Ko Phi Phi is considered to be one of the most naturally beautiful islands in Thailand. There are limestone mountains with cliffs, caves and long white sandy beaches. Though often referred to as one island, Ko Phi Phi is actually a small archipelago. Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants while the smaller Ko Phi Phi Leh is famous as the filming location for the 2000 movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo di Caprio.
Most of the development of Phi Phi Don is in or around Ton Sai Village, which is on the low, sandy isthmus that joins the two hilly spurs that comprise the rest of the island. There are also other, quieter resorts on beaches further afield. There are almost no motorized vehicles on the island, so transport on land is by foot or bicycle only, but in Ton Sai, most places are within a ten minute walk anyway. Longtail boats ride between all the beaches.
Tonsai Bay is the main arrival and departure hub for Koh Phi Phi. Ferries come and go, yachts anchor, dive and tour boats pick up their customers and longtails whiz back and forth carrying passengers or goods. Tonsai Village, the main village on Phi Phi Don is located here as well. While it initially appears a scenic spot on arriving at Koh Phi Phi, the water at Tonsai Bay tends to be quite polluted and there’s a fair bit of boat traffic continually coming in and out of the bay. Still, it’s a fun place to look around and enjoy the activity.
Phak Nam Bay is situated on the east coast of Phi Phi Don. It is a secluded bay with a small beach that is home to a small fishing village. It is possible to get here by foot but it’s a long hike across a rugged hill. It’s far easier and more practical to take a longtail boat. The beach is home to one resort only and for those looking for peace and quiet this is the place to be.
Located at the far northern end of Phi Phi Don, Laem Tong Beach is beautiful, quiet and secluded since it can only be reached by boat. It takes about 45 minutes by longtail boat from Tonsai Village to get here. There are only four upmarket resorts on Laem Tong beach and little else. Not too far from the beach are Mosquito Island, Bamboo Island and Hin Klang – all great snorkeling spots.
Situated northwest of Loh Dalam Bay, the hidden cove of Ao Ling (Monkey Bay) is home to a colony of monkeys who do not hesitate to climb onto the legs of their visitors in search of a banana. At very high tide there’s not much beach but at other times there’s plenty of sand. The beach can be reached by foot, by renting a canoe, or by chartering a longtail boat from Loh Dalum.
Facing southwest with great views out over Phi Phi Leh lies Long Beach. It’s about a five-minute longtail boat ride from Tonsai Village. It is also possible to walk to the village during daylight but the journey involves walking over rocks between beaches or up short jungle trails. Accommodation here consists almost entirely of bungalows, some of which belong to high-end resorts while there are also many basic bungalows.
Bamboo Island (or Ko Pai )is a small, flat island located about 5 km (3 miles) from the northern tip of Phi Phi Don Island. From the beach of Ton Sai it takes about 45 to 60 minutes to get here by longtail, depending on sea conditions. On the north and east sides of the island are beautiful sandy beaches. A small bar serves drinks and snacks.
Located on the other side of Phi Phi Don Island from Tonsai Village, Loh Dalum Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches in Ko Phi Phi, though it can get very busy. The bay is almost entirely enclosed by limestone cliffs and boasts clear emerald waters and a white sandy beach. Beach bars put on spectacular fire shows at night and the partying lasts well into the early hours. Swimming is best at high tide.
One of the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, Maya Bay is a shallow bay surrounded by a ring of steep limestone hills on Koh Phi Phi Leh. The bay has superb marine life and is a favorite spot for snorkelers. Maya Bay became world famous after the 2000 movie “The Beach” was filmed here and today many tourists come to Koh Phi Phi just to see this beach. Though very beautiful it isn’t very secluded. On any given day at any time there will be over 30 speedboats and longtail boats on the beach, with large ferry boats carrying hundreds of snorkelers and sightseers. Try to visit early in the morning or after 17:00 to avoid the crowds.