Ko Phi Phi

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Ko Phi Phi is a small archipelago in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand.

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Points of Interest in Ko Phi Phi

Phi Phi Don

This island is the largest of the 6 Phi Phi islands and consists of two main sections. It is on Ton Sai where the original inhabitants settled and is now the site of most accommodations. Phi Phi Don is quite stunning and has earned the title of one of the most fantastic islands in the world. Nowadays though, with development, the beaches have paid the price, so they're not quite as spectacular as they were in the past.

  • Fire Show. There are several highly skilled and entertaining fire shows held nightly at several venues on the island, including at Carlito's, Apache Bar, Hippies, Carpe Diem, and The Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar on Loh Dalum.
  • Hin Khao Beach. This beach is extremely quiet and can only be reached on foot.
  • Laem Thong. At the very north of the island. A lovely, quiet beach with exhilarating scenery. Accommodation at Laem Thong is pricey.
  • Lanti Beach. Next door to Yao Beach, Lanti Beach is very similar in many regards with its great scenery and coral reefs. You can get there on foot.
  • Monkey Beach. Accessible by foot or by renting a canoe, or be lazy and charter a longtail. Be careful as the monkeys can sometimes be aggressive. Some tourists report attacks and local hospitals caution about rabies. (Note: you should not feed wildlife).
  • Ton Sai Bay. Ao Ton Sai is where most of the action is, be it restaurants, bars, hotels, or guesthouses. Most tourists stay at Ton Sai Bay because of the convenience. Even though it isn't the most beautiful place on Phi Phi, it is still impressive.
  • Tsunami Memorial Garden (By the Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar). A beautiful place for quiet contemplation and paying one's respects to the victims of the tragedy.
  • Viewpoint. Walk up to the viewpoint, 186 m above sea level (a very steep walk of between 10–25 min, depending on your fitness), to get a breathtaking view of the entire island, particularly at dawn or sunset (bring a torch). You will be surprised at how narrow the sand strip is between the two main parts of the island.
  • Yao Beach. Yao Beach, just south of Ton Sai, offers visitors some fantastic views, scenery, and coral reefs for snorkelling and scuba diving. This small place is packed out, however, with places to stay and so some people complain that it has been overdeveloped. You can get there either by walking from Ton Sai or taking a longtail boat.

Phi Phi Leh

The second largest of the Phi Phi Islands is extremely beautiful, and near-pristine, but is uninhabited because it is a national park.

  • Loh Samah Bay. A bay on the west coast of the island. It is U-shaped with a large rock in the middle. There is a very small beach and small caves at the end of a very narrow gorge. There is also a hole in the rock, accessible from the water only, that leads to the gorge behind Maya Bay Beach. It is a very short stroll to go from Loh Samah Bay to Maya Bay this way, but be careful depending on the tide and waves. Going through the hole can be a bit challenging depending on your level of fitness and there are rocks beneath the surface.
  • Maya Bay. Maya Bay has arguably Phi Phi’s most fantastic beach and was the location for the movie The Beach (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) in 1998. The bay also has hard coral and colourful reef fish which makes it a favourite spot for snorkellers and first-time divers. There is also a jump spot (~20 m) in one of the creeks behind the beach, and some climbing is possible on the cliff just next to it. You can take a longtail boat to Maya Beach for about 1,500 baht for half a day. It is recommended that you arrive at Maya Bay before 08:00, when the place can still be enjoyed in solitude. From 09:00 on, hoards of speedboats with tourists on package tours arrive from Phuket. Another thing to think about when coming to Maya Bay is the time of year. During the high-season (Oct-May) you will feel like you are at Disneyland, but during the off-season it could be slightly better. Note: Park rangers have begun enforcement of a national park entry fee of 200 baht/person. If you are travelling with a tour group, it will be included in the price of your trip. The park police will only attempt to charge you the park entrance fee if you turn up on a longtail boat. A mid-afternoon departure (15:00) is best. You get to catch the sunset as you leave Maya Beach (you can't see the sunset on the beach).
  • Phaya Naak Cave. Cave with prehistoric paintings and edible-nest swiftlets.

Other islands

  • Ko Pai (Bamboo Island). Not far from Ko Yung is Ko Pai. On the north and east sides of the island are sandy beaches. At low tide the coral is very close to the surface which makes it quite difficult for snorkelling.
  • Ko Yung. This island just north of Ko Phi Phi Don has a rocky beach and some coral.

Maya Beach

Ao Ton Sai Beach

Loh Bagao Beach

Viking Cave

Long Beach

Laem Tong Beach

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About Ko Phi Phi

History

From archaeological evidence, it is believed that the area was one of the oldest communities in Thailand, dating back to the prehistoric period. It is believed that this province may have taken its name after the meaning of "Krabi", which means "sword". This may have arisen from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.

The name Phi Phi (pronounced "pee pee") originates from Malay, the original name for the islands were "Pulao Pi ah Pi". The name refers to the mangrove wood found here.

Climate

Weather in the region is tropical. There are only two seasons: the hot season from Jan-Apr, and the rainy season from May-Dec. Temperatures during the year average 25°C to 32°C (77°F to 89.6°F) and the yearly rainfall averages 2569 mm. Unlike in, say, Europe, the rain in this region comes down heavily over short periods.

Geography

Ko Phi Phi is considered to be one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the world (in fact, there are six islands in Phi Phi). They lie 50 km southeast of Phuket and are part of Had Nopparattara-Ko Phi Phi National Park which is home to an abundance of corals and amazing marine life. There are limestone mountains with cliffs, caves and long white sandy beaches. The national park covers a total area of 242,437 rai (about 39,000 hectares; 97,000 acres).

Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le are the largest and most well-known islands. The islands are surrounded by the Andaman Sea.

There are two villages on Ko Phi Phi under the administration of Ao Nang sub-district, Muang district, Krabi Province.

Activities

  • Bird Watching. The best time of the year for bird watching is from Jan-Apr. Many rare birds are to be seen there: gurneys, finfoots, big-winged brown kingfishers, egrets, bitterns, and herons.
  • Camping, e-mail: phil@mayabaycamping.com. Camping in Maya Bay.
  • Cliff Jumping. Cliff jumping is fairly new to Ton Sai Bay. There are cliffs from 6-16 m that are ideal for cliff jumping due to the depth of water below. Organized tours can be found at Ton Sai, but be careful. Jumping can result in ruptured ears and back injuries.

Diving

There are many dive shops on Ton Sai Bay within walking distance of each other. They can organize all diving and accommodations. Expect to pay the same everywhere. A PADI open water course is 13,800 baht, with SSI being 900 baht less. There are a few different trips offered by Phi Phi dive operators, the typical trip is a two-tank local dive in the Phi Phi Marine Park which will run about 2,500 baht, or 2,000 baht if you bring your own gear. They also do 2-3 tank trips to the King Cruiser wreck with your follow-up dives at both Shark Point and Anemone Reef. This trip usually runs between 3,200-3,900 baht depending on the number of dives you do. Further away, Hin Daeng has some of the steepest drops in Thailand (60+ m) as well as being the place you are most likely to see manta rays and whale sharks, and can be a great dive trip, but it only runs if sea conditions are good.

  • Dive Thailand (On Long Beach).
  • Long Beach Divers (On Long Beach). UK-run.

Dive sites

  • Anemone Reef Between Ko Phi Phi and Phuket, a massive limestone pinnacle which soars 30 m from the seabed to just 4 m beneath the surface. The site is well known for the abundance of anemones that cling to every surface while attracting enormous schools of fish. Different types of fish to be seen include: tropicals, snappers, groupers and colorful clown fish, along with larger game-fish like tuna and barracuda as well as the occasional leopard shark.
  • Garang Heng Garang Heng is a small submerged reef just east of Phi Phi Leh. A healthy reef with anemones, soft corals, and an abundance of leopard sharks.
  • Hin Daeng and Hin Muang From Ko Phi Phi, it is possible to dive Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, world-class dive sites, for around 5,500 baht. See Diving in Thailand.
  • Hin Dot These submerged pinnacles, often called Chimney Rock, are located just to the south of Phi Phi Don. The formation drops to a depth of 30 m and has several coral shelves for exploration upon your gradual ascent. Nurse sharks can occasionally be found here.
  • Hin Pae This is a relatively shallow dive site, 10–15 m deep. Its shallow depth offers excellent snorkelling. Its soft and hard coral provide shelter for a rich variety of coral fish. Crabs, lobsters, angelfish, groupers, snappers, and surgeon fish are also residents of this area.
  • King Cruiser Wreck A popular site off Ko Phi Phi and Phuket is King Cruiser, remnants of a passenger ship which sunk in 1997 after it hit the Anemone Reef.
  • Ko Bida Nai Just up from Bida Nok is Bida Nai. Like its sister island, it is a good place for diving with good chance of black tip reef sharks sighting.
  • Ko Bida Nok Besides an abundance of pretty coral, this island is home to plentiful marine life including: leopard sharks, turtles and moray eels. This island is popular with divers.
  • Shark Point (Hin Bida) Shark Point is a marine sanctuary with a reef that made up of three pinnacles, the largest of which actually breaks the surface, appearing as a barren rock outcropping. The reef is home to a delightful abundance of tropical, colourful soft corals and vibrant sea fans that decorate the limestone pinnacles.
  • Shark Point Phuket Another submerged reef very close to Anemone Reef and often dived together with Anemone Reef and King Cruiser Wreck as part of a 3 dive package from Ko Phi Phi.
  • Wang Long This site is well known for its underwater cave systems and is only recommended for experienced divers. The caves tunnel into the rock face in two places and open out into a larger cave where surfacing is possible.
  • Loh Samah Bay The bay is popular for night-time divers. It has a sandy bottom with oysters and clams and patches of brain coral for nocturnal reef critters to hide amongst. There is a spectacular 15 m deep canyon just wide enough for single file swimming on the east side.

Sailing and cruising

Krabi has plenty of anchorages, usually deserted and all so beautiful. There are many charter sailing boats available and some even offer "join-in" day trips for two or more people. Phi Phi offers a variety of ways for sailing and cruising. Longtails can be hired for sunset tours and island excursions. They can be found on any beach.

  • DragonHeart (at The Deaf Gecko on Nice Beach), e-mail: info@dragonheartthailand.com. Daily sunset and snorkel tours. Tour Phi Phi Leh and cruise into the sunset. Climbing, slacklining, weddings.

Snorkelling

There are two rocks within swimming distance of Long Beach known as "Shark Point" where harmless blacktip reef sharks can be seen. Many dive schools take snorkellers on their dive boats, but expect to see only a hint of the underwater marvels visible to scuba divers. The snorkelling off Bamboo and Mosquito Islands is quite good although the reefs are a long way below you at high tide. If you arrive on Bamboo Island in a longtail boat you will be asked to pay 200 baht/person to stay on the beach, or 400 baht/person to stay on the beach and further afield. Always ask for the ticket. With it, you do not have to pay 400 baht/person, just the 200 baht/person.

  • The Adventure Club. Runs "Shark Watch" snorkelling trips to Shark Point that guarantee a sighting of sharks.
  • Paradise Diving (at Paradise Resort in the middle of Long Beach.). Will point you in the right direction to the black tip reef shark's habitat metres from the sandy shore.

Food

In general, Southern Thai food is known for its spiciness. Much of the cuisine has its origins in Malay, Indonesian, and Indian food. Favourite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry (massaman), rice noodles in fish curry sauce (khanom jeen), and chicken with yellow rice.

  • Calamero Resto. A wide selection of breakfasts, fresh pasta, pizza, Thai food, sandwiches and more is complemented by fruit shakes, liqueurs, and evening cocktails. And the best "fried ice-cream". All food is clean, good, and cheap.
  • Cosmic. Italian restaurant with two outlets on the island. Serves very good pizza. The Thai food is disappointing. All pizzas cost 150 baht, all Thai dishes with rice cost 80 baht..
  • Little Britain. If you're looking for a good traditional English breakfast with eggs, Heinz baked beans, sausage, bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, and black pudding this is the place to go. English tea comes with your breakfast.
  • Mr. Tee's (When you come off the ferry, veer slightly left and you find yourself on an alley covered by tarps, with small Thai restaurants. You'll notice a lot of locals eating in this alley. The second booth on your left is Mr. Tee's. There's a signboard). The food is good, cheap, and spicy! There's a shop just opposite "Mr. Tee's", their food is just as good. They have the best fruit shake on the island.
  • Pad Thai Restaurant (Easily accessible from PP Island Village Resort. Exit the rear of the hotel, turn right and walk 50 m to Pad Thai on the left. The restaurant and PP Island Village are also accessible by walking 25 minutes from Laem Thong.). Friendly and fun, serves great tourist-friendly Thai food. Many hotel guests eat better food here each night for one-third the price of their hotel. Handmade spring rolls are excellent as are the garlic pepper fish and fried squid, bought fresh daily from local fishers. Ask the staff for a free motorcycle ride back after dark, an especially good idea if you have imbibed several PP Scuba Divers, a blue-coloured rum-based concoction served by the excellent bartenders. You can also book diving and snorkelling trips here. Quite busy between 19:00-21:00.
  • Papaya (Small green shop restaurant opposite Reggae Bar, next to Tiger Bar). 17:00-. One of the first restaurants rebuilt after the tsunami. Run by the enthusiastic and friendly Mr Nod. Don't let the unprepossessing looks of the restaurant put you off. The food here is incredibly good and a very good value. Serves authentic Thai food, hot and spicy as it should be, but the staff helpfully allows you to express the spiciness in percentile terms, with 100% being "Thai spicy". Among local expats living on the island, this place may be known as the place to get good cheap Thai food, but it's no longer the cheapest. If you are looking for a personal-sized portion with rice at a cheaper price ask for your food to be "on rice". Otherwise portions are huge! Help yourself to the drinks in the fridge, which will be included on the bill, and check out the cat which lives in there. Note: Papaya opens around 17:00 and, in high season, is packed by 18:00 or 19:00. Go early if you're not prepared to wait.
  • The Pirate's House. Great Indian and Western food, but the Thai food at this place is not the greatest. A bit pricey, but nice and clean. Be careful when you take a seat, it's very easy to hurt your knees on their heavy and impractical wooden tables.
  • Tuk's BBQ (Next to Reggae Bar). Basically a street vendor, but it has the absolute best BBQ on the island, with most items costing 30 baht.

Drinks

Ton Sai Bay has a variety of nightlife, something for everyone’s taste. Jazz, blues, and classics can be found at the leading hotels. Or, if it's romance you're after, you and your loved one can relax in one of the outside hotel bars and sip a cocktail under the stars. The police usually allow, if there is no trouble, bars to stay open until about 01:00 in the town and 04:00 on the beach.

  • Beach Bar (In the tsunami wastelands). Good choice for those looking to have a quiet drink.
  • Breakers. American/Aussie-style pub with huge LCD wide-screens. Great food, big portions, and an extensive selection of spirits as well as draught beer and cider.
  • Carlitos Bar. Relaxed drinks on the beach served by amiable waitresses. During the winter months this place is full of Scandinavian party-goers. Most of the service staff this time of year is over on extended holiday from Sweden so expect a lot of beautiful tanned blonds to be walking around.
  • Carpe Diem. Nice, relaxing beach chill out bar. Staff used to be notoriously bad, but these have recently been replaced with better staff.
  • Deaf Gecko. 17:00-01:00. Chilled beach bar on Nice Beach. Great music, fantastic staff and quiet beach. Fresh fruit shakes, daiquiris, and loads of Leo beer!
  • Deco Bar (Above Phi Phi Scuba Dive Center on the main road from pier). 19:00-01:00. Excellent bar with chill music. Nightly specials & happy hours with 100 baht mixed drinks, 50 baht beers, and shisha/water pipe available. Try the Spicy Thai Mojito.
  • Hippies Bar (On the Ton Sai Bay side). The original Hippies has returned. The same staff, great music, cocktails and nightly fire shows!
  • Ibiza Bar. One of the best beach dance bars. A live music band, playing classic rock and roll hits, is a great feature as well. Don't miss the fire shows every night and great dancing and fun games.
  • Mojito Bar (At Viewpoint Resort). Great cocktail bar with fantastic views and the friendliest staff.
  • Reggae Bar. Popular place that organizes mock muay Thai fights most nights. If you are there at the right time you can even join in. They invite tourists, usually drunk, to get into the ring geared up to pound on each other for a few rounds in exchange for a couple of free buckets.
  • Rolling Stoned Bar. Great live rock music. They also have four pool tables in one of the more popular bars on the island.
  • Sports Bar (สปอร์ตซบาร์). Small English-style bar with a pool table and good pub food (English meat pies).
  • Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar (On Loh Dalum Bay). Nautically-themed beach bar with "ark" and longtail bar, pool table, and laid-back beach seating. A great place to watch the often spectacular sunsets.
  • Woody's Bar (Close to Apache). Just a liquor store, but they have a few tables out front. The staff are funny, and Beatles music is often playing. Nice place to get a 180 baht bucket to walk around on the beach with.

Shopping

Most stuff is brought in by boat, so most things are less original and more expensive than on the mainland. However, there are a few shops that manufacture their goods on the island. Prices for commodities vary widely between shops.

Most of the items sold here are either made by local fishermen or they are brought to the island from Phuket town. Rising commercialization and inflow of tourists throughout the year seems to be a big bonus for these locals. Prices asked may exceed the value of the item, but if you are a good talker, you can bargain for a good price.

  • D's Books. Two locations on Ko Phi Phi and many others throughout southern Thailand, a well respected book store.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Ko Phi Phi on Wikivoyage.

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