Sweeping white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, surrounded by jungle-clad, soaring limestone karsts, make Phi Phi islands THE most stunning natural beauty in Thailand - and that's amongst strong competition! Comprised of two islands; Phi Phi Don is now very developed with lots of eateries, shops, bars and a vibrant nightlife; Phi Phi Leh is entirely undeveloped, its crystal-clear waters and coral reefs are top day-trip, snorkelling and dive destinations. If you’re looking for hedonistic partying in paradise, Phi Phi nails it.
A victim of its own success, Phi Phi has been over-developed, often crowded, with noisy parties into the morning. BUT, before you write it off, there are several stunning beaches here that are missing the crowds, check out our Beaches of Phi Phi highlight for more info. High demand is reflected in the prices, especially accommodation; in high season the cheapest dorms can be found from 300B (although you may not like them!) and private rooms from 850B.
When To Go
The dry season is November to April. December through to March are the peak months with clear blue skies, moderate temperatures and calm seas. Accommodation is much cheaper in the low season (aka monsoon season) from May to October when you can find bungalows from 400B. The rainy season transition months of May and October usually offer clear skies with brief showers, but can be unpredictable! You can buy cheap umbrellas and raincoats at the shops!
If you’re loving it here, you will want to stay as long as your bank balance, liver or time allows!
Until the late-90’s, only one public boat a week visited here; Phi Phi Don was a serene island paradise: two limestone vegetation covered islands connected by a wide sandbar, creating stunning, crystal-clear shallow bays either side - Ton Sai Bay. Only adventurous travellers had made it here, to be greeted by a few bungalows and some local Islanders. As a designated Marine Park, you’d expect it to stay close to this. Then in 2000, The Beach filmed at Phi Phi Leh, catapulted Phi Phi into the tourism spotlight, with tourists flocking from all over the world to see this image of paradise. Money making pushed aside any form of managed development, and completely over-developed Phi Phi Don. In 2004 disaster struck, with a tsunami devastating the island and taking over 1,000 lives. At this point, the Thai government showed attempts at trying to take control to manage its redevelopment, more in-tune with it’s Marine Park status, but private development retook control. Mass tourism has brought environmental negatives such as trash problems but has probably helped the coral reefs, as the income generated by them stops locals destroying them with dynamite fishing. Not only did The Beach bring the masses; for the filming of the movie 20th Century Fox bulldozed part of the beach on Phi Phi Leh (altered dunes and cleared some coconut trees and grass), as it wasn’t quite paradise enough…. Yeh…. Although they’d put a fund aside to restore the beach, in 2006 a Thai court ruled they hadn’t done this and ordered to pay damages.