The boxing day tsunami of 2004 hit the six Phi Phi Islands hard, destroying much of its infrastructure, but it has recovered and remains not only one of Thailand’s, but the world’s most popular tropical destination. Koh Phi Phi was the backdrop for the popular Leonardo Di Caprio’s movie The Beach and exploded on to the tourist scene after the movie’s release in 2000. It quickly became a backpacking mecca as millions flocked to the island. These days this tropical paradise that is situated in the Andaman Sea near Phuket appeals to more of a suitcase crowd than the backpackers and is expensive by Thailand’s standards, but it is still a bargain compared to some of the world’s other most popular tropical island destinations.
Cost and Budgeting for Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi is more expensive than most of the rest of Thailand, with the island covered with expensive resorts, hotels, and restaurants. While it is still possible for a backpacker to visit Koh Phi Phi, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make it on a shoestring budget. One can get by on $30-$35/day, but street food, limited activities, and less than favorable accommodations will be the norm. It is more realistic to set aside at least $50/day, more if you plan on eating out or enjoying activities like diving.
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Things to Do in Koh Phi Phi
Hiking: Hike up to the Viewpoint, which is a very steep walk that takes only about 15-20 minutes, depending on your fitness level. Once at the top, you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the entire island. It’s particularly spectacular at dawn or sunset. You can also hike to Monkey Beach (it also accessible by renting a canoe or chartering a longtail boat). The monkeys can sometimes be aggressive, so use caution and never feed them.
Beaches: Yao Beach offers travelers fantastic views, scenery and coral reefs. If snorkeling or diving is your thing, this is a great place to visit. This small beach is packed with places to stay and can seem over developed. You can reach Yao Beach by walking from Ton Sai, or you can take a long-tail boat.
You can walk to Lanti Beach from Yao Beach, and it is very similar with its great scenery and coral reefs.
If you’re looking for solitude, there aren’t many more places on Koh Phi Phi to find it, but Hin Khao Beach is extremely quiet and can only be reached on foot.
Ao Ton Sai in Ton Sai Bay is the place to go for action. It offers many restaurants, bars, hotels and guesthouses. Most travelers stay at Ton Sai Bay because it is convenient. It isn’t the most beautiful place on Phi Phi, but it is still quite impressive.
Phi Phi Leh is the second largest of the Phi Phi Islands and is pristine and beautiful. You are not allowed to stay overnight. The Phaya Naak Cave and its prehistoric paintings are a main attraction here, but Maya Bay is why most tourists come to Phi Phi Leh. It has arguably Phi Phi’s most picturesque beach and was where the movie The Beach was filmed in 1998.
Diving: Phi Phi Leh is a fabulous place for divers, but it’s not the place for beginners. Experienced divers will find a multitude of marine life in the bay.
Ko Pida Nok and nearby Ko Pida Nai both have an abundance of coral and are home to a variety of marine life like leopard sharks, turtles and moray eels. They are both very popular dive spots.
Wang Long is well known for its vast system of underwater caves. Only experienced divers should go here.
Perhaps the most popular dive site in the region is King Cruiser Wreck. It has remnants of a passenger ship that sunk in 1997 after it hit the Anemone reef, which is unique dive site in itself. It has a massive limestone pinnacle and is well-known for its variety of sea anemones and attracts huge schools of fish like tropicals, snappers, grouper, and larger game-fish like tuna and barracuda. You may be lucky enough to see the occasional leopard shark.
Lohsamah Bay is popular for night-time divers with a sandy bottom that has oysters and clams. There is also a fifteen meter deep canyon that is wide enough for single file swimming.
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Weather in Koh Phi Phi
Weather in Koh Phi Phi is tropical with only two seasons. The hot season runs from January to April, and the rainy season goes from May to December. Temperatures are steady during the year and average about 25°C to 32°C (77°F to 89.6°F). Annual rainfall averages 2568.5mm.