From the emerald waters of the Andaman Sea, the jungle-shrouded limestone cliffs of Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands rise majestically, giving way to white-sand beaches and lush green jungles further inland. Longtail boats putter between the islands, collectively known as Koh Phi Phi or Ko Phi Phi, surrounded by the turquoise waters and colorful marine life.
Where to Go Around the Phi Phi Islands
Uninhabited Phi Phi Leh, whose beauty was brought to attention when Maya Bay starred in the 2000 film The Beach
, is the smaller of the two main islands and boasts coral reefs abundant with tropical fish, making it a popular diving and swimming spot. There are no hotels on Phi Phi Leh, and camping is prohibited, meaning it’s only accessible by day trip.
Phi Phi Don is a thriving hub of activity—by day, a coastal paradise typified by bobbing longtail boats and sparkling white sand; by night, a beating heart with beaches that pulse with loud music and fire parties. Ao Ton Sai, the island’s principal dock, houses a promenade lined with shops, bars, and restaurants fragrant with the aromas of Thai food. Activities such as snorkeling, rock climbing, Thai boxing, and cooking classes keep travelers entertained throughout their stay on Thailand’s Shangri-La.The Basics
The unbridled popularity of the Phi Phi Islands means that travelers enjoy a wide range of visiting options. Day trips are available from Phuket, Ko Lanta, and Krabi via either a speedboat or express ferry, and typically cover Phi Phi highlights such as Maya Bay, Bamboo Island, Monkey Beach, Viking Cave, and James Bond Island in Phang Nga National Park. Island tours generally include a helpful tour guide, hotel pickup and dropoff, a buffet lunch, and free time to enjoy some of Asia’s best beaches.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If you want to avoid Ko Phi Phi Don’s increasingly popular party scene, head to the island’s more secluded eastern coast, where white-sand beaches play host to rustic bungalows and five-star resorts away from the revelers.
- For an immersive experience, visit the Phi Phi Islands as part of a 3-night sailing cruise, or on a deluxe 6-island tour that also takes in Koh Khai, Koh Yao, Mosquito Island, and Bamboo Island.
Best Ways to Enjoy Marine Life Around the Phi Phi Islands
Take a Phi Phi island tour by speed boat charter or cruise boat to spend time swimming and snorkeling in the crystal clear water. Island-hopping adventure tours also allow for exploring the underwater world around some of the area’s smaller islands.