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Travel guide for phi phi - travel guide για τα νησιά Phi phi

Travel guide for the Phi Phi Islands

The Phi Phi islands! Turquoise waters, white sand, tropical vegetation and summer there whilst winter here. These were some of the tempting facts that led us to this destination. We wanted a unique experience in an exotic place a little more unusual and far away than most destinations. It was our honeymoon trip. Below you will find all the necessary information for your first visit to the Phi Phi islands.

General Information

  • Population around 2,500 inhabitants.
  • Tourism increased after the movie “The Beach”. As it increased, the coral reefs were destroyed. As a result of this, Maya Bay beach, which was the location for most of the movie scenes, was closed in 2018 for the renewal of the corals.
  • The Phi Phi islands belong to the jurisdiction of the district of Krabi.
  • For your entry to the island, an environmental tax is imposed of 20 baht.
  • On 26 December 2004, an earthquake measuring 9,1 richter was the cause of a tsunami with deadly waves reaching 3 metres height, and causing huge damage to the Phi Phi islands. It took over a year to rebuild the infrastructure which had been destroyed. Today, in various parts of the island you will find warning signs on paths which guide you to safety in case of a tsunami.
  • These islands are facing a serious environmental problem due to the rise in tourism. Of course, it is forbidden to take corals with you, whether they are dead or alive. There is a prison sentence of five years or a fine of 2.970€.

You may find more information on Thailand in our article here.

Transportation

Transportation from the airport

Our arrival was at Krabi airport. From there, with private transportation (a one hour journey by van), we reached the corresponding harbour of Krabi (Klong Jilad Pier). From there we crossed over by ferry to the Phi Phi islands (Tonsai Pier) a trip lasting around 2,5 hours.

Alternatively one can land at Phuket airport. From there you can go to the corresponding harbour (Rassada Pier). There is a specific ferry which will take you straight to the Phi Phi islands.

You could also rent a speedboat for faster transportation, at a higher cost of course.

Transportation within the island

All transportation on the island is exclusively on foot. There is no available transportation except for hand carts which are used by hotels to carry luggage. 

For your transportation to nearby islands or the national park there are Longboats or else water taxis.

Best things to do in the Phi Phi Islands

On every trip we walk all day long. Both to see the sights but also because we want to experience first hand the full adventure and energy of the place we’re visiting. On this trip, which was actually our honeymoon trip, we had decided not to run around all day long. Therefore, we managed to combine quite a lot of lying about on the beaches, enjoying our cocktails whilst simultaneously having some unforgettable experiences and adventures. Here are some of the exploits we had below.

The most touristic beaches of the island Ko Phi Phi are either on this central island or the closest ones to it. The most well known ones on the central island are:

Long Beach

The easiest way to reach this beach is from the island center. You can book a  longboat or a water taxi, which will get you there in a few minutes. We, however, took the second option, which was to walk along the beautiful path alongside the coastline through the  jungle.

On Long Beach you will find the softest and whitest sand. Crystal clear turquoise waters and absolute peace and quiet since it is one of the most tranquil beaches. There you will have the opportunity to go snorkeling and discover the colourful fish on the sea bottom.

Snorkelling at Long beach to Phi phi islands

Bonus Tip: There are many possibilities that you might see small sharks from 40 cm up to 1 meter long if you swim alongside the coral reef. During the day when there are a lot of boats on the beach it is difficult to spot them. They are most likely to be seen before 9am or after 5pm, if that is your aim.

‘Accommodation in the Phi Phi Islands’ article can be found here.

Tonsai Bay

This is the beach in the most central part of the island. For us this beach wasn’t the best choice, since it also serves as the island’s harbour. The consequence was many tourists, a lot of noise and a not so clean environment.

Tonsai Bay at Phi Phi islands
Loh Dalum

This is a central beach. You have easy access from the central market (150 meters distance) and despite the fact that it is so close to the central tourist area it is actually surprisingly quiet.

The distant beaches for which you must rent a boat or book a tour are:

Monkey Beach

A small beach 150 metres in the southwest of the island with lush vegetation, which creates a very conducive environment for monkeys. This beach is not accessible by land. Our transportation took 15 mins by Longboat which departed from the Tonsai Pier from Koh Phi Phi island.

For us it was a long awaited experience, as monkeys happen to be our favourite animals. We had prepared some small snacks with which to feed them. As soon as we descended from the Longboat we saw them coming towards us. We managed to see two baby monkeys and took quite a lot of photos with them. Their visits lasted as long as our snacks. Once they finished all the crackers they looked at us indifferently and went onto the next tourists. You must take extra precaution of your personal belongings. Monkeys are excellent pickpockets and will go through your bags and pockets in no time, taking your belongings up to the treetops. These animals are considered to be wild, especially during the mating period. Their behaviour can become very aggressive so your movements must be very careful.

Throughout the island there are warning signs (which we hadn’t noticed beforehand) that tourists shouldn’t give food to the monkeys. The reason is that they become spoilt and then are too lazy to hunt for their food, which is provided by the forest.  

One sad sight was the polluted beach with plastic bottles and various other litter lying around. The monkeys living amongst this. We saw a baby monkey picking up a plastic water bottle and nibbling at it. For this reason, please make sure that when you are leaving the Monkey Beach, or any other beach, that you have taken all your odds and ends with you and that you haven’t left something behind which might be harmful to the animals or the environment.

Another option for the more daring tourists is visiting the Monkey Beach in a kayak. The route takes 45 minutes with strong rowing ability but rather tiring if you are visiting the islands in order to relax.

Monkey beach. the famous beach few minutes away from Phi Phi islands full of little monkeys.
Bamboo Island

This is a remote island with sparkling white sand all around its perimeter and crystal clear waters. Its beauty is astonishing and you will have an extraordinary exotic experience. As this is one of the most touristic islands, we suggest you go early in the morning or later in the afternoon, when the island isn’t inundated with tourists. Usually, the tours with many people do not stay long on the island and so no one strays far. So, if you find yourself there surrounded by many people it would be a good idea to walk as far away as possible from the disembarkation area so that you may enjoy this exotic island undisturbed.

Bamboo Island
Viking Caves

The famous and impressive Viking Caves are located in the northeast section of the island under a high cliff. You can rent a longtail boat from the Tonsai harbour, or you can include it in the beach tour which goes around the island.

However,  since 2009 tourists are not allowed to enter the caves and boats cannot approach. For this reason we didn’t include this beach in our tour since we considered it futile simply to pass by without entering the caves.

The history of these caves is very interesting. They have earned their name from the drawings on the cave walls by Scandinavian sailors. It is said that during a terrible storm these sailors found shelter in the caves and during their stay created impressive drawings on the cave walls. The storm destroyed their ships and while waiting for help they survived by eating the birds in the caves. 

Mosquito Island

This island has impressive and interesting spots for scuba diving and snorkeling. It has obtained its name from the swarms of mosquitoes and insects which make their presence more intensely felt during the evening hours. We strongly suggest that you bring along an insect repeller to avoid getting bitten.

Scuba Diving

For those who love the ocean, the boat tour is quite satisfying, but why not take this experience to the next level? We are referring to scuba diving. This experience is a must, in order to see the ocean depths. You will explore the coral reefs and swim amongst colourful fish. You will be surprised at how many colours there are and how strange and different the fish are in this sea. During our dive we saw a sea turtle, a lot of fish which resemble the protagonists of “Nemo”, corals, trumpet fish, barracuda, an enormous jellyfish and many more. There were schools of fish swimming around us so dense that we couldn’t even see each other.

A simple dive in the sea park with special professionals costs around 2500 baht, whilst you could also combine it with the well known shipwreck KledGeaw at a package cost of 3100 baht. Furthermore, in order to enter the sea park you have to pay an extra price of 400 baht per person. Just make sure to book your dive on a day without wind so that the ocean depth is clear. You should also try to go diving in a less frequented area because due to the intense activity the sea life is disrupted and the fish hide.

scuba diving at Phi Phi islands

Αs far as the central island Ko Phi Phi goes we have the following experiences and activities to recommend:

Thai Massage

One thing the Thai are very well known for is their massage. It’s impossible not to try it as the island is full of shops that offer it. If enduring discomfort isn’t your cup of tea do not try the Thai Massage as it is quite uncomfortable. Just choose a relaxing massage with a beautiful essential oil. The prices are quite logical, so if your first one does not satisfy you, try again in another shop. The shops offer a huge variety.

Trying traditional thai massage in a local shop.
View Point

If you like walking and want to try something different beyond the relaxation which the island offers, then it is a good idea to go. The view is especially rewarding if you visit during the sunset. The route you have to follow is from the  Reggae Bar towards Loh Dalum Bay. From there you will see signs guiding you towards Viewpoint.

There are 3 Viewpoints, each one with its own unique view. For us, the best choice was ViewPoint 2 from which one can best see the shape of the island which forms an H, and from where we enjoyed the sunset. Do not forget to take water with you or buy it before ascending the path. Also take insect repellent with you to avoid getting bitten.

The route isn’t at all difficult since the path and stairs have all been pedestrianised and there are many congenial stops. As soon as you reach ViewPoint, you will be asked to pay a ticket of 30 baht in order to continue.

In the event that you miss the signs (like we did), ask a local for the fastest route, so as not to mess up (like we did). In our case, we didn’t notice the signs, and ended up taking the longest path, a half hour walk through the jungle accompanied by humidity, heat and mosquitoes!!

Phi Phi island's viewpoint. The view was remarkable.

Reggae Βar

This is a legendary bar on the island, with the Muay Thai arena as its special feature. In this shop you may have a drink or some food, watch a match of national martial arts or even participate in a match.

In our case, we visited this shop for two nights. The first night was to get to know the place and the goings-on there and the second for Stratos to participate in a boxing match. After a display of professional MuayThai athletes, the shop people go around the tables encouraging the clients to have a match together, with the necessary protective accessories. Hence, Stratos appeared the second night determined to go on the arena (where he was duly beaten). I’m sure he’ll never forget that night! And the excuse was that he had eaten too many shrimps and ice cream half an hour before!! Τhe positive outcome of the evening was that we won a bucket with a bottle of alcohol in it.

Reggae bar at phi phi islands

Nightlife

Wander around the narrow streets, enjoy your drink at a bar and live the island’s nightlife. Τhe main Nightlife attraction without a doubt on Phi Phi islands, is Loh Dalum Bay. During the night is transformed from a long, tranquil beach to a huge beach party, throughout its stretch. Shops such as Slinky Bar offer spectacular fireshows, professional acrobatics and various games such as Libo. People can participate in most of these activities and in some cases they are rewarded with shots of alcohol. The prices are pretty low. Throughout the island you will see people carrying a small bucket with the drink of their choice inside.

fireworks and nightlife at Phi Phi islands

Excursion to Phuket

We refer to Phuket because this was the destination we enjoyed. It was close by and the boat tickets were cheap. Alternatively there are many other little islands which you can escape to for a couple of days. For information concerning routes and prices please check here.

You can check our travel guide for Phuket here.

Where to Eat

Whoever has tried Thai food has surely tried their lightly cooked dishes, with the strong spicy taste. These colourful dishes have their fanatic followers and on the Phi Phi islands you will try these genuine tastes.

On the whole their cuisine is based on seafood as most of the locals are fishermen. As you roam around the island you will see stalls and vendors selling seafood. We suggest you stay away from those stalls as their products are all day in the sun and one could get food poisoning.

Below we list a few places where we enjoyed cheap, tasty food:

TomYam: A small, family shop, which has obtained its name from the dish itself. Here you will find traditional food at very low prices.

La Mamita: Strong Thai cuisine in a beautiful environment with low prices and a very helpful service. It had been recommended for its Italian cuisine but they also have Thai food.

Garlic 1992: Do not be fooled by the plastic tables and chairs, as it is one of the most renowned island restaurants. It has very tasty food and it is always packed.

Banana Rooftop Bar: We recommend this place for a drink, with a beautiful view and music.

When To Go

The High-Season on the Phi Phi islands is from November until April. It is the best season to visit as far as the climate goes. During this period humidity is at its lowest levels and the temperature is on average 28°C, which is conducive to enjoying the beaches and doing water sports. However, during this period hotel and restaurant prices are also at their highest. The rest of the months it is very likely you will come during a monsoon which will ruin your excursion.

Useful Sites & Apps

Nowadays, before or during travelling we always have some useful websites and apps. They guide us towards the destinations we want according to our budgets. We have chosen certain websites and apps which have helped us a lot, or have been recommended a lot and have high grades. Apart from the really well known ones there are also a lot of lesser known ones which can assist you just as well. We offer you our proposals below:

Booking.com

With a plethora of choices, traveller grades, and a lot of offers for those who have booked many destinations, promo codes for you and your friends, discounts and many other advantages. Start booking to discover all the available options and offers. For available hotels and prices check here .

Air Bnb

With over one million properties all around the world. Ideal for a low budget stay even in expensive areas. Furthermore, because you stay in people’s villas, houses or flats you are made to feel more at home by the host of each destination and the homely surroundings. Check for available rooms here.

Hotels.com

Registering here is free and easy. Every hotel on this platform will grant a free tenth night, so if you stay for ten nights the tenth night is free. 

Trip Advisor

This is a very well known website for travellers with a lot of information. It is the largest travelling platform in the world where you can view thousands of reviews, opinions and recommendations as to where and how to travel, even for the most demanding traveller. Look, compare and then visit.

Omio.com

Whatever you need is a click away. Find the best offers from the best companies for trains, buses, planes and ships. Travel to Canada, the USA and Europe. We use it often when we are already abroad and want to visit a neighbouring country. Check available routes here.

Kiwi.com

The first website which every traveller always checks with. Direct, fast pricing and comparing of air tickets throughout the world. We love the filter “Towards any destination” which presents to us, in order of pricing, all the flights available to our chosen destination. The best solution for a last minute trip. For available flights and prices check here.

GetYourGuide

A site which all adventurous travellers love as well as those who wish to visit museums and concerts. All the available activities and tours around the world gathered in a concise list. Read the reviews from each traveller well before booking your activities in order to avoid any misunderstandings with the organisers of each activity as to the days and times. We have tried it many times in America, Asia and Africa without any problems. Book your activities for Phi Phi islands here.

Discover Cars

For car rentals at the lowest prices. Car service in over 150 countries, with many offers and support in over 12 languages and with any special requirements.

Hotel Tonight

Here you will find last minute discounts on vacancies from hotels. This is an amazingly simple app and it doesn’t take long to book a room. You may search in each town for sights and maps. Furthermore, you can check the reviews and photos of other travellers in order to be sure about the reliability of each hotel. It also has a 24/7 customer service. If you’re stuck somewhere and you need a room desperately, this is the perfect app for you.

City Maps 2Go

Maps for travelling, hiking, mountain cycling and many other activities. A necessary app for every adventure, activity or touring abroad. You may only download one map per country, whereas it was possible to download two in the past. For an additional map you need to pay.

You can mark all the places of interest on the map you have downloaded. Whether they are sights, shops, or restaurants you can use the directions guide to get there. The great advantage to this app is that you don’t need to have internet connection although it might get stuck a few times. Nevertheless, it is quite a reliable and useful app.

EXTRA TIP

Once you have marked all the places you want to visit prior to your trip, you can also book your accommodation accordingly. This way you can be sure you’ll be staying somewhere close to all places of interest.

iVisa.com

More information for the necessary travel documents, depending on your nationality and destination can be found here.

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