Koh Phi Phi is by far one of the most popular islands to visit while traveling through Thailand. You can see that the burden of popularity and beauty ways heavy on the Phi Phi islands. The islands of Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh are promoted as paradise by the Tourism Authorities in Thailand. Is this true or not?
The small island gained massive popularity after the movie The Beach starring Leonardo Dicaprio was shot there. Ever since then the island has been overrun by tourists. Regardless, Koh Phi Phi is still bucket list item number one when visiting Thailand due to its azure seas, lush mountains, amazing nightlife, and colorful long-tail boats covering the beaches.
Known for: to party or not to party?
Climate: Tropical Monsoonal
Koh Phi Phi exists of two main islands, Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh. Phi Phi Don is the larger island where all the people live, Phi Phi Leh is an uninhabited island that is also a national park (this is where The Beach was filmed).
Weather, When to Visit
The islands enjoys a tropical climate with hot temperatures all year round. The year is split into two different seasons, make sure to pick when you visit right as you don’t want to be stuck in the super hot season when you can’t handle heat or in the wet season when you were planning to sunbathe lots!
The dry season is from December till April, there is still a chance of rainfall, these will just be short drizzles often in the evening. It get’s hottest around the months of February and March, so avoid these if you can’t handle 35+ degrees Celcius. Wet season starts up in May and ends in November, this doesn’t mean that you will have rain all day every day. Yes, it happens that you have two days of rain in a row, but you could also have two weeks of sunshine with an occasional thunderstorm in the evening. Temperatures still don’t go under 25 degrees celcius!
Prior to Arrival
Most nationalities don’t need a visa for Thailand, they will receive a visa exempt stamp at the border. Some of the countries that are exempt are Australia, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Singapore and many more that can be found on this list.
How to Get There
Ferries go frequently from either Phuket or Krabi and take about two hours. If you travel in the rainy season ferries might not go as frequent (they still usually go at least twice a day). You can buy your ferry ticket at all tourist shops that can be found almost everywhere. Your total costs will be about 400 baht per person this includes a pick up from your accommodation.
Windy days – during the rainy season there is often a lot of wind, making the seas quite rough. Even those that don’t get seasick, often do experience nausea during these times. The only solution for this is to try and find some motion sickness tablets at a pharmacy, or just rough it out. Fun fact: the crew hands out barf bags when you enter the boat during these rough days. Every boat has a toilet. WARNING: if you can hold it, hold it! It looks like these toilets are cleaned only once a month and they NEVER have any toilet paper.
Snacks and drinks can often be bought at a little bar on the boat. They are however very overpriced. I would recommend you to buy something before you leave.
To enter the island of Koh Phi Phi you have to pay a fee of 20 Baht, you’ll have to pay this right after you come off the boat, so make sure you have it ready. The fee is to “keep Koh Phi Phi clean”, don’t bother trying to get around it, it’s quite impossible.
There is no motorized traffic on Koh Phi Phi. Meaning that after arrival you’re going to have to carry or roll your luggage to your accommodation. Tip, there are men with wheelbarrows that usually hang around the dock, for a small fee they will do the luggage dragging for you. Get ready for some walking!
Book your accommodation on time! Especially during the dry season, it is often busy on the island. I would recommend booking your accommodation for Phi Phi at least 1 month in advance. My favorite website to book accommodation through by far is Booking.com! They’ve been a lifesaver when it came to last minute bookings more than once.
I love love love Booking.com, it is by far my favorite booking site, and I found some awesome deals for you!
Koh Phi Phi is a party central, you’ll be able to dance till the sun comes up again. There are however some other must-see sights on and around this small island. The first thing you should know that everything is within walking distance or easy to reach with a cheap water taxi. Here are some of the activities:
- Hike up to the famous viewpoint – I’d highly recommend going here just before sunset. It’s quite a walk and can feel impossible in the heat of the day. You can find the viewpoint by following the signs all around the island, or by just following the yellow brick road, which is the main walking path on the island.
- Day trip by longtail boat – You’ll be able to rent a boat with a bunch of people for not more than 300 Bath each. The taxi driver will drop you off at all the highlights around the island such as monkey beach, maya bay, maya beach, and some amazing snorkeling points. When we did the trip our boat broke down (luckily this was on the way home), we had to wait for about 2 hours and got to see an amazing sunset from the water. The boat had to be towed by another longtail boat which must have been a hilarious sight!
TIP: don’t leave your stuff unattended on monkey beach, the monkeys are very curious and have taken more than you’d believe into the jungle, never to be seen again. So if you like your belongings, keep them with you!
- Rent a kayak, for those of us that like to explore and adventure out on their own, there is the option of renting a canoe. You can do this by yourself or with a bunch of your newly made friends. Maya Bay and monkey beach are easy to reach from the main beach of Koh Phi Phi (canoe to the right for Maya bay, and left to monkey beach). This will cost about 100 Bath an hour and one kayak often fits 2 people.
- Shop – the whole main island is filled with market stalls. They’ve got some of the nicest trinkets and clothes, a perfect spot to do some souvenir shopping.
- Beach & pool, seems obvious but relax 🙂
- Cooking class – there are lots of them but one of the best ones around is probably Pum Thai’s Cooking School. Go eat your heart out!
Koh Phi Phi has become somewhat of a legend when it comes to partying. Every night, and then I really mean EVERY night, you can enjoy packed bars, cocktails, rowdy crowds, naked people on the beach going skinny dipping, and fire dancing.
These are some of the places that are a must visit when in Phi Phi, even if it’s just to say “been there, done that”.
- Rolling Stoned Bar (aka Live Music Bar) located in the center of the island, a must visit for fans of live music. It has a great atmosphere and is my personal favorite!
- Slinky Bar is the most popular beach bar on Koh Phi Phi when it comes to loud music, fire dancers, and beach dancing.
- Reggae Bar – one of the oldest bars on the island and still one of the most popular ones. Why? They have ridiculous “fights” in the bar. There is an actual fighting ring where bar-goers can fight each other. Highly intoxicated guys trying to fight each other, you can probably guess how this ends.
- Banana Rooftop Bar is a bamboo hut located on top of a Mexican Street in one of the side streets. The only way to access it is via a spiral staircase. The food is very good (pretty awesome Mexican food in Thailand if you ask me), in high season they show movies every night at 7 pm (FREE FREE FREE). And during the night they have live music, some pretty awesome DJ’s, video games, and special smokes for whoever is interested.
If this is your first visit to Thailand or even Southeast Asia you might be in for a little bit of a culture shock. Read more about how to respect the customs and beliefs in a mostly Buddhist company here.
Have you been to Koh Phi Phi or are you going soon? Let me know how your experience was or what you are planning on doing!