Phi Phi Islands are located in Thailand, between the large island of Phuket and the western Andaman Sea coast of the mainland. Phi Phi Don is the larger and principal of the two Phi Phi islands which offers hotel accommodation and beach resorts across the island. Phi Phi Leh is the smaller and the setting for “The Beach” Hollywood film. There are no bungalows or hotels allowed on this National park and it is a day trip only destination which offers superb snorkeling. No sharks.
Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants, although the beaches of the second largest island, Koh Phi Phi Lee (or "Koh Phi Phi Leh"), are visited by many people as well. The rest of the islands in the group, including Bida Nok, Bida Noi, and Bamboo Island, are not much more than large limestone rocks jutting out of the sea which again offer great snorkeling.
Phi Phi Don was initially populated by Muslim fishermen during the late 1940s, and later became a coconut plantation. The Thai population of Phi Phi Don remains more than 80% Muslim. The actual population if counting laborers, especially from the north-east, from the mainland is much more Buddhist these days and numbers over 3,000.
Phi Phi Leh also houses the 'Viking Cave', from which there is a thriving bird's nest soup industry. There was criticism during filming of 'The Beach' that the permission granted to the film company to physically alter the environment inside Phi Phi Islands National Park was illegal. The controversy cooled down however, when it was discovered that the producers had done such a decent job of restoring the place that it finally looked better than it had done before - or so is claimed. Could this be a bit of Hollywood spin by chance?
Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island's infrastructure was wiped out and over 3,000 people ar thought to have been killed – all the records were swept out to sea. Redevelopment has, however, been swift, and services like electricity, water, Internet access and ATMs are up and running again. A Tsunami warning system is now in place.
Phi Phi Island is just 90 minutes from Krabi Town and 90 minutes to Phuket by boat.