Young Leo’s secret has been blown. Made famous by thriller cult movie The Beach, the Phi Phi Islands in the Andaman Sea host thousands of beach-goers every year - no sketchy map necessary.
Koh Phi Phi Don is the main island. A pedestrian-only matrix of brick pathways weave around the central part of the island, with most restaurants, hostels, tattoo shops, and souvenir shacks concentrated all in one place. If you’re not here to party, try to get away from this part of the island - head east towards the resort villas along Long Beach for a quieter escape.
That being said, Koh Phi Phi is notorious for its party scene. Party party party. But if you’re looking for other things to tell your mom about, it also has unbeatable diving, brilliant blue beaches, and a lively international atmosphere.
BE WARNED: Koh Phi Phi is notorious for people getting sick. I fell victim to the shockingly common bacterial infection that lots of visitors contract from eating on Koh Phi Phi. All food has to be shipped to KPP, and in the hot climate that is Southern Thailand, the food doesn’t always stay frozen for the entirety of the shipping line. Which means that some food might make you sick. We recommend staying away from meat, but even as a vegetarian, I ended up in the World Clinic. They took care of me extremely well. My room even had Netflix.
Getting to Koh Phi Phi
Phuket has a pretty big international airport, so if you’re coming from far away, start there.
Koh Phi Phi is part of at network of ferry stops, including Phuket, Koh Lanta, and Krabi. There are multiple trips per day, so you’ll have a couple of options to fit your schedule.
Partying on Koh Phi Phi
So many party hostels. Just head to the beach on the north side of the island, and take your pick. Some offer packages with boat cruises. You don’t necessarily have to be staying with them, but you get special drink options if you do. Ibiza House Pool Party, Slinky Hostel, Stones Bar Dorms, Phi Phi Bucket Hostel, and both Blanco locations.
We stayed at one of the Blanco’s. There’s one on the beach and one just a hundred yards off the beach. If you’re planning on staying up all night, beachfront Blanco is your spot. We stayed off the beach, opting for longer “quiet" hours.
A.K.A. booze cruises. There are multiple options, all offering basically the same thing: half day cruise around the Phi Phi Islands, kayaks, snorkels, a beautiful sunset, and booze. Some of them are all you can drink, some of them you’ll have to pay for each drink. The price difference will only be helpful if you’re not going to drink at all, or you’re ACTUALLY only going to have one drink. Otherwise, open bar is worth it. Blanco does a great rate for the package that everyone offers. They’re also the only ones that were allowed to continue their tours for a while when Koh Phi Phi cracked down on all the monkey business.
Speaking of which, your first stop out of the port will be monkey beach! Have fun, but respect the monkeys. You might not believe it, but they’re stronger than you. If you piss them off, they will lunge at you. They will also steal your food if you bring any. If you get close enough, they might climb up your leg, or arm, or up onto your head and shoulders. Get that monkey selfie.
After the monkey beach, you get to crack some beers and get the party started. Blanco plays some great tunes and the group is young and fun. Make some friends and play some flip cup. The Blanco boat has a bunch of kayaks and snorkels and SUPs for you to play with. They make a stop at Pileh Lagoon in the afternoon for you to fool around with the toys and do backflips off the top deck.
When you get to Maya Bay, Blanco party hosts will take you ashore to explore the white sandy beaches that Leo once walked in the year 2000. You’ll head towards the back of the island, learn all about “Blowjob Beach,” and climb around the wild island made famous by the movie. You’ll even get to replicate the jump photo from the movie with your new best friends!
Blanco has a simple but filling buffet to fulfill your drunk munchies. After a beautiful sunset on the water, they’ll bring you back to the main docks and set you free. Have a shower and eat some more food, but make sure to head back to the Blanco on the beach for an afterparty!
Long Tail Cruise
For the less boisterous bunch, you can still see all of Phi Phi’s best beaches without the boozy backpackers. Go to the main port in the morning (7-8ish) when the waters will be less crowded. Find yourself a friendly captain, asking price 180 baht for 3-4 people for 3 hours.
He’ll know where to take you: Monkey Beach, Maya Bay, Loh Samah, Pileh Lagoon, and Viking Cave. It’s a great way to see all the hotspots at your own pace and with fewer people.
It’s a National Park, so you can’t technically fly your drone (we waited to fly it once we were back at Phi Phi Don). Also, if you step foot on the beach at Maya Bay, you’ll have to pay a park entrance fee. But snorkeling in the water is free! Bring a floaty and a speaker, maybe some food and drinks too!
One of the best activities on Koh Phi Phi is renting a couple of kayaks off the main beach and heading out into the bay to explore the island's stunning coast. Prices can range from $3-$6 per hour (single vs double kayak) to $20 for the whole day. You can rent them on Tonsai Beach or from Loh Dalam Bay.
Depending on how ambitious you are, you can use them to explore some of the more popular areas, like Monkey Beach, or just to get off the crowded beach and into the crystal clear waters around the bay. Bring a speaker, some water, SUNBLOCK, and find an empty buoy in the middle of the bay to tie up your kayaks and go for a dip. It's a fantastic way to explore Koh Phi Phi and work off some of those questionable decisions you made last night.
Long walk to the Beach is more like it... if you go towards the main docks, and make a left along the beach (eastwards), just follow it all the way until the walkway ends. You’ll start to follow a path with cute villas along the way. There are small handwritten signs pointing you in the right direction. Once you eventually get to Long Beach, you’ll realize why it has that name.
Pick any spot on the beach and just kick back for the afternoon. Pencil your name in a time slot for a coconut oil massage if you’re keen. Grab an ice cream or a fruity shake from one of the beachfront stands. If the walk is too far for your unavoidably dehydrated body, hop in a longboat back to town for only $3.
Take the long hike up to the Viewpoint for some killer views of the island. Make sure you go down to the second viewing platform for a little more space and fewer people in your shot! The earlier you go, the fewer people you’ll find at the top - and it won’t be as hot as later in the day.
In addition to being one of the best islands to party on in Southeast Asia, Koh Phi Phi is also one of the best places to dive! The crystal blue waters are picture perfect, making for great visibility under the surface. When arriving on Koh Phi Phi, you have to pay an "environmental fee," which covers the costs of maintaining trash-free beaches and underwater ecosystems. Plus, the vibrant reefs are home to big fish, turtles, and even reef sharks!
There are loads of dive shops to choose from. Anna finished off her PADI open water course with Sea Frogs Diving. She reported back with nothing but good things, praising the instructors for their professionalism, and good food on the boat! Veg-head options available :)
Digs on Koh Phi Phi
Banana Bar - mexican rooftop restaurant and bar with amazing sunset views, conveniently around happy hour!
Patcharee French Bakery - delicious pastry breakfasts for before a morning longboat tour!
Papaya - great local cuisine!
Anna’s - another great local option!