Phi Phi Island might ring a bell, as the film, The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed here in 2000. In fact, it has been reported that Phi Phi had a large surge of tourists wanting to visit this piece of paradise, on their Thailand vacation, after the movie was released.
It is considered one of the most naturally beautiful islands, not only in Thailand, but anywhere, with its abundance of coral, long white sandy beaches and backdrop of limestone mountains with sheer cliffs. Phi Phi Island is easily accessible from Phuket as it is only 50 kilometres/31 miles south-east, in the Andaman Sea, and conveniently reached by ferry. It should be noted that there is no public transportation in Phi Phi. Actually, Phi Phi is made up of several islands but only 2 are of any significance, Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh.
Where to Stay?
Well, that depends on your style of beach and vacation. All accommodation is on the main island of Phi Phi Don, which is 8 kilometres/5 miles long and 3.5 kilometres/ 2 miles wide. It is the only island that is populated. The central area of Phi Phi Don is the liveliest place with a whole host of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops suiting all budgets.
Laem Thong, also known as Golden Bay, is on the north-east coast of Phi Phi Don and is less frenetic. Formerly a fishing village, it is now a great spot to stay if you’re looking for a quiet location to relax on your Thailand vacation. It offers beach and marine activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, and pleasant walks along the coastal path with its coconut trees overlooking a turquoise sea.
Another quiet beach area is Long Beach, also known as Yao Beach, to the east of Central Phi Phi Don and separated by a rocky cape. This is a good choice for those who like a combination of tranquility and action. It also offers visitors some fantastic views and scenery plus coral reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving. Lanti Beach is next door to Long Beach and is very similar in many regards with its fabulous scenery and coral reefs.
Exotic Phi Phi Leh Island
Totally uninhabited except for visitors during the daytime, Phi Phi Leh lies 1.5 kilometres/1 mile off the southernmost tip of Phi Phi Don. It offers a wonderful combination of small sandy beaches, coral reefs, and vertical cliffs 100 metres/ 325 feet tall, capped with green foliage. Maya Bay here has arguably Phi Phi’s most fantastic beach and was the exact location for the film, The Beach.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
On a Thailand vacation, Phi Phi Island offers excellent scuba diving, which is not surprising as the island lies in a national marine park. Considered by many to be the best site in Phi Phi, Bida Nok is a small cliff islet to the south of Phi Phi Leh whose walls plunge dramatically into the sea where they are festooned with soft corals and sponges. The reef itself is exceptionally healthy and is home to seahorses and razor fish as well as their larger cousins like leopard sharks, reef sharks, and turtles. Nearby Bida Nai is another beautiful dive site, full of interesting creatures and underwater topography. You can make your way through thousands of tiny glassfish, and you will also see black tip sharks and leopard sharks.
As for snorkelers, the coral is just below the surface and brightly coloured fish dart here and there, inches from your mask.
Other Activities in Phi Phi to Consider on your Thailand Vacation
The strenuous Phi-Phi Viewpoint climb is a steep but rewarding 20 to 30 minute hike up hundreds of steps and narrow twisting paths. The views from the top of the whole island are breathtaking, particularly at sunset or dawn.
Phaya Naak Cave, just to the north of Phi Phi Leh Bay, is where swifts make their nests. The nests are made by the birds from their saliva and harvested by locals once the birds have finished nesting. The nests are used for the Chinese delicacy Bird’s Nest Soup. There are some paintings on the walls of boats resembling Viking ships that are supposed to be ancient. However, they are more likely to be just a couple of hundred years old. Phi Phi Islands are a world-class destination for rock climbing. There are many opportunities for this activity here and a few climbing shops to rent equipment, find a guide, or take lessons. The climbing on limestone cliffs can be an amazing experience on a trip to Thailand.
Always wanted to jump off a cliff? Well, here’s your opportunity. There are cliffs up to 16 metres/50 feet that are ideal for cliff jumping due to the depth of water below. Take a deep breath and off you go!