What to Do in Phi Phi Islands?
- What to Do in Phi Phi Islands?
- The Islands of Phi Phi Archipelago
- Phi Phi Don
- Phi Phi Leh
- Tonsai – Phi Phi central area
- How to go from Phuket to Phi Phi Island
- What to Do in Phi Phi?
- Loh Dalum Bay
- Phi Phi Viewpoint
- Monkey Beach
- Koh Mai Pai (Bamboo Island)
- Diving in Phi Phi Island
- Where to Party?
- Stones Bar
- Reggae Bar
- Stockholm Syndrome
- What’s a ‘Bucket’?
- Where to Eat
- Le Grand Bleu
- Ciao Bella
- Tonsai Seafood
- Shopping in Phi Phi?
- Where to get a tattoo?
- Buying a typical day trip around Phi Phi
- Who goes to Phi Phi?
- Useful information about Phi Phi Island
- More Photos
- Where is Phi Phi Island?
- FAQs about Phi Phi Island
Phi Phi islands are a very popular archipelago located 40 km south of Phuket. In case you were wondering, you pronounce Phi Phi ‘Pee-Pee’, not ‘Fee-Fee’! Anyway, they don’t need an introduction anymore since Leonardo DiCaprio took care of this in 2000 with the movie ‘The Beach’. Since then, the island keeps developing. As we all sadly remember, a tsunami wiped out the island in 2004, and since then, despite the promises of keeping the island small and manageable, Phi Phi just grew busier but not always better.
UPDATE: Access to Maya Bay is closed until further notice, but Phi Phi main island remains open!
However, the young crowd travelling to Phi Phi Island all year round seems to love it so much, we decided to revisit it. The verdict? Yes, it’s crowded, especially at night, but the islands are stunning, and it’s a great place to party! (See some discounted prices for ferries between Phuket and Phi Phi)
The Islands of Phi Phi Archipelago
Just in case you didn’t know, Phi Phi consists of several islands, but you can only stay on one of them. You will notice that the name of many islands starts with ‘Koh, which means ‘Island’ in Thai. So you will sometimes hear ‘Koh Phi Phi’ or ‘Phi Phi Island’, but for an apparent reason, rarely ‘Koh Phi Phi Island’.
Phi Phi Don
Phi Phi Don is where everything is: the main town, all the hotels and the party! The landing pier is on the Tonsai Bay, and the opposite side is Loh Dalum Beach. Phi Phi Don has several beaches and hotels are mostly around the narrow part of the island. However, there are also hotels on remote beaches, but it requires a short longtail boat ride to reach them. So if you plan to enjoy the party, you should make sure you picked the right beach! Of course, those hotels provide a free shuttle boat, but if you party too hard, a boat ride might not be fun.
Phi Phi Leh
Phi Phi Leh is where you will find the famous Maya Bay (currently closed), Viking Cave and the Phi Leh Bay are. It’s just a few kilometres south and about 30 minutes by long-tail boat.
Koh Bida islands are further South and are famous for diving.
Koh Yoong (Mosquito Island)
Tonsai – Phi Phi central area
Phi Phi Don looks like a mad maze squeezed between 2 bays: Tonsai Bay where ferries drop you off, and Loh Dalum Bay where the main beach is.
To imagine how walking down that maze feels like, picture the following: a T-Shirt shop, a tattoo parlour, a bar, a dive centre, a tattoo parlour, a fast food, a bar, a travel agency, a massage parlour; repeat again and again. I’ve never seen so many tattoo shops per meter square! I’ve never seen so many cats either!
Most shops don’t open in the morning as they open until late at night. Possibly because a good part of the population of the island is out there exploring the islands around and other visitors are on the beach enjoying the soft sand and the beautiful scenery (if tides permit). The remaining tourists are probably still in bed trying to get over a massive hangover from one of these cheap ‘buckets’ that looked so cool the day before (read about it lower on the page)
In the afternoon, the crowd starts to emerge to hang in the streets: shopping, drink too early or have some massage. There are plenty of small restaurants for all tastes and budgets, but most look somewhat touristy. We tried a decent beachfront restaurant called ‘Tonsai Seafood’, which was quite good and ‘The Point Restaurant’ which was below average. Our best dining experience by far was at ‘Le Grand Bleu‘ a long-established French restaurant serving an excellent choice of French and Thai food at reasonable prices.
At 9 pm Phi Phi explodes with life as bars start their fire shows, live bands and Muay Thai performances (Thai boxing). There are bars after bars after bars all along the main streets but for the best party, aim at Loh Dalum bay where those fire shows take place. Young people buy a ‘bucket’ on their way there and sit on the beach in front of a makeshift stage to enjoy or even take part in small fire shows. Music is loud and pretty good, making people dance on the beach. Everyone seems to have the time of their life.
The general impression is that apart from some fantastic cliffs and bays, Phi Phi is not real Thailand. It’s a bit the Khaosan of the south, with a permanent Full Moon Party. Anyone who is not selling something on Phi Phi is a Farang (a foreigner). You will never see or hear of a Thai person saying “I’m going to spend a weekend on Phi Phi Island”. I found the young Thais working on the island very smiling and helpful.
Note that there are some mosquitoes, mostly once the sun has set, but there are many convenience stores and pharmacies on Phi Phi island.
All around Phi Phi Don there are other beaches of different size, the best-known one is Laem Tong beach where Holiday Inn Phi Phi and Zeavola resort enjoy a peaceful but remote holiday and the beautiful Loh Bagao beach further down (see map at the end of the page)
Phi Phi island is very easy to access by ferry or speedboats. Ferry costs around 390 baht and speedboat 900 baht per person but only takes 50 minutes. Any hotel in Phuket will be able to arrange this for you. Usually, the transfer includes pick up from your hotel, but double-check anyway. If you rented a car, you can also park at the Rassada pier in Phuket town and buy your ferry ticket right there, but it’s not cheaper. You also can check from this site for available discount tickets by Kohlife. There are also ferries and speedboat to and from Krabi and Koh Lanta.
On the following page are some of the best places to see here. Of course, you can expect these places and islands to be busy. It may be a good idea to stay overnight and try to explore early morning to beat the crowds. Read more
Loh Dalum Bay
Loh Dalum is the immense shallow bay you always see on the right-hand side of the famous panoramic photo taken from the viewpoint. This part of the island is very narrow (160 metres), and you can walk from Tonsai to Loh Dalum in a minute. All along the beach, there are hotels, restaurants and a cluster of bars where the party runs every night. You can rent kayaks or ride a longtail to nearby islands from here.
Reaching Phi Phi Viewpoint is a bit challenging, but if you go at your own pace, it’s not too hard. Expect to sweat and maybe to be bitten by local mosquitoes each time you stop to breathe in a shade of a tree. Mosquitoes are smart as they ambush themselves in those strategic locations. At the end of the first long flight of stairs, you will reach the Viewpoint Number 1, and the ticket counter. It costs 30 baht from that point on.
Diving in Phi Phi Island is a fantastic experience you shouldn’t miss. Not many places in the world can offer such unique dive sites. If you never experienced diving before, remember that there is a very cool option called ‘Discover Scuba Diving’ that doesn’t require any training, just a briefing usually given on the deck of the boat on the way to the dive sites! I did it, and it was fantastic.
Where to Party?
Beach party and street party, usually people walk from one bar to another and follow the music, the crowd and the atmosphere.
Reggae Bar is nowhere like a reggae bar and is somewhat famous for organising friendly Muay Thai fights between customers. As you wear head protection, it doesn’t seem to hurt (much), but it depends pretty much on your opponent. Seems to be a lot of fun.
Stockholm Syndrome invites customers to some drinking games just outside the bar; games involve a hose and a funnel and how fast you can drink from these.
Other popular places to party in Phi Phi
- Dojo Bar
- Kong Siam Live Bar has a fantastic singer able to entertain the crowds with drinking songs.
- Carlito’s Bar in a waterfront bar on the other side of the bay. Also with club music and fire shows but with a better sitting area.
What’s a ‘Bucket’?
Buckets are extremely popular in Phi Phi, and you can find them everywhere after sunset. Usually a cheap mix of local whiskey (Sang Som), a red bull (you know what that is) and a mixer and ice in a small plastic bucket and a couple of straws. You can take this around as you party. As it’s sweet, cold and often uses cheap local alcohol, you don’t have the feeling you are drinking much, and the Red Bull gives you a boost. Most people get drunk much faster and much more than they think. Fun.
Where to Eat
There are hundreds of places to choose from on Phi Phi island, walk along the few pedestrian walkways, and you can pick as you go. It’s a lucky draw. It’s more fun by the waterfront, but this is just us, so we tried the following, and they were quite good.
Ciao Bella is an Italian restaurant on the beach of Loh Dalum Beach, just next to where the party is.
Tonsai Seafood serves seafood and Thai food on the Tonsai waterfront, opposite Phi Phi Banyan Villa where we stayed.
Shopping in Phi Phi?
The famous expression ‘Same Same but Different’ was probably coined here. ‘Phi Phi island’ tee shirts, short pants and light skirts, swimsuits, bags… everything you need for a holiday on a small island. Don’t expect much originality but browsing is always fun, especially when there is not so much to do.
Where to get a tattoo?
That’s a tough one, they are everywhere, and they all claim the same thing: sterile environment and a new needle for each customer, also Bamboo tattoos available. Follow your instinct but let us know if you can recommend one shop. I had a look at a couple of standard size tattoos; they cost between 5,000 to 10,000 baht and take 3 to 6 hours to execute.
Buying a typical day trip around Phi Phi
If you wish to rent a boat, expect to pay around 1,500 to 3,000 baht, depending on what you want to visit. Here are the usual places longtail boat will take you to.
To Phi Phi Leh and around
- Maya Bay (currently closed)
- Viking Cave (Used to be open to the public but it’s now restricted)
- Loh Dalum Bay
- Monkey Beach
Then to the north of Phi Phi Don
- Mosquito Island
- Bamboo Island
Who goes to Phi Phi?
Mostly young people, 25 -35 on average, coming here to enjoy the sun, the scenery, the beach on daytime and the PARTY at night!
Useful information about Phi Phi Island
Thai name: เกาะพีพีดอน
Island Size: 12.25 km2 (4.73 sq mi)
Distance from Phuket: 40 kilometres (25 miles)
Number of islands: 6
▷ There are lots of convenience stores, banks, ATMs, pharmacies everywhere. There are a hospital and a large modern clinic, so you know you won’t have to worry about these.
▷ There are no cars on Phi Phi, but you will hear “Peep-Peeeep!” dozen times as locals try to push carts loaded with all kinds of stuff.
▷ Phone signal coverage is surprisingly good from Phuket to Phi Phi! But Wi-Fi in hotels is useless.
Where is Phi Phi Island?
FAQs about Phi Phi Island
a. Yes, Phi Phi Island is open as well as all the attractions and other islands around. Only the famous Maya Bay is closed until further notice.
a. Explore the islands around, climb to the viewpoint, party on the beach and try scuba diving are some of the many things to do in Phi Phi.
a. Phi Phi Island is 46 km south-west of Phuket Island, and 2 hours to reach by ferry from Rassada Pier in Phuket Town.
a. Tours will send a van to our hotel and drive you to Rassada Pier in Phuket Town; then a ferry will take you to the island.
a. Booking online is surprisingly cheaper than booking at the pier, expect to pay from 300 baht per person, 450 baht including transfer from the hotel.