Imagine a place where the turquoise blue water meets a white sandy beach and you drink the coconut water while relaxing under the palm tree and then finish your day enjoying the fire show and partying your night away. All of that holiday joy can be found on Phi Phi Islands!
Although I love these islands and I can call Koh Phi Phi Don one of my favourite places in Thailand, there are a few things that I wish I knew before I came here. And I wish you to know that before your journey.
So if you’re thinking to include Phi Phi Islands on your next journey to Thailand, here are a few tips that will definitely help:
1. MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
If you’ve seen the pictures of Phi Phi and were dreaming about white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise water, parties all night and neverending adventures then I would stop you right there! Even though Phi Phi island is one of my favourite places in this country I had a great face slap from reality when I arrived the first time.
Yes, you will find beautiful beaches, but further from the main town. Yes, the water is warm and crystal clear, but mostly further from the island and further from longtail boats. The party scene is neverending, but so is the rubbish… And the number of people… If you go on a tour prepare to be surrounded by many longtail boats and many like-minded travellers. And you will come across a very bad smell in some parts of the town.
As I said, I love this island and I would definitely recommend visiting it, but remember that it’s a popular spot with many goods and bads to it.
2. WEIGH YOUR OPTIONS
Koh Phi Phi is a small island but it definitely has a lot to offer. A lot. I mean, you will meet many sellers and companies that sell exactly the same thing, the same tour or some packaged deal but at very different prices. You might think that you buy a luxury speedboat tour but end up on a longtail boat cramped with 16 other people and no toilets. So before you decide on purchasing something, ask around, walk around different agents and then choose the one that you find the best.
3. REMEMBER YOUR WAY HOME
Although the island is small and cosy it has many alleys where one turn can accidentally bring you to another side of the town. And after a few drinks (or a few ‘buckets’) you might be surprised that your hotel is not where it’s supposed to be (oopsy). So I would recommend familiarising yourself with the area that you’re living in just to make sure you have an easy walk home after a fun night out.
4. TOURIST FEES
There are a few fees that all tourists have to pay when visiting the islands.
– 20 baht cash fee for entering the island. This fee helps the government to pay for removing the rubbish from the island.
-400 baht cash fee for entering Maya Bay and Bamboo Island. They belong to Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park and it is highly protected. This money goes to the protection of these wonders.
There is a Monkey Bay, and Monkey Beach and you might stumble across a few monkeys here and there. We had one walking around our hotel every morning. And usually, she would go through the bins looking for some unattended snacks.
Many tours will bring you to Monkey Beach or Monkey Bay to see the monkeys and take some pictures of them. Some would give snacks to engage a bit more (or for a better shot). I understand that it is very nice to see the monkeys in their natural habitat, but my advice would be to watch your belongings and remember that monkeys are animals and some of our body language can make them act aggressively towards us.
6. CARRY WATER AND SNACKS
Especially if you’re hiking to the Viewpoint or to Nui Beach through the jungle and going on a longtail boat trip. Even though there are places where you can buy water and snacks (and usually they provide it on the boat), I still recommend taking care of it on your own. The days are usually hot and your body uses a lot of energy to keep you alive. Hydration and constant fuelling are the keys to keeping your energy levels at high while exploring this dreamy destination!
Quick list of important things:
SAFETY. Phi Phi Don is a pretty safe island for female solo travellers and families even during the night. Of course, you always need to take general precautions, but I never felt threatened or unsafe (except for the monkeys, I am scared of them).
CASH OR CARD? There are a few places that accept cards, like bars and restaurants, but most of the places are still running on cash. Especially the little clothing or souvenir shops or street food stalls.
ATM’S. There are plenty of ATMs around the island. I’ve seen many of them on the street next to the Pier.
HYGIENE. The main thing that applies to Phi Phi Islands, and all of Thailand, is not to drink tap water. Bottled water is cheap and easily accessible in every corner shop or cafe. I think the food hygiene is good, I ate plenty of street food there and had no problems.
RELIGION. 80 per cent of locals on Phi Phi Don island are Muslims. There is one mosque on the island, but I haven’t heard any calls for prayers over my stay there.
LANGUAGE. A lot of local people speak a bit of English. Maybe you won’t have a full conversation, but they will try to answer and help you as much as they can.
CELL SERVICE. I had a perfect connection everywhere I’ve been on Phi Phi Don island. Just while cruising on the sea around other islands the cell service was a bit harder to get.
ELECTRICITY. The situation with electricity is improving on this island, and we didn’t have any problems when staying there. Although I think it might be some power outages during the rainy season.
WIFI. Many hotels, cafes and restaurants have WiFi and they are sharing the password with their customers. But I would say that it is not the strongest WiFi there is. We were staying a bit further from the main building so the connection was fluctuating a bit.
HOSPITALS. There is an international-standard hospital in the western part of Ton Sai Beach. It is equipped to heal many injuries and help you in emergencies. They will help organise the transfer to Phuket if it’s something more serious.
If you’re planning your trip to Thailand, read more on this Koh Phi Phi Guide.
What to bring:
Even though you will find everything you need for a few days on the island, I would still recommend bringing a few things along from mainland Thailand, or even from your home country. Although you will see a lot of shops and vendors, it will be hard to find specific products or very good quality gear here.
So, here are some packing suggestions to Koh Phi Phi Island:
- Sunscreen: During the peak season (November til April) most of the days will be hot and sunny so protecting your skin from massive sunburn is crucial! Sunscreens here cost more than anywhere on the mainland so bring one and carry it at whole times!
- Waterproof Bag: You will probably go to the beach or take a day trip to explore the surrounding islands so keeping your belongings dry (especially if you bring a camera or other gadgets) is very important. If you don’t have one then you will find it here, even though waterproof bag prices are a bit higher than on the mainland and I would recommend buying it somewhere else.
- Waterproof phone pouch: I know a lot of phones these days are waterproof, but for some that doesn’t have on or want some extra precautions I would recommend carrying a waterproof phone case. It would help keeping your phone dry on longtail boat journeys and sand-free while you’re relaxing on the beach.
- Snorkelling gear: A lot of day tours include snorkelling in their itineraries and provide travellers with a snorkel and mask. But you will have some snorkelling opportunities besides the tour (not only Phi Phi Don but all around southern Thailand!), so having your own equipment is a great idea! There are a few shops that sell snorkelling equipment here, but it is pretty expensive and not the best quality.
- Water and snacks: always carry some water and snacks with you, especially if you’re going on a day trip on a longtail boat or hiking to another part of the island.
So here are the tips for your trip to Koh Phi Phi Islands in Thailand!
Let me know what you think!