Phi Phi Islands – What to Do | What *Not* to Do: A Full Travel Guide

About two hours off the coast of Phuket are the Phi Phi Islands baby!

AND ALL THEIR GLORY. Now while they may be “touristy” I didn’t get an overwhelming vibe. I thoroughly enjoyed the time that I spent here and highly recommend going if you are already in Phuket.

Transport:

You have to take the ferry. About 2 hours from Phuket. Really easy, but make sure to get there early so that you can get a good seat outside. The spots fill up quick and if you’re stuck inside you risk sea sickness if you’re prone to that…ew.

It’s really cheap. You can buy tickets there or purchase online. $15 (500 baht) ROUND TRIP. Don’t let them screw you.

Options to take a speed boat too, but it’s more expensive and the ferry is not that long. Take the ferry.

I will say that once you get to the island, unless you are staying in the main town of Tonsai Village that it is a pain to get around. There aren’t really any roads on the island and everywhere is pretty much by boat…long boat, the cute ones with the colorful flowers like so:

Time Spent:

I’d say 2-3 nights on the islands. Some people come literally one night and that’s not even worth going. In my opinion, 3 nights preferably with 3 full days. 2 nights minimum.

Where to Stay:

We stayed at the nicest resort on the island called Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort. It was really nice and cheap as well. We had our own villa with a garden view with breakfast included for only $142/night. They had options for Beachfront sea view villas as well with breakfast included for only $250/night.

SOMETIMES I CAN’T EVEN FIND A COURTYARD MARRIOTT FOR UNDER $200. PUT THAT INTO PERSPECTIVE FOR YA.

5 Star Resort, INCREDIBLE breakfast layout, and your own villa. Great for couples!

There’s a place behind it called Aroy Kaffeine Cafe, and you MUST GO HERE FOR BRUNCH IF YOU STAY HERE. Trendy, cute, vibes, good food. Love it.

I will say that the only thing I didn’t like about this place was that it was a PAIN to get to the main area (Tonsai Village) with the restaurants and nightlife. The resort is on the back side of the island and more secluded and not touristy. You can go hiking all around and watch the sunset; beautiful.

But a pain in the ass to get to the action. You need to take a long boat from the resort which ran us about $20 each way every time. If you are coming back late at night after a night out then it’s more.

And they don’t negotiate much either; I tried.

One night we paid $50 one way just to get back to the resort from the bars. Just something to be aware of…granted you’re splitting it with friends but STILL…pricey as shit.

To be honest if you are a backpacker or traveling with friends, trying to party, and trying to save money as well then I don’t know if I would recommend staying at this hotel. The transport is too expensive.

BUT if you are looking to not go into town everyday and maybe just go out 1 night then it’s amazing. The hotel had activities covered for us. The locals in the main town gave me the impression that they like to take advantage of the tourists financially. The hotel gave us options for scuba diving, etc. all for reasonable prices.

They offered us a private long tail boat for the entire day to go around and see all of the sites including Monkey Island, Maya Bay, Pileh Bay, Bamboo Island, Wang Long Cave, Viking Cave, and some others with snorkeling included all for 45 dollars split 4 ways. So cheap! Our two other friends stayed in the main town and the hotel even told the captain to go and pick them up first free of charge.

Things to Do:

If you are staying on Phi Phi Islands then you CANNOT leave without doing one of the islands tours. I recommend doing a PRIVATE tour so that you can be the judge of how long you want to stay somewhere and when you want to go back etc.

Don’t do a group one. Book the private. You won’t regret it.

TIP: Bring your own portable speaker so you can listen to music. This was so fun and made a big difference. BEST PORTABLE SPEAKER IS THIS ONE HERE. Period. No Questions. JBL Flip, waterproof, reasonable price, and 24k reviews.

Pileh Bay:

Typically on these boat tours you can customize where you want to go. I definitely recommend Pileh Bay. It’s crowded but BEAUTIFUL. So stunning. Huge limestone cliffs, you can swim and snorkel. The water is crystal clear. Play your music and just hang here. We hung out for like 1.5 hours just chilling.

Wang Long Cave:

Okay, it’s not like a REAL cave so I don’t know why they call it that, but it’s definitely worth telling your captain to take you here on your boat tour! Really great snorkeling and you can swim onto the beach. It’s really cool. Beautiful little cove.

Viking Cave – eh:

Viking Cave was underwhelming. You can’t go in it or drive through it; you just kind float in your boat passed it. Not worth it in my opinion to go out of the way for. NEXT!

Monkey Island:

Monkey Island was SO MUCH FUN. Go later in the day (4pm) ish. This is when there are not as many tourists around. Tons of monkeys that have literally zero shame and will just come and jump on you and play with your hair and steal your stuff.

DISCLAIMER: Don’t bring your valuables near the monkeys; they’ll steal them lol. I know from experience.

Maya Bay:

Maya Bay is a place that you’ve probably seen in all the pretty pictures that come up when you google “Phi Phi Island” images.

It’s closed.

Sorry, but all the tourists fucked it up and so they closed it for restoration, which is a GREAT thing. The boat will take you to see it from a few hundreds yards off but you can’t go on the beach.

It’s set to reopen in the middle of 2021 probably with more restrictions to protect the beach and all the coral.

Bamboo Island:

Bamboo Island is probably better to do on its own one day in Phi Phi and not as a part of your island tour. It is a little more out of the way. About 45-an hour from Phi Phi by long boat.

It’s beautiful with white sand beaches and really picturesque. It doesn’t have the huge Limestone cliffs like Pileh Bay. It’s more of a beach day vibe where you can go to relax for the day and snorkel or scuba dive Hin Klang coral reef (book a tour for this if you plan to dive or snorkel).

Mosquito Island:

If you love to scuba dive then I recommend booking a dive to Mosquito Island, which probably has the best diving in the area. Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island are next to each other, so I would recommend booking an early dive at Mosquito Island and then heading to the beach at Bamboo Island to relax and hang for the day. But that’s just me.

I wouldn’t recommend going to Mosquito Island to hang out and chill. It’s a place you dive because the reef and marine life is beautiful. Don’t go chill there unless you love mosquitoes. There’s a reason they call it Mosquito island (especially at sunset).

There are tours where you can do it ALL in one day, but I think that’s excessive. I would recommend doing one day a private long tail boat tour to see the islands. Another day I would recommend an early snorkel or dive at Mosquito island and Hin Klang coral reef and then hanging out at Bamboo Island before heading back for a night out on the town.

Scuba Diving:

If you are scuba certified then I recommend going because it is amazing diving. Marine life galore. Shark Point is particularly cool as a diving spot in Phi Phi. Koh Bida Nok & Koh Bida Nai are also good spots for a nice dive. If you’re going for a night dive (which is SO COOL if you’ve never done it) then it’s going to be Loh Samah Bay.

Highly recommend getting a few dives in here.

Snorkel/Scuba Tip:

One thing that I do recommend doing if you plan to be in the water a lot and you love to scuba dive or snorkel. Bring your own mask.

MY PET PEEVE is a mask that fucking fogs. Oh. My. God. Shoot me.

The masks that they provide on tours or from the hotels are shitty and they fog badly. If you have the room and you aren’t going on a 6-month expedition where space in the bag is limited then check out this mask here. It’s full faced, which is what I got when I was there snorkeling and it made all the difference. It’s also anti-fog and has a camera mount for little cute pix of the clown fish.

Hiking:

Lastly on my long CVS receipt of recommendations for Phi Phi Islands is to go hiking. There’s a reason there’s no real roads on the island. There’s a lot of hiking trails. Take a hike at sunset; it’s a great photo op. Time it so you leave an 45 min before the sun is supposed to set.

What’s annoying is that they charge you a fee to get to the viewpoints at the end of the hike. Luckily it’s only 30 baht which is the equivalent of 90 cents; so one gum ball. lol.

The hikes aren’t long…like less than a mile so no need to mentally (or physically) prepare for it. It’s just a quickie. Although I will add that the first part is stairs (about 300 of them) but don’t be a baby; you’ll be fine. 😉

There are three viewpoints along the hike and the 3rd one is the best view, so just keep hiking until you get there. Don’t turn around at the 1st and 2nd viewpoint; lame.

If you want to keep hiking after the viewpoints you can and the trails will take you to a string of nice beaches on the other side.

Nightlife…

If you are looking for a pool party then it’s going to be on Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday at the Ibiza House. Ibiza Pool Party is the place to be on these days. It goes all night, they hand out prizes, lots of people, lots of fun. If you go from 1pm-9pm then the entrance is free. You can pay a few bucks to leave your stuff locked up at the front, which I HIGHLY recommend doing. It’s right on the beach too so you can take dip in the water or walk along the shoreline if you need a little break from the madness.

Reggae Bar is also madness. They have a literal boxing ring in the middle that customers can wrestle in if they want to. They also have actual professional (non *wasted Westerners drunk fighting like idiots*) events for Thai boxing here as well. It’s a sports bar vibe. Looking for a wild night out? You’d better stop here.

Slinky Bar is another wild night out spot. It’s right on the beach and open air, which I love. They have a wide range of activities in addition to mass amounts of alcohol. Mechanical bull riding, fire limbo, fire dancing, fire jump rope, more fire, more fire, body and face painting etc.

Sun Flower Beach Bar is much more chill and laid back. Grab some cocktails, relax, and watch the sunset vibes. At night, once the sun goes down, there’s fire shows and live music as well. If you’re looking for a more chill night I’d go here.

Banana Rooftop Bar is another more *on the chill side* bar that’s great at sunset. At night they have all the activities and entertainment as well. It’s trendy vibe for cocktails and great views.

SNAPSHOT:

WHERE TO STAY:

  • Phi Phi Island Beach Resort
  • Ibiza House Phi Phi: good option for backpackers looking to meet other people or to have a good time. Will be loud during the pool parties. Discretion advised lol. Right on the beach, close to action. $15/night for a bunk, $50/night for a private room.
  • ChaoKoh Phi Phi Hotel & Resort: Walking distance to town, nice, and $100/night. If you want a nice place, and not a hostel, and in the center of everything then this is a good spot.
  • Mama Beach Residence: Another place I recommend staying if you want a hotel in the center of the action. $80/night.
  • P2 Wood Loft: Industrial style hotel. So cute and nice. In the center of the action. $38/night. CHEAP. I’ll stay here next time.

TIME SPENT:

  • Preferably 3 nights. 2 nights minimum if you’re pressed.

WHAT WOULD I CHANGE:

  • Next time I’ll be staying closer to Tonsai Village. I like more action. Loved the resort but the “there and back” by boat was a pain in my ass.
  • I would have liked to gone diving more.

BARS:

  • Banana Rooftop Bar: more chill vibes for cocktails with great views at sunset
  • Slinky Bar: Wild and out bar. Lots of activities. Lots of fun.
  • Ibiza House Pool Party: only Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. WILD.
  • Reggae Bar: Literal madness. People boxing the in ring. Sports Bar vibes.
  • Sun Flower Beach Bar: Once again, more on the laid back side. Good for sunset.

FOOD:

  • Grand PP Arcade: Breakfast, banana pancakes, enough said.
  • Unni’s Restaurant: Cute vibes and good food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, it doesn’t really matter they have everything. They have a FIRE espresso martini.
  • Oasis Bar & Restaurant: Jungle vibes with great food. Extensive menu. Good for lunch or dinner.
  • Aroy Kaffeine Cafe: THE BEST BRUNCH SPOT ON THE ISLAND. It’s right behind the Phi Phi Island Village Resort. A bitch to get to if you aren’t staying at that resort, but wow. Love it.
  • Other than that you can literally just walk around Tonsai Village and find a quick bite to eat. EAT MANGO STICKY RICE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.

MUST SEE:

  • LONG TAIL ISLAND TOUR!
    • Pileh Bay
    • Wang Long Cave
    • Monkey Island
  • Bamboo Island – beach day.
  • Maya Beach (It’s closed but if you want to see it from afar then fine)
  • Scuba Diving
    • Mosquito Island
    • Koh Bida Nok & Koh Bida Nai
    • Shark Point
    • Loh Samah Bay
  • Phi Phi Viewpoint Hiking: Get to Viewpoint 3

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