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This guide is written by a local, it’s a bit different from the rest. Most blogs which list things in Phi Phi Island are basically identical.
Maya Bay, Bamboo Island, Viking Cave, Monkey Beach…. Yada Yada Yada… We Know!
Let me tell you there are way more things to do in Phi Phi Island than just Maya Bay. In Fact I’ve lumped all these ‘popular places’ into one category; the Phi Phi Island Tour.
So if you’re looking for some different ways to spend your time in Phi Phi Island, or you want to read the only Phi Phi Islands Things to do guide which does not list Maya Bay! Then keep reading.
Phi Phi Island holds a spot on almost every traveler’s bucket list, and it is clear why that is. It’s one of the most photogenic locations in all of Thailand. The place really feels magical.
Koh Phi Phi has a perfect balance of nature mixed with some unique activities on the land too. It’s a tourist town, and locals are constantly coming up with new business ideas.
However the one thing to do in Phi Phi Island that hasn’t changed since the 1970s, is the Phi Phi Island Boat Tour. This is probably the most well known thing to do on Koh Phi Phi. Some people even break down the boat tours and consider each stop to be an individual thing to do!
Whichever tour you choose, they all visit the same locations! But the real difficulty of picking a boat tour is not by which places the tour visits, but rather how organized and capable the operator is.
Phi Phi Island is so small and so remote that there are no vehicles. No cars, no bikes, no noise pollution. It’s fresh air and a real paradise feeling.
Walking is the only choice when it comes to getting around on Phi Phi Island. It’s refreshing to say the least. There is a pleasant ocean breeze, long white sand beaches and a relaxed island pace. Phi Phi Island is one of those places that proves difficult to leave.
But you might be surprised, that on such a small secluded island, there is so much to do and see. There are over 101 activities for tourists to do on Phi Phi Island, but in this post, I want to focus on the 16 unmissable things to do on Phi Phi Island.
1. Phi Phi Island Boat Tour
The Phi Phi Island Boat Tour. It’s undoubtedly the #1 thing to do in Koh Phi Phi. Some tours start on Phi Phi Island itself and other tours start in Phuket or in Krabi. There are many tours to pick from, longtail boat tours, speedboat tours, private tours, adventure tours. And there are many operators to choose from too.
Most of the tours include some kind of water activities, almost all the Phi Phi Island Tours include snorkeling, and a lot of them also include SUP Boarding or Kayaking.
One thing that remains consistent with the Phi Phi Island Tour is the places you’ll end up visiting! Some of the most beautiful parts of the Phi Phi Islands can only be reached by taking one of these boat tours.
I’ve included my top three recommendations for Phi Phi Island Tours. If your budget allows for it then choosing a private boat is by far the best choice. But these private boat tours might not be within everyone’s budget. So I’ve also listed two of my favorite group tours too.
1️⃣ Five Star Thailand Tours
Chartering a Private Boat in the Phi Phi Islands is easily the best choice. And there is no better choice for a private tour than Five Star Thailand Tours.
You’ll have the choice between the authentic Thai Longtail Boat, and the Modern Speedboat. Both on a totally private basis. You’ll have a private sit down lunch at a private beach resort and you are accompanied by one of the local Thai Guides on Phi Phi Island.
These private tours also include hotel transfers from Phuket or Krabi.
If you’re stuck between the choice of longtail or speedboat, I recommend hiring a private long-tail boat as one of the greatest things to do in the Phi Phi Islands. The boats are a pinnacle of southern Thailand, they hold charm and romance, and are authentic to the Phi Phi Islands.
Long-tail boats are designed to be agile when navigating the shallow waters around Phi Phi Islands. There are a lot of alcoves and inlets that other boats can’t access.
Local fishermen used to use these boats to provide for their families. They would set up camp overnight at the Bamboo Island and return to land the next morning with a fresh catch.
Hiring a private long-tail boat to get out and explore the islands gives complete control and flexibility over the day, it is one of the best experiences you can find on Phi Phi Island. But it’s not the cheapest tour by any means. To charter a private boat the typical cost is around 3,000 Baht an hour, it’s recommended to book online ahead of time as most of the nicer boats and captains get booked up quickly.
2️⃣ Phi Phi Pirate Boat
If you’re looking for a tour around the Phi Phi Islands with a lower price, allow me to recommend the Phi Phi Pirate Boat!
This tour costs around 2000 Baht ($50)! And it includes all the admission costs into the National Parks, which makes it even better value.
It’s one of the most unique tours and one of the most unique things to do in the Phi Phi Islands! The massive ship is themed in the style of a nordic Pirates Ship and even has a bar on-board too!
It’s a very sociable trip which is aimed at backpackers and it’s a great way of meeting new people.
Plus the Phi Phi Pirate Boat packs in the best activities like Snorkeling, Kayaking and SUP Boarding. You can even walk the plank like a real pirate, and dive into the lagoon from the upper decks!
3️⃣ Maya Bay Sleep Aboard Tour
The Maya Bay Sleep Aboard Tour is the best choice for those who want the experience of a shared group tour, but would rather avoid the backpacking crowds.
Back in the day this used to be one of the most desirable tours in Koh Phi Phi. Up until 2016 you could actually pitch a tent and camp out overnight on Maya Bay Beach.
Maya Bay gets busier year-on-year, and the National Park is struggling to keep control on tourism numbers to the beach. So a few years ago this tour had to stop the overnight camping and switch to a camp out on the boat instead.
It’s still a cool tour and a different experience to the other generic island trips, the price is a little higher (around 5,000THB), but I guess it included your accommodation costs for one night!
Kick back with views of the world famous beach, grab some dinner from the barbecue and a bucket of Thai Whisky to wash it down.
2. Hike To Phi Phi Viewpoint
The pictures you’ve seen of Phi Phi Island- I’m willing to bet they were taken at the Phi Phi Viewpoint. It’s the most scenic point around. The view from the top looks down over the small town and both of the island’s main beaches can be captured in a single photo. It really puts into perspective just how small Koh Phi Phi actually is.
There are three viewpoints and the only way to get to the top is to hike, so get ready to work up a sweat! Which is probably needed after the amount of Chang Beers and drunken BBQ snacks you find yourself indulging in at Phi Phi Islands famous beach parties!
The hike takes around one hour, but once you’re at the top- the trail doesn’t stop there. You can descend on the opposite side of the limestone hill which leads onto Loh Bakao Beach. One of Phi Phi Islands secret and remote beaches.
3. Help With A Beach Clean Up
If you want to feel good about yourself, give something back to the island, help raise awareness for sustainable tourism and meet like minded others. Then you can pitch in and help to clean up Phi Phi Islands beaches.
Trash Hero are a not for profit organization who are expanding across Asia, prominently in Tourist Destinations.
A weekly beach clean up is held once a week on Sunday afternoons, it’s free to join a beach clean up. Local businesses band together by providing free transport on long-tail boats to reach the beaches and haul the trash back to be disposed of responsibly.
Did you wonder why you were charged a 20 baht cleaning fee to enter the island? It isn’t a scam that people often think it is, this charge goes towards paying shipping companies to haul 40 tonnes of waste off the island- each day! (Although, it would be nice to get some new bins around the island)!
You can do your part to reduce that number by using less plastic bottles and switching to a refillable bottle. Trash Hero bottles can be purchased on the island and can be refilled for free at one of the hundreds of water dispensers that have been set up around the island.
Getting involved with a beach clean up is easy. There is no need to register interest in advance, just show up. The meeting point is 4 PM on Sundays, at the Tsunami Memorial Centre.
Want the latest info on Phi Phi Islands Beach clean-ups? Find out more on their Facebook Page.
4. Go Sea Kayaking
Kayaking is great exercise, great fun and a cheap thing to do in Phi Phi Islands. Kayaks can be rented from Loh Dalum Beach.
Usually, I don’t usually advocate haggling, especially when buying services or foods. But this is a great place to try out your haggling skills, kayak renters set their prices high and expect customers to haggle- often bag yourself a day rental of a kayak for 400 Baht ($7) or less. Split that between two and you’ve got a fantastic deal.
From Loh Dalum Beach you can paddle out into the bay, following the shore to the right will take you to Nui Beach, one of the island’s most incredible beaches, (yet the awkward location means it keeps quiet).
Follow the shore to the left and you’ll end up on Monkey Beach. And yes there are wild monkeys here, so make sure to hide your food and drinks in the kayak (before you get to the beach)! The monkeys are generally friendly as long as you don’t feed them. But they might welcome you onto the beach with a quick frisk search for snacks and goodies!
Kayaking Tip: Wait until the afternoon to rent a kayak. When the tide is going out, you’ll use a whole lot less energy as the tide pulls you out to the mouth of the bay. If you time things right then you can even hitch a ride on the incoming tide when you paddle back into shore.
5. Hike To Nui Beach
Phi Phi Island’s most beautiful beach is unheard of to most travelers visiting the island. So I wanted to let you in on this little secret. It’s a perfect spot to hang out for a day and catch some sun. You can kayak there from Loh Dalum Beach, or you can hike there from the town.
Now the hike is no easy feat, it takes 2 to 3 hours, but you’ll see a side to Koh Phi Phi that most people wouldn’t believe exists. For most, the town on Phi Phi Island is as far as they’ll venture. But when you hike to Nui Beach you’ll pass through jungles, small hidden beaches, mangrove forests, lakes and even the Phi Phi Island Village which is home to a small community of locals.
There is no Google Maps route to follow, you’ll need to rely on asking locals to point you in the right direction and keep your eyes peeled for the handful of wooden signs scattered along the trail. But it’s well worth the hike.
6. Watch A Muay Thai Boxing Match
I think I can safely say Phi Phi Island is the only place in the world that you’ll find a bar with a boxing ring as a centerpiece. And not only that, but drunken tourists are invited into the ring to scrap with each other. Yes, you read that right. A night at the Reggae Bar is one of the most entertaining things you can do in Phi Phi Island.
Professional fighters warm up the crowd early on in the evening before tourists are lured into the ring, fighters are awarded a free bucket of booze and the winner gets to take home a plastic medal along with bragging rights.
The fights are always friendly- with short minute-long rounds, after all, everyone is there to have fun. Referees keep a close watch and are quick to break it up if things get out of hand.
7. Go Scuba Diving
Thailand is a haven for scuba diving, which should come as a surprise. There are stunning dive sites all over the south of the country. There are beautiful diving spots in the Similan Islands and in Koh Lipe Island but Koh Phi Phi holds a top spot for diving locations in Thailand.
You can escape reality and lose yourself in an underwater paradise. One of the most unique sites is the King Cruiser Wreck which sank in 1999 after hitting a reef. The reef was known to the ship’s crew and local legends suggest the failing ferry operator was paid off by diving schools to purposely sink the ship, creating an artificial reef.
But for whatever reason the ship came to rest on the sea bed. One thing is for sure, 20 years later it is one of the most unique diving sites in Thailand.
8. See A Fire Show On The Beach
After night falls the island quickly transforms. Loh Dalum Beach is the place to catch a fire show. Of all the beach bars on Phi Phi Island, Slinky’s is one of the best.
Entertainment kicks off around 8 PM and travelers from all walks of life descend onto the beach.
At the Slinky Bar, fire shows begin with ‘fire poles’ exploding into the night sky, grabbing the attention of anyone nearby, it’s impossible to miss as you feel the heat rippling through the air.
The performance goes on for well over an hour and see’s performers swirling fire lit nun-chucks and batons in their remarkable act. There is even a slack line above the crowds where the performers will toss flaming objects to one-another.
After the fire show, tourists are invited up onto the stage to take part in the fire jump-rope and fire limbo.
9. Enjoy The Koh Phi Phi Nightlife
Thailand is well known for its crazy and exotic nightlife which dates all the way back to the 1960s and the original Full Moon Parties. on Koh Phi Phi, the nightlife is all around.
Phi Phi Islands nightlife is unique and youthful. The nightlife here is more fun and innocent than other parts of Thailand. Thailand has a bad reputation for nightlife so it’s Phi Phi. It’s a refreshing experience.
The lack of ‘girlie bars’ on the island. The sleaziness you would find in Nana, Asok, Pattaya or Phuket is nowhere to be found. And with most of the parties held on the beachfront you get a real tropical island vibe.
There are also bars scattered throughout town which are not as chaotic, the banana bar is a cool chill out spot. The Sunset Bar is further along the beach where you can get the same epic views but lounge back in a hammock instead of stomping on the beach. And at Carlito’s Bar on the chilled side of the island there is live music from 10 pm each night.
10. Go To A Pool Party
Love it or hate it there is no denying that many people consider Koh Phi Phi as a ‘party island’ (yea, I hate that term too).
Koh Phi Phi is home to Thailand’s biggest pool party. It’s a cool thing to do, (if you’re in the 18-30 age bracket), and it is held twice a week. The infinity pool overlooks Loh Dalum Beach where you can grab a cocktail in the poolside bar. It’s free to enter, but you will be expected to buy marked-up drinks inside.
11. Watch A Sunset On The Andaman Sea
The sunset in Phi Phi the Phi Phi Islands is ****** beautiful. It’s magical, and unlikely anywhere else. There are three main places where you can catch a sunset on Phi Phi.
Over The Ocean
Watching the sunset from the sea is the best option if your time and budget allows for it. You can even book a private boat tour which includes the sunset.
There is nothing more peaceful than watching the sun go down on the horizon while you are floating at sea on an authentic Thai Boat.
Just be aware that you will need to stay overnight on Koh Phi Phi if you are watching the sunset there, there is no transportation off the island after dark.
But here’s a tip, if you are doing this i recommend researching the glowing plankton Phi Phi, as another thing to do. It can be seen after the sun has set and there is total darkness. The water will light up green and blue as the boats pass through. Phi Phi is one of the few places in the world where you can see the glowing plankton!
At The Viewpoint
It probably comes as no surprise that the busiest time to be at the viewpoint is during sunset. Being this high up makes for an awesome spot to watch a sunset from.
The trail is lit up all the way so getting back down to the town after dark is no problem.
Alcohol is prohibited on viewpoint grounds, but if you leave from the top gate at viewpoint two, there is a small and unheard-of bar at the top of the hill (Bob’s Bar). You’ll get the same great views but you can lay back in a hammock hanging over the cliff front with a cold drink in hand.
Viewpoint Tip: If you’re heading to the viewpoint to catch a sunset, 99% of people will watch from the second viewpoint. Leave a few minutes earlier and climb to the third viewpoint instead. Not only will you have a much better view, but there are far fewer people that make it that far. It’s much quieter and a much more special experience.
The Phi Phi Sunset Bar
While it is cool to watch a sunset at sea or from the top of the viewpoint, there is an effort and cost involved to get to either of these places. If you just want a chilled spot which you can walk to and watch the sun setting, then the (cleverly named) sunset bar is the place for you. The bar overlooks the beachfront in a prime sunset location.
The sunset bar was one of the worst-hit places in the 2004 tsunami, the tables and bar furniture is built from reclaimed wood retrieved after the tragedy. The barstools and even the bar itself are built from the remains of long-tail boats which were destroyed by the devastating wave.
12. Relax At The Long Beach
Sometimes it is nice to take a day off from exploring, find a nice beach, throw down a towel and get lost in a good book. Phi Phi Islands Long Beach is reachable on foot, a short 20-minute walk from the main town.
The sand here is soft and white and there are amenities nearby. You can grab a bite to eat from one of the many small family-owned restaurants on the beachfront and there are little corner shops selling ice-creams, drinks and sunblock if you forgot to bring yours.
Don’t forget to bring a mask and snorkel along to Long Beach, the ocean water here is crystal clear and no doubt you’ll want to swim in the ocean at some point to cool off.
13. Snorkel With Reef Sharks
Swim with Sharks- what! Yes, you read that right. One of the most unique things to do in Phi Phi Island is to snorkel with sharks! Hold on- are you sure that’s safe? Yes! Phi Phi Islands are home to schools of Black Tip Reef Shark, the species are a noninvasive, reef-dwelling shark. They prefer shallow waters and can often be spotted around the coast of Phi Phi Islands.
You are most likely to spot the Reef Sharks early on in the morning before there are too many people about, Long Beach or Loh Moo Dee Beach are popular places for sharks to hang-out.
A positive change after the closure of Phi Phi Islands; Maya Bay rehabilitation project is that Sharks have been seen returning to the bay once more.
14. Catch A Movie At The Sunset Cinema
The Only Bar is an open-air rooftop bar on Phi Phi Island. If you want to chill out, head to the Only bar just after sunset where you can watch a bootleg copy of the latest cinema release, unless it’s a Monday night, then you’ll get to watch “The Beach”.
Beanbags are laid out on the deck and a movie screen drops down. You can order Mexican or Thai food from the bar and even grab yourself a ‘special cigarette’, if that’s your thing.
The bar extends out over the ocean, with the sea breeze adding to the atmosphere. There is no better spot to chill out on Phi Phi Island.
15. Get A Beach Massage
Island living is all about relaxing and taking life at a slower pace. And there is no greater way to relax and unwind after a night on the town than with a traditional Thai massage, on the beach.
In Phi Phi Island it’s said you’re never more than 10 feet from one of the island’s cats! And the same holds true for the island’s massage shops. Almost every side street, whenever you turn. You’ll never be more than a few minutes away from a massage shop. But you’ll have a much more calming experience when you can hear the ocean waves in the background.
Along the shore at Long Beach, there are open-air outdoor massage shops. The prices here are a little more expensive than in the town- but the experience of laying next to the ocean makes it worth that extra 100 Baht.
16. Get Lost In Tonsai Town
Sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing at all. It can be nice to switch off and not have a plan.
Switch off Google Maps and mooch around with no real goal or intention. Phi Phi Island is the perfect place for that, there are no vehicles on the island, in Koh Phi Phi every street is a walking street. You can easily get lost in the maze of twisting streets which make up the town. But whichever way you turn, you know it is never going to be too long until you stumble upon a white sand beach.
In conclusion there are a whole bunch of different activities and different things to do on Phi Phi Island, and not everything revolves around Maya Bay!
A boat tour is a must do on Phi Phi Island without a doubt, but one boat tour can cover the top 10 places listed on tripadvisor for things to do in Phi Phi!
Phi Phi is a place where some like to party, some like to relax, some like to explore, some like to admire nature and some like to switch off. Phi Phi Island has something for everyone and when you stop blindly following the tripadvisor recommended places, you’ll have an amazing time – whatever type of traveler you are.