Koh Phi Phi is one of the most famous and touristic islands in Thailand. It became known from the movie "The Beach" (2000) starring Leonardo Di Caprio! For us it is an incredible destination that you have to include in your Thailand itinerary. This archipelago is located in the Adaman Sea and consists of four islands: Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Leh, Koh Yung (Mosquito Island) and Koh Phi (Bambu Island). The only inhabited island of the four is Phi Phi Don, which has a tourist infrastructure.
How many days do I need on Koh Phi Phi?
We think this is a very personal thing. In two days you can do the main "activities" on the island, but if you want to enjoy it a bit more, 3-4 days are ideal.
How to get to Koh Phi Phi?
To get to Koh Phi Phil you will have to take a ferry or speed boat. You can go from the following places/islands:
From Bangkok you have two options:
Bus or Train + Ferry: You can take a bus or train from Bangkok to Krabi, and then a ferry to Koh Phi Phi Phi. Khao San Road is full of agencies that sell you the whole trip together, and they make sure you arrive on time to take the ferry to Koh Phi Phi Phi. The journey in total is quite long, taking about 20 hours. Flights from Bangkok to Krabi or Phuket are usually quite cheap and even the same price as the land transfer, and it's much, much faster.
Plane + Ferry : The quickest way to get from Bangkok to Koh Phi Phi Phi is to fly to Phuket or Krabi (whichever is cheaper) and from there take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi. The ferry from both places costs about 300/400 baths (USD 9-13).
From the beaches/islands of the Adaman Sea:
Phuket: The ferry leaves from Rassada pier southeast of Phuket Town and arrives at Tonsai Beach on Koh Phi Phi. From the pier the ferry departs for 300 baht (USD 9), if you are elsewhere in Phuket you will probably be charged an extra 100 baht (USD 3) for the transfer to the pier. The trip takes 2 hours. You can also take a speedboat which takes 1 hour but the price is much higher.
Krabi: The pier is located 4km from Krabi Town. All tour companies sell you the transfer for 350 baths (USD 11) which includes the transfer to the pier where the ferry leaves. The trip to Koh Phi Phi takes 1.5 hours.
Ao Nang: There are also boats departing from Ao Nang to Koh Phi Phi during the high season (Nov-April). The price is 350baths (USD11) and the trip takes 1.5 hours.
Koh Lanta: There is a direct ferry connecting the island of Koh Lanta with Koh Phi Phi. They depart from Saladan Pier and the journey takes approximately 2 hours. In high season there are two ferries a day. The ticket costs approximately 450 baths (USD 14).
Koh Lipe: There is a speedboat that connects the two islands. This is only available during the high season (Nov - April) and costs around 1700 baths (USD 54).
From the islands of the Gulf of Thailand: Koh Tao | Koh Samui | Koh Phangan:
This transfer will take you almost a full day's journey. It will include a ferry from the island you are on to the mainland, from there a minivan to Krabi and from Krabi a ferry to Koh Phi Phi. The agencies sell you the whole transfer, the price is between 750baths and 1200 baths (USD 23-33) depending on which island you come from.
TIP: We recommend you to check prices and transfer schedules from your mobile phone on the 12go.asia website. You can also buy them here, avoiding the commissions usually charged by tourist agencies. You can buy ferry, fast boat, bus, minivan and train tickets.
When to go to Koh Phi Phi?
The island of Koh Phi Phi belongs to the group of islands in the Adaman Sea.
December to April: The weather is mild and there is no rain. This is the best time to travel to Koh Phi Phi, but it is also the high season when there are many tourists and prices are higher.
May to August: The monsoons arrive on the Adaman Islands, i.e. Koh Phi Phi Phi, so it is best to visit the Gulf beaches at this time of year. Koh Phi Phi Phi is extremely hot and it rains almost every day.
September to December: The rains start to stop on Koh Phi Phi and the Adaman Islands as the monsoons begin to arrive in the Gulf Islands. This is a good time to go to Koh Phi Phi Phi as the rain stops, and the tourists have not yet arrived.
It should be borne in mind that the weather is not always accurate. There are years when the rains come earlier or later, or not as heavy. That is why for us it is very important to try to be flexible, to check the weather and not to plan so far in advance.
Where to sleep in Koh Phi Phi?
The only inhabited island of the four is Phi Phi Don, which has a tourist infrastructure. The town where most of the accommodation and restaurants are located is Tonsai, which is where the ferry dock is located. There is accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.
We stayed at Coco's Guest House in a private room for 15 USD per night.
What to do on Koh Phi Phi?
1. Island Hopping
One of the main things to do on Koh Phi Phi Phi is to get on a long tail boat and visit all the islands and beaches. There are both private and shared tours. We chose the latter but if you're looking for something quieter and more personalised, you'll probably want to choose a private tour.
The most common island hopping tour includes:
- Bamboo Island
- Mosquito Beach
- Monkey Beach
- Viking Cave
- Maya beach
- Pileh Lagoon
- Snorkelling with Plankton
Non-private tour: The price is around $600 baths (USD 19) per person + $400 baths (USD 12) entrance fee for Bamboo Island (as it is a national park they charge an entrance fee). On the tour you can choose not to go down to this island so you don't have to pay the $400 baths. Before booking the tour, ask if the price you are told includes the entrance fee to the island so that you don't get any surprises later. The tour lasts all day and stops at various snorkelling spots. Breakfast, lunch, a snack and water are usually included.
Private tour: There is also the possibility of hiring a private long tail for the amount of hours you want to take you to the places you choose. A good idea is to do the island hopping on a normal tour on the first day and the next day ask a private boat to take you to the beaches you like the most. Approximately for 4 hours for 2 people they charge you $2500 baht (USD 80).
Monkey Beach: As the name says, it's a beach full of monkeys! And although they are in their habitat and are used to seeing people all the time, be careful with your belongings because they will try to take it out of your hand or your backpack! Don't invade their space too much either. The island itself is a paradise, but being quite small and full of tourists, it loses a bit of its charm.
Bamboo Island: This is the most beautiful beach on Koh Phi Phi. It has super white and fine sand, and the colour of the water is incredible. The entrance fee to the island is 400 baths per person as it is part of a national park.
Maya Beach: The famous beach from the movie "The Beach" is now closed. In January 2018 boats were banned from accessing this beach due to the damage tourists were doing to the ecosystem. It is still included in the tours as they pass by and let you see it from the boat in the distance.
UPDATE: This year 2022 has reopened for tourism!
Pileh Lagoon: One of the most incredible stops on the tour!
Snorkel with Plankton: After watching the sunset from the water and once it gets dark you have the possibility to dive with a snorkel and see the luminous plankton. It's at the end of the tour and usually you get tired, but we recommend you to jump in anyway and enjoy this experience!
2. Getting to know Bamboo Island
If the island hoping tour you did does not include Bamboo Island, we recommend you to go there. As we told you, if you don't get rough seas like us, it is one of the best beaches on Phi Phi and a must!
3. Touring the beaches of Phi Phi Don
There are several beaches on Phi Phi Don itself that you can go to:
Long Beach: This is a long, paradisiacal beach, ideal for spending the day and watching a beautiful sunset. It is a 15-20 minute walk from Tonsai Pier. The path is a bit through the jungle and a bit along the beach, but it's quite well marked so it's hard to get lost. If you don't feel like walking you can take a long tail boat for 150 baths and in a few minutes you will arrive at Long Beach. There are a few restaurants on the beach where you can have lunch and a nice cold beer.
Nui bay: We didn't get to see this beach due to lack of time but it was highly recommended! It is quite far from Tonsai Village (the tourist part of the island). It takes more than an hour to get there on foot and it is recommended to go with someone who knows the way. If not, you can ask a boatman to take you by long tail boat.
Loh Dalum: This beach is also quiet in the early morning and is very close to the centre. The problem is that when the tide goes out, it gets very low and loses much of its charm.
4. Enjoying the incredible view from the View Point
In total there are 3 viewpoints. The second one is the one with the best view and you have probably seen thousands of pictures here.
There are two ways to reach the viewpoints:
Long walk: This is much longer than the short walk. It is an unpaved road that runs through the heart of the island.
Short walk: It is short but tough as it is all uphill! It takes about half an hour to walk to the second viewpoint.
The second viewing platform has an incredible view of the island. There is a combined entrance fee of 30 bath (USD 1) for viewpoint 1 and 2.
We recommend that you bring good shoes, a bottle of water and a sun hat.
5. Enjoy the island's nocturnal soul
It's an island full of backpackers and there's no shortage of partying. A feature of Thailand's beach nights are the fire shows and buckets (drinks that come in beach buckets).
If you're not so keen on partying, we recommend at least stopping by the beach to get a taste of Koh Phi Phi's soul.