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Ko Phi Phi

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Ko Phi Phi (หมู่เกาะพีพี) is a small archipelago in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand.

Understand

The named islands are:

Although rapidly becoming less and less attractive due to the masses of tourists as well as the construction on the island, it remains a beautiful place to visit. Although the beaches are not the best in Thailand, the place has a good vibe and nightlife and there are 18 dive shops to choose from.

Most of the (over)development of Phi Phi Don is situated in or around Tonsai village, which is on the low, sandy isthmus that joins the two hilly spurs that comprise the rest of the island. There are also other, quieter resorts on Long Beach, Laem Thong, and at other less accessible areas of the island.

Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island's infrastructure was wiped out. Redevelopment has, however, been swift, and services like electricity, water, Internet access and ATMs are up and running again, but waste handling has been slower to come back online.

It should be noted that, while very laid back, many of the local islanders are Muslim. You will lose considerable respect if you walk around town in your skimpies (this applies to Buddhist areas of Thailand too!). While many tourists do in fact parade down Main Street in their Speedos or thong bikinis, to avoid offending your hosts, it's usually best just to throw on a pair of shorts or a sarong; similarly, topless on the beaches, while grudgingly tolerated by most locals, is also probably best avoided.

Climate

Weather in the region is tropical - there are only two seasons: the hot season from January to April, and the rainy season from May to December. Temperatures during the year average 25ºC to 32ºC (77ºF to 89.6ºF) and the yearly rainfall averages 2568.5mm. Unlike in say Europe, the rain in this region comes down heavily over short periods.

History

From archaeological discoveries, it is believed that the area was one of the oldest communities in Thailand dating back to the prehistoric period. It is believed that this province may have taken its name after the meaning of Krabi, which means sword. This may have stemmed from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.

The name Phi Phi (pronounced ‘pee pee’) originates from Malay, the original name for the islands were ‘Pulao Pi ah Pi. The name refers to the mangrove wood found there.

Geography

Ko Phi Phi is considered to be one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the world (in fact, there are six islands in Phi Phi). They lie 50km south-east of Phuket and are part of Had Nopparattara - Koh Phi Phi National Park which is home to an abundance of corals and amazing marine life. There are limestone mountains with cliffs, caves and long white sandy beaches. The national park covers a total area of 242,437 Rai.

Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le are the largest and most well-known islands.

There are two villages on Koh Phi Phi under administration of Ao Nang sub-district, Muang district, Krabi Province.

Koh Phi Phi comprises of 6 islands, 2 of them main – Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. The islands are surrounded by the Andaman Sea.

Culture

Krabi is a melting pot of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies. The majority of the population in the rural areas is Muslim. Krabi however, does not suffer from any religious tension and the folk live in peace and harmony. Outside of the provincial town, the rural folk speak with a thick Southern dialect which is difficult for even other Thais to understand.

With this kind of mixture, Krabi is always celebrating something be it part of Thai Buddhist, Thai-Chinese or Thai-Islamic tradition. Visitors can also enjoy the annual boat-launching ceremonies of the sea gypsies and various long-tail boat races.

Art

Even though it is Malay in origin, the art of batik has embedded itself within the local culture. There are also a lot of Krabi handicrafts such as pineapple paper.


Tourism

Tourism on Ko Phi Phi, like the rest of Krabi province, has exploded only very recently. In the early 1990s only the most adventurous travelers visited the island, staying in only the most basic accommodation costing the likes of 50-100 baht a night. Nowadays, however, the place has turned into one of the major destinations for visitors to Krabi. The development however, is still nothing on a par with the likes of Phuket or Ko Samui. However, presently, budget backpackers can still get a cheap room away from the beach, up the hill a bit. The level of service and the friendliness of the locals had started to drop with massive inflow of backpackers and students who are not very demanding and choosy.

Ko Phi Phi has plenty of nightlife to drink and dance but if that isn’t your cup-of-tea, then there are lots of really quiet places to chill out and take it easy.

Get in

By boat

Traveling to Ko Phi Phi by boat is BY FAR the most frequent method used. Ferries leave from Phuket and Krabi daily (from Krabi two ferries a day 9:00 am and 14:30PM and from Phuket at 9:00 am, 11:00, and 14:30pm several times a day ( 11:00 during high season only). Tickets can be purchased online at PhiphiFerry.com or on the dock, from tourist offices, most local guesthouses and hotels.

Tickets prices:

You can get from the Phuket Airport to Rassada Pier by meter taxi for around 500 baht. It's about a 30 km drive and takes 45 minutes depending on traffic and weather.

Not all ferries are of equal quality. Andaman wave master is the only company that will take you for free to the north of Phi Phi island after the stop at Tonsai pier. The Sea Angel ferries are quite nice with big flat screen tvs and refreshments. These are sold online as first class ferries. The ferries run by Chao Koh group, particularly the smallest "Pichamon IV" are often overcrowded and appear to be very poorly maintained, which does not inspire confidence, however they are launching a new mega boat beginning of 2010. In April 2007, a ferry operated by Andaman Wave Master caught fire and sank, and all aboard were forced to jump into the sea. Fortunately, nearby vessels were quickly able to rescue all the passengers, and no casualties occurred. The ferries run by PP Family are larger and seem more suited to the task. The ferries run by Phi Phi Cruiser may take a little longer but they include a movie, complimentary breakfast (if taking the morning crossing) and complimentary beverage service. For an additional fee, you can purchase a "VIP ticket" which also includes snorkeling and a buffet lunch on Phi Phi Don.

Other tour vessels visit the island from several Phuket-based resorts, usually on day trips, the price for a speadboat from Rawai Beach was quoted at 15,000 baht return(or one way) for up to 6 people(Dec 6 2007). There are many speedboats operating directly from the beach but it may be best to book the day before as most seem to be on away on trips during the day. Speedboats can also be chartered from other nearby locations, but at a very high price (in July 2007, the starting price for a speedboat to Phi Phi Don from Ko Yao was quoted at 20,000 baht).

By plane

Destination Air Shuttle [1] - direct seaplane transfers from/to Phuket International Airport and other popular Andaman coast destinations. They often run a low season promotion for transfer from Phi Phi to Phuket Airport for only 2000 baht (high season is 6000 baht), and land at Laem Thong near the northern tip of the island - transport to Tonsai, if required, is about 30 minutes by longtail boat. This is a fairly good deal considering the ferry (400 baht) plus taxi (700 baht) to Phuket's airport will run you around 1200 baht.

Krabi International Airport (KBV) is about 10 km from the city limits, 15 km from the city centre, 40km from Ao Nang and 23km from Had Yao. Thai Airways operates daily direct flights to/from Bangkok, likewise Air Asia from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Bangkok Airway flies direct to/from Krabi and Ko Samui nearly every day of the week and to/from. Nok Air operates daily flights to Krabi from Bangkok (Don Muang). Destination Air Shuttle, Thailand's only Seaplane service also routinely flies in and out of Krabi (Lanta) from Phuket and to the numerous outer islands.

For more information, contact:

The international departure tax surcharge is 700 baht but is included in most tickets now; domestic departure tax is included in the price of the flight.

National Car Rental and Budget Car Rental have a branch at the airport; motorcycle taxi rides are available outside the terminal.

Krabi Limousine (tel. +66-75692073) has a desk inside the terminal and provides "limousine taxi" (using large air-conditioned sedans) transport to Krabi for 500 baht; Phuket for 2500 baht. Krabi.com offers taxi and minibus (minivans) for less however travellers have to make deposit payment of 200 baht online via credit card.

An air-conditioned Airport Bus service started in 2007, fares are 90baht to Krabi. The bus service meets all incoming flights and serves most outgoing flights (note: it is not possible to catch the first 1-2-go plane in the morning with the new airport bus service) A songthaew to Krabi town is 40 baht from the road outside. Going to the airport they will drop you right at the departure terminal.

By bus

Obviously, since Ko Phi Phi is an island, the bus will get you close but you'll still need to cross by boat or plane at the end. Buses from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal (tel. +66-24351199) to Krabi take about 12 hours and depart as follows:

Shuttle buses run between Krabi airport and Phuket airport several times a day. There are also regular buses that make the 2 hour run. There are buses to Krabi from every provincial town in the south.

By car

Obviously, since Ko Phi Phi is an island, you can get close but you'll still need to cross by boat or plane at the end. From Bangkok:

  1. Proceed along Highway No. 4, passing Phetchaburi – Prachuap Khiri Khan – Chumphon – Ranong – Phang-nga, to Krabi. The total distance is 946 kilometers.
  2. Travel along Highway No. 4 onto Highway No. 41 at Chumphon via Amphoe Lang Suan and Amphoe Chaiya, Surat Thani. Proceed towards Amphoe Wiang Sa, change to Highway No. 4035 for Amphoe Ao Luek, and switch back to Highway No. 4 again to Krabi. This route is 814 kilometers.

From Phuket: Proceed along Highways No. 402 and No. 4. The total distance is 176 kilometers.

By train

Obviously, since Ko Phi Phi is an island, the train will get you close but you'll still need to cross by boat or plane at the end. The nearest train station to Krabi is in Trang province which is just south of Krabi.

Get around

Phi Phi officially has no motorised transport, though there are a few motorcycles with truck sidecars, usually used for goods and construction material transport. Transport on land is by foot or bicycle, but in the populated areas of Tonsai, nowhere is more than about ten minutes' walk from anywhere else. Long-tail taxi-boats ply between all beaches; on Phi Phi Don, you can also walk to any beach. From Ton Sai to Long Beach, expect to pay 40 baht/person in the afternoon, at least 80 baht at night. To have a complete boat to yourself, expect to pay at least 100 baht.

Wheelbarrows are used to transport goods, including your luggage if you like. Expect free "transport" from the pier to your room, but not necessarily in the opposite direction.

The most common ways to get around on Ko Phi Phi are by foot and by long-tail boat. As with most everything in an area like this, the price for long-tail boats is a negotiation. Hint: Take some foam earplugs for the long-tail boat rides... it's a fun ride but the engines are loud and after 45 minutes it can get to you. The negotiation for longtail boats is usually done according to where you want to go and how many hours you want the trip to last. As an example, 1200 baht for a 6-hour outing to Ko Phi Phi Le and Tonsai Bay from the Holiday Inn Resort.

See

Phi Phi Don

This island is the largest of the 6 Phi Phi islands and consists of two main sections. It is on Ton Sai where the original inhabitants settled and is now the home of the main accommodation area. Phi Phi Don is quite stunning and has earned the title of one of the most fantastic islands in the world. Nowadays though, with development, the beaches have paid the price and so they're not quite as spectacular as they were in the days of yesteryear. The landscape however, can never be ruined.

Other Islands

Other Attractions

Do

Ko Phi Phi Leh

You can take a longtail boat and visit Maya Bay - the "secret beach" where the movie "The Beach" was filmed. Water directly around the island is sometimes disappointingly murky and not so good for diving though. The beach on the other side of the island, across from where the boats land, is slightly nicer. It is highly recommended to arrive at Maya Bay before 8AM, when the place can still be enjoyed in solitude. As from 9AM hoards of speedboats with tourists on package tours arrive from Phuket. Another thing to think about when coming to Maya Bay is the time of year. During the high season (October - May) you will feel like you are at Disneyland, but during the off season and you shouldn't be surprised if you are one of only two or three small groups on the beach, or even alone. NOTE: Park Rangers have begun enforcement of a National Park entry fee of 200 baht/person, though if you are traveling in a tour group, they will typically include it in the price of your trip. If you arrive early drivers of the long tail boat will try to cheat you by telling that you need to pay 400 baht/person later to the ranger to stay on the beach or other guy just 200 baht/person. So good rule of thumb will be to pay 200 baht/person to the ranger and ask for a ticket. EDIT: There is no "low season" for Maya bay, it is crowded all year-round, the park police will only attempt to charge you for the "park entrance fee" if you turn up on a long-tail boat. You can now camp there for one night (just like in the film!) for a fee, but you will quickly find out why this is not popular - the rats and cockroaches that are the only thriving member of the local population will take over the tent. ADDED: It's more costly if you take the longtail to Maya Beach. Its about 1500 baht for the whole boat. You can try to bargain it down. However, if you want something much cheaper, there's a half-day trip (morning/mid-afternoon) for 450 baht per person (group tour) by one operator. To get this, once you get off the ferry at the pier, not far as you walk into the island, you will come to a cross-roads. Go straight ahead until you reach the bay on the other side of the island (it is a very short walk, the sand bay indeed is very narrow). Just as you reach the Loh Dalum bay, the operator is on your right, just as you reach the sands. The mid-afternoon trip (3 PM) is better... you get to catch the sunset as you leave Maya Beach (you can't see the sunset on the beach).

Beach activities

Phi Phi with its dramatic scenery is an ideal location for kayaking. You can either go it alone or with an organized package. Kayaks can be hired either per hour or per day.

Cliff jumping is fairly new to Tonsai Bay. There are cliffs from 6 to 16m that are ideal for cliff jumping due to the depth of water below. Organized tours can be found at Ton Sai, but please be informed that this is not a particularly regulated activity and can cause injury to people including ear ruptures, and muscle / back injuries.

Spas in Hotels/Resorts

The best time of the year for bird watching has to be from January to April. Many rare birds are to be seen there: Gurneys, Finfoots, Bigwinged Brown Kingfishers, Egrets, Bitterns, Herons and more.

Krabi has plenty of anchorages, usually deserted and all so beautiful. There are many charter sailing boats available and some even offer "join-in" day trips for two or more people. Phi Phi offers a variety of ways for sailing and crusing. Longtails can be hired for sunset tours and island excursions, they can be found on any beach. The Original P.P. Sunset Tour is a big boat with plenty of space for snorkeling and viewing the sunsets, get information about them at The White.

Wanna-be fishers can catch the likes of marlin, sailfish barracuda and tuna.

Buy

Most stuff is brought in by boat, so most things are less original and more expensive than on the mainland. However, there are a few shops that manufacture their goods on the island. Prices for commodities vary widely between shops.

D's Books, with two locations on Ko Phi Phi and many others throughout Southern Thailand, is a well respected book store.

Most of the items sold here are either made by local fishermen or they are brought to the island from Phuket town. Rising commercialization and inflow of tourists throughout the year seems to be a big bonus for these locals. Prices told may exactly not be worth the item, but if you are a good talker, you can bargain for a good price.

Learn

Rock Climbing

Krabi with its specific landscape is ideal for learning rock climbing, there are lots of different courses for beginners – advanced. The courses available range from just half a day to three whole days in length. All instructors are properly qualified and well-experienced. There are at least ten rock climbing schools in Railay and Ton Sai, and several more in Ko Phi Phi.

In regards to advanced rock climbing - over the years, many Thai and foreign rock climbing experts have blazed routes up the many rock faces both on the mainland and Koh Phi Phi. There are now more than 600 routes.

Diving

With its crystal clear water, colourful coral and huge diversity of marine life, Krabi is a must-go for all those interested in diving. There are courses for anyone, regardless to whether they are near-on experts or complete beginners. PADI Open Water courses take around three to four days to complete and their instructors are a totally world-class standard. Check: [12]

The Adventure Club is a PADI Dive center located in the heart of Tonsai Bay and offers a selection of quality PADI dive courses and Adventure dive excursions. They also provide snorkeling tours for small groups to places such as Phi Phi Ley Island and Bamboo Island, Shark Watching, Cave Snorkeling and Night Snorkeling. Accommodation and Transpotation can be booked easily online through their website: [www.divingphi.com]

Eat

In general, Southern Thai food is renowned for its spiciness. Much of the cuisine has its origins in Malay, Indonesian and Indian food. Favourite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry (massaman), rice noodles in fish curry sauce (Khanom Jeen) and chicken with yellow rice.

Food on Ko Phi Phi is extremely varied, given the diminutive size of the island, but is not as spectacular as it generally is in Thailand, because most ingredients have to be brought in by boat from the mainland. Nevertheless there are some restaurants that manage to serve surprisingly tasty food:

As for Ko Phi Phi, reasonable priced and tasty seafood is obviously what most tourists long for when visiting a coastal province like Krabi. In this connection, the wing shell (หอยชักตีน) is Krabi’s famous cuisine and is eaten with a spicy dip. In addition, stirred fried Spotted Babylon (หอยหวาน), which is found in mangrove forests, with chilies and basil is also famous. This cuisine is common in Krabi’s restaurants. Another great Krabi taste is, of course, seafood.

Drink

Drinks prices are quite high (cocktails 180 baht). Many bars offer similar entertainment, cabarets and striking fire shows - performed by the same people, advertised by posters and flyers apparently drawn by the same person...

Sleep

Accommodation is relatively expensive - doubles range from 400 baht up into the 1000s the closer you get to the beach front. If you are a budget traveler expect to work hard to find a decent price. If you get really desperate a couple of places rent out tents for about 200–300 baht - mind your valuables! One thing to note, prices are double during the high season which runs from October/November until May. Other time of year you can find relatively cheap accommodation in the 200 -300 range.

To have the best choice for accommodation, arrive in Phi Phi just before the time of the full moon party, when most people will be on Ko Pha Ngan. Since a lot of people move from Pha Ngan to Phi Phi after the party, accommodation may be very hard to find on Phi Phi around this time. It is not uncommon to see people arrive on the morning ferry only to leave on the afternoon one because they have been unsuccessful in aquiring accommodation.

Backpackers need only to look further east in the main street for relatively cheap accommodation. Certain guesthouses have dorms and some have reputations to be incredible sources of camaraderie and spontaneous parties. Scope out different dorms and see how the vibe feels; every dorm is different.

Drink

Ton Sai Bay has a variety of nightlife; something for everyone’s taste. Jazz, Blues and Classics can be found at the leading hotels. Or, if it’s romance you are after, you and your loved one can relax in one of the outside hotel bars and sip a cocktail under the stars.

If 5-star hotel service isn’t within your budget, then never mind; there are some bars on Ton Sai set on the beach where you can order a beer and lay back in one of their hammocks or sit back on the beach and enjoy the company of friends,Apache Beach Bar,Carlito's, Sunflower or Mojito's, are all great and safe beach style bars. . Good bars are Banana Bar, Reggae Bar, Breakers, Velvet Dojo, Jordans, Sports Bar or Rollin Stoned for a great live band. For those however, who love nothing more than a dance to compliment their drinks then they won’t be disappointed, Phi Phi has a collection of dance bars where visitors can dance away to the latest dance tunes while having the chance to savor a breath-taking variety of cocktails. Better to warm up at Breakers Bar with some good food and FANTASTIC drinks until later when you can hit Velvet Dojo and then Banana Bar. Velvet Dojo has just introduced two new managers and its atmosphere has boosted a lot. During the day boasts great English Breakfasts and bar snacks and night-time has some brilliant house music and night-time specials. Just be careful not to cross the night-time barmaid as she is unfriendly and rude. Banana Bar's rooftop bar has excellent cocktails and you can request your own music. Good dance bars in Phi Phi include the Tiger bar [15], Reggae Bar and Carlito's bar. The law-enforcers usually allow, if there is no trouble, bars to open until about 1 in the town and 4 on the beach.

Stay healthy

Ko Phi Phi has a couple of pharmacies and a hospital. For any bad illnesses, go back to Krabi or even better, Phuket.

Get out

Related Information




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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [16].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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