Koh Phi Phi is a famous destination in Thailand: incredible views, blue oceans, and long tail boats are the stuff of postcards (or movies like The Beach). However enjoying yourself on a tourist island like this can be challenging, especially on a budget. Luckily, we’re here to share our best recommendations.
What to do
Rent a kayak
A great way to spend a few hours (or even a day) is to rent a kayak. Many places rent them on the beach. Don’t forget to negotiate the price!
We rented some in the late afternoon to avoid the heat and enjoy the sunset (bring some beers with you!). It is a great way to access places from the shore that you couldn’t otherwise, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
There are many great places to snorkel, and many tours will offer you half day trips around the island and especially around Koh Phi Phi Lee (where the famous Maya Bay is). However, you can easily swim along the coast or rent a kayak and find your own spots.
We discovered an incredible reef by ourselves near Monkey Beach that we saved on the map at the bottom of this article. This was the most beautiful spot we snorkeled on, and there was nobody.
As just mentioned, the cheapest way to check out Koh Phi Phi Lee is to take a boat trip. Some of them are pretty cheap (just walk around in the streets and compare offers), however, be aware of a few things:
- The snorkel equipment won’t be very good, so if you can bring your own
- The areas you will stop at will be packed with dozens of other boats, engines raging and people floating around in bright red safety jackets. You can forget about silent and you’ll probably have to photoshop your pictures!
- Most of the bays where you will be taken are good for fish spotting but there are no coral reefs
- Maya Bay is indefinitely closed so the boat will stop at the very entrance of it, far away from the beach
It is very touristy, but it is still the cheapest way to check out those beautiful areas.
Check out the monkeys
There are quite a few monkeys spots on the island. You can check them out at Monkey Beach (North), and Monkey Beach (South). Both of them can be accessible by boat or kayak. The monkeys are cute but not afraid so remember to:
- keep your distance
- beware of your belongings
- avoid bringing plastic bags (they automatically think it is food)
- try avoiding eye contact
Climb up and see the sunset
There are several viewpoints on Phi Phi, but number 1 is definitely the most famous. Be aware that there is a 20 baht access fee pp. There are two ways to get there:
- By the road (about an hour walk) follow the signs and it will take you through the forest. This is the way to get to the other viewpoints too.
- By the stairs from the village (much quicker and direct). Find the starting point on our map at the end of the article. The stairs will get you directly to ViewPoint 1, so you will have to pay the entrance fee even if you wish to go to the other viewpoints.
PS: Alcohol is not allowed at the viewpoint.
Walk to other bays
Google map is not accurate anymore. However, there are many paths around the island that can take you to other bays. It just depends on how far you want to walk! The map below is simple but pretty accurate, otherwise ask around or follow signs.
To access Long Beach from Ao Tonsai Bay, no need to rent a boat, just walk along the coast and keep going until you get there. It is a lovely walk under the trees, where you get to check hidden hotels and small beaches before you get to Long Beach.
Go shark spotting
Shark point is at the end of Long Beach, and as its name indicates, there are several black tip reef sharks looking for fish. They are small, timid sharks who rarely pose a threat to humans.
You can swim to the point from the shore to check them out, or rent a kayak.
Get a massage
There are so many places where you can get a massage! Our favorite is at Paradise Resort Phi Phi on Long Beach. There are several small open huts on the sand, where you can get a massage while listening to the waves.
The massage menu is just in front, and you can get an hour for 300 baht, a deal!
Many beach bars will have fire shows in the evening, usually starting at 9 pm. The Hippies Bar has a show every day, but you can also walk on Loh Dalum Beach and check a few of them.
Where to eat and drink
You won’t find most places below on Google so once again, check our map at the bottom of the page.
This little corner stall offers a lot of fresh fruit shakes (their specialty is coconut milkshake) and coffees, but what stands out is their Mango & Sticky Rice, the best one we ever tried. We kept going back every time we wanted a snack or for breakfast.
It is located at the end of a covered alley with a few stalls (food, coffee, clothes…) check it out while you’re there.
Quality food in local restaurants
On a side street, you’ll find a few restaurants with bright lights, open kitchens, and plastic chairs, packed with Thai people. That’s where you want to go.
They have menus but check out the pictures on the walls as everything is not in it. Our favorite: fresh fish grilled on the barbecue. Just point to pick!
Skewers in the street
Many people will be selling skewers grilled directly on small carts in the street. One was particularly tasty next to Chaokoh Road (see map), and we kept going back.
Blue Moon Restaurant
Located at the end of Long Beach, right next to the pier, this little restaurant offers local, quality food. Its prices are much lower than the rest of the places in the area. Due to its location, it is also nice and quiet, a perfect spot for lunch.
Buy drinks on the streets
A lot of restaurants and bars offer to buy buckets or cocktails directly on the street, for half the price. The T-Bone Steak Box was making exceptionally good Mojitos, three times cheaper than in a bar.
We really wouldn’t recommend the food, however, they do have a cool chilled out terrace and a particularly nice swimming pool with breathtaking views. So, just go for a beer and have a swim!
Kongsiam Live bar
Probably the most expensive spot on our list, however, they do have good live music (to change from the cheap beach techno) so we believe it deserves a place here.
Where to stay
If you are on a budget, the best option will be to stay between Tonsai Bay and Loh Dalum Bay. Unfortunately, they are also the noisiest due to the clubs on the beaches. A spot a little more inland will ensure you cheap prices but also a more silent night.
Phi Phi Green Hill Resort
The area nor the view are particularly nice but the rooms are decent, cheap, it is far from the noise, the staff is lovely, there is a pool and breakfast is included, not bad!
Check the map below to get all of our recommendations, save it and use it later in your maps!
Going to Bangkok next? Are you looking for something to do off the beaten track? Check out the Airplane Graveyard