Koh Phi Phi Islands
The location of Koh Phi Phi Islands is between Phuket and the Thai province of Krabi on the mainland. It’s a group of Islands existing of Koh Phi Phi Lee, Koh Phi Phi Don, Bida Nok and Bida Noi, Bamboo Island and a few more islands. Most of the islands exist of limestone rocks and cliffs only. Some islands have small beaches and resorts. Longtail boats and speedboats are going to the islands. A longtail boat is a small boat where the captain holds a long stick with at the end a propeller in the water, which gives the boat some speed.
A bigger ferry is going from Phuket and from Krabi to Koh Phi Phi. Immediately when you step of the boat and come of the pier, you will be charged 20 thb as ‘Fee on the parking clean on Phi Phi Islands’ as the ticket states. Whatever it means, it’s a bit strange that such fees are not included in your ferry ticket price so that you are not immediately charged at arrival for just putting a foot on the island.
Although originally the Phi Phi islands were populated with mostly Muslim fisherman, nowadays it has much more mixed religions and the income is coming mostly from tourism. The Islands were hugely destroyed during the Tsunami of 2004. Now you won’t see anything of that ravage left. The village is nice with small alleys full of shops, restaurants and hotels. Hotels can be found for around 600 thb per night in town (Sea Shell Hut for example). More expensive ones at the beach with pool. When you visit Phi Phi, you will notice to see very few people older than 50 or 55. A few families here and there walking with kids, but in town and on the beach it’s mostly youngsters. Many foreigners work there on a tourist visa, trying to sell diving packages, party cruises, or other offers.
Koh Phi Phi has several larger and smaller beaches. The most famous and popular one is Loh Dalam beach, but the water at this beach can be really dirty. Plastic and wood with nails are floating all over. Take the rocks on the seabed into consideration too, which makes it uneasy for swimming, All of this makes Loh Dalam beach disappointing, unless you are young and a party animal.
Ton Sai beach, which hasn’t actually a beach, if you don’t count the small piece at the end, is located at the end of the Ton Sai part, where all the ferries and boats arrive or departure. The water is absolutely stunningly green and clear, but there are so many bigger boats, longtail boats and speedboats parked in the water, that you can’t swim. Include the rocks on the seabed and Ton Sai can be disappointing too, unless you like snorkeling in shallow waters. Beware not to get hit by a boat.
The best option is to take a longtail boat for around 1500 thb to any of the other beaches. Long Beach is the nearest, Loh Moh Dee beach, Relax Resort beach, Nui beach and some more. There you will find quiet beaches, but still there can be too many boats in the water where you swim and still the seabed is full with rocks. The view is great, it’s peaceful, the water is totally clear and greenish, resorts serve nice food and drinks. In that way it’s a great place to be, but swimming stays somewhat disappointing for all reasons already mentioned.
Clubs, Parties, Activities
The Island attracts many youngsters who travel there and often get stuck in the party scene and the free way of life. They stay at Phi Phi to sell diving courses and packages, party boat cruises and many more tourism related packages and tours. The Loh Dalam beach is partly full of clubs and bars. In the evening after 8 pm there will be fire shows, all kinds of (drinking)games and more fun. Don’t be surprised to see a menucard mentioning weed, cocaine and more of these things. I haven’t seen any police officers or station in town, it seems a bit of a lawless island, but still within limits. Further there are pool parties 3 days a week at least. Drinking, swimming, playing, dancing and more. You won’t see more than a handful of 50+ age people.
Diving is a hot thing to do there. Many agencies and their respective foreign sellers are offering all kinds of diving packages. The prices depend if you take a single dive, more dives, which area you take the dive, a course, advanced, rescue diver, etc. It also depends if you have part or full equipment of yourself, or if you need to rent it. A single dive at Marine Park cost around 2500 thb. A one day course around 3400 thb and two days course around 4600 thb. Just to name some of the options out of many. A compilation video impression of beaches and clubs/party can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTUQp_8NbqI&feature=youtu.be
How to get there
To get to Koh Phi Phi depends on where you are coming from. There are daily ferries between Phuket and the Koh Phi Phi islands and between Krabi and Koh Phi Phi. When you come from Bangkok you can fly to Krabi and there you take a ferry to Koh Phi Phi. Beware which beach you exactly stay around Krabi. When you stay in Krabi itself, then you can get a ferry from the pier there, but when you stay for example at Railay, then you have to catch a longtail boat that brings you to Railay beach. This can be a somewhat strange experience, as you need to carry your luggage walking through the water to the longtail boat.
From Railay to Koh Phi Phi is a different ferry than the one leaving from Krabi. At Railay you wait 9 am at the pier. There the group of minimum 50 people will be divided into small groups of around 8 persons into longtail boats. These longtail boats bring you to a ferry that will bring you to Koh Phi Phi in about an hour.
Another option is to take a bus from Bangkok Sai Tai Mai (new southern bus terminal). The price of a bus is not much cheaper than the price of a flight to Krabi. The bus takes nearly 12 hours between Krabi and Bangkok. The Bus tickets are available between 560 thb and 1000 thb. You will be in a double deck bus with toilet and luxury seats. The more expensive tickets do have wifi in the bus. It has to be said that in some of the buses hangs a bad chemical toilet smell, depending on which seat you have. So it’s recommendable to book a seat in the front rather than near the stairs.
You will get water, biscuits or bakery items and a blanket, which you will need because the air conditioning is usually way too cold in night buses.