Paradise Found: Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Welcome to our 4 day tour of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. We hope you enjoy traveling with us and are inspired to take your own trip. This trip was part of our seven month journey around the world which began in Flores, Guatemala. See a summary of the destinations we traveled to over our seven months here: link.
To get here we took a ferry from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi. The price of a ferry from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi starts at 450 Thai Baht (~$14 USD) and takes one to two hours depending on the boat.
Why Travel to Koh Phi Phi, Thailand ?
Koh Phi Phi, also known as Koh Phi Phi Don, is an island of natural beauty full of striking vertical cliffs surrounded by alluring turquoise water. There are breathtaking vistas around every turn. Koh Phi Phi is definitely on the bucket list of many travel lovers and if it isn’t on yours already, it will be.
How Long to Stay in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand?
We would recommend 3 days at a minimum. You can account for one full day on a long-tail boat ride around the islands (this is a MUST). Another day for the Viewpoints hike and walking around the stunning Koh Phi Phi coastline. For a third day you can take another boat ride, perhaps into the main town or more snorkeling and visiting surrounding islands. Leaving a day in case of inclement weather is always a good idea to go by.
Top Things to Do in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
1) Hire a Private Long-tail Boat and Tour the Islands
Tour Length: ~ 8 hours
Cost: 2500 THB (around $80 USD as of the date of this article)
Discover the beautiful Phi Phi Islands in the Andaman Sea via a long-tail boat (a water taxi that can take up to 6 people).
The best thing you can do is hire a private traditional long-tail boat and make your own itinerary. We had an awesome guide that took us to private islands, bays, stopped at a few snorkeling spots (where he jumped in with us as well as giving us alone time), and brought us to stunning rock formations and limestone caves around the sea.
We stopped at various locations on our 8-hour private tour including:
Pileh Lagoon: (see #2 Things To Do)
Maya Bay: (see #4 Things To Do)
Located off the southwest side of Tonsai Bay lies a stretch of white sand that is accessible only by boat or kayak. The Bay is famous for its monkey inhabitants that demand food and rule the beach.
On the east coast of Koh Phi Phi is Small Shark Point (best for snorkelers), where blacktip reef sharks swim in shallows waters. We stayed here for only 15 minutes and I did see a black tip reef shark while snorkeling.
This island has shallow reefs and is a great place for kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Note*Admission fee to the island is a hefty 400 THB ($13 USD) charged by the national park. We did not go on the island but snorkeled off it. Definitely saw some Nemo’s and other pretty fish and coral.
Koh Phi Phi 101: When visiting the beautiful reefs, be mindful that the reef is a collection of living organisms. Much of the coral systems closer to beaches are dead likely from tourists not knowing reef etiquette. Do not touch the coral and please use reef safe sunscreen.
The Viking Cave is on the tip of the island of Phi Phi Leh, just south of Koh Phi Phi Don. This cave was once said to be a den for pirates. Currently, the cave is home to sea birds and has ancient cave markings on the walls of what past sea life looked like.
Other Pictures from our private tour:
When searching for a boat-to-hire, there are countless boats waiting for your business along the coast. Rather than booking online, we walked the coast and asked the price of an all day excursion as we figured more of the money would go to the local operator. The boats will vary in price depending on demand, availability, and where you are at on the island. We were situated on a more secluded area of the island and were able to negotiate an all day (~8 hour) private tour including snorkel gear for $2,500 THB ($80 USD) aboard the Phi Phi Plankton.
2) Take a trip to pileh lagoon on Koh phi phi Leh
1.5 kilometers (less than .5 miles) south of Koh Phi Phi Don lies the uninhabited island of Koh Phi Phi Leh which has even more stunning scenery. The highlights of this island are Pileh Lagoon and Maya Bay.
This breathtaking and jaw-dropping green-hued lagoon makes it an impressive spot for snorkeling or just relaxing.
3) Hike to Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint
1.1 mile hike
Approximately 1 hour to get from Viewpoint 1 to Viewpoint 3 (including photo breaks)
Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint Hike 101:
Bring cash otherwise you will not be able to start the hike, let alone get to the viewpoints.
Also, bring mosquito repellent as you are hiking through a jungle.
If you don’t feel like walking back you can always take a boat from the nearest bay.
The Viewpoint hike is the perfect way to get breathtaking panoramic views of the island.
The trail is a moderate hike that provides you with three distinct and splendid viewpoints.
The trail itself is a mix of stairs made of rocks, concrete, or wood, loosely marked jungle paths, dirt roads, and some paved paths.
Along the route, you will see signs for “Tsunami Evacuation Route” (which means you are going the right way) and “Ton-sai Bay Viewpoint”. Besides these signs, signage wasn’t always the best.
Viewpoint 1 (I love Phi Phi)
Here we paid an entrance fee of 30 THB ($1 USD) which gave us access Viewpoints 1 and 2. Make sure you keep your ticket to show at the next Viewpoint.
About 20 minutes further uphill you will arrive at Viewpoint 2 which has a cafe selling food and refreshments. Here you can get some shade, enjoy the view, and take a load off.
The island is two large rock formations connected by an isthmus (a strip of sand).
The highest Viewpoint on Koh Phi Phi has an admission fee of 20 THB (under $1 USD) including a bottle of water. Here you will get the best view and your opportunity to snap the iconic Koh Phi Phi picture.
4) Visit Maya Bay
This isolated picturesque island was made famous by the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo Dicaprio. Maya Bay is located just south of Koh Phi Phi on the island of Phi Phi Leh.
It was a bit crowded, but this cove is a nice place to snap some photos. This was one of the stops on our long-tail boat private tour and is worth a stop to see it for yourself.
Loh Sama Bay is separated from Maya Bay by a limestone cliff. You can see Loh Sama Bay by taking the wooden staircase shown below.
Entrance fee to Maya Bay was 400 THB ($13 USD) at the time of our travel
Update: In an effort to allow the ecosystem to recover from years of heavy tourism, Thai officials closed Maya Bay in June of 2018, and it is still closed as of the date of this article. I mean they had a smoking area on the beach, come on now.
5) Walk Along the Coast (Northeast Koh Phi Phi)
We stayed in Northern Koh Phi Phi, so our walk was on the coast of Laemthong Beach which has several restaurants and resorts lining the beachfront. There are no bikes or cars on Koh Phi Phi as there are no roads so your options for transportation are walking or long-tail boats.
6) Treat Yourself to a Massage
After a hike of the Viewpoints of Koh Phi Phi what better way than to indulge in a very well-priced and relaxing massage (roughly $10-$15 USD/per person for an hour)? We stayed in the more secluded area of Koh Phi Phi, which had limited massage parlors, but you will be able to find them almost anywhere on the island.
7) Enjoy a Fire Rhythm Show (Northern Koh Phi Phi)
Looking for a bit of action? Head over to Beach & Bar Restaurant at Phi Phi Natural Resort (just a 5 minute walk away from our Hotel P.P. Erawan Palms Resort). Performers entertain you with a show of fire-dancing mixed with acrobatics.
We did not dine at the restaurant, we just sat on the beach and watched the show. In fact, we sat so close the sparks hit us a few times. For those looking to get closer to the action, after the performance you can participate and give fire twirling a try. You bet we did. The show is entirely free, as always tips are appreciated)
Where to Stay in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Koh Phi Phi 101: To get to Koh Phi Phi you will arrive via speedboat or ferry into Ao Ton Sai Pier Pier in Tonsai Bay. This town and Loh Dalum are the main tourist spots and can get quite loud as this is where all the action (partying) happens. If you want a quiet stay, we would highly suggest staying in another part of the island as we did. To get to other areas you will have to take another boat ride. Many of the boat services will want to charge a very high fee for taking you around the island (substantially higher at evening/night). Luckily, we had excellent service from our Hotel as they arranged to come pick us up for a much smaller fee.
P.P. Erawan Palms Resort
At the far northern tip of Koh Phi Phi, or a 45-minute long-tail boat ride from Tonsai Village, is the remote Laemtong Beach.
This area is secluded, quiet and absolutely picturesque, and can only be accessed by boat. Enjoy a tranquil stay at the P.P. Erawan Palms Resort, a 3-star tropical beachfront resort. It was the most ideal spot for us, a romantic and relaxing stay. They offer a variety of services ranging from long-tail boat service to rentals of kayaks and snorkeling equipment. Breakfast is included with your stay.
Where to Eat in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Sawasdee Restaurant (beachfront restaurant at P.P. Erawan Palms Resort)
You don’t have to stay here to enjoy the great food and spectacular views. This restaurant serves traditional Thai food with an unparalleled sea view.
As we were waiting for the ferry service in Tonsai village to take us to the next destination, we stopped at this beachfront restaurant. They serve a variety of fares, from Thai cuisine, to Indian, to your typical American cuisine. You name it, the probably have it. I was even able to find some vegan dishes.
Other Recommendations of Things to Do
These are all adventures that we unfortunately didn’t have time to do on our own but would have considered if we had more time:
- Visit Mosquito Island (Koh Yung) (45 minutes north (via boat) of Koh Phi Phi): This island is said to be an amazing spot for underwater activities such as snorkeling and diving. Home to not only many vibrant schools of fish, black-tip reef sharks, but after around sunset, you guessed it – mosquitos.
- Visit Bamboo Island (Koh Phai) (15 minutes north (via boat) of Koh Phi Phi): An island with shallow reefs that are a great place for kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, and diving. Note*Admission fee to the island is a hefty 400 THB ($13 USD) charged by the national park. We were able to bypass this fee when we took a long-tail boat and were able to snorkel around the island without stepping foot on the island.
- Hike Koh Phi Phi Viewpoint (Extended) (add an additional 30 minutes-1 hour hike) : After a hike of the Viewpoints of Koh Phi Phi, you can continue hiking along Phi Phi eastern coast and head to some of the stunning beaches including Rantee Beach, Loh Loh Bay, Loh Bakao Bay, and Pak Nam Beach. You can always hire a long-tail boat to take you back into town after your beach hikes)
- Experience Tonsai Bay by Night: Head into the main town and check out some of the nightlife and see what all the noise is about.
- Explore the Beaches: There are countless beaches scattered around the island, one that is said to have the finest white sand would be Long Beach. Long Beach is at the southeast tip of Koh Phi Phi and is said to be more remote and quiet.
- Tonsai Tower: located at the western end of Tonsai Bay are 200m tall limestone cliffs that have several different bolted routes featuring all levels of difficulty. We chose to save our rock climbing for Railay Beach in Krabi (our next stop).
- Shark Watching Tour (Eastern tip of Long Beach): Swim with blacktip reef sharks! Yes, on purpose. Off the west coast there is Shark Point, but due to its depth it is only visited by scuba divers.
- Scuba diving (2.5 hours south of Koh Phi Phi): Some of the top diving spots in the world are Hin Daeng (Red Rock) which is famous for its marine life (including leopard-sharks, whale-sharks, and manta-rays) and Hin Muang (Purple Rock) which is known for its vibrant coral.
Questions For You
- Would you prefer a party scene or a relaxed scene in Koh Phi Phi?
- What did you like most about our stay in Koh Phi Phi?
- Would you be interested in visiting the wonderful island of Koh Phi Phi?