Phi Phi Island Information
The Phi Phi islands are located about 45 Km southeast from Phuket, 42 km south of Krabi Town and 40 km from Ao Nang Beach. They can be reached in between 1 to 3 hours depending on the type of boat you choose. Boats leave from Phuket, Ao Nang and the Chao Fa Pier in Krabi Town on a daily basis.
The name "Phi Phi" is derived from Malay, and the original was Pulao Pi ah Pi, where in pulao is the Malay word for island , and Pi, pronounced with a soft "p" sound, was very close in pronunciation to the English word "bee"; the ah was dropped, so the name was said something like Bee Bee.
Later the p was pronounced with a stronger aspiration and the name became the Phi Phi (Pee Pee) we know today. The name originally referred to the mangrove wood found there.
There are 6 islands in the Phi Phi group; Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Ley, Bida Nok, Bida Nai, Koh Yung, and Koh Phai; total land area is 42 square kilometers. The islands were declared a National Park in 1983, and development is limited to Koh Phi Phi Don only. All other islands are uninhabited.
Yung Island lies to the north of Phi Phi Don. there is a rocky beach on the east side, and a smaller strand of sand in a fold of the hill. Many beautiful and various corals are found there. Good for shallow snorkeling.
Phai Island lies also to the north of Phi Phi Don, not far from Koh Yung . Sandy beaches are on the north and east sides of the island. Broad coral reefs stretch away into the south.
Phi Phi Don Island covers a total area of 28 square kilometers: 8 km in length and 3.5 km at its broadest point. At the north end is Cape Laem Tohng, where there is a Chao Ley, or sea gipsy village. These sea gipsies emigrated from Koh Lipeh in Tarutao National Park, near the border with Malaysia and lived on the islands long before tourism arrived. There are two long beaches next to the main town - the two curving bays of Ton Sai and Loh Dalam. The town was hit hard by the tsunami on December 26th 2004, but now things are all back to normal.
Phi Phi after the Tsunami
Phi Phi Ley Island is 6.6 square kilometers in total area: 3 km in length and 1 km at its broadest point. The island is entirely limestone and steep cliffs rising from the sea very nearly ring it. surrounding waters average about 20 meters in depth, reaching 34 meters at the deepest point off the island's southern tip. Phi Phi Ley has several beautiful bays: Piley, Maya, and Loh Samah. Maya Bay is one of Phi Phi's number one tourist attractions, being that is was the setting for the film "The Beach" starring Leo DiCaprio.
On Phi Phi Ley's northeast is the famous Viking Cave. It is a place much revered by the local people who still come there to collect the swift's nests used to make Bird' nest Soup, a Chinese delicacy.
On the eastern and southern walls of the cave are coloured drawings dating from historic times. There are pictures of elephants and also of various boats : European, Arab, and Chinese sailing ships; barques, motorboats and steamships. It is theorized that these were drawn by pirates who paused in their travels from west to east, sheltering in the cave to escape the monsoon winds, transfer cargo, or make repairs.
Climate in Phi Phi
The weather in Phi Phi is typically warm and tropical, very similar to that of Phuket. The high season from November - early May has the best weather. The summer months can be great, but you can expect some rain and windy days. Temperatures are typically 30C, but can be in the high 30's in March and April.
More Weather Information
Getting there and away
Regular ferry connections connect Phi Phi with Phuket and Krabi. There are several different companies operating boats of varying speed and price. All tickets can be booked at travel agents. The ferries operate year round, though there are occasional cancellations in the low season if the seas are too rough.
More Information - Phi Phi Travel Information
Phi Phi Don has lots of tracks and footpaths but no real roads, so getting around is easy - walking or go by boat! You will only find a few motorbikes on the whole island. The local "longtail" boats are like water taxis and will take you wherever you want to go and wait for you if required. Prices vary and can be on a per person basis or whole boat charge depending on your trip and the number of people. Check with other travelers and always negotiate with a smile!
Most local shops and minimarts are run by local families so they often open around 08.30 and close anytime between 21.00 - 23.00. You will find all essential supplies on Phi Phi, though obviously the shopping is not as good as Phuket or Bangkok. But if you need sun cream or a pair of sandals, Phi Phi is just fine.
Currency is the Thai Baht. Cash is king on Phi Phi. Master card and Visa are well known but American Express is only accepted in the more expensive hotels and stores. There is a bank and places to exchange money in Tonsai Bay (Phi Phi Don), but only 1 ATM machine. However there are plenty of ATM's on Phuket Island. Stock up on cash before going to Phi Phi!
You can use the local post office for postcards, but if it's something important, you may be better advised to use the main post offices in Phuket or Krabi.
Internet cafes are the most reliable source to check e-mail as many of the hotels do not have available phone lines for their customers, and will charge more. The area around the ferry in Tonsai has a number of Internet cafes. Connections are not always great! There is no broadband on Phi Phi, though this is available on Phuket.
Health and Medical Facilities
There are no large hospitals on Phi Phi, so any serious illness should be treated in Phuket where there are several first class international hospitals. There is a local health centre on Phi Phi island in Tonsai Bay. Please be insured before traveling to Thailand. Check with your insurance company which hospitals they work with. Sunburn and Sunstroke are the most common health problems for tourists, so take the usual precautions - strong sunblock, wear a hat and drink plenty of non alcoholic fluids.