This post may contain affiliate links which means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Phi Phi Islands – one of the most iconic places to visit in Thailand. If you like the idea of gliding peacefully on a boat through the clear, turquoise waters, between soaring limestone cliffs, then you will love the Phi Phi island tour. You can’t visit Southern Thailand without taking a trip to this breathtaking paradise.
The Phi Phi islands had been on our travel list for a long time. To be able to finally experience this place in person was such a dream. Thailand is an incredible country filled with amazing food, beautiful temples, historical wonders and so much culture. But, it’s definitely the island vibes that attract me. After all, I am a self-proclaimed mermaid.
Phi Phi island is the superstar-island of Thailand. It’s been in the movies and it’s the topic of conversation for travellers all across Southeast Asia. Yes, these islands are extremely popular, which means that they are very busy, but even with all the hype, it doesn’t disappoint.
You could easily spend three weeks in Thailand. And Phi Phi island has to be on that itineray. On mine and Peter’s recent trip to Phuket, we knew that we couldn’t miss out on the opportunity for a Phi Phi island tour. When approached by boat, the islands rise from the sea like a fortress, then give way to a beach-fronted jungle. The exquisite beauty is a large chunk of the charm. Phi Phi is love at first sight.
What To Know About Phi Phi Islands
The notorious Phi Phi islands are six small islets nestled between mainland Thailand and Phuket. They are easily accessible and just a 45 minute speedboat trip ride from either Phuket or Krabi. These picture perfect postcard islands offer everything that you could dream of for a tropical getaway.
The two main islands are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. Phi Phi Don is the larger and inhabited island which attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its beautiful shores every day. Backpackers from all over the world come here to spend a few days soaking up the sun during daylight and dancing under the moonlight on the beach after sunset.
Phi Phi Leh is the smaller and uninhabited island that’s a national park. Home to incredibly beautiful bays and beaches, including the notorious Maya Bay, which was the film set for The Beach, with Leonardo Dicaprio – this place is paradise.
Phi Phi Island Tour
Originally Peter and I planned to spend a night or two on Phi Phi island, but we later opted to take a day trip from Phuket. There are so many tour companies throughout Phuket offering different Phi Phi island tour packages. Prices sometimes vary between vendors, so be sure to shop around a bit and see which tour works best for you.
In the matter of full-disclosure I will say that the Phi Phi islands tour is very “touristy.” Expect hoards of boats, crowds of people, and a very precise schedule. You can see that these tours are done every single day and guides follow the exact procedures day in and day out. It’s not as glamorous as it may appear in the photos.
In my ideal world the Phi Phi island tour would be a private excursion to deserted and secluded beaches, with no one else in site. Some tours are more exclusive than others, but if you want to explore the “main attractions” you should expect to be surrounded by many other tourists.
You also have the option of travelling on speedboat or ferry to Phi Phi. Most day tours will be done via speed boat. The ferries are typically used for transport to Phi Phi Don if you have luggage and plan on staying on the island for a few nights. We took a speed boat tour since we were island hopping.
With so many different tours on offer you are spoiled for choice. Most of the Phi Phi island tour companies will include the “main attractions.” From half day to full day trips, snorkelling, kayaking, and more activities on offer, you can choose a tour that is most appealing to you.
Here’s what you can expect from most Phi Phi Island tour companies
Our first stop was Maya Bay. This has been a tourist hotspot since the Leonardo Dicaprio movie, “The Beach” was released in the year 2000. The Maya Bay beach was closed last year to allow for beach recovery and coral restoration. It’s likely to be closed until at least 2021, but possibly even longer.
Now, boats may only come up to the cove to allow tourists to view the beach and take a few photos. While some travellers may be disappointed at this, I am pleased that the Thailand government is taking steps to preserve this beautiful place. With the increasing awareness surrounding environmental issues, it’s so important that we respect decisions such as this.
Also, this beach is really small. I can only imagine how crowded it used to get with just about every Phi Phi island tour making a stop here.
Green island Snorkelling
We had the best snorkelling experience in Phi Phi ever. There are so many beautiful and colourful fish here. Over the last few months we had been snorkelling in Mauritius, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. We had a very similar snorkelling experience at each of these destinations, and I wasn’t expecting the Phi Phi islands to be much different.
But, we both emerged from that water completely ecstatic. I saw some of the biggest, most colourful fish that I’ve ever seen. It was an amazing and very memorable experience.
This was my favourite part of the whole trip. Most of the Phi Phi island tour boats will take you here. But you can also just hop on a water taxi from Phi Phi Don, if you want to see the lagoon. The scenery is exquisite. Crystal clear waters and surrounding cliffs make this sight absolutely breathtaking. Our boat stopped here for about 30 minutes for guests to swim. I spent most of that time taking in the incredible views.
Phi Phi Don
This is where most of the Phi Phi island tour boats stop for lunch and a bit of free time to explore the area. It’s a buffet lunch that’s set out specifically for tour guests. Don’t expect anything too extravagant, but the food is pretty good.
After lunch you can take a bit of time to relax on the beach or walk around the small town. The beach is stunning, offering those famous Phi Phi island views that you’ve probably seen on photos before. But it’s very busy since most tours stop here. And, of course, this is the inhabited island and where most tourists stay.
Another famous stop and one that you’ve probably seen plenty of photos from is Monkey Beach. It’s a small little island inhabited by, yes you guessed it, monkey’s. It’s a beautiful beach area and stunning place to take a few photos.
As for the monkey’s, they’re known to be a little aggressive. We even saw them jump onto the boat next to ours and start stealing food. But honestly, can you blame them? I really felt a bit sorry for the monkey’s. They have to put up with hoards of people visiting their “home” every single day. I get that it’s a tourist attraction and it’s really cool to see them, but I wasn’t a fan.
Even worse, I saw at least three monkey’s either eating plastic, or some sort of paper packaging. We snapped a few photos on the beach itself, but didn’t get too close to the monkeys. They were already surrounded by many other tourists trying to take photos and videos.
The Khai Islands are an archipelago of three small islands that are tucked away in the small bay of Phang Nga. Most of the Phi Phi island tour boats make a stop at Khai island. Here you can relax on the beach, swim, snorkel, or enjoy water activities like banana boat, jet ski rides, or parasailing. We went parasailing in Mauritius and it was one of the best experiences ever.
I must just say that Khai island was extremely busy with tourists everywhere. It was probably our least favourite part of the trip. If there’s a tour that doesn’t include Khai island, but goes to another island instead, I would take that option.
Other Things To Know About The Phi Phi Island Tour
As I’ve already mentioned, there are a variety of Phi Phi island tours to choose from. Looking back I wish we had added Bamboo island and the James Bond island to our trip. Bamboo island is the most north-easterly of the Phi Phi archipelago. The water is clear and the beach looks absolutely beautiful.
As for the Bond island – well it doesn’t actually form part of Phi Phi island. It’s a famous landmark in Phang Nga Bay. This spot was made famous by the bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun.” The Bond island tours typically also include visiting Panak island and Hong island, as well as canoeing in mangrove forest at Hong island.
What To Pack For Your Phi Phi Island Tour
There are a few things that you’re going to want to make sure to bring with on your Phi Phi island tour. Here’s a quick list:
- Beach Towel
- Swimming gear
- Dry bag (optional)
Where To Stay In Phuket or Phi Phi
Whether you want to spend a few days on Phi Phi island or plan on staying in Phuket and then taking a Phi Phi island tour from there – you can find plenty of accommodation on Airbnb. We booked an apartment in the Kathu district area of Phuket which we loved.
If you haven’t yet signed up on Airbnb you can follow my link here and get £33 off your first home booking. You will also get £12 to use towards an experience worth £40 or more.
If you plan on spending a few nights on Phi Phi island, Koh Phi Phi is the region to look in. Koh Phi Phi Don is the main island of the Koh Phi Phi archipelago. Whether you’re looking for a budget hostel or a luxury hotel, some of the best places to stay in Phi Phi are suitable for any budget.
Thailand Visa Requirements
If you’re planning a trip to Thailand and need help with visa information, I would suggest checking out iVisa.com. The visa process can be very time-consuming, not to mention confusing. iVisa strive to make the whole process simpler for travellers by taking care of all the nitty gritty details.
Just follow my iVisa application link here and you can do a quick check to see what is required and proceed with an application if necessary.
Like it? Pin it