Ultimate guide to visiting the Phi Phi Islands


The Phi Phi Islands (pronounced “Pee-Pee”) are a group of six islands situated in the Andaman Sea of Southern Thailand. I spent some time exploring these islands as part of my Thailand adventure and it really felt like a slice of paradise – in places.

The two main islands are Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Leh, with Phi Phi Don being the only inhabited island. Ko Phi Phi was largely destroyed in 2004 when the tsunami hit, but has since been rebuilt and recovered. 

The islands offer a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches and bright turquoise water, along with a diverse culture.

You’ll find characteristic limestone rock formations and an abundance of marine wildlife. It’s a postcard-perfect destination – or at least it would be if it weren’t for all the tourists.

The islands are undeniably beautiful. But being a very popular tourist trap, I think it’s important to be aware that Phi Phi Don is very over-developed and has become a party hotspot.

This has made the Phi Phi Islands particularly popular with backpackers and I know this may not be for everyone. That said, there are some more luxury resorts to be found too and I’ll share my personal favourites in this guide.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Where are the Phi Phi Islands?

The Phi Phi Islands are a group of six islands in Southern Thailand. They are situated in the Andaman Sea, 45km southeast of Phuket and 40km southwest of Krabi.

The Phi Phi Islands are part of Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park.

How to get to Phi Phi Islands

There are two main ways to get to the Phi Phi Islands: by speedboat or by ferry from Phuket or Krabi – personally I travelled from Krabi.

Ferries to the Phi Phi Islands take around two hours from Phuket and around 90 minutes from Krabi or Koh Lanta.

Public ferries are a good budget option and I’d advise buying tickets in advance to get the best deal. There are lots of different ferry companies operating in the area with frequent departures.

I’d say that they are of varying standards and can become quite crowded, so check before you travel. I’d recommend arriving around an hour in advance to get good seats.

Ph Phi Island

Speedboats offer a faster – and, in my opinion, more fun – alternative. It’s best to book a couple of days in advance if you can to guarantee a spot.

For the ultimate flexibility, I’d recommend a private speedboat charter as a great option, which is ideal if you’re travelling as part of a larger group.

If you’re looking for the whole package then there are various all inclusive tours available.

These will cover your entire trip, including travel from Phuket to Phi Phi. A private Phi Phi Islands tour is a great way to see the beauty of this destination on your own terms and is how I explored the area.

Best time to visit Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi is a year round destination. When to visit will depend on your weather and budget preferences.

Peak season is from November to April – this is when prices are highest and the crowds can be intense. I’d therefore recommend visiting just outside of this season, in October or May (which is when I visited).

Not only will there be less people, you’ll also save money if you visit outside of peak season, between May and October.

Phi Phi Islands weather

The off-peak season aligns with the monsoon season; May, September and October are typically the wettest months. That said, I visited in May and, as you can see from my photos, we had wonderful weather!

The temperatures are still warm and you’ll still see a good amount of sunshine. Just be wary of sudden and heavy downpours – although they tend to be short-lived when they do happen.

Staying in Krabi, Thailand

March to mid-May are the hottest months with very high humidity. If you’re not a fan of the intense humidity then I’d recommend avoiding these months. But if you love the hot weather then it’s a great time to visit, with beautiful weather.

November to February are the coolest months (but still warm enough for plenty of sunbathing).

The weather and temperatures of these months are arguably the most favourable, which does also mean they are the more expensive months to visit.

Phi Phi Islands nightlife

Phi Phi Don is famous for its nightlife, with big beach parties and various entertainment. It’s one of the more expensive places to party in Thailand, so I’d advise bearing this in mind when budgeting.

The drinks are strong in Thailand, and this is particularly true in Ko Phi Phi. The infamous 2 for 1 buckets of alcohol are notorious and somewhat dangerous.

Without sounding like your mother, I’d really caution being wary of the strength of the drinks and, as with anywhere, pay close attention to your drink.

It goes without saying but do not go near illegal substances in Thailand, as the country has very strict laws on drug use.

Best things to do in Phi Phi Islands

With multiple islands to explore and plenty of tourist attractions, there are a lot of activities to do in Ko Phi Phi. Here is my pick of the top things to do in the Phi Phi Islands:

1. Ko Phi Phi Don

Top tours to book:

As the largest Phi Phi island and the only inhabited one, Phi Phi Don is where you’ll find all the accommodation options and infamous nightlife.

Although it is a beautiful island, I think it is painfully overdeveloped. With an abundance of tourists visiting everyday, it is not quite the untouched paradise you may believe it to be – far from it.

Ko Phi Phi Don

Despite the overdevelopment, it is still a very popular place to visit, especially amongst young backpackers. The beaches are beautiful and the nightlife lively (that’s an understatement).

Just be aware that you’ll be welcomed with a near constant scent of sewage – Koh “Pee Pee” is therefore quite an apt name!

Find hotels in Phi Phi Don or book a Phi Phi Islands day trip by catamaran departing from Phuket.

2. Phi Phi viewpoint

For beautiful views across the azure waters, luscious green vegetations, and towering cliffs, I’d recommend heading to Koh Phi Phi viewpoint.

It’s not an arduous climb, being only a 30 minute stroll or 20 minute power walk. You’ll be greeted with a selection of cold drinks and various snack options at the top.

Take a seat on one of the rocks or provided hammocks and take in the breathtaking view. I think morning is the best time to visit and the route is well signposted from the Reggae Bar.

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3. Ko Phi Phi Leh

Top tours to book:

Phi Phi Leh lies 1.5km south of Phi Phi Don. It’s an uninhabited island that comprises various stunning bays and caves.

It is a truly breathtaking island to explore with amazing snorkelling opportunities where you can discover exotic fish and colourful coral.

Phi Phi Islands Hopping

My favourite spots to visit include Maya Bay, Sama Bay, Pi Leh Bay, Palong Bay and Viking Cave.

Sama Bay and Pi Leh Bay are excellent swimming and snorkelling spots. Palong Bay is a popular dive site and a good place to spot black-tip reef sharks.

Viking Cave is known for its birds nests – swifts make nests from their saliva and these nests are harvested by locals.

They are sold for an excruciatingly high price point to make bird’s nest soup. It may sound disgusting (to me at least!) but it’s a Chinese delicacy!

4. Maya Bay

Top tours to book:

Part of Phi Phi Leh, Maya Bay is a beautiful bay that is framed by 100-metre high cliffs on three sides.

As the world famous film location for The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it is a very recognisable destination.

It comprises several small beaches and the crystal clear water allows you to see the underlying reef with clarity. This makes it a very popular snorkelling spot.

Maya Bay

There are not many provisions at Maya Bay so it’s best to take your own. You’ll find a small stall that sells drinks and snacks, as well as some toilets – but I’d say these are best avoided if you can hold it!

As beautiful as Maya Bay is – or was – it’s not all rainbows and roses. Unfortunately due to its popularity, the view is somewhat spoilt by the mass of speedboats ferrying tourists to the bay.

The overcrowding got so bad that Maya Bay was closed in June 2018 due to the damage caused by tourists. Following a further tourist-break due to the pandemic, it has now reopened.

5. Bamboo Island

Top tours to book:

Koh Pai island – more commonly known as Bamboo Island – is located around five kilometres northeast of Koh Phi Phi Don.

It is the ultimate tropical paradise and is slightly quieter than the buzz of Phi Phi Don and Maya Bay. For this reason, I much preferred my time on this island, as it felt a lot more peaceful.

It’s a popular lunch spot for a lot of the Phi Phi Island tours. The island is shaped like a heart, with a centre of lush green vegetation surrounded by a strip of white sandy beach.

The bamboo trees which adorn the island are responsible for its charming name. At Bamboo Island you will find the clearest waters imaginable.

Bamboo Island Thailand

As with many of the smaller islands, provisions are limited; but there is a small stall serving drinks and snacks.

Due to the crystal clear waters, the island offers another great spot for snorkelling, being home to beautiful coral reefs. 

The island is accessible by long-tail boat. As a small island with not much to see other than its extraordinary natural beauty, I’d say that a few hours is usually long enough to spend here.

6. Monkey Beach

Top tours to book:

Located 700m from Tonsai Bay, Monkey Beach is a 150m-long strip of beach backed by a tall limestone cliff.

It comprises silky soft white sand and lapping emerald waters. The lush vegetation makes it a popular habitat for monkeys, hence the name.

Monkey Beach is not to be confused with Monkey Bay, which is located on the other side of Phi Phi Don. It is best accessed by long-tail boat, but you can kayak there too.

As with any wild animals, it’s advisable not to get too close. They have been known to bite or scratch due to tourists feeding them – and I’m sure a rabies panic is not what you want!

7. Snorkelling and diving

Top tours to book:

You can go snorkelling just about anywhere in the Phi Phi Islands. It’s a beautiful place to snorkel, with brightly coloured coral reefs and tropical fish – I was blown away by the clarity of the water.

There is a huge diversity of marine wildlife to spot. Just make sure that you go with a guide, as some areas have tricky currents to navigate.

Phi Phi Snorkelling

Diving is also very popular in and around the Phi Phi Islands. Again, speak to a tour company to find the best spots for diving.

If you’re a beginner, there are plenty of diving locations which are great for entry-level diving. More advanced divers will find some deeper and more challenging dive sites further out.

Some of the best dive sites include Bida Nok / Bida Nai, Malong May, Kled Gaeow Wreck, Hin Dot and Hin Daeng / Muang.

8. Rock climbing

Due to its towering limestone cliffs, Ko Phi Phi is a hotspot for rock climbing in Thailand.

It boasts world-renowned rock climbing sites with stimulating climbing walls and highly trained instructors. Not to mention the spectacular views that surround you.

The most notable rock climbing walls in the Phi Phi Islands are as follows:

  • Ao Ling Wall
  • Ao Pilay Wall
  • Drinking Wall
  • Hin Tak
  • Hua Ling Wall
  • Maya Bay (has two walls)
  • Tonsai Tower

9. Kayaking

A fun way to see all the beauty that the islands have to offer, renting a kayak gives you the freedom to reach secluded caves and beautiful bays not accessible on foot.

You can do a self-guided tour to give you the ultimate flexibility and an unforgettable adventure.

For an extra thrill, I’d recommend trying a paddle boat or water-skiing tour – a touch of adrenaline at a relatively affordable price too.

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10. Relax in a spa

All this adventure got you yearning for some relaxation? If sunbathing on a beach all day isn’t your idea of relaxation then there are a number of spas on Phi Phi Don.

Relax and unwind with a spa day or wellness experience. Enjoy some luxurious spa treatments and soak up the paradise surrounding you.

How to get around Phi Phi Islands

Moving between the islands is best done via speedboat or long-tail boat. Some islands can be accessed by kayak too, if you’d prefer a more adventurous method of exploration.

On the islands themselves, there is no motorised transport for public use. The only way to get around is on foot but the islands are small so it’s no problem.

In my opinion, the lack of cars or motorbikes is actually quite a pleasant appeal of the islands.

Where to stay

1. Zeavola Resort

Address: 11 Moo 8 Laem Tong, Koh Phi Phi, Ao Nang, Krabi 81000, Thailand

Best for: A sustainable retreat

Offering an air of romance and located on the tranquil white-sand Laem Tong Beach, I think Zeavola Resort is the perfect place to unplug from the world and reconnect with yourself and nature.

Generously sized villas are filled with luxurious touches, from charming dressing rooms to exotic outdoor rainfall showers. 

Indulge in deliciously fresh Thai cuisine and specialty dishes from around the world. The Tacada restaurant offers contemporary Mediterranean cuisine, while Baxil restaurant offers authentic local dishes full of flavour.

Here, you’ll find a luxurious spa with tree top views. Discover authentic treatments for ultimate wellbeing, using Thai, Chinese, European and Polynesian therapeutic techniques.

Book now

2. SAii Phi Phi Island Village

Address: 49 Moo 8, Ao Nang, Mueang Krabi District, Krabi 81000, Thailand

Best for: Stunning Andaman Sea views

Set in the privacy of the gorgeous Loh Ba Gao Bay on the peaceful northeast coast of Phi Phi Island, SAii Phi Phi Island Village has an impressive 189 traditional Thai-style bungalows and 12 exclusive Hillside Pool Villas. 

Decorated with a natural minimalist style, the bungalows and villas offer a tranquil escape surrounded by tropical beauty. 

There are several dining options available here, with each serving up a mix of authentic Thai cuisine and world flavours. 

I know you’ll love the luxurious spa that awaits, with sprawling panoramic vistas. Balance your chakras, indulge in a soothing massage or get a refreshing facial.

Book now

3. Phi Phi CoCo Beach Resort

Address: 299 Moo7 Phi Phi Island, Mueang Krabi District, Krabi 81210, Thailand

Best for: Beach proximity

Located close to Ton Sai Pier, Phi Phi CoCo Beach Resort offers guests a relaxing stay surrounded by nature.

I love the Bamboo decor that creates light and open spaces to enjoy. Here, you can choose between a range of accommodation options, all complete with the luxurious touches you’d expect. 

The beachside pool keeps you cool, while the pool bar keeps you hydrated.

Book now

Are the Phi Phi Islands worth visiting?

The Phi Phi Islands generally harbour mixed opinions from visitors, and I can see why. They are inherently beautiful but they have somewhat lost much of their appeal by being overrun with tourists.

That being said, the white sandy beaches, azure waters, and island life is unmissable.


My personal recommendation is not to stay on the Phi Phi Islands. Instead, stay in Phuket or Krabi and do a full day tour of the islands.

This way you can see the best that the islands have to offer without the downsides of staying on Phi Phi Don.

Planning a trip to Thailand? Have a read of my tips for solo travel in Thailand, or read my guide to Khao Sok National Park.

Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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