Koh Phi Phi Islands Overview
The Phi Phi (pee-pee) Islands (หมู่เกาะพีพี) are located in the Andaman Sea Southwest of Krabi mainland by 35 kilometers (22 miles) and almost due west from Koh Jum Island by 20 kilometers (12 miles). Phuket is located west of Koh Phi Phi about 43 kilometers away. So these islands are nestled between, triangulated between, these three landmarks.
The shape of the Phi Phi Island (Koh Phi Phi Don) is something like a backward letter ‘h’. The long-stroke is about 9 kilometers long, the arch is 1 kilometer, and the small part of the ‘h’ is 3.5 km long. This island has two mountain peaks connected by the 1-kilometer long sandy stretch where most of the businesses are located because it is flat land, and right on the beach.
The much smaller Koh Phi Phi Leh Island is located due south about 3 kilometers away and is only about 4 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide. This island is home to the absolutely stunning “Maya Bay” – see photo below.
The Phi Phi Islands were horribly affected by the Boxing Day Tsunami of December 2004 when eleven persons were killed. There is a video on YouTube that shows some of what went on. A ten-foot wave came from one direction, and an eighteen-foot wave came from the other side. When they met there was near complete and catastrophic devastation of all homes and businesses located near sea level.
It took a few years to rebuild, and rebuild they have. Some say they overdid it. Surely for anyone that visited these pristine islands in the past – say the late 1990’s – you won’t even recognize them, except for the major geological features. The mountains are still there. The lookout to see the stunning view is still there.
Now there are businesses jammed into every space where there could possibly be one. There are thousands of people arriving each day, and maybe even thousands of Chinese by themselves arrive each day. There has been something of an uproar by environmentalists who say the islands have been overrun with tourists now and there are too many visitors to the national park. There was a photo circulating on social media for a while, taken by my friend, in which there were literally hundreds, and maybe a thousand or more people standing on one of the beaches of Phi Phi.
They seemed to be all Chinese tourists on tours. Chinese tourists have absolutely inundated Thailand in 2015, and there is such crowding at some tourist spots like these islands, that it makes it not even a fun trip anymore.
There are around 3,000 permanent residents on the islands at any time.
There are no vehicles on the island, the only motorized vehicles are supposed to be for emergency services. There are plenty of bicycles, but most people just walk around because everything is very close and easy to get to.
There are a few very fun things to do on the islands. Like what?
Activities on Koh Phi Phi
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Rock Climbing
- Sightseeing (Hike to viewpoint)
- Shopping for Souvenirs
Weather in Phi Phi?
The weather on the islands is a bit more extreme than it is on mainland krabi because you have more wind, and waves to deal with. During the May through October timeframe, there are higher waves than at other times of the year. Large waves and small long-tail boats aren’t a good mix. These boats can capsize and sometimes do. It isn’t advised to take small boats during any high-wave periods, or when the day may turn stormy. During the rainy season that can be anytime.
How to Travel to Koh Phi Phi?
KBV airport in Krabi is probably your first point of arrival. From there you can take a ferry from Noppharat Thara Beach, Phuket, or Koh Lanta Islands daily.
(click map to enlarge)
Reserve a TOUR to Koh Phi Phi Islands see HERE.