The first boat tour most travelers take when visiting these islands is Phi Phi Leh and the famous Maya Bay. However, it would be a mistake to miss circling the main island of Koh Phi Phi Don! In all honesty, you should plan to do them both. We share everything about our Koh Phi Phi Don longtail boat tour and the best beaches you can’t miss.
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Early Phi Phi Don Boat Tour
Some tourists decide to combine several activities into one afternoon and do a 6+ hour boat tour. We knew that with the high potential for heatstroke visiting in March it was better to break it into two tours.
We did both Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh on two separate mornings and had an amazing time exploring the islands! Below you can read the full guide about our boat trip to Koh Phi Phi Leh and what made us excited to do another the very next day!
→ How to Visit the World Famous Maya Bay in Thailand: 2022 Travel Guide
We actually used the same driver from the day before to take on Koh Phi Phi Don. Originally we wanted to schedule the start of our longtail boat tour at 8am. However, he pointed out that because of the tides and beaches we wanted to visit it would be better to start an hour later.
Just before it was time to meet him we stocked up on the boat essentials. Water, ritz crackers, mango, and watermelon! We usually don’t mind keeping it light for breakfast anyway on tour days. The potential for seasickness and no bathrooms wasn’t something we wanted to worry about!
Phi Phi Don Boat Tour
So what did our Koh Phi Phi Don boat tour look like? We actually didn’t see it advertised on the set routes offered, but knew there were a few remote beaches that we wanted to see. It’s kind of interesting that on the very island where everyone stays they don’t take the time to see all of it.
Anyhow, there was no way to visit all the good spots without a boat so this was an easy choice. One of the best things about exploring the Phi Phi islands in a longtail boat is that you can customize your trip to go exactly where you want!
Starting from Tonsai Port we made our way clockwise around the island. We went slow and spent a bit of time snorkeling, swimming, and enjoying the best beaches on Phi Phi. This was our official route:
Start at Tonsai Pier → Monkey Beach → Niu Beach → Loh Lana Bay (with Snorkeling) → Loh Ba Kao Bay → Cruise the East Coast → Long Beach → Back to Tonsai Pier.
Why You Should Take a Longtail Boat in Thailand
These traditional Thai longtail boats are an iconic symbol of the islands! The massive wooden boats are colorful and are the perfect way to get around Phi Phi Don.
When you’re cruising in and out of coves and the best beaches on Phi Phi Don you’ll see what we’re talking about! The best part is you can hire your own private boat for around 1,000 baht each ($30 USD) for up to 4 hours!
The other option is to join a bigger tour instead of a longtail boat. While it may be faster zooming around to all the locations you will miss out on an authentic Thai longtail boat experience. You’ll also have to share your ride with many more travelers as opposed to renting a smaller boat.
→ 25 Helpful Things to Know before visiting the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand
Best Beaches on Koh Phi Phi Don
Okay, onto the first stop of our Phi Phi Don boat tour… Monkey Beach! Now you should know this beach is straight out of a Thai postcard. Absolutely gorgeous! However, the monkeys are wild animals and not always friendly. Another benefit of having a private longtail boat is that you can visit before the large tours arrive for the day.
While on the beach we saw 3 different groups get attacked by monkeys! A mother and her son got too close and literally sprinted into the water to get away as they were being chased.
We kept our distance, walked the beach, and enjoyed the views. No way were we going to get too close! If you arrive before the afternoon crowds you will experience Monkey Beach in a way few other travelers do.
This in itself is worth the trip! There are actually a few different ways to get to Monkey Beach which we break down in our post below.
→ Monkey Beach Thailand Tips: 3 Best Ways to Get There and More
Not far up the coast was our second stop. This beach is stunning and might have been our favorite on Koh Phi Phi Don. Since we arrived early we were one of 4 longboats and shared the beach with only a handful of others. The water is crystal clear and the sand is pure white gold. It is also unique because of the large rocks that extend from the water.
Snorkeling at Loh Lana Bay
Snorkeling is amazing on Phi Phi Don and we highly recommend bringing your own goggles as you travel around Thailand. If you don’t have any your longtail boat driver should have some for you to use.
This area just around the corner from Nui Beach is known for some of the best snorkeling on the island and also as a popular dive spot. Swim with all the tropical fishes before pulling closer to shore to spend the late morning.
From here, you can actually walk 10 minutes through a nearby town to Loh Bakao Beach. Our driver gave us an our for this short excursion but we made it back much quicker.
Extra Stop for Bamboo Island
If you don’t mind extending 1-2 hours to your boat tour this is where you can add on Bamboo island! We visited here on our last trip to Koh Phi Phi in 2019 so did not make the trip again. Keep in mind the island is far and there is an additional National Park fee if you decide to visit.
Cruising the East Coast of Phi Phi Don
After hours of swimming, beach walks, and jumping off the boat it was time to head back. We drove closely along the East coast as we finished circling the island.
It was interesting to see the different areas of Koh Phi Phi Don away from the main port. There are many nice luxury hotels all along this part of the island.
Long Beach is another favorite of ours on Phi Phi Don. The sand is bright white and has a beautiful view of Koh Phi Phi Leh in the distance!
When ending our boat tour this is the perfect place to hang out if you have more time. If you’re not planning to party and stay in the port this is actually one of the best areas to be. In fact, Long Beach is so popular the local boats act as taxis at night shuttling people back and forth to Tonsai Village.
When we arrived back in town we were slightly sunburnt and tired but had such a fun day! We hope you now see that exploring Koh Phi Phi Don is best done with a longtail boat and something not to be missed.
Where to Stay on Phi Phi Island
Phi Phi Island really offers something for every type of traveler! Before traveling to Phi Phi Island from Phuket and booking your hotel, make sure to double-check where on the island it’s located.
If it is not in the main walking area of Tonsai Village verify they offer transportation! Many have complimentary boat transfers included.
Long Beach – Phi Phi The Beach Resort (Luxury) or Paradise Resort Phi Phi (Budget) – This was hands down our favorite beach on the island! The area is away from the party zone but you can still get to all the action with a quick longtail boat ride or hike.
Tonsai Village Hostel – Voyagers Hostel – Great option if you want a cheap place to crash while in the party area of the island. Steps from the popular beach bars and island nightlife.
Tonsai Village Budget – P2 Wood Loft – Set in the center of the main port town, the rooms are clean, modern, and have great wifi if you are working remotely. You can spend time on the rooftop hammocks or co-working desk as well.
Loh Ba Beach Luxury – SAii Phi Phi Island Village – Large resort offering high-end accommodations on the beach. This is a quieter side of the island. Yet with multiple restaurants, a pool, and fitness center you really never need to leave!
Laem Tong Bay – Zeavola Resort – Located on the quiet northern tip of the island, this is are far as you can get from the nightlife and craze of Phi Phi. Offers a luxury setting for travelers who are really looking to slow down and disconnect.
Have any questions about our tour or want to share more of the best beaches on Phi Phi Don? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Thailand Travel Planning
Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we found flights from Bangkok to Phuket for $12 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50!
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
Helpful Thailand Articles
Phuket: 22 Things to Do – Old Town Food Guide – 6 Sunset Spots – Rawai – Elephant Sanctuary – Promthep Cape Sunset – Sunday Night Market – Phuket Old Town – Big Buddha – Renting a Motorbike
Phuket Beaches: 15 Best Beaches – Nai Harn & Yanui – Kata Beach – Kata Noi – Nui Beach
Koh Phi Phi: Ferry from Phuket – 3 Viewpoint Hike
Koh Lanta: 10 Things to Do – 8 Best Beaches – One Day Motorbike
Railey Beach: 12 Things to Do – 3 Epic Beaches – Krabi to Koh Phangan
Gulf of Thailand: Koh Phangan 10 Things to Know – Bottle Beach Koh Phangan – Koh Tao 12 Things to Know – Freedom Beach Koh Tao – Koh Samui
More: Planning Thailand Trip – Koh Lipe – Chiang Mai
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Hi, can you combine this tour with Bamboo Island? Do you happen to know the price of this when you visited?
Yes, that is offered as a full-day tour! I am not sure what the price is but it should be around what is quoted as one day 6 hour tour on the photo of the prices. When you find a driver just explain everything you would like to see and they will be able to custom-build your trip. Have fun and hope you have a nice trip 🙂