Koh Phi Phi is a world famous travel destination, known to be the place where “The Beach”, starring Leonardo Di Caprio was filmed (don´t go to that bay where they filmed it, it´s horribly expensive – 200 baht entry!- and crowded with tourists).
How to get there
The main way to go there is by ferry from Phuket, which is what we did, along with loads of Indian, Japanese and Chinese tourists doing a daytrip away from their resorts in Phuket.
The ferry passes the “The beach” beach in Maya Bay, and that was enough of it for us as we saw the crowds over there, and stops at Tonsai Pier, which is kind of the center of Koh Phi Phi and world famous, as this village is on a small piece of land with a bay to the south and one to the north.
When you step off your ferry at Tonsai Pier, there´s so many Thai waiting for you with pinboards full of room pictures, and it´s basically like a market for hotel rooms, if you are a little talented in bargaining, you´ll get incredible deals! If you are a larger group of people, you should definitely decide what you want first, so bargaining is easier.
One question you´ll hear countless times troughout your journey: air condition or fan? We slept 5 nights of our trip in fan-only rooms, and you CAN survive, it can be quite nice as well, you just have to inventive, because we started building ourselves a mosquito & heat-free sleep zone by putting the fan inside the mosquito net and stuffing the net under the mattress incredibly tight. But after a few nights in fan rooms, even we needed a air-con-room, because you are simply better rested after sleeping in it.
So, for bargaining I want to give you a few guidelines on what´s a decent room price at Koh Phi Phi: At Tonsai Pier, a few minutes walk away from the beach, an air- con room cost us 300 baht per person. At Relax Beach, a little bay on the other side of the island, a fan room cost us 450 baht, which was the most expensive room of our trip, because we spent our first night there and didn´t really have a feeling for how much a room costs.
What to do
This depends on where on Koh Phi Phi you stay, but from what I know are all beaches perfect for snorkeling, with the only exeption being Tonsai Pier and the area around it. At the reef in front of Relax Beach, we saw loads of fish and snorkeled out there for hours!
To save money, I really suggest bringing your own goggles, snorkel and fins, because renting rates are really high and buying them there is expensive as well.
No matter if you don´t have any previous knowledge, diving in Koh Phi Phi is an unforgettable experience! There many diving schools at Tonsai Pier, the one we went to was called “Phi Phi Scuba Diving Center” and was located in the center of the village. The guys over there were so friendly and helpful, they took away all our fears about not being able to equalize and so on! Two people of our group did already have the freediving licence, they had to pay less, I think about 70€, and the others without experience paid about 3600 baht (about 90€), because we needed a diving master and instructor with us all the time.
The price included the speedboat ride to our two diving spots, lunch at the boat, fresh water and fruit. For me as a beginner, the liveliness of the reef was overwhelming, we even saw a shark and a huge sea snake!
Exploring the forest
From “Relax Beach”, where we stayed a few nights, a wonderful path went trough the forest up the hill to an amazing View Point, from which you could see the amazing two bays of Koh Phi Phi. Also, exploring the forest is a lot of fun, as you´ll see many curious things, but you´ll have to bring decent shoes!
Tonsai Village is a great place to go out at night, there are so many small bars with life music, and everything just a few minutes walking distance to wherever you are staying. Prizes are decent compared to other party areas in Thailand, and there´s no red-light district whatsoever, which is quite rare for a Thai Party area.
The streets in Tonsai village are full of vendors, and by the end of the trip every girl of our group had at least 2 pairs of these comfy thai-style trousers that are sold everywhere 🙂 Usually, you can get the prize down about 10- 20%, but don´try to bargain to much, the Thai will get offended if you start at less than the half. Just don´t go to the Gopro Shops, they are even more expensive than in Europe!
There are 38 more or less hygenic Tattoo Studios in Tonsai village, and many of them offer the special “Bamboo-Technique”, which leaves you with a tattoo looking like you’ve already had it for years and the possibility to go swimming about an hour afterwards!
With Thai efficiency, one artist had the idea for my tattoo, the other one made a draft at the computer, the third one fittet it to my body and the fourth actually performed the bamboo-tattooing. The result was amazing and so uninfected that I could do scuba diving the following day without even putting some special cream on! So if you want to get tattooed in Koh Phi Phi, just look for a hygenic looking place, the one I went to was called Devil Pin Tattoo Phi Phi (https://www.facebook.com/Devil-pin-tattoo-at-phi-phi-Island-897443900303195/ )
Longtail Tour to Bamboo Island
For about 400 baht (10€) per person, you can get a Longtail tour to one of the small islands around Koh Phi Phi, for example Bamboo Island, which had the most beautiful beach of our whole Thailand trip! The boat driver told us that there was a 400 baht entry fee as well, and we should give it to him, but we simply said that we´ll give it to the National Park Ranger if one would come, which of course, didn´t happen. If you go there, definitely tell your Longtail Driver not to stop at the main beach with tourists on it, but go around the island to an empty beach instead!
So, all in all, Koh Phi Phi is a great place to stay, less touristic and much more beautiful than Phuket for example!
Have you ever been to Koh Phi Phi? What was your experience like? If you have any more questions about Koh Phi Phi, feel free to ask.