The Phi Phi Islands

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The Phi Phi Islands are an island group in Thailand, between the large island of Phuket and the west Strait of Malacca coast of the mainland.

The islands are administratively part of Krabi province. Ko Phi Phi Don meaning “island” in the Thai language is the largest island of the group, and is the most populated island of the group, although the beaches of the second largest island, Ko Phi Phi Lee (or “Ko Phi Phi Leh”), are visited by many people as well. The rest of the islands in the group, including Bida Nok, Bida Noi, and Bamboo Island (Ko Mai Phai), are not much more than large limestone rocks jutting out of the sea. The Islands are reachable by speedboats or Long-tail boats most often from Krabi Town or from various piers in Phuket Province.

Phi Phi Don was initially populated by Muslim fishermen during the late-1940s, and later became a coconut plantation.  The actual population however, if counting laborers, especially from the north-east, is much more Buddhist these days. The population is between 2,000 and 3,000 people (2013).

The islands came to worldwide prominence when Ko Phi Phi Leh was used as a location for the 2000 British-American film The Beach. This attracted criticism, with claims that the film company had damaged the island’s environment, since the producers bulldozed beach areas and planted palm trees to make it resemble description in the book, an accusation the film’s makers contest. An increase in tourism was attributed to the film’s release, which resulted in increases in waste on the Islands, and more developments in and around the Phi Phi Don Village. Phi Phi Lee also houses the “Viking Cave”, where there is a thriving industry harvesting edible bird’s nest. Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island’s infrastructure was destroyed. As of 2010 most, but not all, of this has been restored.

Geography : There are six islands in the group known as Phi Phi. They lie 40 kilometres (25 miles) south-east of Phuket and are part of Hat Nopparat Thara-Ko Phi Phi National Park which is home to an abundance of corals and marine life. There are limestone mountains with cliffs, caves, and long white sandy beaches. The national park covers a total area of 242,437 rai (38,790 ha).

Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lee are the largest and most well-known islands. Phi Phi Don is 9.73 square kilometres (3.76 square miles): 8 kilometres (5.0 miles) in length and 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) wide. Phi Phi Lee is 2 kilometres (1.2 miles). In total, the islands occupy 12.25 square kilometres (4.73 square miles).

Holidays & Festivals : January: New Year. Calms down around January 6th., February: Chinese New Year , April: Songkran Festival (Thai New Year) , November: Loy Kratong , December: Christmas. High season. Book early.

Access info : By boat : Tonsai Pier, situated in the center of Tonsai Bay, north of of Phi Phi Don.To/From Phuket: Ferries leave from Phuket daily at 08:30, 11:00, 13:30 and 15:00 via Rassada Pier or Sea Angel Pier.From Ao Nang: Ferry leave from Ao Nang once daily at 09:30 via Nopparat Thara Pier. 2 hrs.From Rai Leh: -Ferry leaves from Rai Leh once daily at 09:45 via Railay Bay , From Krabi Town: Ferries leave from Krabi Town daily at 09:00, 10:30, 13:30, 15:00 and 16:00 via Klong Jilad Pier. From Ko Lanta: Ferries leave from Ko Lanta daily at 08:00 and 13:00 via Saladan Pier , By plane : Krabi International Airport (KBV) is about 10 km from the city limits, 15 km from the city centre, 40 km from Ao Nang and 23 km from Had Yao.Thai Airways operates daily direct flights to/from Bangkok , By bus : Buses from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal  to Krabi take about 12 hours  , By car : From Bangkok: Proceed along Hwy 4, passing Phetchaburi–Prachuap Khiri Khan–Chumphon–Ranong–Phang Nga, to Krabi. The total distance is 946 km. By train :  The nearest train station to Krabi is in Trang province which is just south of Krabi.

Highlights :

  • Phi Phi Don (  the largest of the 6 Phi Phi islands) , Viewpoint , Monkey Beach
  • Tsunami Memorial Garden , Yao Beach Yao Beach – south of Ton Sai
  • Lanti Beach Next  to Yao Beach , Hin Khao Beach , Ton Sai Bay , Laem Tong Laem Thong –  a lovely quiet beach , Phi Phi Leh The second largest of the Phi Phi Islands
  • Phaya Naak Cave
  • Maya Bay  has arguably Phi Phi’s most fantastic beach and was the location for the movie The Beach (Leonardo DiCaprio) in 1998
  • Yung Island (Mosquito Island) This island north of Phi Phi Don
  • Pai Island (Bamboo Island) Not far from Yung Island is Pai Island.

Activities : Diving , Boat Tours , Snorkelling , Yoga Classes , Rock Climbing , Kayaking , Cliff Jumping , Bird Watching , Fishing

Go next : Ao Nang /  Krabi Town  / Phuket / Railay beach

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