How to get from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi
Koh Phi Phi, a breathtaking paradise nestled among the Thai islands, has garnered worldwide recognition as a dream destination. Since the release of Alex Garland’s novel, which was later adapted into a film in 2000, countless adventure-seekers have flocked to this hidden gem in the Andaman Sea, yearning to discover their own personal haven amidst unparalleled tropical beauty.
Unveiling the Island’s Evolution
Over the years, Koh Phi Phi has undergone significant transformations, primarily in terms of the skyrocketing number of tourists who visit the island annually and the proliferation of modern resorts. Towering limestone cliffs, crystalline turquoise waters, and idyllic white sand beaches still grace the island’s landscape, but the rampant development witnessed in the past decade has sparked heated debates. Supporters of preserving the island’s natural character clash with those who see only lucrative prospects for financial gain, and a compromise has yet to be reached. However, you can play your part in preserving the essence of Koh Phi Phi by adopting conscientious behavior and supporting operators who adhere to sustainable practices when providing services to tourists.
Embarking on the Journey from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi
Located in the picturesque Phang Nga Bay, roughly midway between Phuket and Krabi, the Phi Phi Islands serve as a gateway to other southern destinations, including Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, the Trang islands, the mainland (Krabi), and even Langkawi Island in Malaysia. Departures from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi are available daily, with some journeys connecting onward to these alluring locations.
Setting Sail from Phuket
In Phuket, boats to Koh Phi Phi depart from the Tha Rassada pier, situated southeast of Phuket Town. On Koh Phi Phi, the primary hub for boat activity is Ao Ton Sai on the larger Phi Phi Don, although some boats from Phuket also dock at the more secluded Laem Thong pier in the island’s northern region.
Ferrying Across the Andaman Sea
Chao Koh Group offers the quickest ferry service to Koh Phi Phi, boasting air-conditioned cabins and providing life vests for all passengers. The journey from Rassada pier to Ton Sai pier spans approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, with a fare of THB 600. Departures are available twice daily at 11 am and 3 pm, with the latter being the final boat of the day from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi.
Pro Tip: The Andaman Sea, a part of the vast Indian Ocean, occasionally experiences choppy waters. If you are prone to seasickness, it is advisable to take necessary precautions and medications well in advance.
Andaman Wave Master also offers a comparable service from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi, with stops at both piers. The journey takes approximately two hours to reach Ton Sai and three hours to reach Laem Thong. Passengers traveling between Ton Sai and Laem Thong piers will need to transfer to a shuttle boat. Throughout the year, there are two daily departures at 8:30 am and 1:30 pm, and during the high season, an additional departure at 11:30 am may be available. Ticket prices amount to THB 700 for Ton Sai and THB 800 for Laem Thong. If you plan to stay at one of the upscale 5-star resorts in Laem Thong, opting for Andaman Wave Master boats is highly recommended.
Note: All passengers arriving at Ton Sai pier must pay a THB 20 ‘pier’ fee, intended for island cleaning purposes.
Exploring the Islands Beyond
Thanks to its strategic location within the heart of Phang Nga Bay, Koh Phi Phi acts as a vital link to numerous southern destinations, such as Krabi, Ao Nang, Railey Beach, Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, the Trang islands, and even Langkawi in Malaysia.
From Koh Phi Phi to Krabi
Four boats operate daily from Koh Phi Phi to Khlong Jilard Pier in Krabi. Two of these boats are operated by Chao Koh Group, departing at 9 am and 1:30 pm, with a fare of THB 600 and a travel time of approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Andaman Wave Master also offers two departures at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm, with a fare of THB 450 and a travel time of 2 hours.
From Koh Phi Phi to Ao Nang and Railey Beach
Ferries bound for Ao Nang also serve as a means of reaching Railey Beach, although a transfer to a smaller shuttle boat is typically required. Departures from Koh Phi Phi to Ao Nang occur at 3:30 pm, with a fare of THB 450, taking approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
From Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta, the Trang islands, and Koh Lipe
Ferries departing from Koh Phi Phi to Koh Lanta require a travel time of 1 to 1.5 hours. Daily departures include two boats at 11:30 am, one boat at 3 pm, and an additional boat at 3:30 pm. Ticket prices are THB 450 for Andaman Wave Master and THB 600 for Chao Koh Group.
Navigating Koh Phi Phi
Encompassing 28 square kilometers of lush forests fringed by pristine white sand beaches in the midst of Phang Nga Bay, Koh Phi Phi lacks paved roads. Thus, be prepared for ample walking and exploration. Additionally, you can charter a longtail boat for short trips around Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh, with numerous options available in and around Ao Ton Sai. Most accommodations and services, including the Phi Phi Island Hospital, are concentrated in Ton Sai Village, located on the southern side of the narrow isthmus connecting Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh.
Discovering Koh Phi Phi’s Stunning Beaches
Although Ton Sai Bay remains the island’s bustling epicenter, it still retains its mesmerizing allure, providing an ideal spot to revel in the sea’s splendor. Journeying eastward along a narrow path adorned with tour operator shops, restaurants, and guesthouses will lead you to the delightful Hat Hin Khom beach.
Venturing north from Ton Sai Bay across the isthmus, you’ll encounter Ao Lo Dalam, a paradise for party enthusiasts.
For the finest coral formations along Koh Phi Phi’s coast, head to Hat Yao (Long Beach), facing south and offering the most swimmer-friendly experience among all the island’s beaches.
The eastern side boasts two enchanting bays, Ao Laem Thong and Ao Lo Bakao, known for their high-end resorts.
Smaller bays, including Hat Phak Nam, Hat Rantee, and Hat To Koh, cater to budget-conscious travelers, providing a serene escape from the crowds of Ton Sai and Lo Dalam. Exploring these beaches is best achieved by hiring a longtail boat for a personalized bay-hopping adventure.
Pro Tip: Camping is no longer permitted on Maya Beach on Phi Phi Leh, which featured prominently in the movie “The Beach.” Nonetheless, you can still enjoy the beach during the daytime. For a more private experience, consider hiring a longtail boat and arriving early in the morning.
Choosing the Perfect Accommodation
- Rule #1: Plan ahead and book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak periods.
- Rule #2: If you prefer not to pre-book, don’t shy away from the touts who greet arriving boats. Though they can be bothersome, they can assist you in finding accommodation, which is no easy task on Koh Phi Phi these days!
- Rule #3: Adjust your budget accordingly. A budget of THB 1,000 on Koh Phi Phi typically provides a simple, no-frills accommodation option, often in the form of a Thai bungalow equipped with a fan and lacking hot water.
Experiences and Activities
Despite its modest size, Koh Phi Phi offers an abundance of activities beyond the realm of bucket-drinking parties and leisurely sunbathing. Snorkeling, diving, kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, and breathtaking viewpoints to soak in the island’s stunning beauty are just the beginning. You can even enroll in beachside yoga classes or embark on an evening cruise to witness the mesmerizing display of bioluminescent plankton along the island’s shores. Your journey to Koh Phi Phi promises an unforgettable experience—why would you miss out?