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Thailand

Koh Phi Phi Holidays

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Easy peasy Phi Phi

Phi Phi is a small archipelago of six islands in the Andaman Sea, easily accessible from both Phuket and Krabi. The two biggest islands are Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don – the latter being the only inhabited one of the group. Phi Phi came to international prominence when stunning Maya Bay, on Phi Phi Leh’s west coast, featured as the title location in the 2000 adventure film The Beach. It was understandably chosen on account of its bleached-blonde sand, emerald waters and dramatic jungle-clad cliffs.

While Phi Phi’s natural beauty is undeniable, the islands have sadly become a victim of their own attractiveness. The hoards of visitors who made the pilgrimage to Maya Bay, wishing to follow in Leonardo DiCaprio’s footsteps, caused severe damage to the ecosystem, and so in 2018 Thai authorities imposed a tourism ban to help it recover. There’s no need to fret, though – there are plenty of other attractive stretches of sand where you can lay your towel.

Phi Phi Don has also felt the effects of stardom. Two decades ago, the only lodgings here were a scattering of bungalows, mostly occupied by sea gypsies, and just one public boat a week made scheduled trips to the island. These days, multiple boats arrive every day into Tonsai Bay, and there’s a huge range of accommodation to be found all over the island. And Phi Phi Don now has some of the most buzzing nightlife in all of Thailand. The central area, which includes Tonsai Village and Loh Dalum Bay, is the liveliest place to stay, while Laem Tong Beach in the northeast and Long Beach in the southeast are far more tranquil.

Although Phi Phi no longer resembles the hidden paradise Danny Boyle portrayed on screen, these islands remain some of the most popular on the Andaman Coast. And for good reason. There are still quiet pockets to be found if you’re willing to search for them, and holidays to Phi Phi are particularly great for the active traveller. You can go rock-climbing on the limestone karsts, discover the area’s rich marine life on a diving or snorkelling trip, or hire a kayak to explore the island’s secret coves. Alternatively, consider joining a long-tail boat tour, many of which make stops at Bamboo Island, Monkey Beach and the spectacular Pileh Lagoon. If you set sail later in the day, it’s an incredible way to see the sunset.

Things to do

Diving

Nightlife

Best time to go

Things to do in Phi Phi

Sunbathing and swimming will no doubt be high on your agenda during your Phi Phi holiday. But while the beaches here are beautiful – this is Thailand, after all – this pair of islands has plenty more to offer. For instance, the towering limestone cliffs that dominate the landscape provide fantastic climbing opportunities. With more than 30 routes of various grades, 200-metre tall Tonsai Tower is Phi Phi’s premier rock-climbing spot.

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If you’re not a climber but still fancy something active, the hike to Phi Phi Viewpoint is a must. This short trek starts at Loh Dalum Bay and leads to an elevated viewpoint with fantastic vistas of the island and surrounding sea. And speaking of the sea, there are yet more adventures to be had out on the water. Phi Phi’s shallow fringing reefs are great for snorkelling, while dive boats head off daily to various destinations. If you’d rather stay above the surface, you can join a guided kayak tour or hop on a long-tail boat to Viking Cave. Located on the eastern tip, it’s one of Phi Phi Leh’s most notable sites. Although tourists can no longer enter the cave, you’ll still spot the intricate web of bamboo ladders that local workers have installed in an attempt gather swiftlets' nests. Rare and valuable, these are the primary ingredient in bird's-nest soup – a delicacy in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

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Phi Phi diving

The national marine park which surrounds the Phi Phi islands is home to more than 20 dive sites, characterised by stunning rock formations and a great diversity of hard and soft corals. Two of the best spots are Bida Nok and neighbouring Bida Nai. The southernmost islets of the Phi Phi group, they’re open to divers of all levels. Their limestone cliffs descend straight into the sea, creating magical dive walls, covered in colourful anemones. There are swim-throughs, a cave, and a vast range of marine life including sting rays, zebra sharks and hawksbill turtles.

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Two other sites, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang – which translate as Red Rock and Purple Rock – are popular because of their vibrant corals and the fact that manta rays and whale sharks are frequently sighted here. Meanwhile, Hin Dot – also known as Chimney Rock – comprises three submerged pinnacles. The main one drops to a depth of 30 metres and has coral shelves often occupied by scorpion fish, moray eels, lobsters and other crustaceans. Fans of wreck diving will be pleased to know that Phi Phi has two options for this – the Kled Gaeow Wreck, sunk in 2014, and the King Cruiser Wreck, which can be combined with Anemone Reef and Shark Point for an excellent day trip.

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Phi Phi nightlife

These days, nightlife is what holidays to Phi Phi are most renowned for. The lively parties are the reason many people choose to visit. Clustered predominantly around Tonsai Bay and Loh Dalum Beach, the island’s bars offer all manner of entertainment, from live music and fire shows to party games and Thai boxing. And you’ll no doubt see plenty of people drinking from Phi Phi’s famous buckets. Containing Red Bull, a mixer and a half bottle of your chosen spirit, they allow you to mix your own cocktail to share with friends. They’re also the reason a number of beach-goers will be looking rather worse for wear the following day.

Show More
Show Less

Although parties on Phi Phi can be raucous, the music usually gets turned off at 2am – however, some venues will stay open later, as long as there are punters. But, unlike in certain other places in Thailand, the after-dark scene here isn’t at all sleazy. Nudity is banned and there are no go-go bars or massage parlours anywhere on the island.

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Show Less

Best time to visit Phi Phi

As is the case with most Thai islands, the weather can pretty much make or break a holiday to Phi Phi. So it’s important to know what to expect before you go. The majority of people choose to visit during the cool season, which falls between November and mid-March. Cool doesn’t mean cold though – even at this time of year highs are around 30oC, but there’s a gentle breeze and humidity levels are low. Mid-March to May is the hottest time of the year in Phi Phi. Temperatures hover around the mid-thirties, but the increasing humidity makes it feel much warmer – sometimes unbearably so.

Show More
Show Less

By the middle of May, the monsoon rains arrive, marking the start of Phi Phi’s wet season. Although there are sunny intervals in between, frequent heavy downpours occur most days. This continues until October. Along with September and May, October is one of the wettest months of the year, while February is usually the driest and December the coolest.

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Phi Phi

Sunbathing and swimming will no doubt be high on your agenda during your Phi Phi holiday. But while the beaches here are beautiful – this is Thailand, after all – this pair of islands has plenty more to offer. For instance, the towering limestone cliffs that dominate the landscape provide fantastic climbing opportunities. With more than 30 routes of various grades, 200-metre tall Tonsai Tower is Phi Phi’s premier rock-climbing spot.

Show More
Show Less

If you’re not a climber but still fancy something active, the hike to Phi Phi Viewpoint is a must. This short trek starts at Loh Dalum Bay and leads to an elevated viewpoint with fantastic vistas of the island and surrounding sea. And speaking of the sea, there are yet more adventures to be had out on the water. Phi Phi’s shallow fringing reefs are great for snorkelling, while dive boats head off daily to various destinations. If you’d rather stay above the surface, you can join a guided kayak tour or hop on a long-tail boat to Viking Cave. Located on the eastern tip, it’s one of Phi Phi Leh’s most notable sites. Although tourists can no longer enter the cave, you’ll still spot the intricate web of bamboo ladders that local workers have installed in an attempt gather swiftlets' nests. Rare and valuable, these are the primary ingredient in bird's-nest soup – a delicacy in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Show More
Show Less

Diving

Phi Phi diving

The national marine park which surrounds the Phi Phi islands is home to more than 20 dive sites, characterised by stunning rock formations and a great diversity of hard and soft corals. Two of the best spots are Bida Nok and neighbouring Bida Nai. The southernmost islets of the Phi Phi group, they’re open to divers of all levels. Their limestone cliffs descend straight into the sea, creating magical dive walls, covered in colourful anemones. There are swim-throughs, a cave, and a vast range of marine life including sting rays, zebra sharks and hawksbill turtles.

Show More
Show Less

Two other sites, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang – which translate as Red Rock and Purple Rock – are popular because of their vibrant corals and the fact that manta rays and whale sharks are frequently sighted here. Meanwhile, Hin Dot – also known as Chimney Rock – comprises three submerged pinnacles. The main one drops to a depth of 30 metres and has coral shelves often occupied by scorpion fish, moray eels, lobsters and other crustaceans. Fans of wreck diving will be pleased to know that Phi Phi has two options for this – the Kled Gaeow Wreck, sunk in 2014, and the King Cruiser Wreck, which can be combined with Anemone Reef and Shark Point for an excellent day trip.

Show More
Show Less

Nightlife

Phi Phi nightlife

These days, nightlife is what holidays to Phi Phi are most renowned for. The lively parties are the reason many people choose to visit. Clustered predominantly around Tonsai Bay and Loh Dalum Beach, the island’s bars offer all manner of entertainment, from live music and fire shows to party games and Thai boxing. And you’ll no doubt see plenty of people drinking from Phi Phi’s famous buckets. Containing Red Bull, a mixer and a half bottle of your chosen spirit, they allow you to mix your own cocktail to share with friends. They’re also the reason a number of beach-goers will be looking rather worse for wear the following day.

Show More
Show Less

Although parties on Phi Phi can be raucous, the music usually gets turned off at 2am – however, some venues will stay open later, as long as there are punters. But, unlike in certain other places in Thailand, the after-dark scene here isn’t at all sleazy. Nudity is banned and there are no go-go bars or massage parlours anywhere on the island.

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Phi Phi

As is the case with most Thai islands, the weather can pretty much make or break a holiday to Phi Phi. So it’s important to know what to expect before you go. The majority of people choose to visit during the cool season, which falls between November and mid-March. Cool doesn’t mean cold though – even at this time of year highs are around 30oC, but there’s a gentle breeze and humidity levels are low. Mid-March to May is the hottest time of the year in Phi Phi. Temperatures hover around the mid-thirties, but the increasing humidity makes it feel much warmer – sometimes unbearably so.

Show More
Show Less

By the middle of May, the monsoon rains arrive, marking the start of Phi Phi’s wet season. Although there are sunny intervals in between, frequent heavy downpours occur most days. This continues until October. Along with September and May, October is one of the wettest months of the year, while February is usually the driest and December the coolest.

Show More
Show Less

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