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Everything You Need to Know About Traveling to Phi Phi Island

long tailed boats parked on a beach in front of a town that has a "Welcome to Phi Phi Island Krabi" sign on it.
the view from the Tonsai Bay pier

Phi Phi Island is certainly an enigma of a place. If you look up, "Is Phi Phi Island worth it?" online, you will find either blog posts either about how the island is the most beautiful place you will ever go, or how it's an overrated trash dump.

The real truth is that traveling to Phi Phi Island is definitely not a regrettable tip, depending on who you are, when, and where you go. As someone who is currently writing from the Island, I can attest to the fact that the islands can feel like heaven on Earth, if you play your cards right.

If you decide to take the Phi Phi plunge, here is your ultimate guide and a realistic review of the islands.

The Preparation

Knowing the essentials of your stay; transportation, accommodation, what to expect, etc... are big factors in creating the trip of your dreams and avoiding stress headaches.

How to Get to the Islands

There are no airports on Phi Phi Island, so getting there is an adventure in itself. There are two

options -to arrive on boat from Krabi or Phuket, which are two very affordable cities to get to by plane if you're coming from Bangkok (roundtrip tickets often run for less than $100 USD).

Regardless of whether you go to Krabi to Phuket airport, you'll need to take a shared van or taxi drive to get to your boat transfer service. The ride can take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on where your boat departs. Personally, we preordered a taxi from Phuket airport, which gave us a nice ride where our jet lagged brains could take a nap.

a boat in the ocean in front of a little mountain and a golden sky.

GetYourGuide offers many afforable options for boat transfers to Phi Phi Island. Personally, I suggest booking a speedboat instead of a ferry, since ferries take longer and don't offer as much open air for those who get sea sick. The ferries we saw pulling into Tonsai Bay were packed with people like sardines.

Where to Book your Stay on the Island

Where you book your stay when traveling to Phi Phi Island can sort of make or break your trip. Each part of the island offers a completely different dynamic.

Tonsai Bay

The the main pier on the island, Tonsai Bay is where all of the action is. If you're looking to be near the shops, bars, and restaurants, this is the best place to stay. Tonsai Bay is just a short walk to Loh Dalum beach, a beautiful, blue beach where you can find more restaurants and shops.

a girl on a swing on the beach. There is a mountain in the beach and a few boats.

This is the best part of the island for night owls. It is where most of the island's hostels are, which means that you'll find a lot of young people looking to make friends.

But, on the other side of that coin, it may not be the best place for people who want a more calm, peaceful ambience. There are walkable places, like Long Beach, where you can escape the noise, but there are also other options on the island where you can stay in serenity.

Laem Tong Beach

Way at the tippity top of the island, the complete opposite end of Tonsai Bay, is Laem Tong Beach. This location provides a more quiet, peaceful spot for visitors to relax in. In fact, this is where I am currently staying now, and I can attest to the fact that most of the people I've encountered in this area are families, retirees, or couples looking for a romantic getaway.

a girl looks outside the window while taking a bath and she has a towel on her head.

We stayed at the Phi Phi Holiday Resort, which is a quaint, bungalow style resort right on the beach. It was really refershing to be able to walk out of our beach bungalow and take a calm stroll on the beach. The resort also has a gym, two pools (including an infinity pool on the beach), and giant bathtubs (my personal favorite attribute). They also have free activities like yoga and bike rentals!

It's a perfect place to stay for those who are looking for a peaceful trip while traveling to Phi Phi Island. The only stipulation with this location is that it can feel isolated from the action of other parts of the island, with boats practically being the only source of transportation.

Transportation on the Island

Like I just said, the main source of tranportation on the island is the classic long tailed boats. They're the go to mode of getting from one part of the island to another and they can be found basically anywhere. Like a taxi, but on the water!

two women and a man take a selfie while on a motorcycle cart next to trees.

Other than long tail boats, the most accesible form of transportation is renting a bicycle from your hotel or local resorts.

One secret that many don't realize when traveling to Phi Phi Island is that there are a few motorcycle taxis on the island. They're a little difficult to find -they were not advertised anywhere or told by our hotel, so we had to ask a local.

We had to leave the resort and go up a little hidden pathway to find them, but we saw atleast a few motorcycle taxis out there.

When you're riding one, with the breeze in your hair and the the beautifu, tropical view laid out before you, it'll feel like a freeing experience.

The Action: Places and Activities to do.

Now that you've got all the logistics figured out, it's time for the fun part! Doing activities that bring you joy and soaking in mesmerizing sights are what will give you precious memories to cherish forever.

Boat tour

A trip to Phi Phi Island would not be complete without touring some of the most beautiful spots on the neighboring Phi Phi Leh. There are many different types of tours that vary by hours, boat type, and places to visit. Many opt for a traditional, long tail boat, but we opted for a private speed boat tour, since it would cut a lot of the transportation time. Our tour was a total of four hours and we discovered these following, popular, places:

Maya Bay

a view of green shrubs over looking a blue ocean that has giant, stone cliffs in it (Maya Bay)

This one is probably the most anticipated spots of the entire trip. It's an absolute must-do for Phi Phi Island goers, not necessarily because it's great, but because it's the most famous landmark of the Phi Phi Islands. And while Maya Bay is great, it wasn't exactly the most memorable spot on the trip.

One really important thing to note is the fact that you will NOT be able to swim there. After facing hordes of tourists over the years, the spot has been closed down since 2018 and just reopened in October 2023. However, to further preserve the life of the bay, swimming became prohibited. Meaning you will not be able to take a dip with the fish, but you can certainly get some great pictures out of it.

That's pretty much all Maya Bay is now -a spot for pictures. When I went, the view was slightly obstructed by giant crowds of tourists lining up on the shore for the perfect instagram picture which of course I took a part in too...).

But despite the fact that you can not swim, it is still a great place to just revel in the beauty of the Earth!

Warning: There is a 400 baht ($11.33 USD) fee for non-native tourists to visit Maya Bay. For Thai natives it's only $40 baht.

Rating: 7.5/10. It's an awe-inspiring spot for pictures, but underwhelming when it comes to spending quality time there. The un-swimmable beach is flooded with people, making it difficult to enjoy a relaxing experience. But, Maya Bay and the walk to it is certainly gorgeous!

Pileh Lagoon

a bunch of boats line up on blue waters in a lagoon surrounded by cliffs.

Pileh Lagoon is a popular spot amongst snorkelers and a place where most boat tours go to. It is a beautiful, turquoise body of water surrounded by towering cliffs. This is where I made the first dive off of the boat.

Along with my sub par diving skills, The water itself also did not live up to expectations. The lagoon, which was know for its picturesque, clear waters, was so clouded that I could not even see in front of me while snorkeling. All signs of aquatic life were gone, except for some spiky urchins. Nevertheless, it was a fun place to swim but not necessarily the snorkeling haven that it was lived up to be.

Warning: Be careful of your surroundings! Sea urchins hurt.

Rating: 5/10. I'll cut Pileh Lagoon some slack because it was a rainy morning, but you can definitely tell it is not as beautiful as it used to me. My mother said that when she went there 15 years earlier, it was full of life and completely clear, which it evidently is not anymore. But the surrounding cliffs still made it quite a beautiful sight!

Monkey Bay

This one is an extremely unique experience you won't find else where. Monkey Bay is a small beach off of Phi Phi Don, inhabited only by the furry creatures that give it its name. There, you will find a narrow shore lining a dense, cliffy, jungle, as well as some marsupials.

The monkeys roam the beach, unafraid of visitors (most likely in search of food). Don't get too friendly though because they have to ability to scratch or bite when they're frustrated, and giving them food is strictly prohibited.

Warning: The sand under the water is rocky. Depending on where the boat drops you off, you might have to do a little treacherous walk from the boat to the shore, so I advise wearing water shoes and be very careful when holding electronics (tripping on a rock under the water there is how my aunt broke her phone).

Rating: 7/10 Since it's such a unique experience, it is definitely worth going to, but only as a pit stop.

Viking Cave & Viking Bay

This one is my favorite spots of this entire tour. With water so blue it almost looks radio active, Viking Cave/ Bay lives up to the Phi Phi Island legacy. In addition, the caves themselves are a unique and unforgettable sight.

Viking Cave is a giant cave found at the bottom of the cliff. It got its name from prehistoric Viking ship drawings found within the cave. Now, the caves are a habitat for thousands of swiftlet birds, who create their nests on the ledges. There, you will see bamboo scaffolds nestled within, where men climb and harvest swiftlet eggs.

You may not be able to enter inside, but riding past it on the boat is still an experience that will make you go "wow." Just a few moments away from Viking Cave is Viking Bay, a place next to the caves which are perfect for snorkeling.

blue waters in front of a stone cliff with little boats in front of it.

It is much less crowded than Pileh Lagoon, and based on my experience, contains a lot more fish and coral life for snorkelers to see! It was here where I found purple corals breathing in and out, admired colorful moon fish, swam with a school of yellow fish, and even saw baby sharks! This location was the highlight of the boat tour and made me feel like I was in the movie Nemo.

Warning: The waves can be rough so only go if you are a good swimmer!

Rating: 9/10! So beautiful, but tourism has definitely still took its toll on this place. A lot of the corals were bleached. The waves also sometimes made me bang my knees onto shallow rocks, but other than that it a must do while traveling to Phi Phi Island.

Other places to visit

Shark Point

Like the name says, Shark Point is the best place on Phi Phi Island to see sharks (don't worry, these ones don't pose a threat to humans)!. Shark Point is a rocky formation home to many black tip reef sharks, and it is a great snokeling spot where you can find colorful fish, vibrant corals, and some toothy, aquatic friends. Be warned -it has been said that the current can be tough there so it is not advised for those who are not strong swimmers.

Bamboo Island

This is supposedly also one of the best snorkeling spots near Phi Phi Island. Rent a boat out to Bamboo Island where you will find crystal clear waters, white sands, and paradise! This tiny island is a haven for relaxation and to find some clown fish,

More Activities

Shop in the main town

a woman holds a dress in a line full of dresses as she shops for a dress while traveling to Phi Phi Island

Right by Tonsai Bay is Don Phi Phi's main town. It is here where you will find all the restaurants and shops you need, along with some awesome tattoo parlors homemade clothing stores, and a McDonalds. Even if you're on a budget and can't afford to do extra shopping, just taking a stroll through the main town is a great place to soak in the island. It's right on the beach, so you can enjoy a day of exploring the town and hit up the beach right after.

Get your party on!

Aside from great views, restaurants, and shops, the main town is also quite known for it's nightlife. It's full of dozens of bars and nightclubs so you can experience a vibrant night of dancing on the beach with a Mai Tai.

a bunch of little rainbow flags are hung up in between a street full ofstores.

a blow up weed inflatable next to a weed dispensary

Walking through the town, I saw that most of the tourists there were young adults, (which was a very different sight from all the retirees I saw on the North of the Island) so it's a great spot to connect and make friends with that age group.

Weed is also legal in Thailand, so you will find many dispensaries when traveling to Phi Phi Island.

Ride a long tail boat

Long tail boats are kind of the totem of the Phi Phi Islands. They're an iconic symbol, known across the entire world. They're also the main source of transportation between parts of the island, so it's kind of a complete no brainer that you must take a long tail boat to really solidify your stay.

They're unique, wooden boats, each decorated with colorful ribbons and flowers at the tip. These decorations are actually omens to a sea goddess and the spirits of the ocean, which are said to protect the boat and its occupants.

We made it a point to take a long tail boat from Laem Tong beach to Tonsai Bay, and since the weather was pretty windy, it made quite an exciting and bumpy ride (just hold on tight to your stuff).

a long tailed boat sailing on an ocean, traveling to Phi Phi Island

Viewpoint Hike

Viewpoint in Phi Phi Island is an 0.8 hiking trail, with hills nestled across the trail that showcases great views on the island. These hills, or viewpoints, should be your go-to spot for watching the sunset!

What you MUST eat

First things first, if you're staying at a beach resort, there is no way that the food is going to be just as food as a local restaurant/ street food. So it's worth it to check out nearby shops. They're everywhere in Tonsai Bay, but if you're staying in a quieter area, you can either walk or find one of Phi Phi's secret motorcycle taxis to get to the nearest town.

That's exactly what we did on Laem Tong beach. We got to the nearest town by motorcycle taxi, where there were tons of local restaurants, tea shops, and ice cream shops.

Food is the heart and soul of Thailand. There are endless delicious options for food, but I've compiled a short guide to food on the Phi Phi Islands and things you absolutely MUST try.

Coconut ice cream with palm seeds

coconut ice cream in a hollow coconut with a purple flower on the right.

There's no better place to relax with coconut ice cream than the Phi Phi Islands. Thailand actually invented coconut ice-cream, and the country has prided itself on it's traditional dessert ever since (and it's not hard to see why, it is pretty much the best ice-cream I've ever had).

They usually serve it to you inside of an actual coconut, so when the sweet part is over, you can scoop out the coconut meat. They also often serve it with palm seeds, which are clear, jelly-like seeds that have a sweet and delicious flavor.

Mixing them together makes a spoonful of tasty, delightful goodness.

Papaya Salad

The reason why I'm suggesting papaya salad specifically in Phi Phi Don is because Phi Phi knows spicy. My mom, who is from northern Thailand, can handle the spiciest food I've ever stoumached without even batting an eye. I've seen her pop ghost peppers in her mouth like tic tacs. But in southern Thai, she asks for medium spice, not Thai spice, because Southern Thailand is on another level.

And papaya salad, which is a delicious, spicy dish, has a different kick to it based on what part of Thailand you visit.

Mango Sticky Rice

This Thai, classic dessert, is the perfect sweet treat to relax with on the beach. The Mango Garden, near Tonsai Bay, specializes in mango-involved dishes, so be sure to indulge yourself in Thailand's "best dessert!" when traveling to Phi Phi Island.

Traveling to Phi Phi Island: The Conclusion

Your time in the magnificent Phi Phi Islands should be filled with adventure, good food, and relaxation. Just be mindful that since it is mainly a location for tourists, things might be pricier than they would be in Bangkok.


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