Sightseeing on the Phi Phi Islands

Colourful longtail boats on Phi Phi island - Jan Willem Plug - The Instatripper

The Phi Phi islands are some of the greatest islands to visit in Thailand. Where to go or what to do though? Read all about sightseeing on the Phi Phi islands here.

When thinking of the Thai islands you may have an image of sandy beaches, palm trees and crystal blue waters in mind .Well if that’s what you have in mind, then let me me tell you: You are absolutely right! That paradise image is also true for the Phi Phi islands. Phi Phi Don, or Koh Phi Phi, is the main island. It is surrounded by many paradise places. One of the islands close by is the famous location of the movie The Beach: Koh Phi Phi Ley. That location has become so popular and overcrowded that the authorities have closed it down completely to let nature recover in peace for a while. No worries though, all the other islands and beaches and bays are beautiful too. Wat about sightseeing on the Phi Phi islands?

Phi Phi Don

Phi Phi Don is the largest island, but it too is really small. One amazing aspect is the very small stretch of land that connects the two larger rocky parts of the island. The land bridge is where the main village is located, with a beach on each side. You can easily walk from one beach to the other right through the village in just 15 minutes. There are many eating places, cosy cafes, and small shops everywhere. And also many travel agencies offering boat trips, snorkelling, diving and other excursions. I’ll tell you about the boat trips later. The atmosphere on the island is very laid-back and many people say it is a fun and hippy kind of place. It is a cosy and lively village and the locals are surprisingly helpful and friendly despite the huge number of tourists in  their town. I’m sure you will love it.

the land bridge connecting the two rocky parts of the island. the island village is located on this stretch of land. there is a beach on each side.
The land bridge connecting the two sides of Phi Phi Don

Best Viewpoint on the Phi Phi Islands

One great place for sightseeing on the Phi Phi islands is The Viewpoint. This is the place that offers you the famous views of the island. You cannot miss the stairs leading up to it. The viewpoint is signposted everywhere in the village. There is a road going up and apparently there are taxis that take you there for a fee. I didn’t look for them since the best way up is by taking the stairs. There are actually several viewpoints along the path. They are all easy to reach on foot and the views get better and better the further up you go. Let me warn you though: the first stairs are steep and you will definitely feel the sun and heat here. (Tip: bring sunscreen!) But it is totally worth it.

spectacular views from Phi Phi island viewpoint
Spectacular views from Viewpoint 1

Three Viewpoints

The first viewpoint is free. If you continue from there to viewpoint 2 and then 3 you will pass a small booth where you pay a small fee of 30 or 50 baht to continue up. So make sure to carry some cash. The authorities use the money to maintain the trails and signposts. By the time you get to viewpoints 2 and 3 you will be thirsty. No worries, there is a small shop offering cheap beverages and water at every viewpoint. Though every viewpoint offers a spectacular sight, viewpoint 3  is the highest (186m / 610 feet) and you can see the entire island from the little café and terrace there. Are you going up to see the sunset? Make sure to bring a flashlight. There are no lights along the path and it gets dark quickly.

Longtail boat departure point on Koh Phi Phi
Longtail boat departure point at Ton Sai Beach on Koh Phi Phi

Boat Trips to the Phi Phi Islands

A boat trip to the neighbouring islands is an absolute must-do when visiting the Phi Phi islands. Small travel agencies all over the village on Phi Phi Don offer the same trips. There are only a few real competitors. But even so, the prices are all pretty much the same. And they are displayed on posters and notice boards at the agencies. They don’t really differ much from one company to the next.

Bamboo island, the first stop on many boat trips on the Phi Phi islands
Bamboo island, the first stop on many boat trips on the Phi Phi islands

Choosing Your Boat Trip

Which boat trip you want to choose depens on (1) time of departure, (2) how many islands and bays you want to see, (3) whether you want to tour half a day or a full day and (4) whether you want food and drinks included or not. (If you’re vegetarian, just let the travel agent know and arrange vegetarian food will be arranged for you on the trip.) You will also need to choose between a trip by speed boat or by long tail boat. Obviously, the trips by longtail boat are slower and take longer. You get to enjoy the ocean views longer though and the trip is cheaper than by speed boat.

Boat Tour Tips

  1. Wear flipflops only. You will have to wade through water before you can climb into your longtail boat. And on the places you visit you will not need regular shoes anyway.
  2. Bring a waterproof bag. You will most definitely get wet on a trip with a longtail boat. Water will be splashing, especially when the waves get higher. Do not let your camera and other equipment get wet.
  3. No need to bring water bottles. Plenty of them are provided on every trip.
  4. Always bring sunscreen – this actually applies anywhere you go in Thailand.
  5. Bring cash. Some of the islands you visit are protected national park areas. You have to pay a fee of 400 baht per person to enter them. This is not included in the sum that you pay at the agency. You will have to pay the captain in cash before leaving the boat and wading to the protected island. You only pay once.
Warm waters for swimming and great scenery on all the islands
The water is warm and the scenery is great wherever you go
The longtail boats are very colourful
The longtail boats are very colourful

My Sightseeing Recommendations for the Phi Phi Islands

I definitely recommend a full day boat trip that includes most of the main beaches and bays. Even though the different companies offer very similar boat trips, the order in which your boat visits each island differs from agency to agency. Sightseeing on the Phi Phi islands will usually include Khai Nai, Yao Yai Island, Mosquito Island, Bamboo Island, Monkey Beach, Phi Phi Ley and Nui Bay and Wang Long Bay. You may even pass the famous Maya Bay just for the view of the beach there. It is currently not allowed to leave the boat to visit this beach. You can go swimming at all the other beaches though, relax in the sun, go for beach walks, do some snorkelling (snorkels will be provided on the boat) and enjoy the paradise scenery. Believe me, the real thing is even better than you imagined!

Enjoy the warm waters but do not forget your sunscreen
Enjoy the warm water, but do not forget your sunscreen!
Sunset at Loh Dalum Beach on Phi Phi Don
Sunset at Loh Dalum Beach on Phi Phi Don

The Phi Phi islands are amazing. But there is so much more to see! Another beautiful place is Koh Lipe. Click here to read about this Thai gem. Any plans to visit Bangkok on your trip to Thailand too? Find out all you need to know that city.