You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about Koh Phi Phi and I’m guessing most of it has been negative. Koh Phi Phi is the perfect example of a Thai island paradise gone crazy, changed forever by ruthless developers and too many tourists. So then, should you go to Koh Phi Phi? I’ll try and help you answer that question!
The Town (Ton Sai Bay)
There are several islands which make up the Koh Phi Phi archipelago, but Koh Phi Phi Don is the only one which is inhabited. The main town (where the ferries will drop you) isn’t too bad – it’s basically just streets and streets of restaurants, bars and shops which all sell the same stuff (if you’re looking for a beer singlet you’ve come to the right place) and hotels/guesthouses. It’s actually quite an interesting place to wander for a while but it wouldn’t be the most peaceful town to spend your Thai beach vacation, which leads me to the biggest problem with Koh Phi Phi Don…
Koh Phi Phi Don’s beaches aren’t anyone’s idea of tropical paradises (at least the ones close to town aren’t). When the tide is low they look quite awful, a problem not unique to Koh Phi Phi (if you’ve been to Tonsai Bay in Krabi you’ll know what I mean). Considering accommodation is quite expensive (and you’d be lucky to get a sea view) it really makes no sense staying on Koh Phi Phi Don if you’re on a budget and beaches are a priority. There are apparently better beaches further from town, but according to the (small amount) of research I did, staying there seems to be out of most backpacker’s price range. If you’ve got the funds to splash out on a resort, definitely look into Koh Phi Phi Don’s outer beaches.
READ MORE: Looking for a quiet beach paradise in Thailand? Check out these best beaches on Koh Kood.
The best thing to do in Koh Phi Phi Don (in my opinion) is the climb to the viewpoint above town. From there you can see the town and the twin beaches, and just like some people, they look a lot better from a distance (I’m sure if you looked at the view while drunk it’d look even better). Getting to the viewpoints involves a fairly exhausting climb but it doesn’t take too long – you’ll also have to pay a small entrance fee.
Maya Bay AKA “The Beach”
A short boat ride away lies the far more pristine Koh Phi Phi Leh and its film star beach. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie by now and if you’re in the area it’d be crazy not to get a glimpse of this amazing beach (but you can’t at the moment!). The only problem is that everyone wants to see it which means it gets really busy. At times we could barely see the beach because it was dripping with tourists, but unlike a lot of people who go there and complain about the crowds, we knew what to expect and managed to enjoy it for what it is – a really, really nice (but very popular) beach. You can’t stay on Koh Phi Phi Leh, which leads nicely to my conclusion.
READ MORE: Read about why Maya Bay has been closed indefinitely!
Go to Koh Phi Phi on a day trip
In my opinion, the best way to see these 2 contrasting islands is to go on a day trip – we did it from Koh Lanta. The tour included a pick up from our guesthouse at Long Beach, ferry to Koh Phi Phi Don and a boat tour to Koh Phi Phi Lei. It only cost us 400 Baht each, around $12 USD, and also included lunch and use of snorkeling equipment. We were back at Long Beach in the late afternoon having seen for ourselves Thailand’s “Paradise Lost”. It’d be easy to listen to people who say that it’s been ruined and there’s no point going there, but both islands have their charms and are definitely worth checking out. Should you stay there for a few nights though…? I wouldn’t – but if you’re young (I’m 30 now and am therefore classed as old) and looking to party I’ve heard it’s a great place to be. If you’re after a relaxing Thai island escape I’d choose Koh Lanta instead and visit Koh Phi Phi on a day trip; just keep your expectations in check and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Now that you’ve read this, will you still go to Koh Phi Phi? Let me know!
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