Five islands make up this fascinating southern destination. Ko Phi Phi Don (pronounced pee-pee) is the larger of the group and the only populated one. Ko Phi Phi Ley is a smaller island to the south and home to Maya Bay where 'The Beach' was filmed. Koh Phai (Bamboo Island) and Bida Nok/Nai round out the rest of the archipelago. Although devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Phi Phi Don has bounced back rather swiftly. Traces of the tsunami can still be found, but clean-up and redevelopment has readied the island for tourism once again.
The only way to get to Phi Phi is by boat (there is also a private seaplane option but this can get expensive). There are several ferries that run between the mainland (Phuket and Krabi) and Ko Phi Phi daily. Once on the island, there is no motorized transport save a few motorcycles used as garbage trucks. This really adds to Phi Phi’s overall charm.
Geographically, Ko Phi Phi Don is two north-south running mountain chains with a low sandy isthmus between the two. Tropical jungles, limestone cliffs, and white sandy beaches converge above the crystal blue waters of the Andaman Sea to create the most spectacular scenery in Thailand. This area is so beautiful; one of MMR’s staff lived here for over three years! It really has to be seen to be believed.
Prior to being discovered by backpackers twenty years ago, the island was inhabited by sea-faring gypsies called the Chao Ko. Shortly afterward, the island began developing its tourist infrastructure. At present, the main area of town (Ton Sai village) occupies a large chunk of the isthmus. Beach bars, restaurants, hotels, massage shops, internet cafes, and open air shopping make up most of what the town offers. Dive shops like Phi Phi Scuba offer dive packages to various locations around the island. Other popular day-time activities include rock climbing, speed boat trips to the surrounding islands, sunset dinner cruises and just lounging around on the beach.
It is so laid back here, that leaving the beach for a bite to eat does not call for a change in attire. People happily walk around town in bikinis and swim shorts. The flip flop sandal is definitely the footwear of choice. Once the sun sets, the volume goes up, but the clothes stay off. Ko Phi Phi Don has a long running history of bars and discos catering to the ‘under 40 crowd’. Dance, hip hop, and pop are the flavors here.
Looking for Eden on earth? Look no further. There is good reason filmmakers chose this region for the filming ‘The Beach’. It is truly spectacular. Phi Phi Island’s natural beauty coupled with a well developed tourist element and laid back island lifestyle make it a must see when visiting Thailand.