Leonardo di Caprio's island paradise in The Beach made Koh Phi Phi world famous. Its obvious beauty is the draw, but now it's overrun by young partiers and lacks local flavor. Because of this, I spent less than 24 hours on the island, fitting in a 6 hour sunset tour, dinner and just barely made it onto the boat back to Krabi in the morning.
Here's how to pack in a tour, snap some pics and make the most of a short amount of time.
Koh Phi Phi
Getting there and accommodation:
The ferry only takes a couple of hours from Railay Beach East and costs about 600 baht. Krabi and Koh Lanta are also starting-off points, and Koh Lanta is another destination in the area to explore.
There's ample hostel accommodation, but if you want something nicer, it's worth planning ahead or finding a nice hotel on the beach. I found a really cheap bed for 250 baht right in the middle of everything. Keep in mind that hostel owners often change the price any given night, so bargain or shop around if you can.
There are no mopeds or cars, so walking is your only mode of transportation. Longtail boats take you to the the neighboring areas. And I will say, it was refreshing to walk without dodging cars and mopeds.
Places to visit:
My sunset tour only cost 350 baht, included some food (that I found unappealing), 5 stops around the southern island, including famous Maya Bay, and snorkel equipment (no fins).
There are many pricier tours, but you can find one for a good deal if you don't take the first offer. Shop around and price compare. Wait until you find the 350 baht deal.
This island was easily the prettiest I'd seen and stops included snorkeling, up-close monkey visits, and a cliff-lined sunset. Also, the water is cooler than the Gulf of Thailand.
There is a fee to visit Maya Bay, and crowds of people are lining the beach. My boat didn't care about visiting at first, but then as we went around the back, some people decided to make the swim to the ladder. You'll jump in the water with cash in hand, climb the ladder, and fork over the money to access Maya Bay this way. The rest of the boat will wait for you to do this.
If you're on Koh Phi Phi longer, you can always access the bay as its own tour. This will cost more, but may be worth it to you, especially if you have enough people to split the cost.
After the ride, my best meal was at Papaya, reason enough for a visit to the island.
Early the next morning, I found any travel shop to purchase a ferry ticket back to Krabi. The prices all seemed to be the same, but head to the ferry early. I barely made it on the boat because the ticket office told me the wrong time.
After spending a couple of weeks exploring the southern islands, I was ready to head north to mountain cities Chiang Mai and Pai for very different views and experiences. The prices are also cheaper, and at this point, I was ready for more bang for my buck.