Koh Phi Phi (pronounced ‘co pee pee’) is a small group of islands off the coast of Phuket in Thailand. While a small time tourist destination in the 90s, since the release of the film “The Beach”, which was partially filmed on the island group’s second largest island, tourism has exploded.
Koh Phi Phi Don, the largest island, has a pair of limestone ridges with a thin area of beaches connecting them. This strip of sandy isthmus forms a double-sided bay which is completely covered in resorts, housing, bars and hostels. On December 26, 2004, the water in both bays receded before tsunamis flowed in to meet in the middle, completely devastating the island.
Unlike Phuket, where businesses took only months to get back on their feet, it took 6 years to rebuild the base infrastructure, with construction still continuing 10 years later.
The most popular daytime activity here is visiting the islands and spending time out at sea, snorkelling and diving. While the bad weather that had plagued us up the Malay Peninsula continued, I booked a day out on a boat anyway, to do some snorkelling and check out some of the beaches.
The soft golden sand of the isthmus stretch between the pair of limestone ridge-lines giving great views from both beaches.
Beyond getting out on the water, sitting on the beach is where most people can be found during the day.
The nightlife is one of the major reasons people come Koh Phi Phi and perhaps also its worst aspect. Koh Phi Phi Don is a haven for 18-25 year olds to drink copious amounts of alcohol and act stupidly. Many outlets even sell drinks by the bucket, and I’m not talking about a handful of bottles of beer in a bucket, I’m talking about a bucket of spirits.
While the waters in this part of the world are usually clear and rife with fish, the bad weather had churned it up a little. The best area in the water was just outside Monkey Bay with large areas of spiky sea urchins and fish.
Monkey Beach is, as the name suggests, a beach where monkeys harass tourists for food. There are plentiful young and some have a tendency to chase the tourists and bite them.
North of the main islands, this island is surrounded by golden sandy beaches. Because the wind was increasing, we kayaked from the boat to the island instead of swam.
On a sunny day the island would have the mystique of a desert island with nothing more than soft sand, a calm crystal clear ocean, bamboo and, because it’s Thailand, a bar.
Renown for being the location where the movie The Beach was filmed, it’s a popular place with people swarming to it every day. While the beach is spectacular, it’s still little more than just a golden sand beach with limestone hills around the mouth of the bay.
The inland area, as seen on the movie, is not actually on the islands. But around the bay around the beach has crystal clear turquoise waters.
Overall, Koh Phi Phi was a little disappointing as its main purpose seems to revolve around young adults getting hammered, spending the day recovering on the beach before doing it again the next night. The setting is beautiful and was otherwise only hampered by the rain.
Next we cross the Malay Peninsula to the island of Koh Samui.
The Trail Wanderers