Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi Thailand – A Backpackers’ Guide

It might not be the most secluded Thai beach destination, but Koh Phi Phi has plenty to offer backpackers despite its popularity. Think crystal clear waters, gorgeous beaches, stunning viewpoints, limestone cliffs, and water sports!

Made up of two islands, Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh, Phi Phi Don is the inhabited of the two and where you’ll likely spend most of your time. It has plenty of hostels, hotels, eateries, and bars in the centre and a more local and quiet vibe further out. No matter where you stay on Phi Phi, you won’t be far from a great beach! 

Koh Phi Phi Leh is a part of the Hat Noppharat Thara–Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, which can be accessed via boat trips and tours. It’s home to Maya Bay, one of Thailand’s most well-known tourist attractions, made famous by the film ‘The Beach’.

Koh Phi Phi Map & Resources

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Best Time to Visit Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi benefits from a warm, tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 23C° to 33C° between November and April. These months are some of the driest to visit, and the period between January and March has the least rainfall.  

Between May and October, rainfall increases, so it’s best to avoid these months. Some of the storms off the coast of Koh Phi Phi are a real sight to behold, but boat tours should be avoided at these times – for obvious reasons! 

It isn’t unusual for trips to be cancelled or rescheduled due to the weather, which is worth considering when planning your trip. Don’t be too put off, though; the rainy season can still be an excellent time to travel, as long as you’re flexible! 

Travel tip: Bring a rain jacket. Even if you visit in the dry season, riding in a long-tail boat through the wind whilst drenched gets pretty cold. A dry bag is also an essential travel purchase – it’s always best to keep your valuables protected when on board a boat!

Koh Phi Phi clear waters

Where to Stay on Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi Don is centred around a busy strip in the middle of the island with quieter, more secluded areas in the East and West. 

For first-time backpackers, the area encompassing Tonsai Village and Loh Dalum Bay are great options with plenty of budget-friendly accommodation. Alternatives are available in other parts of the island. However, these are usually harder to get to and generally more pricey.

Tonsai Village

One of the main areas close to Tonsai Pier, Tonsai Village, has several cheap and cheerful accommodation options and great nightlife, restaurants and street food. 

Prices start at approximately $16USD for a dorm room and increase to approximately $20USD for a private room. Dorms are highly rated and an excellent option for solo travellers. Hotels are also reasonably priced – it’s around $20USD for a double or twin room at Panmanee Hotel. 

Tonsai Village is home to many tour providers and attractions, so you won’t have to travel too far to make memories! The island’s main viewpoints are also easily accessible from this location.

Loh Dalum Bay

Located next to Tonsai Village on the opposite side of Tonsai Pier, Loh Dalum Bay is home to a beautiful coastline with lively bars, restaurants and accommodation options. This is ideal if you want to enjoy the beaches! 

Loh Dalum Bay also gives excellent access to more secluded beaches like Nui Beach (only a short kayak away). Prices start at approximately $8USD for a dorm room, increasing to approximately $20USD for a private room. 

Long Beach

South-East of Tonsai Village is Long Beach, a picturesque piece of coastline filled with resorts. Luckily, there are a few budget-friendly accommodation options dotted around too. Stunning views over the water to Koh Phi Phi Leh can be enjoyed anywhere on this beach. Excellent snorkelling is available at several spots, most notably in Ao Pah. 

Long Beach is easily accessible from Tonsai Pier and is only a short walk into Tonsai Village and Loh Dalum Bay, making it a good option for those who prefer to stay off the main strip.

Top Hostels in Koh Phi Phi

1. Viking Nature Resort

Although not technically a hostel, this cute resort offers cheap digs for travellers. Accommodation starts at approx $19USD for a private room. There is excellent beach access and a more relaxed vibe than many of the other accommodation options in Long Beach. 

2. RC Guest House

Known for its lovely local vibe and prime location, RC Guest House is a favourite with guests. The staff go above and beyond to help you get the most out of your stay, and it’s budget-friendly. Perfect! 

3. Rehab Hostel

As you’d probably guess from the name, this adult-only hostel is the place to overindulge. Its bar and BBQ provide the perfect setting to meet your fellow backpackers. This traveller spot comes highly rated at a low price. 

5. Blanco Beach Bar

If you’re looking for the Phi Phi party scene, these are the digs for you! Prices start at approx $8USD for a dorm room. Beware, though, the fiesta continues all night, and it is loud! If you want a peaceful night’s sleep, head elsewhere. 

6. Ibiza House Phi Phi

Located in Loh Dalum Bay, this budget-friendly backpacker hostel is just a stone’s throw from the beach! Prices start at approx $15USD for a dorm room and pool access.

7. Phi Phi Long Beach Bungalow

For backpackers looking for a more private experience, an entire bungalow costs approximately $30USD per night, which is not bad for one of Thailand’s premium islands on Had Yao.  Trust us when we say that the views are well worth the dollar!

Things to Do on Koh Phi Phi

1. Enjoy the beaches

Koh Phi Phi boasts some stunning beaches, including Long Beach, Loh Dalum Bay, Phak Nam Bay and Nui Beach, just to name a few!

Some are easily accessible from the main strip, whereas you’ll need to travel by kayak or boat trip to get to others.

Koh Phi Phi
Across the island there are views and beaches galore!

2. Go snorkelling

Koh Phi Phi has some spectacular locations in which to snorkel. It doesn’t have to be an expensive pastime either. Travellers can rent snorkels at the beach or participate in a snorkelling boat tour; there are options for every budget. 

Expect to pay around 100THB for a snorkel set for the day or 450THB+ for a snorkelling boat tour around the islands. Notable locations include Shark Point, Pileh Bay and Ao Pah.

3. Try kayaking

Rent a kayak on the beach for around 150THB an hour and kayak to Nui Beach (a secluded spot) to watch the sunset or explore the limestone cliffs. It’s worth noting that the sea can get pretty choppy outside of the bays as the boats move through the water. Not one for when you have a hangover! 

4. Take a day trip

Boat tours: These range from only a couple of hours to full-day trips. There is something for everyone, whether you enjoy the thrill of swimming with sharks or prefer to relax and soak in the beautiful views. They start at approx 650THB per person (plus 400 THB National Park fee) for a full day tour featuring several locations. This price usually includes fruit, water, juice, snack and lunch. Snorkels and masks are also usually provided. In terms of specific locations, don’t miss the following:

Monkey Beach: Another top spot for a day trip is Monkey Beach. Picture gangs of cheeky monkeys running across the beach, terrorising tourists! Don’t take any food off the boat if you want to keep it, and be sure to keep hold of your phone, or you’ll have a tough time getting it back!

Monkey eating ice cream
These cheeky monkeys will pinch anything they can get their hands on!

Bamboo Island: Take a long-tail as part of a multi-stop tour to this quiet, tropical island. Walk around the beach to find a small bar and toilets with some of the best views.

Travel tip: Although food is usually provided on boat tours, pack some snacks to ensure you don’t get hungry. 7-11 is and always will be a backpacker’s best friend!

5. Swim with sharks

Shark Point Bay is famous for the number of Black Tip Reef Sharks swimming around the rocky corals. Although you can spot sharks throughout the day, for peak viewing opportunities, book a private long-tail boat for early in the morning. 

Around this time, most people see between 30-and 40 sharks (some as big as 1.8m) and plenty of other marine life. Private long-tails cost upwards of approx 1200THB and can hold between eight and ten people, so costs can be reduced if you can find pals to join you.

6. Visit Maya Bay

Maya Bay reopened to tourists after three and a half years of closure in 2022. It began to recover from the significant impact of over-tourism in its downtime. Sharks have returned to the waters, and the ecosystem is thriving. 

Made famous by the cult classic ‘The Beach’, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the island is now heavily protected, and strict rules have been implemented to allow the area to thrive. People can access it on foot via Loh Samah Bay and can only venture knee-deep into the water. No food or drink can be taken onto the beach, and boats are no longer allowed into the bay. 

Maya Bay Koh Phi Phi set to close April 2018
You’re unlikely to run into Leo but ‘The Beach’ is still worth a visit!

When we visited in early 2022, we shared the experience with less than 20 other people! However, it is uncertain how long this paradise will stay this pristine. Even with limits on visitor numbers, this popular spot is likely to remain on the radar of many visitors to the country. 

Good to know: On top of the boat trip cost, there is a Farang (foreigner) entry price to the National Park (400 THB).

7. Swim with bioluminescent plankton

For a travel experience, you’ll never forget, arrange a trip to swim with the electric blue bioluminescent plankton after sunset. Bioluminescent Plankton is algae that essentially glow in the dark and is a magical sight to see.

Speak to one of the many tourist information desks to find out where the top spots are and the best time to do this.

8. Hike to a viewpoint

Koh Phi Phi Don has three viewpoints easily accessible from Loh Dalum Bay and Tonsai Village that are well worth the trek. The first viewpoint is up a steep set of stairs – bring water and expect to sweat! When you reach the viewpoint (around 20–30 minutes), there is a desk where you’ll have to pay a small fee.  

From this viewpoint, there are ornaments and sculptures depicting life on Koh Phi Phi and a before and after display documenting the tsunami that hit the island in 2004. The views from this section are breathtaking. Climb another 15 minutes to the second viewpoint for even more breathtaking views. A small shop sells refreshments and a café with a rooftop seating area. It’s a great place to take a break after the climb!

There is also a third viewpoint which isn’t as well signposted but is still well worth finding. Continue up a concrete path behind viewpoint number two to discover this hidden gem. 

Viewpoint Koh Phi Phi
Come to the main viewpoint for sunset and you’ll see all the backpackers on the island!

9. Indulge in Koh Phi Phi’s party scene

For a long time, Koh Phi Phi has been one of the country’s capital party destinations, with fire dancers, music, lights and, of course, buckets! While this backpacker rite of passage draws in many travellers, it is essential to know that the beach bars can be pricey if you’re drinking all night! 

For a more cost-effective alternative, find the cheaper buckets (approx 100THB) located in the village and take these to the beach with you. The party doesn’t have to stop because you’re on a budget! 

Travel tip: Factor in a day for a hangover. The sea isn’t quite as pretty when you’re suffering from the previous night’s indulgence but lying on an exotic beach is a good consolation!

10. Go scuba diving

Koh Phi Phi is home to many renowned diving instructors. Koh Phi Phi is a great place to hone your skills, from recreational day trips to diving courses and advanced certification. 

This island is perfect for new divers, with a shallow coral garden filled with marine life. The limestone walls and warm tropical waters are ideal conditions for all skill levels. The topography of each dive site is unique, making scuba diving in Koh Phi Phi a dream destination.

Divers will love exploring the waters of Koh Phi Phi!

Prices vary, but you can expect to pay roughly 3,000THB for a trial day out or 13,000THB for an open watercourse. It might sound expensive, but Thailand is one of the cheapest places in the entire world to learn how to dive! 

11. Help out at a beach cleanup

Have you ever heard of trashpacking? Although now in a much better state, Koh Phi Phi’s beaches are still marred by plastic and other rubbish. To help with the clean-up and restoration of this tropical paradise, Trash Hero Koh Phi Phi was set up in 2017. Contact the Facebook page to find out about future cleanups and do your bit! 

12. Sample the local cuisine

Koh Phi Phi has some of the freshest seafood available, thanks to the multitude of fishermen that call the island home. We highly recommend Fada Plaza Thai Food just outside Panmaree Hotel. Located in the local food market, try the Pad Kra Pao if you get the chance – it’s our favourite! The price of Thai food is highly reasonable here, which makes it ideal for budget travellers.

Koh Phi Phi also offers a range of local cooking classes so that you can bring your favourite dishes back home with you! Pum’s Cooking School within Tonsai Village comes highly recommended. Prices range from approximately 500 THB per person for an intro class to 7,500 THB for a full-day cooking experience.

Pad Thai with peanuts
There is plenty to do on Koh Phi Phi – if you can tear yourself away from the food!

Getting around Koh Phi Phi

Koh Phi Phi doesn’t have any main roads, so the best way to get around is by boat or foot (everything is centrally located around the main strip of Tonsai Village and Loh Dalum Bay). 

Many higher-end resorts are on different beaches out of the central area and require boat access. Many quieter beaches can be accessed via walking routes through the viewpoint areas or kayaking.

Getting to Koh Phi Phi

Phuket: Phuket offers access to Koh Phi Phi via the ferry for around 500THB per person and takes approx 1hr 30 mins. There are regular departures from Rassada Pier throughout the day.

Ao Nang: Ao Nang also has regular ferry departures for Koh Phi Phi, and the journey takes approx 1hr 30 mins. Expect to pay a slightly better rate than from Phuket. Usually, it is around 400–450 THB per person.

Bangkok: If you’re travelling from Thailand’s capital, combo tickets can be purchased for bus and train to Phuket/Krabi and speedboat/ferry tickets to Koh Phi Phi. The quickest way to get to Koh Phi Phi from Bangkok would be to fly to Phuket/Krabi and get a boat, but this can be more expensive. Expect to pay at least 1200 THB per person for the train + bus + ferry route and more for the flight + boat route.

Where to go next:

Ao Nang: Ao Nang is a great next stop after Koh Phi Phi. Expect great live music bars, cheap Thai food markets, a range of restaurants, great beaches and easy access to picturesque spots such as Railay Beach. 

Railay: Railay is a must-visit. With beautiful resorts, lively bars, outstanding landscapes and a great rock climbing scene, Railay is one of a kind. 

Koh Lanta: Another fantastic island off the coast of Thailand, Koh Lanta offers a slower pace than Koh Phi Phi with a lot of local culture and experiences. Koh Lanta is reachable by speedboat from Phi Phi for around 700 THB, and the journey takes approx 30 mins.

Andrew and Kerry bio pic
Andrew & Kerry | Gone Galavanting

We’re Andrew and Kerry and since February 2022 we’ve been travelling around Southeast Asia. We’re currently in Thailand before we move on to explore the rest of the region. Follow us @gone.galavanting to see where our adventures takes us.

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