Acclaimed world-wide, the Phi Phi Islands form part of a protected maritime park and are known for their white sandy palm fringed beaches and stunning limestone monoliths that rise from the Andaman Sea.
The Islands are located some 48 kms east of Phuket and 42 kms south of Krabi and consist of the larger inhabited Phi Phi Don, and the smaller Phi Phi Lei, which obtained repute from the blockbuster movie The Beach. Access to the islands is by ferry or speedboat from either Phuket or Krabi.
The two islands of Koh Phi Phi (Don and Lei) are some of Thailand’s most alluring. This is sometimes a curse, as despite their national park status, developers have encroached to cash in on tourism. Nevertheless, newcomers are awe-struck by the area’s natural splendour, and Koh Phi Phi remains a foremost tourist destination.
The larger Phi Phi Don consists of two rock masses bridged by a strip of white sand with beaches on both sides. The southern beach (Ao Ton Sai) is more developed, with boats anchoring in the calm bay. The legendary tranquillity has gone, but one blessing is that decent restaurants and bungalows are easy to find. The northern beach (Ao Lo Dalam) is comparatively rougher, with fewer bungalows than Ao Ton Sai. More lovely beaches are on the longer, eastern side of the island, known as Koh Nai; a sea gypsy community occupies Laem Thong in the north. Koh Nai’s beaches include Ao Lo Bakao, Haad Yao and Haad Lanti, popular with surfers. The western portion of Phi Phi Don, Koh Nawk, is mostly uninhabited.
Phi Phi Lei comprises mainly cliffs and a sea lake. Maya bay is the setting for Leonard DiCaprio’s The Beach and swimming in the bay and playing with the plentiful fish is the name of the game. In the famous Viking Cave, men climb flimsy bamboo scaffolds to collect swifts' nests from the cavern walls. There are prehistoric paintings here, alongside more recent pictures from the last century or so.
Phi Phi Don offers plenty of activities. Diving, snorkelling and fishing trip operators work from Ton Sai. Kayaks are available on Ao Lo Dalam, and climbers will enjoy the challenges of over 100 routes on the island’s cliffs.
To get to Phi Phi either take a ferry from Phuket or Krabi Town. The Krabi ferry stops at Ao Nang to pick up passengers however please note that there is no ferry terminal and passengers are shipped out to meet the ferry and will need to transfer between boats.