Known as the ‘Jewels of the Andaman Sea’, there are six islands in the Phi Phi group – Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Leh, Bamboo Island, Yung Island, Bida Nok and Bida Nai. The first, Phi Phi Don, is the only one that is inhabited; the rest can be visited on organised day trips from the mainland, or from Phi Phi Don itself. Blessed with outstanding natural beauty, Phi Phi is Krabi’s beloved island treasure. Towering forest-capped cliffs rise from a sparkling turquoise sea, and white sandy arcs trace their rugged coastline. It’s a scene found on brochures and websites promoting Thailand as a holiday destination.
Phi Phi Leh Island, considered the most beautiful of the six, is shaped like a piece from a jigsaw puzzle. Sheer walls conceal hidden lagoons, and the stunning Maya Bay has the Hollywood seal of approval, after serving as the stunning backdrop for the blockbuster movie, The Beach.
Bamboo and Yung islands also boast some fantastic beaches, while Bida Nok and Nai are little more than large rocks, used mainly by divers. All around the Phi Phi islands, marine life is abundant and snorkelling stops should be top of the agenda on any tour. Visibility here is excellent – up to 20m- and the variety of coral and fish you will see is amazing.
Stay overnight in Phi Phi to take full advantage of what this group of islands has to offer. There are resorts to suit every budget and preference; however, there are fewer hotels located right on the beach since the tsunami. The most opulent choices are found on quieter beaches around the coast, while the cheapest rooms are in the busy centre of Ton Sai Village.
While the days here may be sleepy and laidback, at night the island lets its hair down for a wild party. Beachside bars and clubs hold regular parties with DJs, fire shows and vast quantities of alcohol for their mainly young clientele. There are also a few civilised corners of Ton Sai village, for those who prefer a quiet drink, as well as some top class European and Thai restaurants, along with the ubiquitous internet café and souvenir shop.
Daytime activities include trips to the islands, sea-kayaking, rock climbing and, of course, diving. The majority of the dive sites in Krabi are located in or near the Phi Phi Islands and there are many dive schools that can organise trips and courses here. There are also several water sports available on the beach in Lohdalum Bay, including parasailing, banana-boat rides and pedalos.
The short hike up to the viewpoint behind Ton Sai village, which affords a breathtaking view over the twin bays of Ton Sai and Lohdalum, is also recommended; however, it’s best to go early in the morning or at sunset to avoid the heat. The help of a Phi Phi tour guide gets the most from your time here.
Phi Phi Don is accessible by daily passenger ferries from Krabi Town, Ao Nang, Koh Lanta and Phuket. The islands lie around 45kms from the mainland to the west (Phuket) and east (Krabi) and journey time is around 90 minutes. The ferry stops at the main pier in the village of Ton Sai, where the majority of the resorts, shops and restaurants are concentrated. From here, it is possible to take a longtail boat to the more remote beaches to the north and west of the island, where there are also a few resorts. See Krabi ferry timetable.