There’s always something to do in the Phi Phi islands! A picturesque archipelago made up of six islands, Phi Phi has grown to become one of Thailand’s biggest attractions among solo travellers, honeymooners, families, beachgoers and party lovers. There is no dearth of adventurous, romantic and leisurely activities, and with a landscape like the one Phi Phi boasts, you’ll never want to leave.

Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don are the largest islands of the lot, but the latter is the only inhabited one of the six. That’s not to say that you can’t visit or sail past any of the others. In fact, the beauty of the Phi Phi islands is in its natural features like bays, limestone cliffs, beaches and greenery.

We travelled to Phi Phi after spending a few days exploring Phuket. Phi Phi is about 50km from Phuket, and all travellers usually cover this distance by ferry or speedboat. Ferries are cheaper and relatively fast; speedboats are faster, but pricier.

Ferries run four times a day, only until 3pm, from Phuket’s Rassada Pier in Phuket Town to Tonsai Pier in Phi Phi. Our ferry was big, air conditioned and comfortable. The journey took about two hours and by 10:30am, we’d docked at Phi Phi.

The first thing almost every first-timer here is struck by is the breathtaking beauty of the islands. Sparkling white sand beaches are humming with activity as beachgoers and sunbathers flit in and out of the blue waters, while sipping on fruity cocktails or munching on nibbles from small bars and restaurants on the shoreline.

The water is a deep blue, bordered on one side by the island’s luscious greenery, and stretches out towards the horizon on the other. Comfortable low chairs dot the beaches, spread out under the cool canopy of trees. The high season is usually from November to April, so on the day of our visit in the first week of August, the island was only moderately crowded.

As noon approaches, the island tends to go from breezy to hot, and remains so until about 4pm. We only spent a day here, but a lot of visitors are known to spend at least one night to experience the nightlife. Beach parties are a common feature in Phi Phi, beginning in the evening, and continuing till the sun comes up. The sunrise and sunset create the most beautiful island setting, and a beach party gives you a chance to view both.

Once we’d taken in the view and snapped some photographs, we began to tour the island, starting with Maya Bay on Phi Phi Le. The island doesn’t have any residents, so it’s populated only by tourists and shop owners during the day.

Maya Bay is the most prominent tourist spot here. The beach sand is as fine as powder and brilliantly white, whereas the greenish-blue water is clear enough to see right down to the seabed. The only beach on the island is in this bay, and offers stunning views of grass-topped cliffs and fishing boats going deep into the sea.

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Quick Tip: Maya Bay is part of the Phi Phi Le National Park, which is an idyllic area with no commercial activities whatsoever. You can visit the park via a touring ferry that will bring you back to Phi Phi Don.

We hadn’t had enough of the scenic beauty, so we decided to hire a long tailed boat and take a quick tour of Samah Bay. Just a few minutes from Maya Bay, Samah Bay is a beautiful snorkelling spot where you can see striped fish almost near the surface of the water. Just strap on a mask and snorkel and dive in to swim with the fishes.

Just a few minutes away by boat were our next stops, Pileh Cove and Viking Cave. A short distance away from each other, these two locales are a sight for sore eyes. The former is an open bay wedged between limestone cliffs with emerald waters at its base. When the sunlight hits the bay, the effect is almost magical and looks otherworldly in photographs.

Viking Cave is beauty in another form. A carved-out space at the base of a cliff, this hidden treasure has cave paintings of different kinds of boats, drawn in chalk. The drawings are a mix of old and new, and lend an air of mystery to this beautiful cave. We were transfixed by what we saw inside the cave, but the ride out into the open sea is quite beautiful as well.

After our return to Phi Phi Don, we spent the late afternoon discovering the local market, which spreads across a few main streets, and narrow alleys and meandering walkways with restaurants, bars and shops on both sides. Exploring the smaller streets turned out to be a lot of fun, as we found some hidden gems in eateries and stalls selling clothing and footwear. We ended up with a few bags of beautiful street-style clothing, and worked up quite an appetite along the way.

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Quick Tip: Bargaining is common everywhere in Phi Phi. Be polite yet firm, and you’ll manage to bring the prices down by almost half.

We stopped for a bite before leaving the island at Anna’s Restaurant, which is quite close to the pier. A small roadside sign and a thatched roof welcome you in, besides of course, the friendly staff. The eatery is run by a local family that makes delicious Thai food with a twist. Local delicacies like Som Tam and Pad Thai are mouthwateringly delicious, and all items on the menu are affordable.

We boarded a ferry to Krabi soon after, to add on to our list of memorable stories to tell.

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Things To Keep In Mind While Touring Phi Phi

  • There are no roads or vehicles on the island, so you have to get everywhere by foot. Carry comfortable shoes and beach slippers. You can also rent a bicycle if you like.
  • Wear sunscreen and a hat when on tour, as it can get pretty hot in the afternoon. The mosquitos come out at night, so repellent is also a must.
  • Phi Phi is a party pad, so some beaches may be littered with the aftermath of an overnight party. You can, however, find certain untouched sections with fewer tourists as well.
  • Don’t eat at just any street side stall because it’s cheap. Not all eateries can be relied upon for hygienic meals.
  • Finalise your rates for boat rides before getting on the boat. And remember to bargain hard!