Koh Phi Phi is one of the most popular islands to visit while traveling through Thailand.
And by popular, I’m referring to boat loads of eager tourists stepping onto its sands every single day – rain or shine.
The small island became widely known after The Beach was filmed here and since the debut, it’s been game over for Koh Phi Phi. Game over meaning the island has become over developed, overly populated with tourists, and even a bit overrated.
Nevertheless, Koh Phi Phi is still at the top of every Thailand bucket list due to its remote location, aqua blue waters, lush mountains, and party like atmosphere.
And in honor of #throwbackthursday and for the sake of Asia wanderlusters everywhere, below is a complete travel guide to experience Koh Phi Phi.
Koh Phi Phi Tips:
- Koh Phi Phi Don is the main island that people live on and Koh Phi Phi Lay is the smaller, uninhabited island that’s a national park.
- There are zero roads on the island, meaning upon arrival – you will have to roll or carry your luggage to your accommodations. Pro traveler tip – scan the dock area for men with wheelbarrows, pay them a small fee, and your luggage hassle is immediately fixed.
- p.s. – you’re welcome for that!
- The island is completely walkable, it’s actually ridiculously small. Explore, try to get lost (you can’t), but definitely take the time to stroll around.
- Koh Phi Phi is a partying fool’s paradise. People start playing drinking games around 2 pm and it continues ALL night long. It’s party madness.
- If traveling Thailand on a budget, skip this island all together and research some smaller, more remote islands. Because of its popularity, Koh Phi Phi can (and does) up their prices – like A LOT.
How to Get There:
- Ferries depart from Phuket and Krabi and it’s roughly a two-hour trip. The frequency of ferries and times depends on the season and weather.
- Tickets can be purchased on almost every corner or from your hotel/ hostel (we bought ours from our hotel in Krabi). The tickets are 250 baht for a one way ticket or 400 baht for a round-trip ticket ($13). Click here for ferries departing from Phuket or here for ferries departing from Krabi.
- IMPORTANT – the ferries can be incredibly nauseating if the seas are remotely rough. I am not someone who gets sea-sick, but this was a struggle. Upon departing, the crew hands out barf bags to everyone and I thought this was a simple precaution. Welp – I was wrong. People used those bags like they were going out of style. So how does one brave the rocky boat ride? This was my plan of attack – sit on the bottom level at the back of the boat (least rocky), put music in my ears to drown out everything, place an eye mask on, and completely zone out!
- Pack whatever snacks or beverages you want for the trip. Some boats have bars while others have nothing but a restroom.
- Upon arrival, everyone is required to pay a 20 baht tax fee to help keep the island beautiful. You can’t leave the ferry dock without paying, don’t even bother trying.
Where to Stay:
- We stayed at Dee Dee Beach House – a small, on the water, away from most of the party madness place. It was sub-par (not bad, not great, but $20 a night).
- Having traveled here a few years back, where to stay aside from the place we stayed, escapes my mind. Read this article for a thorough breakdown on Koh Phi Phi accommodations of all types.
Where to Eat:
- An Indian restaurant (name unknown) was our favorite place to eat while visiting. I know it’s a conundrum to eat Indian food while in Thailand, BUT we loved this place! The restaurant is super small, it’s usually packed, the food is delicious, beers are super cheap, you can order hookah straight to the table, and there’s always American movies playing on the television. It’s simply awesome. And I can’t remember the name of it for the life of me, BUT the island’s tiny – you will have no problem finding it!
- Anna’s Restaurant is a family run establishment that’s been around for years. The restaurant serves international and Thai food with a healthy twist. The prices are affordable and it’s a laid back environment.
- Pum Thai Restaurant is a delicious Thai option + a cooking school. The owner is incredibly sweet, the food is delicious, and the restaurant is aesthetically pleasing + clean.
- Phi Phi Bakery is just as it sounds. Stop by here for freshly baked breads, desserts, and some home-brewed coffee. The bakery has had a presence since 1989 so they’re definitely doing something right!
What to do – Daytime:
- Take a longtail boat or a scheduled tour to Koh Phi Phi Ley to see Maya Bay. This is where The Beach was actually filmed and it’s stunning.
- Go scuba diving with one of the many dive companies on the island. This was my first experience diving and without a certification. I did what’s called a resort dive, while Myers had the opportunity to roam free with the other certified divers. It was a great first experience aside from the thunderstorms and rough seas before going under. The company was professional, the provided lunch was decent enough, and the dive boat/gear was in great condition.
- Hike up to the famous Phi Phi Viewpoint and admire the island from up above. The hike is short and sweet, nothing that flip-flops and a bikini can’t handle. At the top, there’s a snack/ beverage stand and a few tables to enjoy the view.
- Rent a kayak and go explore the limestone cliffs that are jutting out from the ocean. The seas are easy to paddle through and stunningly blue. And don’t mind the occasional piece of trash floating, it’s part of the island life. Kayaks can be rented at multiple places along the beach.
- Take a cooking class at Pum Thai’s Cooking School and eat your heart out. We fell upon this activity by accident and are so thankful we did. It’s one of our favorite memories from the entire island. The cooking class is an all day affair with 4+ courses – go hungry and with an open mind!
- Lay on the beach – this is a no brainer.
- Shop. The entire island is one market stall after the next and filled with inexpensive bohemian clothes and trinkets. Inexpensive = you’ll want to fill your entire suitcase with stuff (practice moderation ladies).
What to do – Nighttime:
This is where Koh Phi Phi shines.
The island is a haven for twenty something year-olds looking to enjoy cocktails, packed bars, rowdy crowds, fire dancing, and late night swims.
Doesn’t that sound super relaxing?
To be honest, I’m not a huge drinker or party animal so the island was a tad much for my personal taste. But to each their own!
- The Reggae Bar – a classic when it comes to Koh Phi Phi nightlife. Bar goers can voluntarily “fight” one another in a boxing ring which makes for great entertainment. The majority of matches are between two men who are usually highly intoxicated. We didn’t go here because this just isn’t my thing, but again – to each their own.
- Slinky Bar is a nightclub on the beach and it’s the perfect place to unwind and let loose. The music is ridiculously loud, people dance wildly inappropriate, and there’s local fire dancers!
- Banana Rooftop Bar is just like it sounds. It’s a bamboo hut type bar that is located on top of a Mexican restaurant and only accessible via a spiral staircase. The vibe is super laid back with live music, video games, and special “cigarettes” that can be purchased.
Koh Phi Phi was a great stop on our Thailand trek that exposed us to a whole new way of life – island life. It’s definitely geared towards a certain crowd and a bit overdeveloped, but don’t let that deter you from visiting.