Thanks to Leonardo Di Caprio and the film “The Beach”, the beautiful Koh Phi Phi Islands are no longer a secret. People flock here to get their slice of paradise, longing for azure turquoise blue waters and palm fringed beaches. Instead, they arrive to a sea of drunken tourists and boats. While there is still loads to see and enjoy around the Phi Phi Islands, be warned that it is insanely touristy and admittedly, a lot of fun. Phi Phi is made up of six islands, primarily Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. Albeit busy, just like in any tourist built up island, there are still little slices of paradise waiting to be discovered. After spending a couple of days in the Phi Phi Islands, here’s our top list of things to see and do.
Go Beach Hopping in Phi Phi!
Due to its popularity, often times, the beaches in Ao Lo Dalam look like a scene straight from Khao San Road. Our tip? Shake off the urge to stay in the first beach you see and instead, go exploring as Koh Phi Phi has loads of other gorgeous beaches. Here’s a list of our top spots where you can hunker down for a couple of hours and tan in peace.
- Ao Lo Moo Dee
- Ao Toh Ko
- Phak Nam Bay
- Laem Tong Beach- can only be reached by long tail
- Long Beach
- Ao Poh- only reached by boat
- Secret beach- Not really a secret but has awesome snorkeling
While some beaches are very remote and are best reached by either a long ass hike through jungles or a longtail boat, the end result is always worth it. On a side note, when you are going to venture off to unknown beaches, remember to bring a bottle of water, sunblock, and mosquito lotion. You can thank me later. This article gives out pretty accurate directions on how to reach some of the most obscure beaches and is worth checking out.
Get Active and Get Kayaking
When I’m at the beach, if I gave into my indulgent self, I would be tanning all day with a margarita in hand. However, I do take the occasional day off and attempt to do something active. My go to activity? Kayaking! It’s fun, it doesn’t feel like a workout, and I get to explore (three of my favorite things!) A lot of people paddle to Monkey beach which is a good 40-50 minute kayak ride. When you get there, sit back, relax under a tree, and go for a swim. You’re lucky if you run into more than 10 people while you are there. Based on the name, naturally, expect to see a few monkeys roaming around the beach and the island’s lush forest areas.
Hike the View Point
When you’re not too busy exploring beaches and islands, take the time to go hiking in Phi Phi as it has some of the most beautiful viewpoints in Thailand. From each peak, you are greeted with uninhibited views of the clear waters and lush greenery of Ko Phi Phi. The three viewpoints, (viewpoint 1, 2, 3) are all incline climbs that are slightly strenuous. Word of advice, don’t do this hike when you’re hungover. From the summit, there are four different trails that lead to the lesser known beaches in the Eastern side of the island. If you’re up for an adventure, the trails can lead you to Ao Tokho, Paknam, or Lo Bakao (around 30 minutes from the summit). If you attempt to do these hikes, make sure you have water with you. There is a minimal entrance fee to the viewpoints and vendors where you can purchase a cold drink from.
Similar to most of Thailand’s island getaways, rock climbing is a popular sport. The limestone boulder peaks found on most islands set the perfect backdrop for those that are keen to improve their climbing skills. Ton Sai Tower near Ton Sai beach has marked routes that are easy to follow if you have your own equipment. Similarly, you can also go with the many rock climbing tour providers and book climbing tours or lessons.
Go Snorkeling with Sharks or Glowing Planktons
As you are in a large island, naturally, underwater activities are a must! Snorkeling is loads of fun in Koh Phi Phi as there are lots of playful fish that go right up to you! From most of the beaches, swim out a couple of meters and you’ll get decent snorkeling. One of our favorite spots, Ao Toh Ko is even rumored to be a popular place to spot pods of dolphins while you’re in the water. Ummm..yes, please! If you’re looking for something a little bit more out of the ordinary, there are a few tour operators which offer night snorkeling so you can swim with the bioluminescent planktons or snorkeling tours with reef sharks.
Party it Up
While no things to do list in Koh Phi Phi would be complete without mentioning the fun nightlife available on the island. Get a bucket (or two) and stroll around the beach watching the many fire dancing shows and party it up in the main beach bars and clubs. Eager to dance in the sand until the sunrise? Great, so is everyone else. No matter what, you’re bound to have a few good nights while partying in Koh Phi Phi. If you’re looking for a few fun bars to hang out at, check out this article.
Maya Bay Overnight Tour
Naturally, one of the best things to do while on Phi Phi Island is to go on a boat tour. While there are a million and one tours to choose from, choose a tour provider that suits your budget! Popular stops are Monkey Beach, Maya Bay, and other lagoons where you can cliff jump and snorkel. Word of warning, if you’re heading to Maya Bay expecting to find a clear beach just the way Leo did, well you’re in for a disappointment. However, there’s one company which allows you to see Maya Bay after everyone’s gone, sleeping on the boat docked up a couple of meters away from the shore. Sounds pretty lush to me!
While Phi Phi is no Koh Tao, there are still loads of stunning dive sites worth visiting. Choose your dive school wisely and make sure you’re 100% comfortable with the company. All the dive schools in Koh Phi Phi have a standardized price so you don’t have to worry about finding the most affordable dive school. In Koh Phi Phi, expect to see lots of macro dive sites, turtles, and reef sharks. The dive sites in Koh Phi Phi Ley are frequented spots by divers due to the plentiful marine life. If you want to venture a bit further, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang are two of my favorite dive spots in Thailand.
Editor’s Note: Heading to Phi Phi? Check out our Where to Stay in Phi Phi guide to help you find suitable options
Get Your Pad Thai On
One of the best things about traveling Thailand is its food. Good old pad thai, glorious tom yum and massaman curries. I could go on and on (trust me, I could) but the bottom line is, one of the best souvenirs you can take home with you after visiting Thailand is being able to recreate the dishes that you happily scarfed down. In Koh Phi Phi, there are loads to choose from but I hear that Pum’s Cooking School is well recommended by many. Plus their restaurant serves awesome food so I would take that as a good sign. Thai food is some of the best in Asia so don’t miss out on trying out the local fares or learning how to make it yourself.
Watch a Muay Thai Fight
Located in a Reggae bar, you will find a small boxing ring which looked like it was placed just right smack in the middle of this place. They have nightly fights at around 8:00 pm and can get pretty packed. They offer big buckets of booze on a dangerous 2-1 promo. Also, apart from being a spectator, you can volunteer to “fight” and the winning table gets two free buckets. While this sounds utterly amusing, you will see loads of drunken accidents along the way. Say it with me: Do not go Muay Thai boxing while drunk.
Get Wet in a Pool Party
Koh Phi Phi is pretty legendary for its daytime pool parties. There are a few hotels that throw large pool parties where you can enjoy all day Dj’s, drinking games and booze. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon, you can definitely look at doing this. The Ibiza Pool party seems to be a pretty popular pick.
While I could go on and on as there are loads of other fun activities to do in Phi Phi, these are a few of the top must see’s and do’s while on the island! Remember to party carefully, take the time to explore, and make the most out of your time there. Bottoms up!