Guide to the Phi Phi Islands
How to get there
You reach Phi Phi is by boat. From Phuket, it takes 2 hours, and from Krabi or Koh Lanta it takes about 90 minutes. You can organise this from any tour company the day before you want to travel. I would strongly recommend taking sea sickness tablets, as the sea can be quite rough.
Where to stay
I stayed at a hotel called Papaya Phi Phi, and it was magnificent. I was after stunning views and it definitely delivered this!
The only downfall was that I had to climb hundreds of stairs to reach my room each time and there were often monkeys on the balcony.
What to do
Hang out at Loh Dalem beach
This is the main beach on Phi Phi island. There are lots of people, shops, cafes and activities around to keep you entertained.
On Loh Dalem beach you can hire kayaks and take them around to Monkey Beach. As its name suggests, there are monkeys everywhere, so be careful of your belongings (or better yet, don’t take any!). This is a pretty gentle kayak trip and you can go there and back within the hour.
Day trip to Maya Bay, where ‘The Beach’ was filmed
Maya Bay has been made famous by the movie ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo Di Caprio, and it is just as beautiful as in the movie! It is located on the other Phi Phi island, Phi Phi Leh. There are heaps of tour providers on the island that will try and sell you this tour. If you are by yourself, you can buy a spot on a long tail boat with others – this is quite cheap. If there are a few of you, I would recommend getting a private tour. You can negotiate heavily with the tour providers and obviously the more there are of you, the cheaper it is. This is a great option, as you can go at your own pace and do what you want. They have a general itinerary that they follow however you can change this depending on what you want to do.
I also strongly recommend going first thing in the morning, at 7am. This is to avoid the rush of many big tour boats that come from the mainland (Phuket) each day. They arrive on Maya Bay around mid morning and from then there will hundreds of tourists on the beach. I went at 7am and was one of the first people on the beach – it was absolutely magnificent.
It is important to note that you should have some swimming abilities for this tour. The long tail boats did not dock into Maya Bay, but they dropped us off on the other side of the island. We had to jump out of the boat and into the water, swim towards a large net and then climb up the net on a cliff face to reach the top. The water was quite rough and the waves splashed up against the cliff and the net (where we were clinging on for dear life!) We then had to walk through a deserted part of the island for a few minutes before reaching Maya Bay.
Our long tail boat waited for us and then we had to climb down the net and swim back out to the boat. I must admit that I would have seriously struggled with this if I didn’t have swimming experience.
Phi Phi Viewpoint
If you are feeling active, I would highly recommend taking the walk up to the Phi Phi Viewpoint. The views of both bays are incredible!
Phi phi has some incredible diving. There are quite a few dive centres you can choose from, and generally they all charge the same price. You can just wander around and have a chat to the instructors at the different centres and pick which one you like. In 2016, the price of 2 dives was around AUD$100. If you only want to do one dive, the cost if AUD$65, and you can snorkel while the others are on their second dive.
Party on a boat
You will see people promoting all sorts of activities as soon as you step on Tonsai Pier. One of them is a boat party. They seemed to run most days and looked like a lot of fun. They were a little on the pricey side, so I decided not to go.
Hike to Long Beach
If you’re up for a jungle walk, you can hike to the east of the island to Long Beach. This is a wonderfully secluded part of the island. There are a few resorts, a cafe and convenience store. The beach is lovely and has surrounded by dramatic cliffs. You can take a long tail boat back to Tonsai Pier. However be aware that at low tide the boats do not run so you will have to walk back.
Get a massage overlooking the ocean
If you walk west along the path from Tonsai pier, you will see the beach becoming more and more secluded. At the end, there are a few cafes and resorts and you will feel like you are on a whole other island, away from the hustle and bustle of the pier. here there is a magnificent massage place, where you are situated one level up overlooking the ocean. It is a little bit more expensive than the massage places near the main streets, however it is incredibly serene and relaxing.
There are loads of bars on Phi Phi both in the streets and on the beach. The beach bars have fire shows and all night dancing, and the street bars have beer pong and pool tables.
How long to stay
I spent 7 days in Phi Phi and that seemed the right amount of time. I had some sort of activity to do everyday and definitely didn’t get bored. If you are diving or want to visit Maya Bay, allow a day for each trip you want to take. Also factor in relaxation and exploration time!