Koh Phi Phi Travel Guide

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Perhaps one of Thailand’s most well-known islands, and a popular choice among tourists is Koh Phi Phi. While it is most known for Maya Bay, which was the setting for the 2000 Danny Boyle film ‘The Beach’, tourists can also explore places such as Monkey Beach, and of course, enjoy its prime diving spots. The island was greatly affected by the 2004 tsunami, but Koh Phi Phi has since been restored so that it is even more developed today thanbefore the disaster. A tourist hotspot that may be too crowded for some, Koh Phi Phi is still worth a visit.

Accommodations – Koh Phi Phi is a bit on the pricey side especially compared to other Thailand islands. A bed in a hostel dorm room goes for around 300 THB, while a private room in a hostel can set you back 675 THB. Air-conditioned private rooms for two at a budget hostel cost between 1,000 to around 1,800 THB. During the off-peak season, private bungalows can be as cheap as 800 THB.

Eats – The cost of food varies. For Thai food, meals in the village of Tonsai can go as cheap as 35 to 70 THB, while restaurants in town or closer to the beach can cost from 170 THB up. For Western food, prepare to pay a much heftier price — meals start at 850 THB. If you have facilities available, cook your own food and shop for fresh seafood and produce for very low prices at the Phi Phi Market in Tonsai.

Getting around – Motorized vehicles are not available on Koh Phi Phi, so the best way to get around would be on foot or by bicycle. Inter-island travel can be done through the local long-tail boats or Ruea Hang Yao, which seat about 10 to 15 people comfortably and cost between 250 to 400 THB per hour.

For cheaper costs

Skip the peak season – It’s always better to travel off-peak — between May to October — because aside from having less crowds to contend with, prices of everything from accommodations to boat rentals tend to go down during this time. It may be a bit rainy during this period, but the island can still be enjoyed despite the weather.

Skip the tour and hire your own boat – Instead of joining a tour group with a travel agency or hotel, rent a long tail boat, which will come out to cheap if you split the cost with a group of five or more. Also, don’t forget to bargain to get the best price for a boat.

Find cheap eats in Tonsai — Food in this village is generally cheaper, and tastes just as good as those near the town center or by the beach.

Know where to drink – Take note of which places have happy hour and what time, so you can get the more out of your baht. In particular, the notorious Tiger Bars gives a complimentary drink from 9 pm to 11 pm, and a free Southeast Asia Bucket — a cocktail of Red Bull, Coca Cola, and local whiskey served in a bucket — from 12 mn to 10 am. Bars also tend to give tourists free drinks if they are willing to give out flyers in the afternoon.

Top Koh Phi Phi activities and attractions

Party hard – Koh Phi Phi is, if anything, a party island, with a wild nightlife. Beach parties occur often, as well as fire dances, and Thai boxing. Many bars and clubs on the island offer all kinds of music to suit anyone’s taste — Tiger Bar for DJs, Rolling Stoned Bar for live music, and Slinky Beach Bar for the hottest dance tunes. Just keep in mind that partying can be pricey on Koh Phi Phi. For something different, try Captain Bob’s Sailing Booze Cruise — a party boat that brings tourists to different spots on the Phi Phi islands, unlimited free beer included. The boat departs at 1 pm every day from Tonsai Bay. Prices start from 2,500 THB per person, inclusive of food, booze, snorkelling gear, and kayak rental.

Catch a Thai boxing match – If you are into sports, or would like to get to know more of the local culture, Thai boxing is one attraction you might want to check out. Several bars give you the chance to watch a match or two, or even join one yourself for free buckets of booze for you and your group. Try the Reggae Bar, where matches happen nightly, with professional fighters even coming in on occasion. Other sports are also shown on a TV at the bar.

Go full-on tourist at Pirate Island Adventures – With several rides, a 5D cinema, and a pirate shipwreck complete with ‘ghosts’, this small two-storey theme park of sorts is a fun, if a bit touristy way to spend the day.

Wreck dive at the King Cruiser – The King Cruiser — the wreck of a passenger ship that crashed into Anemone reef in 1997 causing it to sink — is one of the most beautiful dive sites off the island. All kinds of marine life can be found here — tuna, barracuda, clown fish, sea anemones, and even leopard sharks if you’re lucky.

Dive Hin Muang – With a 60-meter vertical wall — the highest in Thailand — Hin Muang draws in its fair share of divers. Not to mention, it is home to many large sea creatures, rays, and pelagics: whale sharks, leopard sharks, reef sharks, barracudas, and mantas. Of course, the highlight of this dive site is the smattering of purple soft corals that cover the rock formation, after which the dive site is named (Hin Muang means Purple Rock). Only advanced divers are recommended to go here, due to the strength of the currents.

Go shark feeding – These tours start early in the morning and typically last for six hours. More than just your regular snorkelling trip at coral gardens, shark feeding tours will get you up close and personal with black-tip reef sharks and leopard sharks. A tour will cost you around 800 THB, or none at all if you go to the Hin Phae inlet on Long Beach’s east side, where you can feed sharks on your own at no cost.

Go snorkelling in Maya Bay or Bamboo Island – Make like Leonardo DiCaprio and take a dip in Koh Phi

Leh’s Maya Bay — the iconic lagoon that was the setting for the 2000 film.  Hemmed in by cliffs as high as 100 meters on its three sides, Maya Bay is a common stop on the usual island-hopping or snorkelling tour, so expect a lot of people. Those who want to experience it without the crowds can try staying overnight. Another alternative would be to visit the virtually deserted Bamboo Island, which is an 8 mile distance from Koh Phi Phi and part of the National Marine Park. For a 400 THB entrance fee (those who have visited Maya Bay are charged half the price),  visitors can enjoy tan on the beach, swim, and snorkel the beautiful Hin Klang coral garden.

See the sun rise or set at Phi Phi Viewpoint – The majestic panorama of Koh Phi Phi Leh and Koh Phi Phi Don is a sight to behold, though it takes a twenty-minute hike up seemingly endless steps to the viewpoint, which is as high as 600 feet. The walk may knock the wind out of you, but the view will take your breath away, especially at daybreak or sunset, when the sky comes alive with different colors. The viewpoint is also the gateway to the beaches on the eastern side of Koh Phi Phi.

Enjoy Monkey Beach – With ace diving, fine white sand, and beautiful waters, Monkey Beach is a prime spot for those who love the water. Even those who want to stay dry can get up close and personal with the wildlife — as the beach’s name suggests, monkeys come down to the shore for tourists to interact with and feed.

Try your hand at deep-sea fishing – While pricey — an eight hour trip will set you back around 2,500 to 2,700 THB — deep-sea fishing is definitely one of the more unique activities you can try on Koh Phi Phi. You can expect to get different kinds of fish on the hook — from king mackerel, tuna, dorado, sailfish, and even barracuda. Afterwards, you can have your catch of the day prepared at the local market. Take the deep-sea fishing experience up a notch and go at night for a completely different environment.

Climb some Koh Phi Phi’s limestone rocks – Get physical and test your strength by conquering the limestone rock faces that populate Koh Phi Phi’s landscape. While definitely an intense physical challenge, seeing the landscape from the top of the cliffs and rocks will be worth it. Book a tour or a boat to bring you to one of the many rock climbing spots on the island, such as Tonsai Tower, to name one.

Go kayaking – The waters on Koh Phi Phi are perfect for kayaking, which is one of the best ways to experience the island. Kayaks can easily be rented on Koh Phi Phi, and many options for kayak tours are also available. To make the experience even more sublime, join a sunset kayak tour, where you can drive your kayak towards Wang Long bay to catch the sunset from the sea.

Immerse yourself in Thai cuisine – If you love Thai food and would like to recreate it when you return home, join a class or two at the local cooking schools. Try Pum’s Thai Cooking School in Tonsai Village, which offers 30-minute to 6-hr classes, starting at 500 THB.

Shop at the Phi Phi market – The local market also in Tonsai village is open every day and has a lot of fresh local produce and seafood at affordable prices, making it a great place to shop if you want to cook or eat. With all the colors, smells, and sounds, it is also a feast for the senses, and gives you an idea of daily life in Koh Phi Phi.

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