The islands that comprise the Koh Phi Phi archipelago include Phi Phi Don, Phi Phu Leh, Mai Phai, Ko Yung, Bida Nok and Bida Nai. Phi Phi Don is both the largest and the only populated island, and although it is home to a number of shops, restaurants and hotel resorts it has still managed to retain its natural allure. Despite rapid development on Koh Phi Phi Don, on the whole, the collection of isles retains the laid-back feel that attracted the first backpackers in the 1990s. Most of the development is positioned in or around Ton Sai village, which is located on the sandy isthmus that joins the two hilly sections of the island. Under the protection of Thailand’s national park system, Koh Phi Phi is quickly becoming one of the most popular places in the country for snorkeling, scuba diving and other water sports. Featuring steep limestone cliffs, lovely beaches and gorgeous coral reefs, the extraordinary beauty of Koh Phi Phi attracts visitors seeking holidays in an idyllic island paradise.
Be sure to read about our outstanding one day boat cruises and our 3 night 4 day cruise.
The closest a visitor will get to a “shopping experience” is in Ton Sai village on Koh Phi Phi Don, which acts as something of an open air market. Visitors in search of handicrafts and souvenirs to take home can bargain with the locals to get a good price, with most of the trinkets on offer handmade by locals or transported to the island from neighboring Phuket.
A trip to Thailand would not be complete without indulging in some street food, and the noodle and pad thai hack at the end of the lane between the Irish Pub and the Harmony in is a great place to eat your fill or shrimp or chicken Pad Thai, for just THB90 (US$2.80).
Phi Phi Don is also home to a generous sprinkling of bars if you find yourself in the mood for cocktails of sunset, the majority of which are situated in Ton Sai Bay. Carpe Diem is a great place to relax and chill out after a long day’s snorkeling or diving, while Deaf Gecko on Nice Beach is the ideal spot to savor a fresh fruit shake or a daiquiri. Great music and nightly fire shows can be enjoyed at Hippies Bar in Tonsai Bay. Providing there is no trouble, police on the island will generally permit bars in the town to remain open until 1 a.m., and bars on the beach to remain open until 4 a.m.
As such, if you are visiting Koh Phi Phi expect to get around either on foot or by bicycle. The compact nature of Ton Sai, the most developed part of Koh Phi Phi Don, means that nowhere is more than a ten-minute walk away. Visitors lugging around heavy backpacks can use wheelbarrows to lighten their load. You will commonly see local kids using bicycle powered wheelbarrows to transport goods around island. On busy streets you will also commonly hear an audible "beep beep" coming from young kids as they attempt to power their way through pedestrian traffic.
The most common way to traverse greater distances in the Phi Phi archipelago is unsurprisingly by boat. Long-tail boats ferry visitors between beaches, but similar to tuk-tuks and motorcycle rides in Thailand’s cities, the price of the journey should be negotiated with the driver beforehand. Visitors who want to hire a longtail boat for the whole day can negotiate a flat fee with the driver, depending on how many hours they would like their excursion to last, the season, and your bargaining skills.
Bangkok Airways also operate flights to and from Krabi almost every day of the week, and Nok Air offers daily flights connecting Krabi with Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport. Flight costs range but one way tickets from Bangkok to Krabi can start at 2,000 THB or about US $65 and up from there.
Tickets can be purchased from tourist agencies and most local guesthouses. The cost of a one-way ticket is approximately THB600 (US$19), while a return trip will set you back THB1,000 (US$31). Visitors based on Koh Lanta can also take the ferry to the Phi Phi archipelago for a cost of THB350 (US$11).