Phi Phi Islands
A group of six picture-postcard islands offering an ultimate tropical getaway. All are accessible from Phuket Island by speedboat (about 45 minutes trip) or by ferry (about 90 minutes).
The two main islands are Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh with its world famous Maya Bay. The only inhabited island and the largest one is Phi Phi Don. There are no cars on the island and if you travel with big luggage, contact your hotel before arrival or find a guy at the pier who will take care of your luggage. You can take a walk to your hotel but ambient temperature can make it unpleasant. Also, if you are a cat lover, you will stop every few minutes and play with them.
Ao Tonsai is the main port where all ferries and speedboats dock. You can find there also trip sellers, longtail boats to rent and many restaurants.
Phi Phi Islands are also famous for amazing scuba diving sites and you will easily find multiple dive shops around.
We visited this place three times - for scuba diving twice and also we stayed on the island overnight on another occasion.
Most people visit the islands during one day organized trip which takes you to Maya Bay, Viking Cave, Monkey Beach, Phi Phi Don for a lunch and on the way back to a small island for sunbathing and snorkeling.
Tour operators also offer an overnight stay on the Phi Phi Don Island.
We booked overnight tour with Phuket All Tours and it is a great option if your time is limited. I was so enchanted by the islands and theirs atmosphere, that I regretted at the end that we booked only one night there. Learn on my mistakes and stay there for at least three days. If you are a scuba diver, you can easily stay a week.
There are many hotels to suit every pocket. I booked P. P. Casita Hotel and I can highly recommend it. It is a nice, laid back hotel offering small outdoor pool and tasty breakfast. Rooms are located in separate bungalows, small but cosy and clean. The bungalows are surrounded by trees and flowers. The only drawback was an internet connection that worked only at the hotel’s reception.
The hotel is located about 10 minutes walk from the pier and only few minutes walk to the beach, restaurants, massage parlours and short walk to the entrance of a famous viewpoint. This area is very lively at night.
Just outside the hotel you can find an absolutely delicious Indian food. We also had massage in Thai style salon next to the restaurant.
The viewpoint offers an amazing coastline view and if you can be there just after 6 pm, you will experience a spectacular sunset. Climb to the viewpoint takes about 20-30 minutes, it isn't difficult but heat makes it quite challenging. There is a small entrance fee (about 30 baht) and you can buy some cold drinks and snacks at the top.
Rent a longtail boat and visit stunning Maya Bay before all crowds come with daily tour trips. If you want to enjoy the beach you have to be there before 10am or after 4pm. On the way back from the Maya Beach, visit Monkey Beach for a photo opportunity with local monkeys who await treats from tourists. Monkeys - in general are quite friendly but they can turn quite aggressive too so be careful and use common sense. Make sure to go there during low tide because during high tide water covers the whole beach and you can only watch monkeys sitting on the rocks from your boat.
Phi Phi Islands on a one day tour
Consider not booking one day tour unless your time is really limited.
I booked a day tour to Phi Phi Islands with overnight stay on Phi Phi Don. We left first group just after lunch and joined another group on the following day also after lunch.
If you really want to admire beauty of this place, avoid one day trips. Book a ferry and stay there for few days. Rent a longtail boat and enjoy surrounding islands at your own pace.
What a day tour provides:
You start from Phuket Island and after 45 minutes on a speedboat you reach little paradise in Phi Phi Leh - Maya Bay. The natural beauty of this place is second to none and since The Beach movie was filmed here it is the most visited beach, making this place incredibly crowded. Unfortunately, if you choose one day trip, you won't have other choice than share the beach with hundreds of other people. It is a shame they give you only 30 minutes to explore the place - a queue to the toilets takes more time. They do warn you that if you do not return on time, they leave without you. Boats can only dock at the bay for half an hour and need to clear the space for other speedboats coming.
After stopping at Maya Bay, speedboat travels to Phi Phi Don but on the way there, makes 15 minutes stops in Loh Samah Bay for snorkeling from the boat, then at Pileh Cove and Viking Cave where you can watch both places from the boat. Next stop is another famous place - the Monkey Beach where you suppose to spend some time feeding wild monkeys - unless you are unlucky (but no one warns you before departure) and tide is too high covering all sandy parts. Then the only option is to watch the monkeys from your boat. From there, boat takes you to the Phi Phi Don pier, for an hour long break with lunch included and quick walk along the pier if you are interested. It is a buffet lunch and I can't say anything positive about it, so run away and choose from many nice restaurants located along the walkway if you can.
Then, another one hour long speedboat rides back to Phuket with one additional stop in Koh Khai Nok Island. A tiny island with beach restaurant and barbeque area, with nothing to offer except for swimming or snorkeling and sunbathing. The break takes about 2 hours and it is a waste of time if you consider that you have only 30 minutes at Maya Bay. You have to pay for wooden, overused and old sun loungers, for toilets which are so dirty and awful, you will use them only in emergency (don't leave your flip flops on the boat - you will need them if you are brave enough and pushed to your limits).
In overall a one day trip only gives you an idea how naturally beautiful is area of Phi Phi Island. Thankfully we stayed there overnight.
Phi Phi Islands offer one of the most amazing dive sites of the Andaman Sea. There are many dive centers on Phi Phi Don offering daily dive trips and also liveaboard option. We dove with Phuket Dive Tours company which organized two separate dive days starting from the port in Phuket Island. The journey by big boat takes more than one hour one way, so be prepared for a quite long day. The better option is to go to Phi Phi Don by ferry, book few nights in one of the hotels and enjoy dive sites from island.
You can dive there all year round and average water temperature is 29 degree Celsius but the best time is dry season from February to May.
Diving around island is amazing. The sea offers fantastic marine life, superb soft coral and large school of pelagic. You can spot blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, leopard sharks, turtles, dolphins, moray eel,stingrays,barracudas, scorpionfishes and many more water creatures.
Macro lovers will be delighted with many seahorses and various species of pipefishes. We also did diving around King Cruiser wreck which is a sunken in 1997 passenger and car ferry- lays now in 33m on the sandy bottom. It is a dive sites for advanced divers because of the depth and sometimes strong current.
For more descriptive overview of Phi Phi Islands check out my two GoPro videos : Holidays in Thailand and Scuba Diving in Thailand (my previous posts).