Getting to Koh Phi Phi is an adventure in itself. Assuming that your base is Phuket, there are numerous options that you can consider for a quick day-trip out to the Phi Phi islands. You can either take a ferry (express boat), speedboat, long boat, or a private charter; with speedboat being the fastest option.
Please note: Speedboats are not recommended for pregnant women. Express boats will not stop at any of the luxurious beaches; they only pass by. To get onto a beach from an express boat, you have to arrange your own transfer to a smaller or long boat at Tonsai Pier.
The best time to visit is during the high season (November to April), when the water is at it’s calmest. During the low season (May to October), expect the ride to be choppy from waves that range from 1-3 meter (3-9 foot) high. Take motion sickness pills and sit in the back of the boat if you’re easily seasick.
My friends and I had originally booked our speedboat tour through Simba Sea Trips since it is the only company we found that offers a sunrise tour. Choosing the sunrise tour would allow us to get to the Phi Phi Islands about an hour before everyone else. Unfortunately, two days prior to our arrival in Phuket, we received an email stating that, due to the poor weather conditions, it was deemed unsafe to travel in open seas. Although we were given a prompt refund shortly after receiving the email. Luckily, the weather cleared up when we arrived in Phuket we were able to book our tour with Tour-By-You through our hotel (The Holiday Inn Resort in Patong Beach) after checking with the front desk to see if it was safe to travel out by speedboat.
Their shuttle bus picked us up in the morning from our hotel to Royal Phuket Marina. Not long after arriving and going over basic rules, we were off on our adventure.
First, a brief two minute stop in front of Viking Cave, also known as, Bird Nests Cave. Its name was derived from the cave paintings inside that resemble ancient Viking ships. The cave is also a major nesting site for the swifts. The bamboo scaffolds are used by collectors to harvest the bird nests (an expensive Chinese delicacy), purged high on the ceiling. From afar, it almost looks like a bunch of shipwrecked ships. While we didn’t have a chance to go to shore and explore the cave itself, I’m sure that’s something you can work out with your captain.
Also known as Pileh Cove, this is an incredible sight to be seen. With its crystal clear emerald water surrounded by towering limestone karst cliffs, it’s a little piece of paradise. Jump in! It’s warm! I promised. Our tour company allowed us to dive in and swim around for about 10-15 minutes before we were whisked away to our next location.
Loh Samah Bay
On the east side of Phi Phi Ley, Loh Samah Bay is a popular snorkeling and diving site. Not as beautiful as Pileh Cove, Loh Samah Bay makes up for it with the abundance of reef fishes swimming around you while snorkeling.
“I guess there’s this urban myth going around here at the moment. It’s about a beach…And this beach is perfect, man. It’s an island…hidden from the sea. Now imagine. You got pure white sand, crystal clear water, palm trees…there’s only a few people who knows exactly where it is and they keep it absolutely secret.”
You’ve all seen the movie, ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio. In fact, that’s probably the entire reason of you booked this tour. To be able to say that you’ve been there. There problem is, the word is out. And what was once a “secret beach” is no longer a secret.
The beach seen in the film is not the same as in real life. There is a opening between mountains on the actual beach in Thailand. Using Special FX, surrounding mountains were added in during the post-production phase. The beach was flattened while trees and vegetation were bulldozed to create a larger beach. The Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, however, has reshaped the beach to its natural look, though irreversibly damaging the coral reefs.
If you’re looking to capture that perfect photo of this paradise, chances are, and let’s face it, is probably NEVER going to happen (unless you camp there). With hundreds on hundreds of tourists are trying to do the same. And boats lined up side-by-side down the entire coast, it’s difficult to fully enjoy the beauty of the beach. It is almost impossible to sit, let alone, lay down and relax with the heavy foot traffic.
Hence, my recommendation on a tour that allows you to get there earlier than the crowd.
While our boat didn’t actually dock at Monkey Beach (might depend on your tour company, season or weather), we were provided with chopped bananas to throw to the monkeys on shore before speeding off to the next destination. Be careful as the monkeys can sometimes be aggressive.
Laem Tong Beach
As part of the speedboat tour, lunch was provided at Phi Phi Natural Resort on Laem Tong Beach. Here, the resort provided a buffet spread in which both westernized and Thai food flavors. After you are done eating, lay out on the beach chairs and gaze out onto the ocean.
Bamboo Island is a secluded island away from Phi Phi Ley and Phi Phi Don. It was our last stop of the trip. Unlike Maya Bay, there are significantly less people here. The large stretch of creamy white sand and pristine water makes for a perfect getaway. The hour long stay was the longest stop on the entire tour, allowing everyone to stretch out, soak in the sun and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Tour-By-You – 3,200THB ( $103USD)
Tel: +66 81 693 0042
Simba Sea Trips – 3,600THB ($116USD)
Tel: +66 81 787 7702