A day on Koh Phi Phi Don, Krabi, Thailand

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Koh Phi Phi Don Island, Krabi (province)

The Phi Phi Island group consists out of 6 islands, of which Koh Phi Phi Don is the largest (8 km length). The Phi Phi island group is part of the Thai Krabi province and is located in the Andaman sea, 49 km Southeast of Phuket and 42 km South of Krabi. The other Phi Phi islands are uninhabited, and the Phi Phi area as a whole is since 1983, part of a nature reservation called: Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi.


Geographical information

Koh Phi Phi Don basically consists out of two hills sticking out of the water, connected to each other by land. On this piece of land, only 2 meters above sea level, a small village is situated (Ton Sai village) and most of the restaurants, hotels, bars and shops. On the hills, there are a few luxurious resorts too, and they can be reached from Koh Phi Phi harbor with a longboat.

Nowadays, the land between the two hills has a harbor on one side (Ton Sai Bay) and a tropical beach on the other (Loh Dalum). Both sides are more or less protected by the two hills, making both sides sort of quiet waters, just like calm bays.

Picture: Koh Phi Phi view from viewpoint  Picture: Koh Phi Phi

The beach side is a true paradise. Clear turquoise water and white sands. The beach has many restaurants and bars facing the water, where you can view the sunset, have lunch or just relax with a drink in the shade.

Picture: Koh Phi Phi, harbor side Picture: Koh Phi Phi sunset

In the evening, take a stroll on the beach and watch the amazing sunset.


Koh Phi Phi Don tsunami impact

The tsunami of 2004. One of the first things that comes to mind when talking about Koh Phi Phi. When arriving at the island nowadays, you would not think that a catastrophe did take place here. The tsunami hit Koh Phi Phi Don on 24th of December 2004, 2nd Christmas day. It is said that there were approximately 10,000 people on the island when the tsunami hit. Both tourists as well as local people. There are no exact numbers, but it is said that about 2,200 people did not make it.

Around 10:00am on 2nd Christmas Day 2004, a curious thing happened. The ocean pulled back, many meters, on both sides of Ton Sai village. This was nothing like eb & flood, this water pull-back was massive. Few people realized what was about to happen and many people walked up to the sudden dry land. It was a strange site: boats were stranded and dry land doubled in size!

At 10:37am, a little over a half an hour later than the sudden water pull-back, two waves, coming in from both sides totally destroyed the small village of Ton Sai. The waves were 3 and 5,5 meters high. The waves were a result of an underwater earthquake in the Indian ocean.

Picture: Koh Phi Phi, harbor side Picture: Koh Phi Phi, beach side

When you look at the island now, you see little to nothing that shows the devastation of the 2004 tsunami. There is a Tsunami Memorial Garden. You can find it at the Tia and Millie Sunflower Bar.

Picture: Koh Phi Phi, beach side Picture: Koh Phi Phi, beach side

The beach may not be as dreamy as 10 years ago, due to the rise in tourism at Koh Phi Phi Don islands, but it is still pretty spectacular.


Koh Phi Phi Don, Monkey beach

One of the hills of Koh Phi Phi Don, has a small beach called “Monkey beach”. The name says it all. You can get there by renting a kayak, or if you are going on a boat day trip, many tours stop there for some time too. Note that the Monkeys are used to tourists bringing food. They can be quite pressuring if they see something on you that they like or want. They like Sprite (Yup?!) and bananas mostly. Keep in mind that Monkey beach is a tourist attraction and is often quite busy, and the Monkeys obviously do not display any natural behavior. But, nevertheless, if you are there, why not take a look.


Koh Phi Phi Viewing point

The Koh Phi Phi Don viewing point is about an half an hour hike uphill. By hike we do not mean a traditional hike, it is still doable on flip-flops. The entree fee is 30 Bath. Yes, the lookout point is touristy and crowded, but, that is the case for the whole island, so to be expected. The lookout point is 186 meter high and you will have a nice view over the island. Do not forget to bring water! (You can buy some water at the bottom or the top of the lookout point).

Picture: Koh Phi Phi, beach side Picture: Koh Phi Phi

Looking for peace and quiet? Better not visit Koh Phi Phi Don. If you are, stay at the more secluded hotels. If you like the nightlife in bars, dancing with drinks and having fun on the beach, Koh Phi Phi Don may be the place for you!


Boat trips surrounding islands

As mentioned, the Phi Phi area had several different islands and beaches to be explored. One of the most famous one is Koh Phi Phi Leh, the Maya beach where the movie “The beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has been shot. There are many dive and snorkeling tours available departing from Koh Phi Phi Don. However, most of the surrounding corals did not survive the tourism increase, so not much color to see. There are many fish to be admired.


How to get there

The Phi Phi islands do not have an airport. The islands are just too small for that. You can reach the Koh Phi Phi Islands by Boat. Boat departure points are:

  • Phuket
  • Krabi
  • Koh Lanta

Depending on your itinerary, you can catch different ferries. Alternatively, you can also choose a multiple day 3/4 sailing trip from or to Koh Phi Phi from Phuket. Typical prices: around USD 550.


Tips & tricks

  • Look out for jellyfish, especially the “Portuguese man of war” he looks a bit blue..
  • In case you do get stung, poor vinegar over the area that has been stung. The pain will go away within the hour. If the sting is from the man of war jelly, go to the hospital immediately, do not use vinegar, that will make matters worse.

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