Koh Phi Phi Sailing, Cruise and Travel Tips

Sailing, Kayaking & Diving



The Beach film set

Travellers in search of one of Thailand’s true island paradises often end up in Koh Phi Phi, an archipelago of six islands situated 25 miles south of Phuket in the Andaman Sea. Home to sheer limestone cliffs, ivory colored beaches and a rainbow of underwater coral reefs, Koh Phi Phi if popular with visitors exploring Thailand in search of the days spent lazing amongst film set-perfect surroundings, SCUBA diving, or snorkeling. Indeed, Phi Phi’s popularity has grown exponentially since one of the islands, Koh Phi Phi Leh, was used in the movie adaptation of “The Beach” novel. 

Beautiful Laem Tong Beach

An Archipelago with Great Beaches

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.

The dramatic seascape around Koh Phi Phi


Bays

Beautiful May Bay

The main attraction on Phi Phi Leh is undoubtedly Maya Bay, the stunning scenery of which was featured in “The Beach”. The bay is a hit with both divers and snorkelers as it boasts an impressive array of marine life and a vibrant collection of coral. Visitors seeking an adrenaline fix can take a leap from the 20m jump spot in one of the creek’s behind the beach.

Maya Bay


Beaches

Monkey Beach and Yao Beach

Favorite beaches on Phi Phi Don include Monkey Beach and Yao Beach, which offers fabulous views and a great location to try out some snorkeling. Both of the beaches can be accessed on foot or by longtail boat, although visitors at Monkey Beach should take care against aggressive monkeys. Other beaches include quiet Laem Tong on the north of the island, and Hin Khao Beach which can only be accessed by foot. Visitors in need of a reprieve from sun bathing can pay their respects at the Tsunami Memorial Garden by the Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar, before taking in an exhilarating evening fire show on the beach.

Monkey Beach


Caves

Visitors keen to get away from development altogether gravitate towards Phi Phi Leh, the second largest island in the archipelago. To step into the island’s long history, visitors should pay a visit to Phaya Naak Cave, which is adorned with impressive prehistoric paintings.


Views

To enjoy the splendor of the landscape, many visitors take a walk to the viewpoint on Koh Phi Phi Don, which is positioned 186m above sea level. While the 10-25 minute trek up a steep incline may put some visitors off, the spectacular view from the top is an ample reward for the challenge. Upon arriving at the peak, visitors can refresh themselves with a chilled drink from the only shop at there, whilst marveling at the thin strip of sandy land that connects the two sections of the island.


Boat Cruises

A selection of day trip tour vessels from Phuket also visit Koh Phi Phi on day trips. Day trips can be organized through one the wide selection of tourist agencies sprinkled in Phuket’s Patong town. Tour packages generally include several stops to give visitors a true sampling of the Phi Phi islands, including lunch on Phi Phi Don as well as snorkeling stops and transport connections to your hotel.

Be sure to read about our outstanding one day boat cruises and our 3 night 4 day cruise.

Boating

The Phi Phi archipelago offers many opportunities for sailing, whether you want to hire a longtail boat for a sunset excursion or charter a sailing boat to explore the idyllic, deserted anchorage points in the vicinity of the islands. For visitors with an eco-friendly consciousness, kayaking is a great way to explore remote areas which sail boats struggle to reach, as well as being an excellent means of exploring Phi Phi’s stunning scenery. Kayakers who want to go it alone can rent kayaks on an hourly or daily basis, or tag along with an organized kayaking tour of the islands.

Scuba & Snorkeling

Scuba Diving

The island of Ko Bida Nok is home to a rainbow of coral, and divers should keep their eyes peeled for leopard sharks, turtles and moray eels. Garang Heng, situated just of Phi Phi Leh boasts a reef that is rich with anemones, soft corals and more leopard sharks. For divers in search of a little extra excitement, the underwater cave system at the Wang Long dive site provides a challenge, and is only suitable for experienced divers.

Snorkeling

Many snorkelers head to “Shark Point”, two rocks situated within swimming distance of Long Beach where it is possible to catch a glimpse of harmless blacktip reef sharks. To ensure a sighting of one of the sharks, many snorkelers head to Paradise Diving on Long Beach who will provide information on the best location to scout out the elegant creatures. In addition, Mosquito Island and Bamboo Island offer good snorkeling locations, although at high tide snorkelers will find that the colorful reefs are quite a long way below them.

Appealing warm clear waters keep divers and snorkelers happy


Wellness

Wellness

Koh Phi Phi is home to a variety of spas, including the Zeavola Resort & Spa, the Spa at Phi Phi Island Village, Beach Resort & Spa and the Spa at PP Princess Diving & Spa Resort. For visitors who want to cleanse both mind and body, daily yoga classes are on offer on the rooftop of Carlito Bar and in Banyan Villa Gym.

Markets & Shopping

As one of Thailand’s most undisturbed island gems, it is no surprise that Koh Phi Phi has not strived to establish a reputation for itself as a shopper’s paradise. However, the Phi Phi Don is home to a number of supermarkets, although visitors should bear in mind that because supplies have to be transported to the island by boat, they are often more expensive than they would be on the mainland, and prices can vary widely between shops.

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.

Handmade beach essentials at Ton Sai Village


Overview

Overview

Southern Thailand is renowned for the delectable, spicy flavor of its cuisine, and the eateries on Koh Phi Phi are no exception. Food on Koh Phi Phi is varied, although given the small size of the island there is not as much choice as tourists could expect on mainland Thailand. Visitors can indulge in a range of Thai and Western cuisine, but should ensure they make time to sample Krabi’s traditional dish – stir fried Spotted Babylon seasoned with chilies and basil.

A Few Restaurants

Calamero Resto puts on a wide spread of dishes, including a variety of breakfasts, pizza, pasta Thai food and sandwiches, all of which are reasonably priced. Visitors in search of tasty, local spot often head to Mr Tee’s where the food is cheap and comes with a spicy kick. The restaurant can be found by heading left upon disembarking the ferry, and going down an alley crowded with small Thai restaurants. Mr Tee’s is the second booth on the left.

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.


Getting Around

Koh Phi Phi

One of the ways Koh Phi Phi has managed to retain its idyllic paradise status is by maintaining that no motorized transport should be used on the island. While this is the official rule, a few motorcycles with side-cars are used on the island for the transportation of goods and construction materials.

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.


Getting In and Out

By Plane

Visitors traversing the Land of Smiles by plane can get to Phi Phi by flying into Krabi International Airport before transferring by land and boat. The airport is served by daily Thai Airways flights to and from Bangkok, in addition to Air Asia connections to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

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.

By Boat

Due to the remote nature of the island and the fact that it does not have its own airport, it is necessary to take a boat to get to the Phi Phi archipelago. Ferries depart on a daily basis from Phuket and Krabi. Ferries from Krabi set sail at 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and ferries from Phuket leave at the same times, with an extra ferry at 11:00 a.m. during the high season.

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).

By Bus

Travellers on a tighter budget can take the bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal to Krabi, which takes about 12 hours in total. A seat on the 7:20 a.m. VIP bus will set travellers back THB1,055 (US$32); the 7:00 p.m. first class bus THB680 (US$21); and the second class buses which depart at four times daily cost THB380 (US$21).

By Train

Visitors making their way to Krabi by train should purchase a ticket to the nearest railway station to Krabi which is in Trang province just south of the town. The Trang Railway Station is in Trang town and from there you will need to take a taxi or a private car with driver to Krabi. After you exit the train in Trang town there are numerous travel agents shops very close to the train station so making arrangements to Krabi from there is not a problem.