So who should visit Phi Phi? Anyone who wants to see the dramatic landscape of the Andaman Sea: Green islands that grow like a huge cliff from the sea. Anyone who wants to see the amazing coral reefs and colorful underwater life. It’s possible to reach the island as part of a daily trip from Krabi or Phuket, or even spend a few nights on Phi Phi itself.
Who should stay on Phi Phi? Anyone who want to rest and clean their heads. And on stunning beaches in front of great landscapes. You will lay on the soft white sand and look at the water and its abundance of colors, and let your mind wander.
There are not many attractions on Koh Phi Phi except chilling out. Due to its mountainous structure, the main place to meet people is the beach and narrow strip between the hills where the Main Street is – a small but bustling market with stalls for clothing and various tourist needs, restaurants, shops and more. On both sides of the street are hotels and beaches. There are no motorized vehicles on the island. There’s no need for them.
Crossing the island takes a few minutes. Phi Phi has everything you need to have a perfect vacation: restaurants and food stands – enough to offer you variety, but not too many. The hotels are good and the hostels are cozy, and there are plenty of water sports to try.
Besides water sports, you can easily climb 185 meters to the vantage point, from which you can see all of Phi Phi island. You can also visit the Tsunami Victims Memorial Museum or head over to Monkey Beach on the west side to watch the ancient residents of the Gulf of Thailand jump between the trees.
You can sail to one of the nearby islands. A recommended trip is the 7 islands day trip, where you’ll sail into the Maya Bay. The bay was famous after film “The Beach” starring Leonardo Dicaprio was shot there, but the reason you’ll visit, is the unique landscape. The boat approaches the island through a narrow passageway between cliffs, and then a bay opens before you with huge cliffs on all sides, forming a perfect circle. Thus a closed pool of clear green water is created. Jump off of the boat and swim, dive, or float leisurely on the water and see how the cliffs frame the sky into the most beautiful picture nature can draw.
Attractions on Koh Phi Phi:
Cruises around the island and to the nearby islands
Whether you are visiting Phi Phi for a few hours or planning to stay on the island for a few days, the island’s Nightlife is an attraction in itself and offers many clubs, pubs and entertainment options to tourists. After a loud evening and a few hours’ rest, it’s time to take a pleasant stroll and enjoy everything the island and its surroundings has to offer. Board a motorboat and go sailing between the island’s shores. A similar trip also leaves from Phuket and goes directly to Koh Phi Phi, so if you’re staying in Phuket, you can take one as well. This trip, along with the beautiful cruise, includes stopping on the white beaches and the stunning crystal water. This is a great opportunity to dive, snorkel or swim in the water and enjoy an extraordinary break. Another day trip is the one that includes a visit to six islands, including Phi Phi. You’ll stop at: Phi Phi Don, Koh Khai, Phi Phi Phi Leh, Koh Yao, Bamboo and Mosquito. It is possible to get off the ship in one of the islands, stay there for a short time and then continue on to the next island.
In Phi Phi Don, you will find a great selection of attractions, hiking trails and activities for all ages. The weather on the island, like the weather in all of Thailand, is comfortable and pleasant in the peak season – take advantage of that. One thing you can do in the excellent weather, is climb 186 meters above sea level to the island’s vantage point. From there, you can see the small islands and the different shades of water in the ocean. To reach the vantage point, you have to walk up a steep (but not too difficult) mountain side (close to 40 minutes). Once you have reached the observation point and enjoyed the view, you can take one of three trail, leading to the beach. Another option, is to continue to another vantage point, which is about a 30 minute walk away. Don’t forget to take comfortable shoes. You may also want to visit the Tsunami Memorial Garden, which was built to commemorate the victims of the Tsunami that hit the islands. The garden has many plants, flowers and a wonderful peacefulness. It is located at Loh Dalum Bay, in the northern part of the island.
Many come to Koh Phi Phi to experience the underwater world it inhabits. The island is a great spot for diving or snorkelling. One of the recommended diving sites is Hin Muang and Hin Daeng, which is located 60 km south of the island, where you will find a huge variety of fish, crabs, eels, shrimp and even large manta rays and sometimes whale sharks.
Known as one of the most beautiful spots in Koh Phi Phi, the famous Maya Bay offers turquoise water and charming beaches. It is hidden among tall cliffs and even though the tourist season seems to be very crowded, it certainly deserves a visit. If you are looking for peace, you should get there early in the morning. There, you can lay on the beach, dive or snorkel, jump in the water from the cliffs and hike in the vicinity. To get to the bay and its beautiful beaches, board a speedboat from Phi Phi Don. Another amazing beach is located in Loh Samah Bay, in the western part of Phi Phi Leh, with several caves to swim or kayak in.
The meaning of the name Koh Phi Phi:
What is interesting to know, is that there is no interpretation for “Phi Phi” in Thai. The name originated from the Malay language. Remember, to the south, Thailand borders Malaysia, and indeed the island currently has a Malaysian population. The Malaysian name of the island is “Pulao Pi ah Pi” and refers to the many mangroves that grow on the island’s shores.
In addition to the Muslim Malaysian residents on the island, you’ll also find Buddhists, Thai Chinese, Gypsies, and many tourists. At the peak of the tourist season in December-February, there are more tourists than locals.
Koh Phi Phi After the Tsunami Disaster:
In 2004, the tsunami destroyed the beautiful archipelago Due to the narrow shape of the island, the great wave was wedged between the hills, causing the island to be hit by essentially two waves. The height of the waves reached between 3 and 6.5 meters.
The waves destroyed all the island’s infrastructure, and 70% of the buildings on the island were completely destroyed. Today, the island has been completely restored. The Thais took advantage of the fact that nature “cleared” the island and built a better infrastructure. The hotels were limited in height to not damage the landscape, all the electricity and water infrastructure were moved underground, and new construction was required to comply with the natural hazards standards in addition to installing an advanced warning system against natural disasters.
History, Climate and Culture
It is assumed that the settlement on the islands is one of the oldest in Thailand, dating back to prehistoric times. The climate in Koh Phi Phi is tropical, and there are actually two seasons: the hot season, in the first four months of the year, and the rainy season, which runs from April to December. During the year, the average temperature in the islands is between 25 and 32 degrees Celsius.
The population of Koh Phi Phi includes a diverse mix of nationalities and religions, and consists of Buddhists, Muslims and even Gypsies called Sea Gypsies. They all live on the islands in harmony and fraternity, without any religious or ethnic tension, as this cultural diversity only adds to the magnificent lifestyle of this unique archipelago.