Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands
Phi Phi Islands
4.04 (25 votes)

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi islands don’t need introduction anymore, Leonardo DiCaprio took care of this in 2000 with the movie ‘The Beach’ and the place just keeps on getting bigger and busier. The island was wiped out during the 2004 tsunami and despite what was said at the time, the construction just got bigger and maybe not better. However, the young crowd travelling to Phi Phi Islands seems to have great time so we decided to check it. No doubt it’s super crowded, especially at night, but yes the islands are beautiful and a great place for party!

The islands of Phi Phi:

  • Phi Phi Don is where the growing village and all the hotels are (nothing is built outside Phi Phi Don). The landing pier is on the Tonsai Bay and the sandy side is Loh Dalum Beach. Phi Phi Don has several beaches and if hotels are mostly concentrated around the narrow part, there are hotels on other beaches so if you plan to enjoy party you should make sure you picked the right beach! Of course those remote hotels provide free shuttle but if you party too hard, a boat ride is not fun.
  • Phi Phi Leh is where Maya Bay, Viking Cave and the Phi Leh Bay are, it’s just few kilometer south and about 30 minutes by long tail boat
  • Further South are the Koh Bida islands, mostly popular for diving
  • Up North are Mosquito Island (Koh Yoong) and Bamboo Island (Koh Mai Pai)

(Yes you guessed it , ‘Koh ‘means ‘Island’ in Thai so it’s not always part of the name)


Phi Phi Don Central Area

Loh Dalum Beach

Phi Phi Don looks like an overgrown narrow maze squeezed between 2 bays: Tonsai Bay where ferries arrive and Loh Dalum Bay where you’ll enjoy the beach. To imagine how walking down that maze feels like, picture the following: Tee-Shirt Shop, Tattoo Parlour, a bar, a dive center, a fast food, a travel agency, a massage parlour… repeat again and again. I’ve never seen so many tattoo shops per meter square. Never seen so many cats either!

Most shops don’t open in the morning since they open rather late at night and a third of the population of the island is out there exploring Maya Bay and the islands around, another third is on the beach enjoying the soft sand and the beautiful scenery (if tide permits). The last third is still in bed trying to survive a massive hangover probably from one of these cheap ‘buckets’ that looked so cool the day before (read about it lower in the page)

Loh Dalum Beach

In the afternoon the crowd starts to hang around the street, shopping and having some massage. There are tons of small restaurants for all tastes but most look very touristy. Well someone as to attend the crowd! As a beachfront restaurant we tried Tonsai Seafood which was good and The Point which was below average. Best experience by far was dining at ‘Le Grand Bleu’ a long-established French restaurant serving a nice choice of French and Thai food at surprisingly good prices.

Phi Phi suddenly explodes with life at 9-10 pm when bars start their fire shows and other live bands or Muay Thai performances. There are bars after bars after bars all along the main street and on the Loh Dalum bay where those popular fire shows take place. Young people all buy a ‘bucket’ on their way there and sit on the beach in front of a makeshift stage to enjoy or even take part to small fire shows. Music is loud and good and people dance on the beach, everyone seem to have the time of their life.

The general impression is that apart from some fantastic cliffs and bays, Phi Phi is not really Thailand. It’s a bit the Khao San on the south and a bit of a permanent Full Moon Party. Absolutely everyone who is not selling something 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 Islands. I also found the young Thais working on the island very smiling and helpful.

Note that there are some mosquitoes here and there, especially once the sun has set, but there are so many convenience stores and pharmacies around there is no need to carry your own.

Other beaches

All around Phi Phi Don there are other beaches of different size,  the best known one is Laem Tong beach where Holiday In 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)


How to Get from Phuket to Phi Phi Islands

Ferry to Phi Phi Island
Ferry to Phi Phi Island

The place being so popular, it’s actually very easy and every hotel will be able to arrange it for you. Usually transfer includes pick up from your hotels, but double-check anyway. If you have a rented car you can also park it at Rassada pier in Phuket town and buy a ticket the same day.

  • Speed boat, 900 baht, only 50 minutes
  • Ferry (can be booked at Rassada Pier)
  • In some cases people also book a transfer directly from airport.

There are also ferries and speedboat to and from Krabi and Koh Lanta


Where to Eat:

Ciao Bella Italian restaurant on the Beach
Ciao Bella Italian restaurant on the Beach

There are hundred of places to choose from on Phi Phi island… just walk along the few pedestrian walkways and you can pick as you go. It’s really a lucky draw. It’s more fun by the waterfront but this is just us, so we tried the following and they were good!

For Dinner:

  • Le Grand Bleu (Great French restaurant popular since 1992)
  • Tonsai Seafood (Good seafood and Thai food on the waterfront opposite Phi Phi Banyan Villa where we stayed)
  • Ciao Bella (Italian restaurant on the Loh Dalum Beach where the party is!)

The day after:

  • If your hotel doesn’t include breakfast there are some bakeries near the pier but Patcharey Bakery is actually better than Phi Phi Bakery just across the street.

What to Buy in Phi Phi

Shopping in Phi Phi Island
Shopping in Phi Phi Island

Have you ever hear the expression ‘Same Same but Different’? it was probably invented here. ‘Phi Phi island’ tee shirts, short pants and light skirts, swim suits, bags… everything you need for a holiday on a small island. Don’t expect much originality but browsing is always fun, especially when there are not so much to do.


Where to Party

Beach Party on Phi Phi IslandBeach party and street party… usual people walk from one to another and follow the music, the crowd and the atmosphere. Most popular seems to be :

  • Reggae Bar – that is nowhere like a reggae bar and is famous for the Muay Thai fights between customers. As you wear a protection it doesn’t really hurt but it depends pretty much on your opponent. Seems to be a lot of fun.
  • Dojo Bar
  • Breakers
  • Stockholm Syndrome – invites customers to some drinking games just outside the bar, games involve a hose and a funnel
  • Kong Siam Live Bar have an amazing singer able to entertain the crowds with drinking songs.
  • Slinky is a beach bar with a fire show and club music right on the beach
  • Stoned is exactly the same as above and is just next to it
  • 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.
Muay Thai fight at Reggae bar on Koh Phi Phi
Muay Thai fight at Reggae bar on Koh Phi Phi

What’s a ‘Bucket’?

Buckets in Phi Phi island
Buckets in Phi Phi island

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 use cheap local alcohol you don’t have the feeling you are drinking much and the Red Bull gives you a boost. Most people obviously get drunk much faster and much more than they think. Fun, apparently.


Where to get a tattoo?

Getting a Tattoo on Phi Phi Island
Getting a Tattoo on Phi Phi Island

That’s a tough one… they are everywhere and they all claim the same thing: sterile environment and 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 and they cost between 5 to 10,000 baht and take 3 to 6 hours to execute.


Getting to Phi Phi Viewpoint

Phi Phi Islands

Reaching Phi Phi Viewpoint is a bit challenging but if you go at your own pace it’s actually not too hard. Expect to sweat and maybe to be bitten by local mosquitoes each time to stop to breathe in a shade, they are obviously smart and they ambush themselves in strategic locations.

At the end of the first fly of stairs you will reach the Viewpoint Number 1 … and the ticket counter. It costs 30 baht from that point on.

Phi Phi Viewpoint Number 2
Phi Phi Viewpoint Number 2

Viewpoint Number 1 looks like a children playground with giant chickens and concrete hearts in case that is how you like your photos. My advice? Move on and follow the signs to Viewpoint Number 2. It says 5 minutes walk but it feels like a lot more. From viewpoint number 2 you will instantly recognize the postcard of the 2 bays of Phi Phi. The place is superb and there is a shop selling drinks, snacks and ice creams to refill your batteries.

The place is superb but expect it to be busy or even crowded… there is not much to do on your own on Phi Phi island so everyone ends up there at one point.


Diving Around Phi Phi islands

We collected on the next page the necessary information if you are interested  in Diving in Phi Phi Island


Buying a typical day trip around Phi Phi:

Rent a boat costs around 1,500 to 3,000 baht depending on what you want to visit. Here are  the classic places:

To Phi Phi Leh and around

Phi Phi daytrip cruises
Phi Phi day trip cruises
  • Maya Bay (expect to pay400 baht to step on the beach)
  • Viking Cave (it used to be open to public and I visited it several times in the past but it’s now restricted)
  • Loh Dalum Bay
  • Monkey beach
Viking cave and swallow nests harvesting
Viking cave and swallow nests harvesting

Then to the north of Phi Phi Don

  • Mosquito Island
  • Bamboo Island

Who is it for?

Mostly young people, 25 -30 on average, coming here to enjoy the sun, the scenery, the beach on daytime and definitely the PARTY at night!


Useful information about Phi Phi Island:

  • There are lots of convenience stores, banks, ATM machines, pharmacies everywhere, plus 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 all the way from Phuket to Phi Phi! But Wi Fi in hotels is useless.

More photos of Phi Phi Island

Le Grand Bleu French Restaurant in Phi Phi
Le Grand Bleu French Restaurant in Phi Phi

Tattoo shop in Phi Phi Island

Map of Phi Phi Islands

Written by

Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world in my 20s and never stopped until I finally settled in Thailand in 1994. Then for the past 23 years, my passion for photography and my natural curiosity has taken me to every corner of Thailand, jumping frequently between Bangkok and Phuket and basically everywhere I could go. I run 2 blogs: Phuket101.net and BangkokUndercover.com, I also manage 30 online travel guides in Asia and beyond, including Phuket.com, Bangkok.com and Bali-Indonesia.com