Visiting Southern Thailand? You should really consider visiting the Phi Phi Islands as well. Yes, the Phi Phi Islands are well known and extremely popular, but they are also beaming with nightlife while offering some of the most beautiful and, if your lucky, deserted beaches.
The Phi Phi Islands was Taylor and my favorite location in Southern Thailand and our most memorable. There is so much to do such as the Phi Phi Island Viewpoint Hike, a number of great restaurants to choose from, dozens of great people to meet and so much more. If this isn’t on your bucket list already, you may want to add it right now!
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How to get to the Phi Phi Islands
Traveling to the Phi Phi Islands from Koh Samui and Krabi
There are multiple options to get to the Phi Phi Islands from Koh Samui.
- Fastest – Fly from Koh Samui International Airport to Krabi International Airport then take a taxi to the ferry in Krabi and head to the Phi Phi Islands.
- Cheapest – Take the ferry from Koh Samui to Donsak (Surat Thani) and taxi to the pier in Krabi where you can take the ferry to the Phi Phi Islands.
Once you get to Klong Jilad Pier in Krabi you need to catch the Ferry to Phi Phi Islands.
We chose to fly from Koh Samui International Airport to Krabi International Airport since it was the fastest route to the Klong Jilad Pier. If this is something you may also be interested in, you can book your travel through https://www.phuketferry.com/, where they offer bundles for your taxi and ferry rides.
Our flight from Koh Samui to Krabi was only an hour long on Bangkok Airways. On this flight, we received complimentary meals and a number of delicious beverages. The service and experience on Bangkok Airways were one of a kind and we would definitely use them again in the future as well as recommend them to others.
From Krabi International Airport we took a taxi to Klong Jilad Pier to catch the ferry to the Phi Phi Islands! This was about a 6-hour adventure from check out, in Koh Samui, to check in, on the Phi Phi Islands.
Tip: Make sure you get to the ferry at least 30 minutes early to get a seat!
Traveling to the Phi Phi Islands from Phuket
You can take a ferry from Phuket Ramada Pier to Tonsai Pier on Koh Phi Phi Don and vice versa. You can find ferry fares at https://www.phuketferry.com/.
Where to Stay on Koh Phi Phi Don
There are numerous hotels found on the island of Koh Phi Phi Don, one of the six Phi Phi Islands. Vacationers can choose between a hotel in town or opt for a secluded resort with its own private beach and restaurants. Taylor and I opted to stay in town since we had our share of exclusivity at the Conrad Koh Samui right before arriving on Koh Phi Phi Don.
We stayed at PP Princess Resort which we would definitely recommend. The location is perfect because it is located right in the middle of everything while still offering beachfront access and a beautiful pool set up.
Check out the PP Princess Resort here.
Where to Eat on Koh Phi Phi Don
If you’re staying at a hotel in town then there are plenty of restaurants to chose from. We recommend the following restaurants.
- The Grand PP Arcade – Taylor and I went here for lunch before taking a boat ride to Maya Bay. Here we enjoyed a mango smoothie and a chicken sandwich. The food was delicious and the restaurant offers a relaxing outdoor vibe, however, service is a little slow.
- ACQUA – We went to ACQUA our first night on the Phi Phi Islands. Taylor and I both enjoyed a veggie burger and french fries.
- Cosmic – Cosmic was DELICIOUS. Taylor and I ate here our last night on Koh Phi Phi Don. Here we both enjoyed pizza that was both cheap and amazing. The staff at Cosmic was also very friendly and inviting. We would definitely recommend this place to others.
What to Bring to the Phi Phi Islands
If you’re traveling to the Phi Phi Islands your going to want to bring your gear for water activities (unless you plan on relaxing at the resort the entire time)!
Here are some of the items we brought:
Exploring the Phi Phi Islands
If you are staying on Koh Phi Phi Don you’re definitely going to want to go out and explore. The beaches on both Koh Phi Phi Don and the neighboring islands are absolutely amazing with some of the whitest and most perfect sand Taylor and I have ever seen.
Many of the secluded beaches on the neighboring islands, as well as, Koh Phi Phi Don are only accessible by kayak or boat so plan accordingly.
Tip: You have the best chance of getting these beautiful beaches to yourself if you go early. The early bird gets the worm!
Kayak to Nui and Monkey Beach
Our first morning on Koh Phi Phi Don, Taylor and I woke up early and headed to the beach to rent a kayak from one of the locals. Locals set up stands outside of the hotels where they rent kayaks, beach chairs, etc to tourists enjoying the beach and the water. That morning we were able to rent our kayak for 300 baht for 2 hours, 300 baht is equal to roughly $10. You can try to haggle the locals down even less, but on average you will find kayaks for 200 baht for one hour.
The kayak to Nui Beach is about 35-45 minutes depending on how fast you paddle. We rented our kayak around 7:30 AM and arrived at Nui Beach by 8:10 AM, luckily Taylor and I had the beach all to ourselves for about 40 minutes before a private longtail boat arrived up with another couple.
Nui Beach is absolutely breathtaking with clear turquoise blue water and the whitest sand we have ever experienced.
Tip: The water here is very clear and good for snorkeling, so bring your snorkel gear!
After Nui Beach, head over to Monkey Beach on the other side of the cove. You can also go to Monkey Beach first if you want, but we recommend checking out Nui Beach first since it is more secluded and you have a better chance of getting that beach to yourself. By the time Taylor and I arrived at Monkey Beach, it was already packed with tour boats and tourists and we arrived around 9:00 AM.
Due to the number of tourists that visit Monkey Beach each day, don’t expect to see a lot if any monkeys. Though we still recommend checking it out, the sand here is incredible and similar to Nui Beach. However, the water wasn’t as clear due to the increased amount of boats in the water.
Tip: If you only have time to kayak to one beach we recommend Nui Beach. You will have the place all to yourself or with very few others and it is a piece of paradise. On Koh Phi Phi Don, the early bird truly gets the worm since everyone is out late partying!
Overall Kayak Trip Duration: You can likely make it to Nui and Monkey Beach in 2 hours if you visit each of the beaches for 15-20 minutes, 3 hours is is recommended if you want to stay at the beaches longer and enjoy them a little more. Our trip started around 7:30 AM and we arrived back at the beach near our hotel around 10:50 AM.
Private Longtail Boat to Koh Phi Phi Leh
If you’re interested in checking out Koh Phi Phi Leh (which is a must!) then we highly recommend a private longtail boat over a packed tour with 15 other people.
How To Get a Private Longtail Boat Tour to Koh Phi Phi Leh
You can find tours everywhere in the town of Koh Phi Phi Don. Locals sit on the side of the road and offer to take tourists to whatever island they wish to go. We recommend shopping around and negotiating with several people before agreeing to a private tour with anyone. When locals ask you about tours ask them their prices and don’t be afraid to negotiate! If their price is too high simply say “no thank you” and walk away or counter with a lower offer. Usually, you will be able to find something pretty decent. Taylor and I got our private longtail boat for 1500 baht which is roughly $50 total for the both of us.
Tip: Do not give them a deposit! You absolutely do not need to do give them money in advance and do not be afraid of not finding the driver you originally scheduled with the day prior. There will be plenty of drivers happy to bring you on a private tour when you are ready to go.
What to Expect – Longtail Boat Tour to Koh Phi Phi Leh
The private boat tours are not that luxurious, so do not expect a yacht. However, it is private and you can’t beat the views or the company.
Pro Tip: We reserved our longtail boat for 2:00 PM and we highly recommend doing this. Koh Phi Phi Leh is less crowded in the afternoon since all of the big tour groups start their tours around 10:00 AM and are wrapping up around 2:00-3:00 PM.
Private Longtail Boat Itinerary to Koh Phi Phi Leh
Our tour circled Koh Phi Phi Leh hitting the following places detailed on the map below. It’s roughly a 3-4 hour tour.
1. Maya Bay
The iconic Maya Bay was made famous by Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie, “The Beach” in 2000. Maya Bay is known for its’ crystal clear water, perfect white sand beach, and towering limestone cliffs.
Unfortunately, the bay is currently closed to allow the beach and coral to rejuvenate after being almost ruined by the influx of tourism. Though you can still enter the bay, boats must stay a few hundred yards from the beach. This creates a perfect photo opportunity of the beach, which used to be crowded with 1000’s of visitors daily.
Our longtail boat driver let us snorkel and swim in Maya Bay. We recommend asking your tour guide if you can snorkel and swim here as well because it is breathtaking.
2. Loh Samah Bay – Hidden Beach
The second stop on our tour was Loh Samah Bay, the southern tip of the island. In Loh Samah Bay there is a small beach tucked in between the limestone cliffs. We only stayed here for 10 minutes but it was still beautiful and worth going.
3. Pileh Lagoon
The third stop on the itinerary was Pileh Lagoon which is known for its green water. The lagoon is surrounded by large limestone cliffs and is quite deep in the center. Pileh Lagoon is a great place to swim but don’t expect to snorkel in the lagoon however because the water visibility isn’t good.
4. Viking Cave
The fourth stop was at Viking Cave. Viking Cave is a cave on the east side of the island that is known for harvesting bird’s nests for local Chinese cuisine.
5. Monkey Beach (south side)
Our last stop was Monkey Beach, not the one on the north side of the island that we previously kayaked too, but on the south side (same side as Tonsai Beach). This Monkey Beach is much smaller than the other and has 10% of the visitors so the monkeys are out and about!
Remember to use caution near the monkeys. They will bite if they feel threatened or if you have food.
Phi Phi Island Viewpoint Hike
If you’re spending at least one night on Koh Phi Phi Don (you can book a day visit but we don’t recommend that), then definitely hike the Phi Phi Island Viewpoint hike for sunrise! This is about a 30-minute hike from the main town and is 100% worth the effort. Taylor and I ended up taking the wrong trail and doubled our time to the top but once we were there the views were fantastic.
Check out our complete guide on What Not to Do on the Phi Phi Island Viewpoint Hike!
Traveling to Thailand can be expensive…but not always!
Although the country of Thailand is relatively inexpensive to visit, it is rather expensive to get to. Flights from the US to Thailand usually range from $750-$1,200 in economy seating. However, there are plenty of ways to drop the costs of your flight down significantly. For example, we flew into Phuket, Thailand on Cathay Pacific in business class for only $33 each. We purchased our business class tickets from Newark International Airport to Phuket, Thailand (worth over $12,700 per ticket) using airline miles and $33 additional dollars. We used travel hacking strategies to accumulate enough points and miles to redeem this business class flight and only had to pay the taxes and fees.
Since we want others to experience business class and free travel, we decided to create a course so others could learn how to travel hack quickly without making a lot of common mistakes. If you’re interested in taking our course where we teach you all the tips and tricks of Travel Hacking then check out Travel Hacking Secrets at shttps://travelsecrets.mathersonthemap.com.