Your Guide To Thailand’s Most Famous Island, Koh Phi Phi
There’s one set of islands in Thailand that gets more attention than your average slice of paradise: Koh Phi Phi. The islands off the coast of Phuket have one of the more famous landscapes in the area and deserve a place on any island itinerary.
Koh Phi Phi (pronounced ‘pee pee,’ not ‘phee phee’) is a two-hour ferry ride away from Phuket. But after that journey, you could easily spend days on end here wandering through the jungle from beach to beach.
So why is this island so famous?
You can basically blame Leonardo DiCaprio for Koh Phi Phi’s rise to fame. Well, maybe Leo and Instagram. Leo was in the movie “The Beach,” which featured Koh Phi Phi’s Maya Bay in extensive glory shots. And then Instagram entered the picture and the place became a favorite for everyone’s beach vacation photoshoots.
Sadly, this pop culture love overwhelmed the bay and caused so much environmental damage, tourists were no longer allowed to visit. But there are other places around the set of islands that are just as beautiful as Maya Bay.
What’s happening beyond the bay?
There are still tours running to Maya Bay, even in its current, over-visited state. We’d recommend passing on that opportunity and choosing a different beach instead. We promise there’s plenty to interest you around the two islands.
Koh Phi Phi is made up of two islands, Phi Phi Don and Phi-Phi Leh. Most of your time will likely be spent on the larger Phi Phi Don. You can wander on foot or by renting a kayak and taking yourself around the island. All of the hotels in Koh Phi Phi are based on Phi Phi Don and that’s where you’ll find the islands’ restaurants as well. But once you’re rested and fed, it’s time to adventure.
Even the worst beach for swimming, Loh Dalum Bay on Phi Phi Don, still would knock the sandals off the average beach explorer. Lot Dalum Bay is the best spot to rent a kayak (a kinder choice to the waters of Phi Phi than the highly polluting, although beautiful, long tail boats) and take off around the cove to find even better swimming destinations, such as Monkey Beach across the bay.
Our absolute favorite, Long Beach, isn’t reached by boat. It’s a short hike away from the main pier, leading past some of the most beautiful views on the island. You may be tempted to give up on the walk in high heat and hop into the water in one of the coves along the way, but we say stick with it. Long Beach’s clear water and stunning views are worth it.
The smaller Phi Phi Leh is home to Maya Bay and doesn’t have any hotels on the island. But it’s the destination where most sunset tours end up. Even if you don’t take a tour to Phi Phi Leh, the ferry from Phuket passes Leh on the way to Don.
At night, you can join the raucous beach parties in Loh Dalum Bay or find a calmer beach bar on a different stretch of beach. But don’t forget to end your evening with some mango sticky rice. This is a vacation, after all.