Khlong Jilad pier, a few kilometers South of Krabi town. During the rainy season boats are less frequent and can be cancelled if weather conditions do not permit safe travel.
Tickets can be bought on ferry company websites, local travel agents or hotel. Tickets from either Krabi town or Phuket start at about 450 Thai Baht one way. Andaman Wave Master offers standard, 1st and premium class tickets from Phuket to Phi Phi Tonsai. Round trip tickets are 1,200, 1,500 and 2,300 Thai Baht respectively.