The Phi Phi Islands are one of the most popular places to visit in Thailand, and it’s easy to see why! This paradise is full of beautiful beaches, fun nightlife, and accommodations to fit every travel style. Our Koh Phi Phi Island guide covers all the best things to do, fun activities, and more to know before you go!
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1. Six Different Phi Phi Islands
The Phi Phi islands are actually made up of six different islands! The two most popular are Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh.
Koh Phi Phi Don is the only inhabited Phi Phi Island in Thailand which we will mostly be discussing in this article. The others can be explored by boat especially Koh Phi Phi Leh and the famous Maya Bay.
2. Getting to Koh Phi Phi Thailand
The Phi Phi Islands are easy to get to as they are only an hour by speedboat from Phuket, and about an hour and a half from the shores of Krabi. This makes it a popular destination for travelers looking to island-hop through Thailand. If you’re on a budget there are plenty of slow ferries available as well!
3. Tonsai Bay
When first arriving in Koh Phi Phi Thailand you will be coming into the ferry port of Tonsai Bay. As you pull in you’ll see the towering limestone cliffs, colorful longtail boats, and buzz of island life. From the ferry port, it’s just a few steps into the walking streets of Tonsai Village.
If possible, it’s best to plan your boat arriving/leaving around when you can check-in and out of your hotel. Also, be sure to have cash available for the 20 baht pier cleaning fee that is collected as soon as you arrive.
4. Burger King and McDonalds??
Wait, what? That was our shock seeing these 2 chain restaurants right as we entered Tonsai Village. Although this sight can leave a sour taste in the mouth of many travelers, don’t worry! There are plenty of delicious local Thai restaurants waiting for you on Phi Phi Island.
5. Loh Dalum Bay
Straight across to the other side of Tonsai are the warm sands of Loh Dalum Bay. This may be the first beach you experience in Koh Phi Phi Thailand and where you may spend a lot of time if you’re staying in town.
The main beach of the island is full of eccentric bars right on the water, each with its own funky style and music. During the day Loh Dalum is quite calm and fun for swimming. However, at night it turns into a wild party zone with fire shows and more!
This beach also has the most drastic tides on Koh Phi Phi. You can only swim during high tide and you will notice how quickly the water recedes out during low tide.
6. Tourism in the Phi Phi Islands
We mentioned early on in our Koh Phi Phi travel guide that this island is popular… But it’s time you really understand how touristic it is. Koh Phi Phi and its nearby islands welcomed 1.4 million tourists per year before the Covid-19 pandemic!
Travelers are drawn from all over the world to the beaches and infamous Koh Phi Phi party scene. Unfortunately, the excess of people has contributed to the loss of marine life and overcrowding. On our trip in February of 2022, we saw it in a different way as the island rebounds from the Covid years.
Hopefully, they figure out a way to return to their former glory but in a much more sustainable way.
8. History of Koh Phi Phi Don
Prior to modern tourism, Phi Phi Island was nothing like it is today. In fact, it was home to only about 80 Muslim families who primarily used fishing as their way of life. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that some adventurous travelers started making their way to Phi Phi Don to enjoy its stunning beauty.
However, what really drove tourists to the Phi Phi Islands was the filming of the movie “the Beach” with Leanardo DeCaprio in 2000. After that, everyone was antsy to get a taste of these incredible Thai islands!
9. Party on the Phi Phi Islands
We’ve already alluded to it, and it’s no secret that the Koh Phi Phi party is what attracts so many to the islands. Honestly, when we saw it in full force a few years back it felt like something out of the world.
Loud music, wild partying, drugs, fire shows, and blacked-out drunk backpackers who seemed to have little regard for their own lives. It was a little much, to say the least! But hey, if you need that sweet release on vacation the Phi Phi Islands might be your spot!
10. Luxury Resorts
The good thing about visiting the Phi Phi Island in Thailand is that it has accommodations for every budget and travel style. If you’re looking to relax and avoid the party we recommend not staying in Tonsai Village.
Particularly on the stunning Long Beach, is where you will find incredible luxury hotels right on the water. See more about that and hotel recommendations at the bottom of this post!
Alright, there is one more thing we need to mention before we move on from the Koh Phi Phi party scene. Buckets! While strolling around the streets of the town you will see tables of plastic toy buckets filled with liquor. Crazy, right?
If you’re brave enough, take your pick of Thai whiskey, rum, or other international spirits. Your bucket comes with soda and a red bull to mix together as well. You can carry them around to the beach, or the restaurants in Tonsai even offer them to have with your dinner!
While this part of Phi Phi Island in Thailand may not be for everybody, it was certainly something unique we’d never seen anywhere else.
12. Colorful Walking Streets
The walking streets around Tonsai are packed with travelers looking for a good time. The first thing you may notice when arriving in Koh Phi Phi is that it’s a pedestrian-only zone!
You will still see some bicycles and a few motorbikes zipping up the tight winding roads, but they’re mostly for walking. Tonsai is small but jam-packed with restaurants, street food stands, clothing, and souvenirs to remember your vacation.
13. ATM’s and Cash
We were surprised to see how many ATM’s are on Koh Phi Phi while strolling around town. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting money out on the main island. Yet, know that most places (outside of the luxury resorts) only accept cash.
Also, like with any small island you may want to bring cash with you in case the ATM’s aren’t working properly. One extra thing to note is that the ATM withdrawal fees are steep! We were charged almost $7 USD for one atm withdrawal. Luckily we use a bank when traveling abroad that reimburses these fees.
14. Phi Phi Island Weather
Weather is something you should definitely be aware of when visiting Koh Phi Phi Thailand. First of all, know it is hot and tropical here year-round. Still, like most of Southeast Asia, the year is split into wet and dry seasons.
Wet or Monsoon season starts in May and lasts until October. During this period the rains are intense and it is not advised to visit. Between December and March is dry season and when you should ideally go for the best Koh Phi Phi weather!
15. Koh Phi Phi Tsunami
In 2004, something terrible happened to the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. A massive tsunami swept through destroying and devastating much of the island. As many as 4,000 people died in this natural disaster and it took the island a lot of time to rebuild and recover.
Today you can still see monuments and pictures dedicated to what happened in 2004. There are also signs around almost every corner pointing to Tsunami evacuation routes to higher ground in case the unthinkable were to happen again.
16. Food in Koh Phi Phi Thailand
Due to its popularity, you can find almost any kind of food on Koh Phi Phi. From sushi to burgers and pizza, there is really every international food available. Yet, for those who still crave local food even on the most touristy of Thai islands you’re in luck!
All around Phi Phi Island you will see local restaurants and street food carts with the best Thai specialties. Our personal favorite in town was 1992 Garlic Restaurant.
Here we had one of our favorite dishes (Khao Soi) which is typically only found in Northern Thailand. There are also fresh coconuts and fruit widely available which make for a healthy beach snack!
17. Phi Phi Island Boat Tours
Outside of the party scene, what draws most tourists to Phi Phi island in Thailand are the amazing boat tours. There is a range of different tours offered from large half-day snorkeling trips to all-day longtail boat trips.
We preferred to rent our own private longboat which cost us 2,000 Baht total for 4 hours ($60 USD) and took us around the entire main island and to Koh Phi Phi Leh. This is an incredible value for what you get and it gave us the freedom to stop or move on from places we loved or didn’t.
18. Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay
While you can take a boat tour to circle Koh Phi Phi Don, it’s a must to visit another amazing part of the Phi Phi islands! Koh Phi Phi Leh is home to a nature reserve and one of the most famous beaches in the world, Maya Bay.
Yes, this is the actual location of the hit film “The Beach.” In 2018, it was closed to tourism to regenerate the coral and marine life affected by mass tourism. Yet recently in early 2022, it opened back up!
We had the opportunity to visit Maya Bay in February of this year and it’s as beautiful as ever! For now, no boats can enter the bay and you are not allowed to swim. It cost 400 Baht ($12 USD) to enter the National Park and do the quick forest trail to Maya Bay.
19. Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
Even though you can’t swim at Maya Bay, there are endless places to do so around the Phi Phi Islands! The incredible ocean life found here brings many snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world.
Around Koh Phi Phi Don you’ll see dive shops and boat tours ready to go out and take you to the best spots. Most longtail boats include snorkeling equipment and stop at these spots as part of their tours.
If you love water sports also be sure to rent a kayak or Stand up paddle board to explore the bright blue waters!
20. Monkey Beach
Another one of the most popular beaches to visit in the Phi Phi Islands is Monkey Beach! This is a place offered on almost every boat tour and where these creatures are found most in Koh Phi Phi Thailand.
The animals are cool to see and super cute, but be careful. We’ve seen many tourists getting too close to feed them or take selfies and that can end badly. I mean, the last thing you want on your vacation is to get your iPhone stolen or a gruesome monkey bite!
21. More Beautiful Beaches of the Phi Phi Islands
Looking to escape the crowds of Maya Bay and Monkey Beach? Don’t worry! There are plenty more incredible beaches to explore in the Phi Phi Islands.
Although they may take a hike or a boat to get to, Phi Phi Island is big enough to find your own slice of paradise. Below are a few of our favorite to visit outside of the ones we have already mentioned on the main island of Phi Phi Don.
- Nui Beach
- Loh Moo Dee Beach
- Loh Lana Bay
22. Epic Scenery
On Koh Phi Phi the beautiful nature is all around you! The limestone cliffs seem to shoot up forever into the sky, and more mysterious islands can be seen in the distance. After you’ve spent some time here to see all the natural beauty, it’s easy to see why it brings so many travelers in year after year.
23. Koh Phi Phi Viewpoints
Aside from the boats circling the Phi Phi Islands, the best place to see the scenery is from above! The 3 famous Koh Phi Phi viewpoints are a short hike starting from Tonsai Village. A steep set of stairs lead up to the first viewpoint which takes about 10 minutes.
From there you can go up to Viewpoint #2 which has a large viewing platform, a bar, and 2 different cafes for cold drinks. Yet, the very best view is still to come! Viewpoint #3 is the highest on Phi Phi Island in Thailand and has magical views of Koh Phi Phi Leh and beyond.
Here is where you will see the 2 bays and how they connect the main island so majestically. It cost 30 Baht ($1 USD) to get access to all the lookout points. Although the hike is short, plan for 1 to 1.5 hours to stop for pictures and simply admire the views. It also makes for a great place to see the sunset on Koh Phi Phi.
24. Hostel Stays
If you couldn’t tell by now, the Phi Phi Islands are huge with the backpacker community! With that, comes a large amount of hostels to pick from.
The large groups speaking different languages and partying are very noticeable around the main island. We’ve heard of as many as 20 beds in one room in Tonsai Village!
Many of the best hostels are found to the left when you get off the pier in Tonsai Bay. Also this way is one of the most fun bars at night to go to called “The Only Bar Phi Phi.”
25. Final Tips for the Phi Phi Islands
- Start all your boat tours early, especially to Maya Bay!
- Keep an eye on the Koh Phi Phi weather. Also, tropical rain is normal and if it does pour during your visit (even in the wet season) it should pass quickly.
- Any hiking is best done in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the hot island sun.
- Wear sunscreen and bring bug repellent. The mosquitos especially come out at night. We recommend buying these items before traveling to Phi Phi Island in Thailand as they are often more expensive when you get there.
Where to Stay on Phi Phi Island
The Phi Phi Islands in Thailand offer something for every type of traveler! Before going to Phi Phi Island from Phuket and booking your hotel, make sure to double-check where 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 visiting the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand? How about your own tips for Koh Phi Phi you want to share with other travelers? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
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