Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ko Phi Phi updated

Last visited November 2014

Ton Sai - Loh Dalum spit and western limestone plateau from upper viewpoint - Loh Dalum the closer beach. Much fewer palms post tsunami now on spit as lower 2010 shot shows - top image Phi Phi Scuba


With the last 6 stays in less than 70 months this thread is getting a bit long.

The first 25% below is an ISLAND OVERVIEW aimed at giving newcomers some idea of the different island areas and their accommodation.

Next is an OVERVIEW OF BEACHES starting about 25% down page.

About 55% down page is a section on SNORKELLING, DIVING, CLIMBING and TREKKING

Around 70% down page can be found information on WHEN TO GO TO PHI PHI



There are two Phi Phi islands, Don and Ley, about 90 minutes by ferry from both Phuket and Krabi.

Phi Phi and surrounding areas. (modified Google Earth image)

The Phi Phi islands. The northern Mosquito and particularly Bamboo islets are popular daytrip locations, not only for boats out of Phi Phi but for the Phi Phi tours out of Phuket and Krabi before or after they have checked the 2 bigger islands. You can also overnight on Bamboo Island in the National Park camping area.

PHI PHI DON, the Phi Phi with the accommodation, is about 4 km east-west and 8 km north-south. It is shaped a bit like a distorted anvil, basically made up of 3 soaring lumps of limestone joined by low isthmuses.

Map from Andaman Island Hopping. You can click image to enlarge, or using the following link, go to the map on AIH's website and click to enlarge when open
Note that the detail of the town area is limited but the map is really good in that it shows the general layout of the island and the 3 limestone highland areas well.

The Google Earth image is more limited in that wet season winds moving over the western peninsula and up the steep slopes east of Ton Sai town have created a fair bit of cloud. 
There are BEACHES and TREKKING maps down page.

The WESTERN LIMESTONE HIGHLAND  is least eroded, has few beaches and none that are easily accessed, no lowlands and is uninhabited. In many places the limestone rises 100m straight out of the ocean, so it looks pretty spectacular. And provides good climbing sites for enthusiasts.

It is joined to the eastern limestone higland by a NARROW ISTHMUS OF SAND on which the TOWN/PIER AREA OF TON SAI/LOH DALUM is located.

This shot from the 3rd Viewpoint shows 90% of the eastern side of the western highland plus about 50% of the Ton Sai/Loh Dalum spit. Probably worth clicking to expand image.

I got this better shot in 2013 on the return path from Loh Bakeo on the east coast - western highland at right, start of eastern highland (on which I'm standing) at left.

Beaches line each side of the isthmus - Ton Sai on the southern side is pretty drack because of the pier and boating activity, until you approach the western end against the cliffs where it is very agreeable.

Pretty sweet area - far western end of Ton Sai beach. Turn left from pier, walk about 10 minutes.

Loh Dalam, the northern beach, is nice in the top half of the tide, but lower than this it gets real shallow a long way out and looks a bit ordinary (some pix in the beach section down page). Not so the surrounding cliffs of the limestone highlands which are pretty awesome.

The eastern half of the isthmus is a maze of shops, restaurants, travel agencies, internet cafes, money sources incl banks/ATMs, dive outfits, bars, tattoo parlours etc
Main street Ton Sai 2013. With no vehicles allowed in town, accommodation places use those handcarts for luggage to/from the pier.

. There is also lots of accommodation here - high end Phi Phi Cabana, some midrangers such as Phi Phi Hotel, Phi Phi Inn, Natacha, PP Casita - noisy, expensive backpacker rooms up-stairs over shops, a couple of backpacker dorms (The Rock and Phi Phi Backpacker) ...

....New to me in 2013-  Phi Phi Backpacker on the cross-isthmus path not far in from the eastern most end of Loh Dalum beach. Sign near guy says aircon dorms with hot showers for only 300 - gotta be a bargain in 2013 for Phi Phi in what most accommodation still thinks as high season (although I regard early March as shoulder. Nevertheless Phi Phi was pretty busy). Note lots of noisy nightlife running to 0230 on the eastern end of Loh Dalum which will suit most backpackers real well - not so any noise haters).

... and in the eastern most section where you begin to climb onto the lower slopes of the limestone lump towards the town viewpoint and the dam, quite a lot of small bungalow-type outfits in the backpacker/flash packer range. Some of these are Snow White House, Scenery GH, Garden Inn and Uphill Bungalows. The area surround the (older) dam up here has a range of pretty okay flashpackers - in April 2012 I stayed at Phi Phi Ingphu Viewpoint which did the job nicely. I've put a report in the PHI PHI TRIP REPORT section.
The general consensus is that party animals and people who don’t mind noise/crowds are best suited for staying in town, although some of the upslope areas are quieter (um, not for everyone - I found party noise at Ingphu just short of annoying but many user reviews on Trip Advisor and the booking sites for places in this area (and further out) complain . So if you are noise-sensitive maybe give a miss to joints where MANY review are negative in this respect - MANY because some people are impossible to please).
Note that some of the midrangers which used to line the eastern half of Loh Dalum pre tsunami like PP Princess have not been rebuilt (update 2012 - the PP Princess website says the place is currently under reconstruction [still showing that in Arpril 2013) and Trip Advisor shows several recent reader reviews. Confusing and I didn't take a lot of notice when I recently passed by). There is a pretty tatty thatched-hut backpacker place called Palm Bungalows. And The Rock which has dorms&budget rooms and is described as fairly rough but fun. A good site for budget joints in this area is

Lower-midrange wise, on the lower slopes of the eastern highland overlooking Loh Dalum beach is the nicely positioned Phi Phi View Point Resort. Phitarom is similar, a bit further from the sea.
New to me in 2012 is a place a bit further north of Viewpoint - ie to the right of the shot below - Phi Phi Sunset Pavilion which looks more budget. Unfortunately both are not far from the nightlife on east Ton Sai.

Even further north, part way up the eastern shore of Loh Dalum Bay is a bunch of other joints new to me, Hin Poo Bay, Phi Phi Sunset Bay, Bamboo Resort and Sea View Resort. 
I reckon these would feel nearly as isolated as some of the east coast resorts. No doubt there are some lengthy, steep, rough, complicated tracks into these joints via the eastern highlands but for the more northern ones incoming guests are sure to be shuttled across from Loh Dalum beach in a longtail. I kinda like the position/looks of these joints - maybe next visit. Booking site Agoda is a good one for details and has a map showing location. UPDATE MARCH 2013 - I walked across (you can get here using the path which passes on the sea side of Phi Phi View Point's rim pool) and checked these out. They fit the description above but I had decided not to stay in this area because of several noise complaints.

Outlook from Phi Phi View Point Resort over Loh Dalum. Bungalows are scattered behind up a fairly steep hill. If you click to expand this shot you get a good view of Phi Phi Cabana mid beach - this upmarket place actually extends right across the narrow spit.

The western section of the isthmus was wiped clean by the tsunami and in myAugust 07 trip still had a lot of vacant land. The upmarket Phi Phi Cabana hotel takes up a major proportion of this near the centre and seemed to have completed reconstruction in 2010. The rebuilt hospital is further west, a new power generator seems to be running but most of the rest of the new construction is neat housing for locals (Um not so neat in 2013 - a lot of this area is starting to look like a trash tip. Racist I know, but Andaman villages are not noted for neatness).
In 2005 and 2007 there was a section of new traditional style bamboo huts Rock Climbing Bungalows right up the western end of Ton Sai beach against the cliffs of the western highland - backpacker/flash packer in style (the upmarket Ton Sai Village used to be here). The adjacent  beach is unexpectedly nice (unexpectedly because most of the rest of Ton Sai beach suffers from the proximity of the boating which clogs this bay). But when I returned in 2010 Rock Climbing Bungalows had been replaced by a lower midrange place Mama's and about 3 flashpacker places including Sand Sea View Resort where I stayed because it also had some backpacker priced rooms. I have more info and pix in the TRIP REPORT section of this site.

Longtime Phi Phi hands note that old budget favourite Chongkhao which was completely eliminated by the tsunami has been recreated after my 2007 visit in roughly the same area as before - maybe 100m in from the beach western end of spit.

The new Chongkhao Bungalows - closed in June (low season) 2010 but looked to have been operating in the high season before. It was open in April 2012 and March 2013.

There was still a lot of unbuilt land in this western part of the spit in April 2012, but I did notice that construction for what looked like a pretty big place had started at the site of my old favourite super-cheapy Sunsmile (this concrete block motel style joint was wiped clean by the tsunami) and there was a new place right up the far western end of Loh Dalum beach, Phi Phi Beach Front from memory, actually elevated slightly and looking eastward up the beach. It appeared to be in the flashpacker range.

I'm sure I took a close-up pic of Phi Phi Beach Front but maybe a passing cloud stopped the shot. So this one is from the 3rd Viewpoint abt 3km away.

I went back for this 2013 shot of Phi Phi Beach Front. Mostly hidden at left is the adjacent Phi Phi Good View. Nice positions but read the user reviews.

This is a great shot of the Ton Sai side of the isthmus - taken in the 1980s! by Dave Elliott. I reckon it is just to the east of where the pier is now.

The EASTERN HIGHLAND is more eroded and has quite a few beaches and bays along its southern and eastern coasts.
The best of the southern ones is Long Beach (Hat Yao) over near the south-eastern corner of the island. This is one of my favourite PP areas, a real nice beach for sunning and swimming (it doesn’t get too shallow most low tides), has some good coral offshore and a nice range of accommodation from backpacker to midrange+. These include include from west to east the lower-midrang Paradise Pearl;Phi Phi Blue Sky Resort which has been created by buying some bungalows off resorts each side, Phi Phi Paradise Resort, then Long Beach Bungalows (budget which has been taken over by Nomads and is now known as Nomads Phi Phi Hotel (has a dorm) then the expanding midrange or better Phi Phi The Beach Resort. Overlooking the beach and bay from the eastern headland is the budget/flashpacker Phi Phi Hill.
There are regular longtail shuttles into town day and night which is good for people wanting to shop or party. It is not too difficult to walk into town, about 40 minutes. During the day the beach is a magnet for people staying elsewhere on the island. There are also several good restaurants - PP Hill's has awesome views and Paradise Pearl's has beachfront tables.
On my return in April 2012 I found Paradise Pearl had built a new block of attractive rooms in the far west of its area, The Beach was building new bunglows further up the hill (and unlike the existing ones these may not have beach/ocean views) and Phi Phi Hill's cheapest outside bathroom bungalows which never featured on the website were closed down. Phi Phi Hill's fantastic outlook from the restaurant area is now slightly diminished by growing trees and a rooftop on the top platform of their luggage conveyor. The food is still very reasonably priced.

Beachfront aircon twin of Paradise Resort where I stayed there in 2007 - this bungalow is now part of Phi Phi Blue Sky. Paradise Pearl next door is very similar although some of Pearl's rear fan bungalows are newer and very nice. Plus the new western block of rooms I mention above.

View from front patio of above bungalow. Phi Phi Ley in background. I notice there is now a small restaurant built in front here which blocks the view - only from this one bungalow, #10 from memory.

Going westwards back towards Ton Sai, there a several beaches - the first is a tiny and rather nice bay with flashpacker Viking. which has extended over to the next small beach by buying out the old Maphrao.
Then we have a series of others which suffer a bit at low tide and have several nice mostly midrange places. Halfway along is Laem Hin beach with Ayaburi and Bay View - both have impressive hillside bungalows with great views of the...ummm...Bay (and bayside cliffs of the western limestone lump).
 Closer to town behind a longish stretch of sand are well known outfits like PP Andaman, PP Villa and Don Chukit. This is a pretty nice area these days with orderly resorts mostly with small pools. It is only a short walk into Ton Sai along a seaside path of continuous resorts, restaurants, shops etc and can be thought of as Ton Sai East. I notice travelfish calls this area Ton Sai Beach although the real Ton Sai beach is over a small headland further west and goes down past the pier to the PP Sand Sea View area described before.

Looking towards Ton Sai town from the old Maphrao's beach. Ayaburi's and Bay View's  little beaches are tucked behind those longtail boats. Ton Sai East beach is the strip of sand in front of that central hill. Most of Ton Sai town is behind and to the left of the hill. This pic might be worth click-expanding.

THE EAST COAST is really nice and contains some beaches and bungalow places which are as laid back as any on less visited islands like Ko Phayam, Ko Jum and Ko Kradan. So much for the knockers who say Phi Phi is dire and past it. I figure they must never venture away from Ton Sai/Loh Dalam.
The downside is that this area is an expenisve haul from town - I’m a good bargainer but I couldn’t get the long tail taxi mafia to go under 400 (full boat charter not per passenger) to Ao Toh Koh in 2007 (although I managed to bargain a 900 ride from most distant Laem Tong down to 350 in 2010 - go figure. I figured the boatie must have wanted to go into town to get some beer). Bungalow owners on the east coast will pick you up for considerably less if you ring ahead and some bungalows run a free or cheap shuttle to/back from town once per day. UPATE MARCH 2013 - saw a taxi-boat sign in town asking for 1200 to Laem Tong, 700 for Rantee next to Toh Koh, 2 persons.

Starting at the south-east corner of the east coast is a tiny beach with one attractive backpacker-style place, Ao Poh Bungalows. UPDATE April 2012. Ao Poh is now being used exclusively as a luncheon stop for daytrip speedboats from Phuket. The bungalows are being used for staff quarters. See the BEACHES section below.)

Just north is a fairly big unsettled (except for a small restaurant/bar) beach called Loh Modee, a great place for a quiet swim and sun even in high season. The high end resort planned as long ago as 2002 still showed no sign of a start in April 2012/March 2013. You can walk over the saddle from Long Beach in a little over 10 minutes.

About a km further north is what was one of the better backpacker places in Thailand (recent user reports have been a bit critical), Toh Koh Resort on its own little beach. Actually by 2012 this place has seemed to have pushed itself upmarket. There are aircon bungalows, plus a new range of beachfront fan jobs. And the prices seem a bit crazy - even those simple fan jobs with bathroom in the pic below were over 1000 when I called by. Phi Phi has become seriously expensive.

Backpacker style (but no longer priced) hut overlooking the ocean rocks at Toh Koh Resort.

Over the next 2 km north are two other beaches, Ao Rantee with backpacker/ flash packer places + a newish lower midrange joint Rantee Cliff Beach Resort - and Had Pak Nam (Relax Bay) with the flashpacker Relax Beach Resort. This place gets real good reviews on the user sites.

Note that a fringing coral reef is fairly close to shore right along the east coast offering pretty good snorkelling.

The eastern highland area also has a few walking tracks - it is possible to walk from town to several viewpoints and from there to the east coast beaches. It is also possible to walk from Long Beach to the viewpoints. The walks have some pretty decent slopes, some are a bit indistinct (eg the track into Loh Bakeo) and I would not do town to the east coast resorts with a pack or at night. I have a section on trekking and a trek map down page.

The THIRD HIGHLAND AREA is much smaller and narrower. It makes up the longish LAEM THONG PENINSULA in the far north east of the island. It is joined to the big eastern highland area by another much wider spit of sand, the sizable eastern beach of which is called Loh Bakeo. This has the very nice upmarket (Outrigger) Phi Phi Island Village.

About three quarters along the northern peninsula’s eastern coast is another nice beach, called unsurprisingly Hat Laem Thong (or Palm Beach). This is the preserve of mid-range+ to high-end places like PP Natural, Phi Phi Erawan Palms, Holiday Inn and The Zeavola. However there is also a sea-gypsy settlement here, so the richer guys get a taste of the real Thailand. Much more so than those people who hang around Ton Sai/Long Beach town.
In 2010 the villagers built a couple of more modestly priced bungalows (around the 1000b mark).

The second main Phi Phi island is PHI PHI LEY which is about 3 km south of Phi Phi Don.

Phi Phi Ley from Phi Phi Hill's restaurant above the eastern end of Long Beach.

Ley is considerably smaller, but because its limestone cliffs rise a similar precipitous 100m from the water it looks pretty impressive. This is 100% national park with no settlement, but is a magnet for daytrippers because of Maya Bay of the movie “The Beach” fame and the Viking Caves, famous for birds'-nesting.
Note that particularly since the movie, Maya Bay has tended to get very crowded with daytrip boats - the general consensus is that if you are staying on Phi Phi, try to organise and early visit - say prior to 1000 when the daytrip boats from Phuket and Krabi start to arrive.

"The Beach"/Maya Bay on Phi Phi Ley from the Phi Phi Cruiser which is about as close as this particular island transfer/day cruiser out of Phuket gets - frankly if I had been doing a day-cruise I'd be disappointed. Maybe not: click-expand to check the crowd on the beach at around 1100 in shoulder season.

UPDATE FEB09 - I heard a while back about an outfit running overnight camping trips to Phi Phi Ley - now Little Vagabond has sent this info:
"I would highly recommend camping overnight on Maya Bay - one of the best experiences I've had. That costs 1,900baht each but you go snorkeling and kayaking, get curry then late night chicken wings, eggs on toast for breakfast. You camp, everyone plays guitar and has a lovely sing along :p - and you can swim in the water at night with the bioluminescent plankton-like in 'The Beach'. I went with my boyfriend and it was very romantic sleeping under the stars (which were so much better than anywhere else in thailand with the lights). People who are not camping (daytrippers) have to leave around 6.30pm and dont arrive until around 8.30am so the beach is just yours! (and the up-to-25 others you are camping with.)"

In 2010 some female guests complained on travel forums about unwanted attention from male staff on these trips but I haven't heard anything more recently.

You can get nice scenery at Maya Bay

BREAKING NEWS - in November 2014 I did an overnight stay at MAYA BAY - there is a bunch of pix, maps and info HERE

A few km north-east of Phi Phi Don are two other popular daytrip destinations, the uninhabited islets of Mosquito Island (Ko Yung) and Bamboo Island (Ko Phai). These have nice beaches (particularly Bamboo) and pretty good snorkelling .

Mosquito and Bamboo Islands from Ao Toh Koh on the East Coast of Ph Phi.

These are national park islands and it is possible to organise an overnight stay. TRIP REPORT contributor sessa sent me some info and pix HERE. (scroll down page). Her report also has pix on a Maya Bay visit.



I have a beach location map at the end of this section.

The beaches tend to be sandy, not those broken coral beaches you find in a lot of reef areas.
The following are beaches with accommodation, not spots like Maya Bay and Bamboo Island which you travel to on daytrips, or Loh Modee which you hike to.

The pier beach, Ton Sai, is pretty daggy EXCEPT right down the western end against the cliffs where a couple of new budget places were built post tsunami, replaced by a few flashpacker joints, one lower midranger and one budget/flashpacker by 2010. Here it is very nice. 10-15 minutes walk from most other accommodation in town.

Unexpectedly good area far western end of Ton Sai arrivals pier beach.

2013-Much of this region closer the pier has big dining areas under shade for day-trippers backing the beach -  note the scrum of daytrip speedboats, most from Phuket and Krabi, a few from Lanta. The nicest beach starts past the speedboats. There are other pix of this area in the Trip Report section.

Across the other side of the narrow isthmus, Loh Dalum is quite nice at more than half tide - has a lot of exposed darkish sand at low tide. Heaps of accommodation of all types close to this beach. The nearest third of this beach to camera has a string of beach bars - becomes quite lively after mid-afternoon. Has a line  of deck chairs and sun lounges where the cooler visitor likes to be seen. I'm cool but they gave me dirty looks.

Loh Dalum at right is fairly attractive in top half of the tide but you can see the water is pretty shallow waay out. I noticed the beach got a bit thin in front of Phi Phi Cabana's big buildings at mid-beach around highest tide too. Nice far western section of Ton Sai can be seen top left. This is a 2010 shot - you can click to expand it.  This is shot from the second viewpoint. The first viewpoint has a nice little restaurant but the views are not as panoramic.

Loh Dalum shallows 2013. Not yet full low tide but there is a good 50m of sand to the back of the beach, emerging sand bars plus those dudes at left knee-high in water 60+m out. If you click-expand you may be able to see the newish budget joints on the east coast of the bay.

About 400m after turning right from the pier along the main drag, the road goes over a small headland, does a bit of a kink and comes down behind a section of beach I prefer to call TON SAI EAST.
There are quite a few nice flashpacker/lower midrange places behind the beach here including PP Villa, Andaman Legacy, PP Andaman Resort. The beach is not bad in the first (western) section (although quite a few longtails tie up along here so the water is a bit crowded in places and maybe not as pristine as some other areas) but as you head east the water starts to suffer the low tide blues similar to Loh Dalum. But like Loh Dalum it's mainly clean  sand not dirty coral/rocks which is exposed.
Ton Sai East beach. btw if you are walking into town from Long Beach, Viking etc you must walk about 50m of the near side of this beach in front of the island's school. You can regain the path at the near end of those posts (about 20% from right of image).

Ditto the low tide sandy blues for the next small beach which I'm sure used to have the reception area of Bay View which is now at the far end of Ton Sai East above, although Bay View's/Ayaburi's bungalows extend east to behind this smaller beach.
BayView'/Ayaburi's smaller beach. That's Viking's second beach (the old Maphrao's) in background. The walking track from further east (Long Beach etc) comes down onto this beach at far end. Continue up the near stairs into resort grounds - a "Ton Sai" sign directs you onto a coastal path which stops you wandering lost thru the resort and deposits you on the east end of East Ton Sai beach one pix above.

Similar low tide sandy blues at the following small beach which was home for VK Bungalows, the old Maphrao which was taken over by adjacent Viking in recent years. As such it is Viking's second beach.
Pretty sweet at high tide but not as nice as the main Viking beach which is less than 5 minutes walk from this beach around the far headland.  That big bungalow is one of Viking's spectacular new treetop villas. My less flash standard fan room was 300m to the left of the above image. I'll do a trip report when I get a chance.
The shortest walking track form Long Beach comes down about mid-beach here. Take the seaside path up along Viking's western bugalows which starts at Maphrao's old restaurant hidden at right of beach in this shot. Sign posting pretty good.
One plus is the outlook which is towards the spectacular western highland cliffs across the bay and (to the right out of shot)Ton Sai town.

Things improve a short walk past here where you reach the small attractive bay at flashpacker/lower mid-range Viking where the water is deeper at low tide.

Viking's neat little main beach at left with the western end of Long Beach at right.

Viking gets good reviews in the trip forums. I've always thought the bungalows overpriced but I have to admit the beach is nice and the beachfront restaurant/reception very cosy and atmospheric. UPDATE - Viking has upgraded recently and seemed to be competitively priced to similar joints on the east coast so I stayed there in March 2013- I'll do a Trip Report when I get a chance

2013 pic shows sweet main Viking beach. No real low tide blues here and people tell me snorkelling is okay. I was too lazy to check. So shoot me: I explain on the Ko Libong page why I'm not whelmed with snorkelling most spots these days.

At the eastern end of the south coast is Long Beach, the nicest beach within easy access of town. Good variety of accomm here too. Nice swimming enclosures, frequent longtails to town (40 minute scenic walk), pretty good snorkelling off the beach. Very popular.

Long Beach - this is an August (wet season) shot so fewer people than high season.

Long Beach taken from the same position as the Viking shot two pix up - camera turned 180 degrees. At low tide it is a simple rock-hop between the two beaches. At higher tide levels it is better to take the steepish track over the headland - only a few minutes. Although I once found this extremely muddy and difficult one wet season visit.
btw if you are walking Long Beach to Ton Sai town you don't have to go via Viking's little beach - you can ssave time by ignoring the Viking signs Pounting right off the path and short-cutting over to Viking's second more western beach (6 pix up page).
Paradise Pearl resort is behind the trees closest camera. Phi Phi Blue Sky next, Paradise Resort is about mid beach, followed by Nomads Phi Phi Hotel (the old Long Beach Bungalows). The high bungalows you can see belong to Phi Phi The Beach resort which goes right down to beach level. To the right high on the headland is one of my favourites, Phi Phi Hill.

Busier March 2013 Long Beach looking east from in front of Paradise Peal's near-headland accomodation. Walk to town leaves via steep path behind/left of camera.

Around the south-east corner of the island you have Ao Pooh (Poh), a similar beach to Viking with the rustic backpacker/flashpacker Pooh's Bungalow. UPDATE - rip Poh's Bungalow.

Pooh Bungalow's nice little beach 2010.

UPDATE - when I returned in April 2012 a bunch of speedboats (at one stage 5 of them) was parked off the beach, the bungalows were closed to tourists and the nice restaurant behind the beach was being used as a luncheon stop for daytrippers from Phuket (judging by the number of Russians - I think you still find fewer Russians staying in Krabi).

Going up the east coast all the beaches are pretty nice - budget Toh Koh Resort (Ao Toh Koh) and flashpacker Relax Resort (Had Phak Nam) have their own beaches and there is a handful of backpacker/flashpackers/midrange joints on Ao Rantee.

Ao Toh Koh - one of the relaxed east coast beaches. One budget/flashpacker resort here.

Slightly better 2013 pic. I'm a bit dismayed how Toh Koh Resort here has pushed upmarket. According to recent user reports, rooms and service have not made as big a leap. Was a sweet budget/flashpacker place when I stayed some years ago.

Ao Rantee has 3 or 4 different places to stay including the budget Rantee Beach and the recently opened flashpacker/lower-midrange Rantee Cliff Beach Resort- click to expand shot.

Rantee from the north. It is possible to walk to Ao Toh Koh along the rocks at the far end in only 5 minutes although higher tide levels make this a bit difficult. Ditto for Ao Pak Nam which is maybe 10 minutes behind camera. 

Sweet beachfront restaurant of flashpacker/lower-midrange Rantee Cliff Beach Resort - 4 nearby budget resorts are sure to keep prices honest.

Had Pak Nam/Relax Bay, home of the oft-praised Relax Resort (flashpacker). All these east coast beaches are nicely sheltered from wind and waves in wet season. This is a wet season 2010 shot. 

Relax Resort's section of the beach from the south - past a row of rocks at the far end is a new joint new to me in 2013......
....Phi Phi Power Beach Resort. Looks flashpacker too and with Relax Resort's popularity (it is fully booked at time of writing - April 10 true shoulder season!) this could be a good alternative.
I missed the short cut up through the bush to Loh Bakeo to the north this trip - maybe it is behind the new resort.

Behind the rocks past the north end of the beach is this small fishing settlement. I'm sure a fair bit of it was located behind Power Beach Resort's section of sand before. Maybe they got an offer for the land they couldn't resist - or maybe they decided to start their own resort.

UPDATE AUGUST 2013 - I finally got to stay at Relax Resort. Pretty nice place. But I gotta tell you restaurant prices are a fair bit higher than comparable resorts - up 50-100% on typical bungalow resorts  (the adjacent resort was only a bit less expensive - and nobody seemed around in the restaurant when I called by). And most resorts make your initial longtail ride from the arrivals pier free - Relax charged about a dozen of us 150 each.
My bamboo and thatch roof Garden Bungalow was a bit tightly packed with its neighbors and very compact with just enough room for 2 and gear. It was clean, the bed very comfy, the bathroom had good hot water and the spacious veranda had traditional sitting mattresses on a raised platform. Paths in the attractive garden were not lit well at night but a torch was provided. The area was quiet. Staff was superb.
The beach is a  nice place to spend time - Relax has its section of the beach alone - the neighboring place is across a section of rocks and its beach is no-where near as big or nice. The beach does suffer the low tide blues - at lowest tide it is a bit of an effort to enter the water thru the coral etc. Coral and fishies were not too hot near the beach, better out near the fringing reef but not outstanding - Ko Toa's Hing Wong and Mango bays were far superior the previous week.
Taking food/transfer costs into account I considered Relax Resort overpriced even for Phi Phi which is more expensive than most. I stayed at several places in the Gulf the weeks before which were much better value.
My son travelled with me - Mark has done a TRIP REPORT here.

LOH BAKEO - (sometimes called Loh Ba Gao)
Probably Phi Phi's nicest beach with accommodation, Loh Bakeo is midway up the east coast with expensive (Outrigger) Phi Phi Island Village. There are a couple of less expensive bungalow joints on PPIV's northern side but my call-in at one of their restaurants suggests "budget" may mainly be relative to the flash neighbour. UPDATE 2013 - this area has become quite a busy little business region with a selection of shops, restaurants, a hairdresser etc. It continues on the northern side of the bridge across the small inlet here.
Loh Bakeo - very nice but isolated.

Loh Bakeo from atop a new pool-dining facility under construction in March 2013. Island Village which extends along the whole beach also has newer hillside accommodation including some pool villas much higher on the hill behind this new structure.
As you can see in this shot, the water gets pretty shallow at low tide. Very nice beach in other respects.

This is the back beach across the other side of the isthmus of sand Island Village is located on. Walk across the bridge at the far end of Loh Bakeo, turn right and 10 minutes past a swamp and thru a rubber plantation with some unfinished resort foundations gets you to Loh Lana.
Loh Lana Bay faces north-west towards Phuket. It is not a bad beach but can't compare to Loh Bakeo. Those longtails were around island daytrippers put in for a short visit. Rugged headland behind leads to viewpoints and/or back to Ton Sai town. See below.

A branch off the Ton Sai track top tight goes left somewhere up there to the viewpoints but I got lost, did a big 40 minute circle and ended up back on the Ton Sai track. Good English language signs down the bottom, plenty of Thai language higher up - dunno why: locals know these tracks so don't need the signs and mid-range Thais wouldn't be seen dead walking steep jungle paths for more than 10 minutes - they go around by speedboat, trendsetters. Um, not that a speedboat will get them to the viewpoints.

Phi Phi expert Leigh Travel might argue Laem Thong towards the ne corner of the island is as good as Loh Bakeo. Good variety of midrange and luxury places here.
Far northern end of Laem Thong which is nicer than southern end. Hell of a distance from town here - I walked up via viewpoints and Relax Bay in around 3 hours with short stops (although the 3rd [highest] viewpoint was a bit of a detour) - longtails asked 900baht in June 2010 to take me back to town (whole boat but I had no-one to share price), turned out standard price is 700 - I managed to bargain it down to 350. Which in retrospect surprises me - later in the month I couldn't bargain similar-length trips at Muk, Phangan and Tao below 700. Maybe the boatie wanted to go to town to pick up some beer, see his girlfriend or something.

Much the same area March 2013, busier month and closer to lunch time so heaps more day-trip speedboats, the passengers of which have been dining in Phi Phi Natural's rather nice headland restaurant behind camera. If you click-expand you will see another bunch of speedboats down the beach and behind a flotilla of longtails - some are fishing boats but many transfer island guests to/from Laem Thong.
Note the crap colour and definition of my newish elcheapo Olympus - but what can you expect for $89? I suspect the lens is made of recycled milk bottles. I keep it because I'm a cheapskate and because being so small it fits into my shirt pocket with room to spare. I hate bulk - see these tourists lugging around $1000+ SLRs with extra lenses and think: what a hassle.

Laem Thong is also located on an isthmus, much narrower than at Phi Phi Island Resort to the south, and thinking there may be a back beach, 5 minutes walk got me to this bay. No beach - but it could be an okay area to have a snorkel. Low tide in this shot. Faces west - potentiallly good "Sunset Bar" behind/left of camera on a small hill.


I reckon the nicest beach on the island is Loh Modee. This is towards the southern end of the east coast - Ao Pooh is maybe 100m to the left and you can walk over from Long Beach in around 10 minutes on a steep track which comes over the saddle to the left of shot. That clearing top right is the site of the new dam - if you click to expand you can see some of the new housing estate for locals adjacent the dam.
Last century there was a budget bungalow joint mid beach with hippy-nudists running around the sand. Plus a nice little bar-restaurant. When I returned in 02 the resort was gone and a lot of the trees and undergrowth behind the beach had been cleared - looked like in preparation for a big new resort. The restaurant survived. In 06 and 07 no change except undergrowth had come back quickly and sea gypsies had built some lean-to type shelters in the far northern corner (these were actually gone in 07) In June 2010 still no new resort as you can see - but the sea gypsies were back with a couple of permanent bungalows in their corner - hidden by vegetation from this angle. No change in 2012 and 2013. I noticed in one of my wet season visits that this sheltered beach is a popular snorkelling and sunning place for the daytrip speedboats out of Phuket and Krabi. But most times it is near deserted.

Loh Modee from the north end - 2012 shot, still no sign of a new resort. It is possible to walk around the far headland to Ao Poh in about 10 minutes, but once again avoid higher tide levels. Behind camera you can walk to Ao Toh Koh in about the same time - but anything over half tide is very difficult. In 2010 I had to resort to wading in waist deep sea water at half tide in some sections. And then it started to rain. Correction, it started to pour.

The restaurant on Loh Modeee - the only remains of the funky bungalow joint here in the 90s. Place hires out deck-chairs strung along the beach.
I've never seen this beach with more than a handful of people on it. You may get a few more in wet season (of all time)s because the east coast is sheltered on blowy monsoonal west-wind days and Modee attracts daytrip boats

I modified this Google Earth image to show beach locations - Google's place-adder would not allow me to fit them all in without knocking lettering for others askew - LB bottom right is Long Beach and adjacent V is Viking. 
That back beach to the left of Loh Bakeo in the north looks interesting - I've never been there. Looks like it could have a low tide problem. 
Quite a few people talk about deserted and attractive Monkey Beach (below) which they visit on around island longtail trips - this is at the north end of the western highland area approximately where the L for Loh Modee is.

Some say this is Phi Phi's nicest beach without accommodation - but the fact is you need a boat to access (well maybe not - it is situated on the north coast of the towering western limestone plateau and I reckon a good swimmer could cruise around here from the far west end of Loh Dalum - hell at low tide you could wade a third of the way. I'm a pretty good swimmer and wader - but real lazy). 
I called in on an around island daytrip way back last century in my no-camera days - hence this 2013 shot taken from high on the eastern limestone plateau on my trek back from Loh Bakeo.

And yep, there are monkeys. I swiped this shot from Google images - came from


Phi Phi has pretty good snorkelling by Thai standards. Not up to the Similans/Surins when those places are normal (at the time of writing mid 2012 both are suffering from global warming/coral bleaching) but good enough to keep all but fanatics happy.
Closest to town, the best snorkelling is at Long Beach. Here there is a fringing reef abt a 50m swim off the sand which is okay. Further out from the eastern end of the beach is a reef area exposed at all tide levels which is good enough to attract the island's snorkel trip longtails and the daytrip boats out of Phuket and Krabi.
Snorkelling and daytrip boats working over the reef off Long Beach. This is late April - late shoulder season. How busy is it in peak season? 

Further from town, the east coast has a fringing reef with okay snorkelling off the beach - although the reef seems further from the beach heading north (Loh Bakeo and Laem Thong).

The daytrips see some okay snorkelling - I remember Maya Bay was interesting in the 90s although I don't know how well it has endured the tourist deluge since that movie.

Speedboat daytrippers snorkelling the east coast of Phi Phi Ley in November 2012.There were several similar spots down this coast.

I also got some fairly good snorkelling while visiting Bamboo Island on an around Phi Phi longtail boat trip last century.

Phi Phi has several good dive sites around the island and nearby and a number of dive outfits in town and at least one at Long Beach. I'm not a diver but enthusiasts will know the specialists websites and beginners have good old Google to help.

A repeat of the sentence above. Certainly Phi Phi has no shortage of awesome cliffs for climbers but I've noticed the industry is much more low-key here than at  Krabi's Railay/Ton Sai.

Phi Phi has some nice walking tracks which will give even the fittest a good work out. I went from the western end of Ton Sai beach to Laem Thong in the north-east in 3 hours+  – there are seriously steep slopes along a lot of the paths plus great rainforest, some good viewpoints and lovely beaches – I was worn-out enough to wimp it and get a boat for the return trip.

There are 2 routes – hard and shorter or less hard and longer.
Both leave from the cross-isthmus streets closest to the foot of the eastern highland area. On the Loh Dalum side the cross street starts behind the restaurants/bars on the beach just down from Viewpoint resort. From the Ton Sai side turn inland just over the headland from the eastern end of Ton Sai beach, go up past the mosque and behind the rather big, steep hill in the east of town.

I modified this Google Earth image to show approximately where the 2 Viewpoint routes leave. 80%+ of the town is in the section east of the street from the pier across to Loh Dalum. I haven't tried to show all the streets in town, just the main routes from the pier area to the start of the treks.
Don't be too anal here - my first visit I just wandered around in the far east end of town until I found signs pointing to the VIEWPOINTS.

*hard and shorter: this starts closer to Loh Dalum. Look for the VIEWPOINT sign on the street leading uphill near the water reservoir. This is a fairly steep hill with lots of accommodation – a few hundred meters up you will see another VIEWPOINT SIGN to the left, where very soon some seriously steep stairs (what I call heart-breaker category and I’m pretty fit) lead up to the FIRST VIEWPOINT in around 10 minutes.
Something new to me latest trip -some dudes (the landowners surely) have set up a fee booth just short of the viewpoint where you will be hit for 50baht.

To move on to the SECOND VIEWPOINT which is more panoramic stick to the left past the first – a moderately steep path will get you there after about 400m.

The THIRD VIEWPOINT is much further, another 10 to 15 minutes. Look for the communications towers at the highest point of the eastern highland. Go around the right side of the second viewpoint’s restaurant and you will find the path undulates across the top of the highland here. After about 5 minutes it reaches what I call the cross-roads (or maybe cross tracks) – turn left here and follow the signs to TOP VIEWPOINT along a track wide enough for motorcycles. This track becomes steep in parts but not heartbreaking.

View to the north-east from the TOP VIEWPOINT - that's Bamboo Island (right) and Mosquito Island close by. If you click to expand this shot you can see the Krabi coast and islands between them, the entrance to Phang Nga Bay to their left and Ko Yao Noi far left.
There is a restaurant and even some accommodation at the Top Viewpoint, but when I called by in April 2012 they didn't seem to be operating, with a sign "UNSAFE" on the restaurant deck.

*less hard and longer: this starts another 300m closer to the Ton Sai side of the cross-isthmus route. Once again you have a VIEWPOINT sign pointing up a road to the left – you will see the old dam on the left after a few hundred meters. This road is wider and in the lower section has a bunch of motorcycles parked at the side (these are not allowed any further into town) because it is the main road that leads into the eastern highland area (to the new dam, the new high village, the 3rd viewpoint and on an offshoot to Long Beach) so plenty of people come into town from these places.
To get to the 2nd and 1st viewpoints, turn left at the cross roads/cross tracks mentioned before.  It will take over 20 minutes to get to the cross roads/tracks – a few steep slopes but no heartbreakers.
To get to the 3rd viewpoint go straight ahead at the cross roads/tracks as detailed before.

2 main routes from town to the viewpoints and central east coast beaches (of which see below). The 750m is the length of the scale line, not height which is abt 350m at the top viewpoint.

To Ao Toh Koh, Ao Rantee, Had Pak Nam/Relax Bay
The shortest route is to go via the 1st and 2nd viewpoints to the cross roads/tracks where you will see signs to the 3 beaches going more or less straight ahead at various angles. See map above. 
The 3 tracks lead downhill thru very good rainforest on at times quite steep slopes. From memory the one to Rantee is the shortest at around  20 minutes, Ao Toh Koh 25 and Pak Nam which is a fair bit north around 30. I'd suggest no flip flops on this downhill section - lotsa tree roots and occasional stones. Pretty steep in sections coming out.
If you are lugging a bag from town, the longer route up past the old dam is easier, turn right at the cross roads/tracks. Personally I would not lug a bag all this way (and I travel light) – I would jump on a longtail.

To Loh Bakeo
If you follow the path starting on the sea side of Viewpoint Resort's infinity pool which leads to the new budget/flashpacker resorts on the east coast of Loh Dalum and continue north you will eventually get to Loh Bakeao. You have to climb up thru the northern most- resort to find the continuation of the path. I did this trek in the reverse direction in 2013 and sign-posting when walking that way seemed reasonable (unlike the offshoot to the viewpoints) but I'm not sure how good it is heading north.

There is also apparently a track which goes from the second viewpoint to Loh Bakeo but I’ve never seen it signposted (there are a few tracks leading off to the left there - but note: I did not make it up there latest trip and signposting may have improved). I understand the track goes NORTHWARD along the ridge to the west of the 3rd viewpoint and then descends to the LOH BAKAO/LOH LANA AREA on the mid east coast behind the attractive high-end PP ISLAND VILLAGE - see the oblique Loh Lana Google Earth image up page for the start of the track there. Somewhere on the descent it joins the more direct Ton Sai to Loh Bakeo track. I haven't put this path from the viewpoint on the maps because I'm not sure of its route.

An alternative is to take the track down to Had Pak Nam/Relax Bay. Just past the north end of the beach you will see a path leading up into the bush which short cuts the vee-shaped longer (and difficult above half tide) rock-hopping route. See below.

The track from Relax Bay to Loh Bakeo and the road from Loh Bakeo to Laem Thong (see down page).

To Laem Thong
Get to Loh Bakeo as outlined above. From the north end of the beach walk inland a short distance to take the bridge across the creek and then follow the road which leads along the coast to Laem Thong beach – about 10 to 15 minutes. Route on above map.

To get from town to the lower east coast beaches of Loh Modee and Ao Poh it is best to go via Long Beach. See down page.


It takes maybe 40 minutes for this pleasant walk. At lower tide levels you can walk along the beaches and rock-hop the small headlands fairly easily.

At higher tide levels some of the headland rocks become difficult. Fortunately there are permanent paths over the headlands and signposting is pretty good. You need to go into Bay View Resort – they are used to this and have signs to help you continue and not blunder around the resort (basically stick to the path closest the coast). At the next 2 small beaches take the paths leading up over the headlands – the last one goes thru pretty good rainforest for about 10 minutes, past a branch to the right leading to Viking’s sweet little beach, and descends to the far western end of Long Beach near the sand by a very steep but thankfully short slope with helper ropes. This last rainforest section had lights strung up last time I walked it to help people coming back from town after a night out, but I would catch a longtail at such times (they run into the early hours, at a cost) – and I always carry a torch regardless.


From the far eastern end of Long Beach take the paved road up the steep hill thru The Beach resort. The unpaved track to Ao Poh goes off directly to the right maybe 300m up this hill. It takes another 5 minutes to reach Ao Poh, not too steep. See map below.


If you continue on from the Ao Poh track junction you will soon come to the peak of the saddle where you will see a sea gypsy bungalow village to the right of the road (these people used to live directly behind Long Beach in the 90s – where The Beach resort is now located). If you walk down thru the near side of this village you will see the track descending to wonderful Loh Modee beach below – about 5 minutes, steep in parts but not heart-breaking.

Long Beach to Ao Poh and Loh Modee. As seen you can continue to the new dam and village and further north to the cross-tracks and viewpoint or back to town by the high route down past the old dam - more down page.
I haven't got the coastal route from past Viking into Long Beach on this map.
BTW Google Earth's image is a disgrace - the dam and village have been there since at least 2005 and yet they don't appear (I constructed this map in June 2012)- plus much of Thailand's third most visited island after Phuket and Samui is obscured by wet season cloud. Seems Google Earth is more concerned with naked chicks on roofs in Amsterdam and street views of your hacienda. 
UPDATE MARCH 2013 - on my latest pass by the dam I found the track now passes on the NORTHERN side.         

By sticking to the road up thru The Beach resort past the sea gypsy village you will reach the new dam in 10-15 minutes. See map above. The road turns left to head towards Ton Sai via the highland behind the southern beaches and down past the old dam - - very close past this turn you need to branch right to head up to the cross roads/tracks and then on to your respective destination as outlined up page. I’d say Long Beach to cross roads/tracks maybe 25 minutes, steep out of Long Beach but not heart-breaking, moderate to the cross roads/tracks.
Note you can detour around the new dam to the new high village.

2010 shot of new high village area built with tsunami relief funds - still with 20% spare capacity. When I first went up here in 2007 the village was only part full. By April 2012 there were only a few vacant houses.

The new dam high behind Long Beach/Loh Modee in the island's south east. This is a June 2010 shot - 2 months into wet season but less than 5% capacity. Better cut down on those long hot showers all you dudes at Phi Phi Cabana.

Note you can can rock-hop and beach walk all the way to Loh Bakeo at lower tide levels from Long Beach (although short-cutting across the saddle to Loh Modee as in the map above saves a heap of time) – but this becomes very difficult, maybe impossible for some at higher tide levels.

Dry season which is usually somewhere between mid-late November and mid April-early May is the best bet. I prefer the shoulder season in this period which ends in mid December and starts towards the end of March, to miss the overcrowding of high season, although Phi Phi is popular all year.

Phi Phi is a good wet season island, not because it is appreciably drier than other Andaman places but in that its east coast is nicely sheltered from the prevailing westerlies which get blowy and unpleasant 15-20% of days. A lot of the spit is is sheltered by the high western plateau too.
So what is PP weather like in wet season? My visits in June and August have shown the usual combination – many days a mix of cloud/showers/storms and sunny patches, some days cloudless, a few days where it rained more often than not but these were not a write-off with some nice sunshine.
A plus of low season is that prices ease a bit, particularly for flashpacker, mid range and top range joints on the booking sites like, Agoda etc. Just as well because Phi Phi accommodation if seriously high compared to other places in high season.

Wet season on Ao Toh Koh - this was taken on my August 2007 trip towards the end of a 2 hour sunny period on one of the few days where it rained more often than not in the fortnight we spent in the PP-Phuket area. There were several other sunny periods in the day. All the shots on my PHI PHI NEWPAPER ARTICLE page were shot in this period - one which the newspapers were calling one of the wettest for several years. There is lots of sunshine in those shots.
A problem with east coast locations is that the steep forested hillside behind the beaches blocks warnings of approaching weather which in wet season comes from the west. Just after taking the above shot I took off for a hike to the viewpoints. Half way up the 20 minute climb on the jungle track it started to rain. Then it poured! For at least an hour. They don't call it rainfrorest for nothing.

Same visit - Long Beach. Relatively calm in this pic but Long Beach catches the westerlies unlike the sheltered east coast and on more blustery days the water was quite choppy - Lady Tezza had an exciting time landing after a longtail trip from town at that pontoon down the beach. The pontoon seems to be brought out in wet season only - in dry season the longtails nose into the beach and it is easy to hop out/in in the calm conditions. Note relative lack of people - a low season plus. Long Beach is very popular in high season. Another low season plus is lower prices - we got a good deal on a beachfront chalet at Paradise Resort.

Euro backpacker learns the finer points of body surfing in wet season  Long Beach shore-break. Recovery tip - buy shovel, wait for low tide, look for feet sticking out of sand. 
Just kidding - it wasn't as gnarly as this. But on quite a few days the longtail drivers weren't keen on landing on the beach - insisted on using the floating pontoon pier. In dry season there is not a ripple here (image - ASL)

These are some of the more common questions I’ve answered on travellers’ websites over the years:

*WHAT’S THE NICEST BEACH TO STAY AT ON PHI PHI? – that’s a hell of a question because it depends so much on individual preferences. But for nice sand and water I’d be giving it to Loh Bakeo with Laem Thong not far behind. But if you want a neat little beach backdropped by steep rainforested slopes with one nice flashpacker joint, Pak Nam/Relax Bay would be hard to beat. 
The downside of all these is they are isolated - Long Beach is the nicest beach within easy reach of town but some people may find the intimacy of Viking's tiny beach a few minutes closer to town a winner.

*I WANT A QUIET BEACH AT PHI PHI – any of the east coast beaches would do the trick. Ditto the south coast beaches east of town, even popular Long Beach – last time I stayed at Long Beach none of the places was providing entertainment at night although some people have complained of longtail noise as people come back from town. I could just hear some background music noise when I stayed at Viking latest trip and my far-western bungalow was nearly a km closer to town than Viking's main beach.
Close to town that nice section of Ton Sai beach right down the far western end was pretty quiet at night when I stayed there. 

*I WANT A QUIET AREA IN TOWN. Good luck. I’d be looking at the places up around Soi Viewpoint and the old dam. Ingphu Viewpoint overlooking the dam wasn’t particularly noisy when I stayed in April 2012 although I could hear the distant thump thump of bass from the bars on the eastern end of Loh Dalum beach. 

*I WANT A BEACH WITH GOOD SNORKELLING OFF THE SAND – I’d be looking at the east coast beaches with Long Beach a good backup. 

* I WANT AN INEXPENSIVE PLACE TO STAY. Good luck – as said Phi Phi is seriously expensive. The cheapest places are probably the dorms at The Rock and Phi Phi Backpacker in town. Nomads on Long Beach wanted 600 for a dorm bed in March 2013. 
For a cheap room/bungalow I’d be looking up on the steep slopes around Soi Viewpoint in town. 
Phi Phi Hill was cheaper than most beach places the two times I’ve stayed but I haven’t checked its website lately. 
I have no idea which mid range or better joint is best value but as already mentioned, these places are seriously discounted on mass booking sites in low season. 

*I ARRIVE ON AN AFTERNOON FLIGHT AT PHUKET. DO I HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO MAKE THE LAST FERRY? IF NOT, CAN I GET A SPEEDBOAT? The last ferry leaves at 1430 – the pier is 35km from the airport (40 minutes at least by taxi that time of day) and you need more time to clear the airport. Hopefully your flight is on schedule. 
Speedboats are always available for charter but they will cost a bomb unless you are a big group who can split the cost - and I would hesitate to catch a speedboat in wet season and early dry season when the seas can get quite rough. There is more info on transport to the islands including speedboats in the GETTING THERE section below. 

*I’M FLYING FROM BANGKOK – WHAT'S BETTER, VIA KRABI OR PHUKET? The Krabi ferry is slightly shorter in time, the cost roughly equal last time I used both, last ferry departure time is equal,  Krabi pier is closer to the airport (say 15-20 minutes by taxi vs 35-40 at Phuket but not necessarily cheaper to reach – the Krabi taxi mafia are venal. Krabi gets fewer flights and fewer discounted flights than Phuket. 

*I’M GOING FROM PHI PHI TO SAMUI/PHANGAN/TAO. VIA KRABI OR PHUKET? Via Krabi is shorter. You can fly from both to Samui but Phuket has way more flights. There is no shortage of bus or van connections from either, but most of the combination ferry/bus/ferry tickets sold on the island are via Krabi. Take note of the warnings about Phi Phi Family Company transfers Phi Phi to the southern Gulf via Krabi in the GETTING THERE section.


From Phuket - travel agents and accommodation travel desks at the beaches and Phuket town can sell you a ferry ticket which usually includes shuttle bus to the Rasada pier near Phuket town. There is a morning and afternoon ferry. See timetable link.
It may pay to shop around - before my 2010 trip travel forums were talking of 500-600baht trips but Phuket Backpackers' sold me a 400baht ticket including transport to pier. 
Often tickets at the pier are dearer than town/beach ticket sellers for some reason (yep, in April 2012 the ticket at the pier was 600 - a guy told me he got one for 350 including shuttle van at Patong. In March 2013 I paid 500 at Phuket Backpackers including shuttle to the pier).
Note prices vary between sellers on Phi Phi for return trips also. In June 2010 I got a 250 baht ticket to Krabi which was 300 at other sellers - this despite a news-break some time back saying the Krabi governor had given ferrry companies permission to increase prices to 400. Maybe a low season thing or maybe they are responding to quiet economic times.

Scrum of ferries at Phuket's Rasada pier April 2012- spot the Russian. That big flash job departing in background appeared to be a daytrippers' special (2013 -yep, and also takes guests around to Laem Thong resorts - see pic of Royal Jet Cruises boat down page)

Taking it easy on the ferry out of Phuket, wet season 2010

Speedboats also do daytrips and you could probably pay to hitch a ride.
A private chartered speedboat if you are too late for the last ferry is expensive - In 2010 I saw a quote of 1400baht per person, but I don't know what the minimum number of people is. However, this included car from the airport to the pier and delivery to the east coast hotels (which costs a bomb from the Phi Phi pier), so for higher end travelers, it may be the way to go.
UPDATE - there is info on speedboat charters on this website.
Note I am not a fan of speedboats over longer distances in rough weather. You are most likely to get rough/choppy seas in wet season and early dry season (Nov/early Dec). On nice days which can occur in these periods a speedboat trip can be serene and save lots of time.

Don’t think about doing this long bumpy trip in a long tail. It also would cost a bomb, be wet and uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. I doubt you could find a driver to do it these days.
Note that the super flash Phi Phi Island Resort takes guests from Phuket by speedboat. I'm not sure if this is only for guests who miss Royal Jet Cruises departure.

Tigerline now run a service from Phuket to Phi Phi and then southwards all the way to Langkawi in Malaysia. Their boats are faster and more expensive than the normal ferries - the morning boat leaves Phuket earlier than the others and I think the return afternoon boat leaves Phi Phi later. Tigerline does not run in low season. There is a link to the website down page.

For people heading to Phi Phi's more expensive east coast locations, there is one Phuket ferry which continues from the Ton Sai pier around to the east coast for people heading that way. LeighTravel recently told me this:
"The Andaman Wavemaster ferries make two stops after Tonsai Bay. First at Loh Bagao (Bakeo) for Island Village and then at Laem Tong for the four resorts there. At each of the two second stops, the ferry anchors in the bay and longtails from the various resorts come and collect their guests".
Leigh then went on to say:
"Private transfer from Phuket to anywhere on Phi Phi is easilly arranged, but it's not cheap. We normally use this method. For our last from airport to Rassada Pier, then speedboat to Holiday Inn.....14,000baht!Expensive I know, but, airport to our bungalow.....around 90 minutes. For us....well worth it."
Leigh says their Laem Tong resort organised this.

Andaman Wave Masters' Royal Jet Cuises boat waiting off Laem Thong for departing guests and day-trippers who have spent some time on the beach. The smaller boat behind was a dive boat - came in from the direction of Bamboo Island background-right.

There was also a a seaplane service - not cheap but awesome views. UPDATE Actually Leigh Travel who is a bit of an upmarket-PP expert, reckons the seaplane was not too reliable, tending to cancel flights when the sea gets choppy UPDATE OF UPDATE (2010) - I understand the seaplane service has not run for some time - I'll leave the info up here in case someone revives the service.

From Phuket Airport - KEVIN CORR gave this info: "Get the cheap 150 baht minbus from the airport to Phuket town. From town buy a ticket for the boat which includes the taxi ride to the pier. Tickets at the pier/boat cost more than in town and you will have also paid taxi fare from town. When the bus stops at a travel agency on the way to Phuket town, do not talk to, or do business with these touts. Just get back on the bus to Phuket town and go to a travel agency down town near the night street market, shoping center or from a hotel or guest house, all of which have the boat tickets including taxi to the pier."

There is also an airport bus which runs hourly between 0630 and abt 2000 for 95baht. This goes to the bus station near central Phuket town. Takes about 60-70 minutes - . There are travel agencies across the street & around the block there which can sell you a ferry ticket with shuttle to the pier.

QUICKEST FROM AIRPORT - You could also catch a taxi from the airport to the pier- a cab should be around aroound 600 baht (2013). Time about 40 minutes depending on traffic - OR- the limo counters at the airport can bung on a car or private van starting around 700baht. I have a link on my Phuket page for latest limo prices.

UPDATE 2013 - one plus of Phi Phi's increasing popularity is better transport links. It seems quite a few of the ferry companies are now offering free or low cost transfers from the airport to the Phuket piers.

I shot this at a trip counter in Ton Sai - March 2013. That later hi-speed ferry could be handy for some. It probably is Tigerline. Note most services also include free transfers back to the main beaches. Some are doing the airport these days although there may be a small charge - Andaman Wave Master was charging 100baht which is way under approx 600 for a taxi.

From Krabi town - morning and afternoon ferries leave from the pier a few km out of central Krabi town. Travel agents and accomm places in town can sell you a ticket usually with free pickup to the pier.
See timetable link below.
To get from Krabi airport to the pier involves a fixed price taxi at a rip-off 350 baht (about 15-20 minutes). There is a minivan for between the airport and the pier which was unreliable for some years but now seems to be running regularly. You could walk the couple of hundred meters to the highway and flag down a songthaew on the opposite side into Krabi town, but you may have quite a wait.

From Ao Nang/Railay/Ton Sai - a morning ferry leaves Ao Nang, picks passengers up off long tails in the bay adjacent Railay/Ao Nang and cruises on to Phi Phi. I have an idea there may now also be an afternoon ferry - see timetable link below.

From Ko Lanta - two slow ferries a day come across from Lanta. Tigerline fast ferry makes an afternoon run. No ferries in low season. See timetable link. 
UPDATE - Pon told me a longtail between Phi Phi and Lanta for low season trips costs around 3500 - that was in August 07 so would be more now. I would be leery about taking this longish trip in a longtail in wet season - it could be rough, wet and possibly dangerous. But some wet season days can be benign.
The inexpensive low season way to do this trip is the minibus out of Lanta via the vehicle punts to Krabi and then the ferry. A real early minibus would probably make the morning ferry.

From Ko Jum - starting high season 2011-12 a ferry now runs between the two islands. But when I visited in April 2012 (late shoulder season) it had already shut down. Let's hope there's enough people to support this service in coming seasons because the alternative is a minimum of 2 ferry trips via Krabi or Lanta and a ferry-van-longtail trip via Krabi in low season. 
UPDATE - running when I visited Jum in Feb 2013.

.From Phangan/Samui/Tao in one Day
This question and its reverse trip gets asked lots of times on the travel forums. Poster english_dave gave this answer in April 08:
"'P.P.Family' - I think this is the only company that does the full trip in one day.Phangan - Phi Phi - leave at 7am from Thong Sala, Arrive Phi Phi at 3:30pm - cost = 700bahtPhi Phi - Phangan - leaves at 9am, Arrive Phangan about 6pm - cost = 800baht.Pretty much any travel agency in Phi Phi or Phangan will be able to arrange these tickets for you."

I think PP Family can do it from Samui/Tao in a day too.
A small caveat here. There have been lots of complaints of thefts from luggage in the underbus storage area of coaches put on by private travel companies between Krabi and Surathani (and KSR and Surathani) So to be safe don't leave any valuables in your luggage - have them in your carry pack in the cabin.
Maybe a BIG caveat - PP Family probably gets more complaints than any other regular Thai transport operator - not only for underbus thefts but for time wasting and general lack of care - travelfish advises against them. 

I'm sure there are now other companies who can offer a combined daily ticket between the two areas. The trouble is, you don't know WHICH COMPANY you are dealing with when you get a ticket at a small travel agent or your accommodation. They may assure you it's not PP Family but I wouldn't put a lot of faith in that.
Note that PP Family own a lot of the ferries out of PP - I've never had any problems on just the ferries.

Catching the night ferry to Surathani the previous pm from Tao/Phangan or Samui assures you will make the afternoon PP ferry from Krabi - maybe even the morning ferry
In the reverse direction I reckon if you catch the first ferry out of PP and the normal Surathani-Krabi minibus from Krabi (see the travel agents at the pier) or a bigger bus from Krabi bus station you would make Samui or Phangan in one day. The last of the big vehicle ferries leaves Don Sak around 1430. 
If you are running late there are always the night ferries to all 3 islands (but check the one for Tao is running) from the town pier in Surathani about 2230-2300. These get in around 0500-0530 next morning.

From Southern Andaman Islands - Tigerline is running ferries from Ko Llipe, via the pier at Hat Yao south of Trang near Ko Libong, the Trang islands and Lanta to Phi Phi. This goes on to Phuket. The service often starts in Lankawi south of Lipe.  Details can be seen on their website
Note Tigerline is a dry season operation only, and is often a bit slow in starting up each year.
On the top deck of Tigerline at Ko Lanta on a trip from Lipe to Phi Phi.

From Yao Yai/Yao Noi - I read recently that a high season speedboat service had started up between these relatively nearby islands but have not heard anything else. Accommodation on the Yaos and travel agents on Phi Phi will be up to date. Otherwise the quickest route is back via Phuket.
UPDATE - nope, no longer runs when I asked at Phi Phi in 2013. But I was later sitting on the Ao Nang to Yao Noi/Yao Yai speedboat at Krabi's Nopporat pier when the bigger morning ferry from Phi Phi arrived - several passengers transferred across to out boat which seemed to delay its departure slightly for them.

Updated ferry shedule to and from Phi Phi to other locations. Plus quite a few other nearby routes.


Note I travel light (carry on) and never packed a camera before the super-compact digital – therefore I have no shots of places pre 2007. I had no intention of starting a blog back in the day.

On my very first trip to PP in  the mid-90s I stayed at Paradise Pearl on Long Beach. At that time this place was bigger – encompassing both the present area plus what is now Blue Sky Resport and Paradise Resort. It was more backpacker/flashpacker then. I remember it was a pretty nice place to stay. My non-beachfront bungalow was in the western section fairly close to the headland across to Viking – it no longer exists. 
Long Beach had only one other place, budget Long Beach Bungalows which is now Nomad’s. Nevertheless the beach was very popular attracting crowds of people from town each day. The daytrip industry from Phuket and Krabi was not a big deal back then

Pre tsunami I returned twice. Needing a cheap place near town, I took the advice of 2 wild young ladies on Lanta and stayed at Sunsmile on the north-western end of the Ton Sai/Loh Dalum isthmus first visit – I returned there the next year simply because I wanted a cheap place for a few nights en-route to islands further south without wasting time finding somewhere new. 
Sunsmile was basic and noisy (it was next to the town power station where a big diesel generator thumped away 24/7) but it was clean, dirt cheap and only a 10 minute walk from the pier and town.
The place was flattened by the tsunami – when I went back all I found was a toilet pedestal. The only evidence of the power station was a big concrete block the generator was bolted to.

In 2005 I stayed at PP Hill high on the eastern headland above Long Beach. This place had inexpensive but spacious fan bungalows on the sunrise side with vegetation-interrupted views towards Ko Jum and Lanta, one of which I grabbed - and more expensive but similar looking fan and aircon joints on the sunset side with good views over Long Beach and towards the cliffs of the eastern highlands behind Ton Sai Bay.  The restaurant had even better views (maybe the best restaurant views on Phi Phi) including towards Phi Phi Ley. And good bargain priced food.
A  signpost to “SMALL BEACH” was just behind the restaurant – it takes you down a steep track to a very tiny sheltered beach in a small cove between Long Beach and Ao Poh.
You can short cut the walk to Loh Modee from Phi Phi Hill by taking a track from the northern-most sunset bungalow into the rainforest , turn left, turn right.
In 2006 I returned to Phi Phi Hill. I usually like to try different joints but I got turned off at the ridiculous prices Viking,  Ao Poh and the places down on Long Beach wanted – PP Hill was still the same lower price of the previous year (I think we are talking 650 v the others’ 1000+ in high season for a similar standard. Hey, Maphrao had tents for 450!).
I PAID PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO SERVICE in view of the comments by some reviewers on travelfish since my previous stay. Looks like the staff at the Hill had responded to the criticism, because it was particularly good in the restaurant. Lots of staff at peak times, menus were delivered quickly, orders taken promptly and the wait for food was not overlong, which was one criticism I had last visit. Only one time did they not have something I ordered, a pineapple juice. I also found the head girl pretty efficient. The manager guy is a bit taciturn at times, but all smiley at others.
My bungalow didn’t rock and roll, one reviewer’s criticism, although it was starting to show signs of some wear and tear. There seemed to be a shortage of chairs for the big verandahs and I noticed the verandahs did not have an extended roof to sit and check the scene during one of the several rainstorms.
The stairway was quite solid (another guest criticism), but here I must comment: it is a pretty decent climb up from the beach and for the overweight or unfit could cloud their judgement about the whole place.
I returned for a meal in April 2012. Prices were still very reasonable. The restaurant’s lower deck views were reduced a bit by growing trees as was the upper restaurant area from a roof built over the luggage escalators' top landing – but the outlook is still outstanding. The steps had been rebuilt in sections with more permanent concrete and bricks and somehow the gradient had been reduced. However it is still a decent climb. Bungalows looked the same although the cheapest outside bathroom ones had been shut down. Before writing this I checked reviews on Trip Advisor  - they agreed with me about food prices and said rooms were still less expensive than most but basic.
Note Phi Phi Hill has shut down over low season in past years. In June 2012 the website’s mention of this is dated 2010 so I don’t know what the current situation is.

This shot from Phi Phi Hill's website is way better than my pic from the same area up page.

In August 2007 I brought Lady Tezza on her first visit to Thailand and took advantage of low season discounts to get one of the beachfront bungalows at Paradise Resort. This was an okay option, comfortable, in reasonable condition, great beach outlook and Phi Phi Ley views. 

Nice outlook from the front patio of our beachside bungalow.

Paradise Resort's restaurant was closed for the low season but nearby Paradise Pearl’s beachfront restaurant was very good and had similar views to above.
Note my particular bungalow on the western end of Paradise Resort is now part of Blue Sky Resort which was getting some scathing reports on user sites. I usually ignore one or two bad reviews because some people are impossible to please, but I’d be checking the latest before booking if I were you.

After our stay at Paradise Resort we jumped a longtail around to Toh Koh Resort on the east coast. Got a huge bungalow at 800 which was reasonable value. Food and service in the restaurant was very good. I have a report on the Phi Phi newspaper article page here.

Chez tezza at Toh Koh Resort.

Note that Toh Koh Resort has also a fair few negative reviews on the user sites since my visit. Another worth checking before you book.
I called back for a quick visit in April 2012 – some new beachfront fan bungalows, food a bit more expensive than average, Pon has gone to Bangkok and the joint was being managed by her sister in law. They managed to miscalculate my food bill in their favour and seemed surprised someone could add it up mentally quicker and more accurately than their calculator.
But the killer is current bungalow pricing. Google the website and gasp. Makes the superior Relax Resort further north look good.

New "Beach Front Bamboo Fan Bungalows" - 2800b in high season, 1800 in low season (2012). Strewth!

My  2010 visit saw me looking for the cheap backpackers’ Rock Climbing Bungalows established post tsunami at the nice far western end of Ton Sai beach. But it had been replaced by several new joints – the least expensive of which was Sand Sea View which was  quite okay and reasonable value. I have more info and pix in the TRIP REPORTS section.
I returned for a look in April 2012 – reception told me the non-beachfront fan bungalow I had was now 1200 baht, a bit of an ask for what is late shoulder season. But as I have said, Phi Phi is expensive. 

In March2013 I called by Sand Sea View and noticed they had some new bungalows on the western side.

On the April 2012 trip I wanted somewhere on the slopes on the eastern edge of town, an area I’ve never stayed before. I found Phi Phi Ingphu Viewpoint on one of the mass booking sites with fan bungalows at a reasonable price. This joint is built on a ridiculously steep slope overlooking the old dam – I asked for an upper bungalow to make sure I had views, but the climb up there is a killer and not recommended for the unfit. It’s a fair haul with some decent slopes to reception from the pier too.
Nice restaurant with fairly good value food overlooking the dam and the smallish but sweet swimming pool. Service very good. I’ve put more info and pix in the TRIP REPORT section.

My top row bungalow had pretty nice views of distant Ton Sai Bay and the western highland, similar views of  Loh Dalum Bay and the backing cliffs. However the big hill in the east of town blocked views of town and the isthmus.

In March 2013 I intended to stay at Relax Resort until I noticed booking site prices were more competitive at the refurbished Viking and user-reports were positive. The latter has a much more central position for checking the rest of the island so I went for it. I'll do a Trip Report when I get a chance.

Large patio of my somewhat funky Viking hillside duplex bungalow - but 8 minutes walk to the resort's main beach and reception/restaurant. Yep, refurbished Viking has certainly expanded.

One must is Relax Resort on the east coast. Nice beach in my favourite Phi Phi area and this joint gets consistently good reports on the user sites. It's flashpacker bungalows are not cheap but nearby Toh Koh Resort is starting to make it look good – and I saw a very attractive rate on one of the mass-booking sites for shoulder season April 2012.

For lower midrange I’ve always fancied Phi Phi Viewpoint (not Ingphu Viewpoint) close to but not in town overlooking Loh Dalum Beach. See rim pool shot up page. But I’m now thinking this place may be way too close to the loud music from the east Loh Dalum beach bars at night.
So I’m starting to think Bay View east of town but not too far out with equally good views may be the go.

If money was no problem I’d be thinking of Phi Phi Island Village on the east coast’s Loh Bakeao or one of the class places up on Laem Thong in the north east.
Phi Phi Cabana past the west end of town looks pretty swish. I wonder what the noise situation is like?
Down a step is Phi Phi the Beach on Long Beach – although if I went back to Long Beach I might go down another step to Paradise Pearl which looks pretty good these days. Here’s something interesting – Paradise Pearl is owned by the Phi Phi Family Company gets a lot of complaints re their transfers to Samui, Phangan and Tao. Judging by appearance and user reviews they know how to run a resort.

View from the upper bungalows of Phi Phi the Beach resort built up the hill at the east end of Long Beach.
Note most bungalows have killer slopes to access although luggage is brought up on Golf buggies on arrival.

 - I always recommend's free online guides to Phi Phi and other Thai locations, but I have just read their new inexpensive Phi Phi travel guide which is totally excellent and way more up-to-date and complete than the big selling guide books.

- The people at Leigh Travel Club are frequent visitors to PP and specialise in the Laem Thong area - they have some good stuff here.


If you visit Phi Phi Don you might also be interested in nearby:



If you have extra information or see mistakes please post them below. For any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.

Frequent readers may have noticed how I like to end pages with a sunset shot. I was wandering around the east end of Long Beach a bit after 1800 and noticed a babe with a flash SLR set up on a tripod pointing across Ton Sai Bay towards the sun sinking towards the western highland. I figured she might be on to something so I hung around.

You can find more Phi Phi info in the READERS' TRIP REPORT section accessed via the main Index. You are welcome to send in a trip report - just a few pix with captions will do. More details in the Trip Report section



Zaya Benazzo said...

We are two families with 2 kids (8 years old) and we are looking to stay in one of the islands we a turn where to go. We are looking for something more secluded, rustic bungalows, more nature less tourists and great snorkeling. We are leaving in a week and we haven't made any reservations. Any advice is highly appreciated!!!
Thank you,

tezza said...

Ah hell, THE FORUM is the place for these questions on account I check individual pages so infrequently.

Too late for Zaya, but for other people after similar, east coast of Phi Phi is the go - more rustic bungalows at Ao Toh Koh, Rantee, and the oft-praised Relax. Could also consider Ao Poh, but I haven't personally checked the snorkelling.

Quite a few other Thailand options meet this ask, but I'll confine this to Phi Phi.

Haripreet said...

Great blog. Am from Singapore and going with my gf and she is from Spain and i know Thailand well though never been to Phi Phi. She has only been to Singapore once, so she doesnt really know the real asia. I want her get a good taste, and want her see the typical thai beach bars on the sand with the cushions and etc. Am thinking staying in-between Tonsai and Loh Dalum for the night bars and etc, is it easy to walk over to Long Beach or Ao Toh Koh as the beaches there seem to have better reviews. Alternatively thinking staying on this lower eastern side as its more quieter and better chances of finding a nice hut over looking the sea, but dont want miss out the night fun around tonsai. What would you recommend. Main question is, is it easy getting from the Ao toh Koh/Long beach to Tonsai even at night!!!
Appreciate your response

Ray said...

Hi Tezza,

your blog is so useful and I find it very informative but there is still so much choice and I am really looking for some advise. I hope you dont mind with a bit of advice.

We are both in our 30's, we are doing a 16 day holiday over christmas and new years in thailand. We have both been before and mainly toured the eastern islands like Koh Tao and Pangang. We are doing the western islands now.

Initially we decided to stay in the Holiday Inn, Phuket over christmas time, then 5 nights in Koh Lanta, The Houben over new years and decided on the Holiday Inn, Phi Phi for the last 4 nights.

We are looking for great beaches, upmarket accomodation and good nightlife as in a variety of restaurants to choose from.

My only concern of our choices above is Koh Lanta and Phi Phi, are the places we staying in to isolated?

Can you recommend anywhere else on Phi Phi or Lanta that will not feel so isolated?

Backpacking Southeast Asia said...

Hey! great blog - the photo from the 1980s is very interesting! I am planning on going back to thailand and Phi Phi next year hopefully, it will be interesting to see how much it has changed since I first went there in 2008.

Apparently there has been quite a bit of development so it will be interesting to see how the beaches look now that they are full of beach bars...

Ryan Eskridge said...

so helpful, thank you for taking the time to do this!

milson smith said...

You made several good points there. I did a search on the issue and found a good number of people will agree with your blog.

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