We dedicated a whole week to the Phi Phi Islands. According to the numerous reviews we expected to get into the relaxing atmosphere of the paradise clear water lagoon. But it turned out that the islands became complete chaos with crazy night parties and flocks of tourists which is overburdensome. Now, first things first.
Phi Phi Archipelago
The Phi Phi Islands are in Krabi province, between the mainland and Phuket, about 40-50 km from either side. There are two main islands in the composition of the archipelago: Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don, and four minor ones: Bamboo Island, Mosquito Island, Bida Nai and Bida Nok.
Phi Phi Don is the only inhabited island. There are hotels and guest houses, cafes and restaurants, bars and nightclubs which are the island tourist infrastructure. You can get there only by sea, the island has neither local airport nor landing strip. You will find more information about how to get to the island in article “How to get to Phi Phi”.
There is no cars, just bicycles and rickshaws. If you have a large suitcase, you’d better hire a rickshaw to carry it to the hotel.
It will cost one or two hundred baht, but it is much better than to carry your luggage yourself: the road is often sandy, and you are doomed to difficulties. We faced the same problem and then we hired a rickshaw to carry our things. It was an unfriendly person, and later we traced a proper tendency. From the very first minute of our arrival at Phi Phi we felt negative treatment from the locals: Phi Phi service workers, as compared to Phuket ones, are behindhand in professionalism, hospitality and politeness towards visitors.
On the streets we constantly met unfriendly and displeased local people. Perhaps, their lives are hard and dull, and crowds of tourists don’t make them happier. Every day from all over Thailand tour boats, ferries and yachts with numbers of tourists come here. Can you imagine how such a small island accommodates such ample quantity of visitors? It does fail. At noon streets and cafes are always overcrowded, and the main street sewage chases with its strong disgusting smell. One day we had dinner on the veranda of a café and left it untouched, the sewage smell completely killed our appetite.
Food is a problem on Phi Phi Don, never buy it from the street stalls. Thais handle money, take out litter and then by their unwashed hands they dish food for you. We actually saw it.
We have been to different places in Thailand, but the village on Phi Phi Don disappointed us completely. We got an upset stomach and lost any desire to eat there. Even in our four-star hotel (nobody would rate it as a four star one actually) the food was so-so. And it is really hard to explain why the stall food on the island is much worse than on the Thailand mainland. But it is true. This week on the island was a complete failure and real waste of our money. Bad shot.
But the youth was heavily drunk and happy in the night pubs of Phi Phi Don. Maybe, one should be completely wasted by alcohol to like this island. Personally, we, after all those paradise Phi Phi Islands booklets and reviews, expected something a bit friendlier and more relaxing than the Pattaya beach pasquinade.
For a comfortable stay on Phi Phi Don, you’d better choose a remote beach in the south-eastern part of the island (Long Beach) or the luxurious northern part of the island at the Laem Tong Beach: Holiday Inn, Zeavola and other prestige hotels are there. The public are more reputable there, and the very place is cleaner. We wish we learned it before our trip.
Phi Phi Don Island
Phi Phi Don is the only inhabited island. Accommodation options are good and you can choose a hotel to your preferences. Ton Sai is the village at the pier, the heart of all the island infrastructure: cafes, souvenir shops and food stalls, grocery stores, 7-Eleven, a laundry, diving centers, massage and tattoo parlors, bars and hotels. Here you can have not expensive rest: night bars and the Open-Air party at Loh Dalam Beach are noisy and active till dawn.
There is a dynamic fire show on the sandy shore every evening: a fascinating must-see spectacle! Tattoo parlors are literally on every corner luring drunk and heated youth into new escapades. There is also a sightseeing platform on the island with an incredible bird's eye view, but it was too hot and stuffy for us to go up, so we didn’t. You`d better take water, a hat and sunscreen if you decide to go.
Phi Phi Don beaches
The Ton Sai pier beach is the closest place by the sea, but it is also very dirty. Boats and ferries are constantly arriving to the pier, the water is cloudy and dirty and bad for swimming or snorkeling.
Loh Dalam Beach is the most popular and noisy, but quite spectacular. Waves are low and the water is comfortable. But, depending on the season, there might be strong ebbs.
Long Beach is one of the best beaches on Phi Phi Don with gorgeous views and clear water.
Laem Tong Beach is the most distant beach on the island, and the most quiet. The sand is snow-white and the water is crystal-clear with an incredibly beautiful underwater reef, it is a great place for snorkeling. Trees all over the beach shelter from the hot sun. The most luxury hotels and restaurants are nearby. You can clearly see Bamboo Island from the beach and even go there on a rented boat. The Bamboo Island is perfect for snorkeling, the clear water has a stunningly turquoise shade. You can read our special review on this place.
In conclusion we would like to share our Phi Phi Islands experience. We have already given our subjective opinion on the local service and so on: anyone can accept it or no. Many people like Phi Phi Don as it is. It is all about the limits of comfort expectations of people. We learned reviews not very good, booked the hotel in the village center, and it was our mistake. Our holiday was saved by trips to Long Beach and the neighboring islands.
If you are going there for a romantic getaway, choose hotels on Long Beach or Laem Tong Beach. If you are looking for nightlife like in Pattaya or Patong, then stay at the center of the island and you will find yourself in the heart of the island roaring nightlife.