1 travelfish ko phi phi November 2009

Eguide Ko Phi Phi

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Page 1: Eguide Ko Phi Phi

Ko Phi Phi Travelfish Guide - www.travelfish.org


travelfishko phi phi

November 2009

Page 2: Eguide Ko Phi Phi

Ko Phi Phi Travelfish Guide - www.travelfish.org


Ko Phi PhiKo Phi Phi, or Phi Phi Island, is one of themost talked about places in Southeast Asia,with its natural beauty and reputation forgood times putting it firmly on the touristtrail. The beauty of the island is unparal-leled, even in a region of the world re-nowned for its stunning destinations.Limestone cliffs, turquoise waters, whitesand beaches and miles of trackless forestmake Phi Phi a perfect tropical island.

Developments over the past 20years however have made itthe subject of great contro-versy. Those who wanted topreserve its natural characterhave been pitched againstthose who wanted to make it aworld-class holiday destina-tion, and profit financiallyfrom the trade. To understandthe dispute, imagine what theisland was like more than twodecades ago when it was first'discovered' by adventurousbackpackers looking for Edenon earth. They found it on KoPhi Phi Don -- a long, widesand bar gracefully arching be-tween two magnificent islands,Ko Nai and Ko Nawk, creatingtwo placid bays ideal for swim-ming, snorkelling and scubadiving, surrounded by cliffswaiting to be climbed and for-ests to be explored. Back thenonly a scattering of bungalowsdotted the island, which waspopulated mostly by a com-munity of sea-faring gypsieswho call themselves the ChaoKo, or Island People. Therewas no pier and a weekly pub-lic boat made scheduled tripsto the island.

But the paradox in seeking outa hidden paradise is that itwinds up on the map and oth-ers begin to seek it out, too --in ever-increasing numbers. The once-idyllic Ton Sai beach became a port,clogged with boats and debris, with a pierto accommodate the large vessels neededto bring the growing number of visitors toshore. The sandy isthmus is almost un-recognisable now, blanketed with guest-houses, luxury hotels, bars, restaurants,tailors, internet cafes, travel agents, banks,CD shops, jewellery stalls and clothingmarkets. Tourists are hounded by Thaisand resident foreigners alike touting div-

ing trips, boats for hire, places to stay andbars to drink at. Those who rememberwhat it once was, and what it could havebeen, find it impossible not to shed a tearwhen they see the place today. It exists,after all, on what is partially national parkland. Thailand might have created a well-managed park with walking trails, rock-climbing, caving, unspoiled diving andsnorkelling sites. From that perspective, itis a paradise lost.

But the blame doesn't rest solely with for-eign tourists. The Western world has beenpaving paradise and putting up parkinglots for a long time before Thailand gotinto the game and can hardly take themoral high ground. Whatever one maywish had been done with Ko Phi Phi, thebalance of forces in Thai government andsociety have developed the island as a fairlyaffordable resort destination for holiday-makers from around the world

The checkered history of Ko Phi Phi tooka tragic turn in 2004 when the Asian tsu-nami lashed its shores. In the wake of thedevastation, the balance of power seemedto shift as plans were revived to assertgovernment control of the island and re-store its status as a national park, allowingonly careful and controlled development.But local land owners saw this as a landgrab by parties within the Thai govern-ment. The government's plans werethwarted and private industry rebuilt, re-

invested, and expanded the is-land's infrastructure. And theydid so in short order, consider-ing the enormity of the task anda lack of any government relief.Private development picked upwhere it left off before the tsu-nami and shows no intention ofchanging course.

On the bright side, the island hasbeen cleaned up considerablyfrom the festering sore it was adecade ago, when constructionmarred much of it and filth cov-ered the beaches. Thanks to agrowing awareness of green is-sues and the tsunami itself, to-day the sand and waters arefairly clean, there are no privatecars or macadam roads, and noplans to introduce any. A fewdozens saleangs -- motorcycleswith side cars -- pick their wayover sand and dirt roads, trans-porting passengers and theirbags to their hotel when theyfirst arrive, but they are mostlyused for getting goods andequipment from here to there.Other than that, modes of trans-port are limited to push carts,bicycles and flip-flops. The bikesare becoming increasingly an-noying on Phi Phi's narrowlanes, with many oblivious topedestrians. Accidents are wait-ing to happen.

As before the tsunami, Ton Saivillage occupies a large chunk of the isth-mus, acting as an open-air shopping mall.Along Ton Sai beach, half-a-dozen barsblast pop music out over the water, servepricey drinks and provide fire shows intothe wee hours of the night. Though onaverage it's more expensive than manyother Thai islands, it's still remarkablycheaper than similar options in other pre-mier destinations around the world. Tryfinding a decent room in Hawaii or SanTropez for 10 dollars a night.

Pak Nam beach

To Phuket

To Krabi

Ton Sai beach

Ao Lo Lana

Ao Lo Bakao



Ao Pho

Ao Lo M

oo Dee

Rantee beach

Ao Toh Ko

Laem Thong

Lo Sama

Ao Pi Leh

Vilking Cave

Ao Maya

Ton Sai village

Ao Loh


Ko Nawk

Ko Nai

Ko Phi Phi Don



Ko Phi Phi Leh

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Ko Phi Phi Travelfish Guide - www.travelfish.org


Recently the beachside parties have beengetting larger, with the noise pollutionkeeping those nearby awake until 04:00 or05:00. This has become a serious issue forhut operations around the beach area onAo Loh Dalam. The licensing laws gov-erning alcohol sales simply do not applyto some bars and outfits -- those that arewell connected, local advice suggests. Manytravellers do end up changing accommo-dation or having miserable stays.

Despite the touts and the crowds, Ton Saivillage remains just what many vacationersare looking for in a fun, memorable holi-day. And in terms of the unspoilt tropicalparadise the island once was, the goodnews for the keepers of the flame is that ithas not died out completely. Ko Phi PhiDon's sister island, Ko Phi Phi Leh remainscompletely untouched, being only avail-able for daytrips by boat -- though manynow complain that the inundation bydaytrippers spoils the place in an onlyslightly less regrettable way.

But there's more: between Ton Sai andLaem Thong, at the northern tip of theisland, are a half-dozen beaches, manyaccessible only by boat, offering an escapefrom the maddening crowds. There you'llfind accommodation ranging from dirtcheap spots through to some of the mostexquisite luxury spots in Thailand. AndChao Ko still live out on Laem Thong,running local shops alongside the fancyresorts, selling food and drink at localprices. Even within walking distance of TonSai village, inland towards the northernpart of the isthmus, are a great variety ofplaces to stay where you can easily forgetall about the mall's dubious attractions.

Today’s Phi Phi can be summed up as aplace with plenty of choice, a vibrant night-life and an island which still retains its natu-ral beauty -- all at a price though. Thecrowds will irk some, the prices will makemany cringe and the disappearance of theThai smile may be upsetting, but overallPhi Phi remains a must-see destination.

ResourcesAside from Travelfish, a couple of othergood online resources include:tezzasthaiinfo.blogspot.comwww.phi-phi.com

When to goSet on the southwest coast of Thailand,Ko Phi Phi has a predictable monsoon cli-mate. The northeast monsoon brings thedry in November and the southwest thewet in mid- to late April.

September and October are the wettestmonths, but the rains are rarely all-daytorrential affairs. Instead rainy season ischaracterised by short but heavy down-pours spread across the day. The weatheris hot, humid and wet. Diving suffers withthe rain and rougher seas reduce visibility.

The most popular time to visit Ko Phi Phiis between November and February. Thisis after the end of the wet season, but be-fore things begin to really heat up in March.

Ko Phi Phi’s peak season is across Decem-ber and January when many of the betterhotels and resorts operate at capacity andeven the cheap dumps fill up. While you’llalmost always be able to find a roomsomewhere, across the peak season ofChristmas and New Year the island is full.Reservations, made well in advance, arethe only way of guaranteeing a room. Ifyou’re thinking of showing up on NewYear’s Eve and picking up a beachfrontbungalow for under 600 baht think again!

EmergencyThe staff at Ko Phi Phi Hospital seem con-fident of handling any emergencies thatmight come up -- very serious cases canbe taken to Phuket by an emergencyspeedboat on 24-hour standby and thenby ambulance to Bangkok-Phuket Hospi-tal in Phuket Town in two hours.

Ko Phi Phi HospitalT: (089) 866 4733. Open 24 hours.

Phuket International Hospital2/1 Hongyok Utis Rd, Phuket TownT: 1719, (076) 254 425 F: (076) 254 597www.phukethospital.com

Bangkok Phuket Hospital44 Chalerm Phra Kiat Ror 9 RdPhuket TownT: (076) 249 400 F: (076) 210 936www.phuket-international-hospital.com

PoliceThe real police are on the mainland andvisit occasionally to shake up the local potdealers and DVD pirates, but there’s ablink-and-you’ll-miss-it police box alongTon Sai beach between Carlitos andApache. The cops here are friendly andlaid back, but limited English is spoken.Crimes against travellers are rare so youprobably won’t need to chat anyway.

Common needsVisasCausing great dismay among the manyforeigners who live on Ko Phi Phi, there isno immigration office on the island, soyou’ll need to head to Krabi or Phuket forall your visa extension needs.

BanksBank of Ayudhya has an international ac-cess ATM on the island and exchange ki-osks are scattered around Ton Sai village.



Ko Phi Phi & surrounds

Ko Yao Noi

Ao Nang


Ko Pu

Ko Lanta


Ko Phi Phi Leh

Ko Phi Phi Don

Boat to Phuket

Boat to

Ao N


Boat to



Boat to Ko Lanta

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Ko Phi Phi Travelfish Guide - www.travelfish.org


GPOThe post office is located on a side streetacross from Mosquito Divers in Ton Saivillage. Postal rates from Ko Phi Phi areno more expensive than from the main-land, but delivery may take a little longer.

BooksThere are no book stores per se on Ko PhiPhi, but a few places in Ton Sai village of-fer book exchanges.

Internet and telecommunicationsInternet joints all charge a flat rate of 2baht per minute. WiFi hotspots can befound at Sports Bar, Carpe Diem andother areas. There’s no CAT office, butlong-distance telephone services are of-fered throughout Ton Sai village.

Arriving and departingAirThe closest airports to Ko Phi Phi arePhuket and Krabi. Both are internationalairports, but Phuket has a far higher fre-quency of both domestic and internationalflights. All Thai domestic carriers fly toboth airports. Check their websites fordetailed pricing and schedule information.If you don't want to get a ferry to Phi Phi,Destination Air uses small seaplanes tofly direct from Phuket to the island -- theflight takes about 16 minutes.www.destinationair.com

BoatBoats to Ko Phi Phi leave from Phuket,

Krabi, Ao Nang and Ko Lanta. Both pricesand departure times listed below are sub-ject to change.

To/from PhuketThe price to and from Phuket is 300 baht.Boats leave Phuket at 08:30, 13:30 and 14:30from Ratsada Pier, with the journey last-ing 90 minutes. In the reverse direction,boats leave Phi Phi at 09:00 and 14:30.

To/from KrabiThe price to and from Krabi is 300 baht.Boats leave Krabi at 10:00 and 15:00 andthe journey takes 90 minutes. The ferryport is about 5km out of Krabi town somost operators will collect you from youraccommodation/booking office in Krabi(usually about 45 to 60 minutes beforedeparture time). Boats leave Phi Phi at08:00, 10:00 and 14:30, although in the lowseason this may be reduced to two serv-ices a day.

To/from Ao NangThe price to and from Ao Nang is 400baht. One boat a day leaves Ao Nang at09:00 and takes 60 minutes. In the reverse,a boat leaves Ko Phi Phi at 15:30.

To/from Ko LantaThe price to and from Ko Lanta is 350baht. Boats leave Ko Lanta at 08:30 and13:00 (high season only) and take 90 min-utes. Boats leave Ko Phi Phi at 11:30, 14:00,and 15:00.

Joint bus/boat ticketsJoint boat/bus tickets can be quite a gooddeal from Phi Phi. Buses wait for passen-gers at the pier, so don’t fret if your boat islate. Sample destinations include KoSamui eight hours, Ko Pha Ngan ninehours, Bangkok 16 hours, Penang 11 hours,Kuala Lumpur 21 hours and Singapore 26hours.

Shop around for prices, as you’ll encoun-ter quite a bit of variation between differ-ent agencies.

Getting aroundMotorcycle and car rentalsThese are out of the question on thisroadless island, but you can hustle up abicycle rental for about 150 baht per day -- most people don’t bother.

BoatsYou’re on an island and it’s all about boats.You’ll be solicited 100 times a day by boat-men hoping to take you here, there andanywhere. Of course, when you actuallywant to go somewhere, they’re neveraround.

A longtail for a one-day charter costs about1,800 baht, a speedboat is 7,000 baht. Youcan set your own itinerary, but be awarethat some bays are difficult to access atcertain times of day.

Manage your expectationsAs you read through the travellers ac-commodation reviews in this TravelfishGuide, you’ll probably notice that agood deal of them are negative.

Possibly more so than anywhere elsein Thailand, vast numbers of travellersarrive on Ko Phi Phi with unrealisticexpectations of what the island is like.

As we mentioned in the introduction,this small island faces all the usual chal-lenges that confront over-populariseddestinations around the world, but no-where is this more evident than in theaccommodation.

Keep the following points in mind whenmaking up a shortlist. Hopefully they’llhelp to manage your expectations andmake your stay more enjoyable.

You do not get what you pay forKo Phi Phi’s accommodation is roughlydouble the price you’ll pay elsewhere forthe same standard. The cheaper options,especially anything under 500 baht pernight, will be pretty dire. Watch out fortheft, both from your room, and person.Try to stay in control. Drink six bucketsand you won’t need a thief to help youlose stuff!

Beachfront, seaview, garden viewWhen a resort says beachfront, they of-ten just mean a room that you can see thewater from. Seaview may mean you needto stand on your toes and peer aroundthe corner to catch a sliver of aqua. Gar-den-view is a catch-all for near everythingelse -- including the bamboo shack at theback of the resort between the toilet blockand generator. If you’re concerned, ask fora resort map before booking.

Service will not be commensurate withpriceUnless you’re at one of the very top re-sorts, such as Zeavola or Phi Phi IslandVillage, don’t expect good service justbecause you’re paying $200 a night. Thisis especially the case in attached restau-rants. The standard of service tends toswing between awful and appalling.

Litter is a problemLitter is one of the most complainedabout aspects of Phi Phi. If it really both-ers you, rustle up some people for acollection and do something about it.

Noise is a major problemLate night parties, often running till 04:00or 05:00 are a massive headache. Ifyou’re a light sleeper, we recommendpacking earplugs and picking lodgingswell away from the Ao Loh Dalam area.

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Ko Phi Phi Travelfish Guide - www.travelfish.org


AccommodationAs a general rule, the further you get awayfrom Ton Sai pier and Ton Sai beach, thebetter value for money you’ll find. Withinthe village are a dozen spots that arecramped, overpriced, or both.

Starting at the northernmost bay on theeast coast, Laem Thong, and working fromthere clockwise, there are seven stunningbays, the last being Long Beach. Each of-fers something different, from squeakywhite sand to chalet bungalows.

If that doesn't sound like your cup of teaand you're more looking for action, thenthe central area situated between Ton Saiand Lo Dalam offers a bit of everything.Here you'll find hotels, moderate guesthouses and flop houses. Add into the mixa couple of dozen bars, hundreds of shops,and a plethora of eateries and you'll startto get the picture.

Within this area, much better deals can befound along “Soi Viewpoint” and along theroad that leads past the constructedwetlands from the Ao Lo Dalam side tothe Ton Sai side.

None of the accommodation choices alongTon Sai beach are particularly stellar, butthe real secret to enjoying Phi Phi Island isto head even further along the coast tothe bays and beaches on the far side, thenround the tip of Ko Nai and up along theshore stretching northwest to LaemThong -- along the way are some greatbungalow outfits and luxury resorts.

Our coverage starts at Ao Loh Dalam, fol-lowed by the Ton Sai village, Soi Viewpoint,Ton Sai Beach and out to Long Beach. Itthen runs up the east coast, starting at AoPoh and finishing at Laem Thong.

Ao Loh DalamAo Loh Dalam was ground zero for thetsunami on Phi Phi, with the majority ofbungalows and rooms obliterated. Afterthe tsunami, wrangling and politics sloweddown redevelopment, however rebuild-ing did start and gathered pace until re-cently when things slowed a little.

The majority of the western end of thebeach has now been fully restored as themighty Cabana, stretching oodles ofsquare metres and encompassing an enor-mous pool. Any smaller outfits which werein this area seem to be no longer, out ofcash or sold up.

The central and eastern areas still havesome charms on offer, a handful of placeswith huts ranging from 300 to 3,000 baht,allowing for a friendly cosmopolitancrowd to populate the small beach bars.Charlie's and Princess seem to have com-bined forces and built larger hotel stylerooms rather than bungalows.

They have also completed construction ona new shopping court on the ViewpointRoad. This shopping court was delayedfor a few years, apparently due to plan-ning permissions being removed becausethe owner didn't comply with sewageregulations. The owner was also made todownscale his building from three floorsto two (in line with all plans for Phi Phi,but some are more equal than others).The newly finished building creates awhole new shopping avenue and bar dis-trict.

Lo Dalam is generally quite swimmable,although at low tide you might have towade a few hundred metres before youfind water deep enough to properly swim.Unfortunately as with anywhere that'sheavily populated there is an element ofgarbage which makes its way to the sea;

fortunately plastic bags can't sting or biteso if you see one floating around, simplyscoop it out and pop it in the bins whichdot the beach. We hear unconfirmed ru-mours that raw sewage is being pumpedinto the water, although with the new sew-age treatment plant this will hopefully be-come a thing of the past.

A few boats zip around here with inflat-able bananas, while wake boarding andparagliding is on offer as well. A large arearight at the centre of the beach has beenroped off for children. The sea here hasalso been cleared of any small rocks. Thenightly waste which is dumped on thebeach from revellers at Slinkies, Ibiza andApache bars is a concern, but the authori-ties have made an effort to ensure the barsdo a little cleaning for those who get upearly to enjoy the beach.

PP CasitaHuge but competent 8/10Between Ao Loh Dalam and Soi ViewpointT: (075) 601 214 F: (075) 601 [email protected],500 - 2,700BThe website and e-mail are not workingat present, although the staff are adamantthat they are correct. That aside, PP Casitais a maze of different types of rooms, rang-ing from small cosy bungalows to largerchalets, along with classy rooms in a ho-tel-like block structure. Staff are ultra-ef-ficient, speak good English and will behappy to show you several rooms, all ofwhich are particularly clean and present-able. All are air-con, have good beds, styl-ish but small bathrooms, and mini deckswith a smattering of garden surrounds.Most of the rooms are in close vicinity tothe swimming pool which is quite the envyof the surrounding resorts with its suaveinfinity edge and flashy sun loungers. Thepool does seem to be packed at all times

of the day, so ensure you grab your spotearly. The competent Flamingo restaurantis attached to the resort, which while notthe cheapest, certainly delivers in the fla-vour department. A highly recommendedspot for couples. One bonus is that thisresort is set back from the beach a little sothat evening beach party noise pollutionis minimised.

A haven for singles 8/10PP Casita is in a good location close to Ao LoDalam (the main party beach) with a great pooland fantastic breakfast buffet. The bungalows arewell designed and comfortable, each with a cutefront balcony. The resort is huge but does notdetract from the intimate bungalow atmosphere.When we were there the place was crawling withgappers and singles. If possible try to bargain downthe hawkers on the wharf; we got a significantdiscount. 7/2009

PP Princess and Charlie Beach ResortA good place to stay 7/10Ao Loh DalamT: (075) 601 166 F: (075) 601 [email protected],490 - 2,990BBefore the tsunami, PP Charlie was a popu-lar spot with about 30 bungalows right onthe water. Of course, they were all de-stroyed and since then Charlie has com-bined with the PP Princess to offer hotelstyle accommodation at higher rates, witha longhouse set back about 100 metresfrom the beach that survived the cataclysm.The first-floor rooms had their walls com-pletely blown out, but the structure re-mained intact, and they've fixed up therooms to create some very serviceable fanand air-con doubles offered at good prices.Unlike their neighbour, Palm Resort, theydidn't rush to slap together some ricketypiles of bamboo as a stop-gap. The plansto rebuild the bungalows are on hold.Without the bungalows of pre-tsunamiyears, this resort has lost a little of its fla-vour, however it is still a good place to

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Ko Phi Phi Travelfish Guide - www.travelfish.org


stay, close to the heart of the action. Theprices have risen sharply, but rooms areof a high standard.

Phi Phi Viewpoint ResortHigh on the hill - great views 7/10107 Moo 7 Ao Loh DalamT: (075) 622 351 F: (075) 622 [email protected] - 3,600BLocated at the far end of the beach, abouta 10 minute walk from the beach itself,this resort is a little secluded but still closeenough to town and the action. Becauseof their vantage point high on the hill, allthe rooms here survived the tsunami in-tact and the resort reopened shortly afterthe event. Some of them are way, way highup on the hill, especially the fan rooms --it's a long, hot walk to get to them, but theviews down and over the bay more thancompensate. The grounds are largely un-tended. The air-con bungalows closer tothe base of the hill have very ugly entrance-ways dominated by buzzing air-con units,but all the rooms here are clean, fresh andcomfy. The air-con rooms have TVs andfridges while the balconies still have greatviews. The beachside infinity-edge poolwas built before the tsunami and also sur-vived -- it'll cost you to swim here if youbring a friend or you're not a guest. Be-side the pool is a dive shop which can or-ganise boat trips and provide snorkellinginfo. Also here is a good bar and restau-rant run by an Irish guy. The Baileys OreoShakes are highly recommended.

PP Twin Palm BungalowsCheap and right on the beach 7/10Ao Lo DalamT: (081) 423 5476, (075) 601 [email protected] - 1,900BPP Twin Palms have been gradually up-dating their accommodation since therushed post-tsunami rebuild. Two typesof accommodation are available. First arevery basic wooden bungalows, which werethrown up in a hurry, rather brazenly closeto the water. All have room for a bed anda fan, and that's it. The mosquito nettingis already in bad shape in some of the bun-galows -- check it out carefully before youaccept. You can't stand up in the bunga-lows, and they are a bit tricky to get aroundin, with small porches that all have ham-mocks you have to climb over to getthrough the front door. If you share onewith a partner, you'd better like each other

a hell of a lot. Notwithstanding, this maybe just what you're looking for in a cheap,right-on-the-beach bungalow on Phi Phi-- a place to conk out after finishing up aday of sunbathing and having your fill atone of the beachside bars. The other op-tion is the newer, concrete air-con rooms.The standard is considerably higher thanthe bamboo neighbours. The air-conrooms come with TV and new bathrooms.The drawback of the Twin Palms is theloud music that fills the air until late atnight (or early morning -- maybe 5am inthe high season), so don't count on gettingto bed early. Popular with young travellerfolk who want to leave the world behind,but with a large group of those similarlyinclined and to a throbbing dance-musicsound track. The staff are rather lazy (theyreally couldn't be bothered to answer ourquestions) and the service is a little 're-laxed'. Stay here only if you love the prox-imity to the beach and the Ibiza beach partyscene.

Phi Phi Island Cabana HotelModern luxury and a giant pool 7/10Ao Loh Dalam, 58, Moo 7T: (075) 601 170-7 F: (075) 601 [email protected],800 - 8,500BThe Cabana certainly breaks local build-ing regulations because of its size, andyou'll either love it or hate it. On the plusside, it has a stunning pool which wouldn'tlook out of place at SeaWorld it's that big,gorgeous rooms with cracking sea views,and a plethora of fine dining options cul-minating with their awesome seafood res-taurant, Maya, which while not cheapserves excellent fare. On the downside, it'shuge, garish, made from block cement,and the only hotel you can spot from theocean. Whereas the other accommoda-tion on Phi Phi leans to the subtle, Cabanais in your face and proud. Families whousually holiday in Spain will no doubt lapup the great service and facilities at a frac-tion of the cost of Europe, but those moreroad-weary travellers searching for quietculture will be best steering well clear ofthis behemoth. The rooms are of goodsize, the vast majority of them corner unitswhich offer awesome views of Loh Dalambay. Fine white linens and polished woodfloors are complemented by some mod-ern Lanna fabrics and artwork. Somerooms have a Jacuzzi on the balcony. Fa-cilities include minibar, air-con, hot waterand cable TV. The restaurants and bar ar-eas often have live shows or bands play-

ing in the evenings. There are also two ten-nis courts. The proximity to the pier is abonus if you are a family struggling withluggage.

Ciao BellaCute huts with panache but loud 6/10On the beach, Ao Loh DalamT: (081) 894 [email protected],400 - 3,900BCentral to it all, Ciao Bella sits on primebeachfront land just beside PP Twin Palms.On offer are a handful of chic hexagonalbungalows, simple yet classic in design andmade from gorgeous local hardwood. Eachhas air-con, hot water, and comfy bedswith clean and stylish linens and decor.Owned and run by an Italian chef, a firstclass restaurant is of course also on site,serving Thai as well as Italian cuisine. Atthe business end of the resort, the beach,you'll find a laid back bar run by casuallocal rasta with chilled music by day andfunky beats by night. They serve cocktailsand shakes so it's an ideal sunset spot. Themassive downside to the Ciao Bella is thenoise -- simply put, it is deafening. Thenoise wars between Apache, Ibiza andSlinky's bars really do affect the folks whostay here. Staff are very apologetic, butthere is little they can do. If you are notinto the party scene,you should probablyavoid this place.

Buckets on Phi PhiA bucket is a bottle of booze pouredinto a bucket, with mixers and ice, tobe communally slurped-up withstraws. Cheap Thai whiskey is thenorm, but there are all sorts available.Here are some notes on bucketing

Buckets from new buddiesIt’s a judgement call, but female trav-ellers in particular should be very cau-tious about accepting buckets from“new friends”. Druggings and assaultsare a problem on Phi Phi. Don’t everbucket alone.

A bucket a day...Booze filled buckets can really knockyou around and you will get very verydrunk very very quickly. Stay in con-trol and don’t bucket on an empty belly.

Buckets and boxingNeed we even say this? Drinking abucket then getting into a boxing ringis really stupid.

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Ko Phi Phi Travelfish Guide - www.travelfish.org


Ton Sai villageLocated on the narrow isthmus connect-ing the two islands comprising Ko Phi Phi-- Ko Nai and Ko Nawk -- this whole areawas hit by a double whammy on tsunamiday -- waves inundated the streets fromboth sides, and the water level rose toabout three metres. But the destructionhere was superficial compared to theplaces that were levelled on the beach it-self -- most structures were left standing,if badly water damaged and in need ofextensive renovation. About 90% of busi-nesses rose quickly to the task of rebuild-ing and the only striking vestige of the tsu-nami is the street from town to the con-structed wetlands project, which is still amuddy, unpaved mess. For the sake ofsimplicity, we've divided this area into twosections. Ton Sai village covers everythingoff the beach on the isthmus from the piereast to Tara Inn. East of Tara Inn is cov-ered in the Soi viewpoint section. Stayingin the town itself brings its own uniqueissues. Quite simply, until at least 02:00,the town parties. There has been a recenttrend to hire travellers to hand out flyersand act as touts for various businesses.The authorities would frown upon this,but some of the locally connected Thai-owned businesses are doing the samething (often with far more foreigners). Ifyou like a party, like late night food, don'tmind touts and can handle things with goodgrace then Ton Sai is the place for you -- itis the beating heart of Phi Phi and every-thing is here.

Kinnaree HouseGreat first impressions 8/10Ton Sai villageT: (081) 899 1691 F: (075) 601 [email protected],100 - 2,400BLocated on a sidestreet as you meanderdown to Ao Lo Dalam beach, this is oneof only a handful of places that's actuallylocated in the streets of Ton Sai village it-self. Kinnaree bills itself as a boutiqueguesthouse and it makes a great first im-pression. Ceramic frangipanis stud thereception's concrete floor, and its blue-painted wooden facade stands out fromsurrounding monochromatic shophouses.Rooms are painted in eye-catching (or -shocking) hues of purple, turquoise, tan-gerine, pink and lime green. Their decor issleek and sophisticated contemporaryThai, with paintings and wood carvings inevery room. Though very clean, mostrooms are smallish, some made more soby walls painted in darker shades, andnone of them have views of anything but

the walls of surrounding buildings. Allcome with international cable TV air-con,hot water and minibar. Breakfast is alsoincluded. Kinnaree is a short walk to thebeach and metres from shops and restau-rants. They also have a second outfit justaround the corner which has similar of-ferings, down the small lane directly op-posite the Irish Pub. The largest beach barson Phi Phi are just around the corner, sosome rooms may get noisy at night. Staffare great. They're usually booked solidthrough high season.

Jong GuesthouseA good guesthouse option 7/10Just past Tara Inn650 - 1,200BWalk along from the Tara Inn a few me-tres toward the beach and you will see,tucked in to your right, the Jong Guest-house. The Jong is really a cheaper endhotel but it's well designed and has an in-viting reception. Rooms are bright, cleanand surprisingly large, all set back on thehill. The friendly staff speak excellent Eng-lish and the Jong experience is a good one.Rooms have all got air-con, TV and hotwater. This is the place to stay if you areon a budget but are all bed-bugged out.

Hotel H.C. AndersenUsually full 7/10Ton Sai villageT: (081) 298 2818700 - 1,500BThe reception to the Anderson is a littledifficult to find, but it turns out to be thehappiest reception desk in town. The staffwere tripping over themselves trying to

make us welcome. The Anderson ispacked in at the end of a narrow alley inTon Sai village, an anomalous little placethat is half-hotel, half-guesthouse. Roomsare cramped, but they all have air-con,fridge, and TVs with DVD players -- aswell as private baths. All rooms have op-tional air-con in the low season, but man-datory in the high. A lot of people seem tobe willing to make the trade-off betweenspace and extra comfort, so it's usually full.One set of rooms are located above asteakhouse, mainly serving Scandinaviancrowds, and as such the rooms are oftentaken by Swedes and Danes. These roomsare accessed via a different restaurant'scooking area which can be a worthwhileadventure in itself. The second set ofrooms, by the reception, are the newer.Watch out for the noise at night, as theAnderson is in the thick of the bar action.

Price is the only plus! 5/10Prices on Ko Phi Phi are crazy! This was thecheapest we could find. We had a triple room (twotwin beds and a mattress on the floor) for 700baht with air-con, but no TV nor a bar fridge.The girl in the reception was really nice and help-ful and spoke very good English. The bathroomsmelled bad. 8/2009

Tara InnFriendly family-run spot 6/10Ton Sai villageT: (075) 601 021Dorm 150B, 400 - 1,400BTara Inn has been a big budget operationfor many years. The tsunami rebuilding iscomplete and all things are back to busi-ness. The spacious rooms are moderate,but they're a tad dated and you kinda feelyou could do better. They have good bal-


Eat and meet Others


Ao Lo Dalam

Ton Sai Beach

Ton Sai village

Soi Viewpoint



1 Phi Phi Island Cabana Hotel

2 Chunut House

3 Ciao Bella

4 Garden Home

5 Garden Inn

6 Hotel H.C. Andersen

7 JJ Bungalow

8 JJ Guesthouse

9 Jongs Guesthouse

10 Kinnaree House

11 New Wave Bungalows

12 P.P. Valentine Bungalows

13 PP Twin Palm Bungalows

14 Phi Phi Hotel

15 Phi Phi Inn

16 Phi Phi Viewpoint Resort

17 Phitharom PP Resort

18 PP Casita

19 PP Dream

20 PP Princess and Charlie Beach Resort

21 Tara Inn

22 The Scenery Guest House

23 Tropical Garden Bungalows

24 Up Hill Bungalows




15 14










A Amico Pizza

B Apaches Bar

C Apache Bar (Lo Dalam side)

D Banana Sombrero

E Carlitos

F Carpe Diem


H HC Andersen Steak

I Hibaci













24 23













2 Post Office

3 7-eleven

4 Tourist police

5 Water purification plant

J Hippies Bar

K Ibiza Bar

L Little Britain, Papaya

and Reggae Bar

M Matt's Joint

N PP Bakery

O Sports Bar

P Tide & Time

Q Slinky's Bar


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A lot of mediocre guesthouses andhotels are available on Ko Phi Phi, de-spite its popularity (or perhaps becauseof it). Booking in advance, sight-un-seen, can often yield unpleasant sur-prises, but the alternatives aren't muchmore promising -- tramping aroundthe island on your first day trying tofind a decent spot, or trusting one ofthe touts who greets you at the pier.But never fear -- we've done thetramping for you.

Garden Home has unique, creatively-designed rooms in a small courtyardat the end of the viewpoint road. If youcan live without a pool, this is an excel-lent option. The restaurant they rundown the road also gets raves fromregular customers.

At the top of our list for budget spotswith a pool, you’ll find Tropical Gar-den Bungalows. It's way up a hill at theend of the viewpoint road, but if youcall in advance, they'll meet you at thepier and cart your stuff up for you. Thebungalows here are beautifully madefrom natural wood, and provide a greatatmosphere in a lush natural setting.The cherry on the cake is the pool atthe top of the hill with a swim-up bar.The staff here get high marks, too.You'll pay more than you would at thecheapie places down at the bottom ofthe hill, but it's definitely worth theprice.

Another great bungalow outfit nearbyis Chunut House -- along the roadfrom Ao Lo Dalam to Ton Sai beach.It's on another hill, amid more lushgreenery, some of which you'll findgrowing inside your room (on purpose,of course!) The bungalows here areeven better than the ones at TropicalGarden, with day beds, good balconiesand really fun jungle toilets. There isno pool, but they make up for that withtheir trademarked warm welcome.

If you’ve got industrial strength ear-plugs and want to stay right in the asy-lum, there’s a few we’ll point you to-wards right in Ton Sai village. ,

The best of the slim pickings is prob-ably Kinaree House, tucked at the endof an alley. The staff here are great and

the rooms, though small, have a lot ofamenities and a certain cosy charm.

Another good option, close to the TaraInn is Jong Guesthouse. It certainly won’twin any design awards, but for function-ality in the Village at under 1,000 baht anight, this is a good spot.

If Ton Sai village is too far to stumble fromAo Lo Dalam, then JJ Bunaglows is thebest cheapie, while PP Casita is theflashpackers and gap-year traveller’s digsof choice. The latter has a swimming pool.Bear in mind you won’t be sleeping till late-- very late.

From Ton Sai village the beach runs outtowards Long Beach and is dotted with ahandful of flashpacker orientatedouttposts. None are standouts. ChaokohPhi Phi Lodge isn’t bad, but it catches afair bit of noise from the bars. Phi PhiAndaman Resort if furtehr away from theracket and is clean, functional and verypopular. If they’re full try their similarlynamed neighbour Phi Phi Andaman Bun-galows.

Before the parties took off, Long Beachwas the backpacker’s haven. Prices havecrept up over the years, but Paradise PearBungalow remains hugely popular, whileLong Beach Bungalows remains one ofthe cheapest options on the entire island -- though fair warning, you get what youpay for! Phi Phi The Beach and Phi PhiHill are also worth mentioning, but theytend to get very good or very bad reviews...

Not all that far from Long Beach, Ao PohResort proves the spirit of the budget shacklives on -- though they’re being prettycheeky calling this joint a resort!

Further up the east coast, Ao To Koh is along-time favourite among those in theknow, and it gets oodles of positive feed-back from Travelfish users. It's on a verypretty private bay with really excellentsnorkelling. The bungalows up on the hillare a bit boring, but the ones along thewater are definitely something to writehome about.

Further along the coast again and offeringa slightly more upscale version of the sameexperience is Relax Beach Resort on PakNam Beach. The bungalows here are quite

sturdy, with lovely interiors in a nicesetting. The restaurant overlooks theirprivate beach and is designed well forjust lounging about. Relax Beach canalso be booked online. Thumbs up!

Finally a few very high-end placeswould make it worth your while totravel to Phi Phi Island from anywherein the world -- on your private yacht,of course.

Phi Phi Island Village is the only placeto stay on Ao Bakao, and it's a gor-geous luxury resort that delivers onwhat it promises. Even the standardrooms are sumptuous, with exquisitedecor and unerring attention to detail.The freeform infinity pool is the larg-est and most beautiful on the island --it features a huge built-in jacuzzi and aswim up bar.

On Laem Thong beach, at the north-ern tip of Phi Phi, you'll find theZeavola. The open-plan bungalowshere are exceptionally luxurious, whileremaining well-integrated with thenatural environment. The prices arestratospheric, but it's a perfect settingfor couples or small families with lotsof disposable income.

On the same beach is a more reason-able mid-range place that is a great spotfor a family vacation: The Holiday Inn.Yeah, that's right, the Holiday Inn. It’sgot a big pool and very decent hotel-style bungalows that come equippedwith extra beds. There's an excellentbeach for the kids, and several otherresorts nearby offer a range of diningoptions in the evenings. The staff hereare so relaxed and friendly, you'll com-pletely forget you're being billeted by amulti-billion dollar, multinational cor-poration. The prices are reasonable forwhat you get, and all the water sportsand activities on offer are available freeto guests.

Bear in mind that if you’re heading toKo Phi Phi in peak season, reservationswill be close to essential to get anythingeven half reasonable. Our flashpackerchoice for the entire island that can bebooked online is Relax Beach Resort.

Have fun!

Travelfish accommodation picks

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conies but unfortunately there's zip shadearound the area so unless you're some kindof Barry Manilow sun god the balcony isuseless until after sunset. Bathrooms arefine. At the bottom of the hill they've con-structed a whole row of shophouses. Theyhave combined forces with Rock GH nextdoor to some effect so they can offer cheapdorm rooms also. Staff are friendly andefficient. The location gives you a greatfeeling of being close to the beach and outof the melee in the village area. At nightthere is noise from the eternal beach par-ties and the roof-top bar at Banana Som-brero, but the noise isn't too obtrusive.

Cheap by Phi Phi standards 6/10I stayed in a room at street level, with bathroom,cold shower, fan, throw-water-to-flush toilet, for400 baht, which is cheap for Ko Phi Phi. 3/2009

J.J. Bungalows and J.J. GuesthouseA good budget option 6/10Ton Sai VillageT: (075) 601 090-2 F: (075) 601 [email protected] - 1,200BSet back from Ao Lo Dalam a bit closer tothe village, and tucked away at the end ofa sidestreet, the guesthouse here survivedthe tsunami and was repaired. They addedsome thatch bungalows in a small yardout the back of the restaurant. The guest-house has cheap, serviceable rooms withshared bathrooms -- probably one of thebest options for a budget room in Ton Sai

village. The bungalows are similar to theones at Palm, but are more spacious andwell-maintained, and the quiet, low-keysetting gives them a definite advantage.Another difference is the staff -- for onething, they have them, and for another,they are quite friendly and helpful. There'sa good bar and restaurant on site.

Phi Phi HotelWhat development on Phi Phi shouldn't be5/10129 Moo 7, Ton Sai village, Ko Phi PhiT: (075) 611 233 F: (075) 621 [email protected],870 - 3,000BThe Phi Phi Hotel was badly damaged bythe tsunami, but has rebuilt and reopened.The initial impression is that of a flash,high-class hotel, but on closer inspection -- yikes! The cheaper rooms have no bal-conies and views of crummy alleys. Themore expensive rooms have more ameni-ties and big balconies with terracotta tilefloors and great views but have absolutelyno tables, chairs, sun-loungers or umbrel-las, and are exposed to direct sunlight formost of the day. You could probably roastup some chapatis out there! They have asmall, shabby, mouldy pool on the firstfloor. The building itself is completely in-appropriate for the surroundings -- theyrecently circumvented local building ordi-nances forbidding high-rise developmentand added a fourth floor. The owner

wanted to put a big neon sign on the toptoo, but they stopped short of allowingthat. This place embodies much of whataccommodation in general, and accom-modation on Ko Phi Phi in particular,should not be. To add insult to injury, thePhi Phi Hotel has been busy raising itsprices without raising its standards.

Phi Phi InnAdequate rooms 5/10Ton Sai villageT: (075) 601 186,(075) 601 [email protected],000 - 1,800BNear to the pier and tucked down a streetnear the market, this place was just aboutwiped out by the tsunami, but it bouncedback quickly and has been back to its oldself for quite a while. Owned by the samefamily as nearby Pier Guesthouse, Phi PhiInn is a slightly wealthier cousin, withpleasant hotel-style rooms with tiledfloors, TVs, fridges, air-con and hot-wa-ter bathrooms. As with all the accommo-dation along Ton Sai, you're paying morefor location than quality, but prices arecompetitive. Staff seem a bit surly butrooms are clean and well maintained.There is all sorts of information about thetsunami, its effects and ongoing efforts tohelp the local environment. The ownersdo really seem to care about the environ-ment and community.

Soi ViewpointThese places are in the middle of the isth-mus, but closer to Ao Lo Dalam than AoTon Sai. The area and the road aren'tknown by any specific name, but keep ask-ing where the view point is and you'll beheaded in the right direction. We call it SoiViewpoint here, but we just made that up.

On the way there from Ton Sai village you'llpass a triangular spot that's home to thewetlands area by the water treatment fa-cility. Take the road to the left of the trian-gle. There are a gaggle of slap-dash, budgethaunts in the area, most of which we can'trecommend unless everything else is full.

They all offer cramped doubles and sometriples at competitive prices (around 300-600 baht depending on the season), butyou'll get no views, no pool and the at-mosphere will range from charmingly ec-centric to just plain seedy.

All these places will typically knock 100baht off the price when business is slow.

Garden HomeCream of the crop on the viewpoint Rd 8/10Viewpoint RdT: (081) 0894 3835500 - 1,900BAt the end of the long street leading fromTon Sai, Garden Home has hidden treas-ures. There's no pool, no view, and onlylimited rooms, but in every other way thisplace is the cream of the crop in terms ofbungalows in the viewpoint area. Recentadditional bungalows hasn't dampenedthe garden feel. Rooms are artistically de-signed and well-furnished with great at-tention to detail, and each one is unique.They are really quite beautiful, very clean,and have a great atmosphere (and someof the best jungle toilets we've seen, withfunky open-air showers). Staff aim toplease, providing fresh towels and maidservice daily. It is easy to blow past thisplace on your way up the hill, but stop inand have a look. They also have a quaintrestaurant around the corner from the hutsserving excellent food, including home-made bakery products. Bagels come rec-

ommended. High season prices are rea-sonable, but this place does fill up quickly.

Recommended! 9/10This place is 100% recommended. There are morebungalows now - fan or air-con and all are beau-tifully decorated to make it home away from home.We stayed here for around 15 days in total. Afamily run place, they’re ready to help, alwayskind and friendly. We were so glad we checkedthis place out on our way to Uphill! Just a threeminute walk from Lo Dalam. Excellent. 5/2009

Tropical Garden BungalowsA great spot 8/10Up the hill at the end of the viewpoint roadT: (081) 968 1436,(089) 729 1436tropicalgarden@phiphitravel.comwww.thailandphiphitravel.com700 - 1,500BTropical Garden Bungalows are a greatoption for the Viewpoint area, getting theaesthetics of their teak bungalows just right.They're rustic without being too shabby,spacious and full of that 'bungalow in thejungle' atmosphere. The cheaper roomshave mattresses on the floor without bed-frames, with very good mosquito netting

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and bathrooms of the sunken-stoneworkvariety. Some are rather high up on stilts,providing views of the small valley belowfrom the balconies, which have hammocks.The more expensive rooms are at the topof the hill, right near the pool. They'renicely done, though the floors are quitebouncy and bendy. Prices aren't exactlycheap but it's a unique atmosphere. Onlybreakfast is served on premises, but themain attraction is the swim-up bar at thesmall pool, right behind the reception desk;unfortunately it is often empty due to is-land water shortages. There's also twobaht-per-minute internet available. Staffget high marks from Travelfish users. Rec-ommended.

Not bad, great pool 6/10When I was there the pool was full and consider-ing the heat, it was very nice. Some concerns: 1.The walls have small holes where mosquitos canget in. We stayed in two different bungalows andboth mosquito nets were ripped. 2. The bathroomsare tiny and you have to sit sideways on the toi-lets. 3. There is no hot water in the bungalowsand the water pressure is poor. 4. 1,000 baht anight is pretty steep for this place. 5. There was abeach party every night and the bass was pound-ing so loud you could hear everything, even atthis location, until about 3am. Some good things:1.The pool was awesome. 2. I didn't see one personunder 18. 3. The staff were friendly and coopera-tive. Not a bad place if you can handle the con-cerns. 2/2009

Chunut HouseA good spot 8/10Ao Lo Dalam Ton Sai RoadT: (081) 894 [email protected] - 2,300BThe location isn't the greatest, but thewelcome is warm and the manager is oneof the most helpful people we ran into inthis part of Phi Phi. Chunut's collection ofwooden bungalows, located among stone-work steps on the hillside, is just the kindof thing Ton Sai village needs but neverseems to provide. The bungalows havebeautiful interiors with lots of creativetouches such as green things growing fromsconces on the walls and raised platformsthat are half-day bed for lounging, halfmattress for sleeping. There are good jun-gle toilets as well. Some new air-con bun-galows add value to their basic fan opera-tions. The air-con bungalows come withTV and hot water. It's a pity they don'thave a pool, but otherwise this place runsa close second to Tropical Garden, visiblefrom here across the valley on the oppo-site hill. It's one of the few places on PhiPhi with a true guesthouse feel to it. Allrepairs and upgrades have been completedin the post-tsunami years and this placehas become a Viewpoint favourite. Tuckedaway to the right side of the valley and up

on the side of the hill, it's about 10 min-utes' walk from the centre of Ton Sai andthe beach.

Phitarom PP ResortStunningly secluded views 7/10Ao Lo Dalam, Moo 7T: (075) 601 121 F: (075) 601 [email protected],900 - 4,600BIt's a long climb up a lot of steps to thevillas here and the views are great. Therooms have hardwood floors, fridges, sat-ellite TV, safes and air-con, with reason-ably-sized balconies that offer little pri-vacy. Rooms are sizeable, with huge comfybeds and a pleasant bathroom, which inthe luxury suites is larger than the averagebackpacker bungalow alone. The staff arequite friendly and welcoming and the on-site restaurant serves authentic Thai food.A small pool is located at the heart of theresort. Phitarom is worth the money if youare looking for that cool, traditional de-sign feel. You can find good online deals tosave a few bucks. Although it's not thatcheap, the location is great and if you'reup for a splurge you could do far worse.The Super Deluxe rooms are higher up,so therefore a slight workout as far as thesteps are concerned, but well worth theextra money as their balconies are farmore private.

Up Hill BungalowsSpacious and scenic 7/10Up the hill at the end of the viewpoint roadT: (075) 601 1124 F: (086) 553 [email protected] - 1,500BThough it's on the same hill as TropicalGarden Bungalows, rooms at Up Hill haveless of a jungle feel, with white tiled floorsand more modern construction, but theyare a lot cooler during the day and quitetastefully done. Their 29 good-quality unitsare spread out over a sizeable patch of thehillsidet in various scenic spots. Many havelarge balconies with views. The air-conrooms look rather uninspiring as you en-ter, but inside the rooms are spacious, withThai-style touches and high ceilings. Allrooms have private bath and hot watershowers. The huts are easy to find: take aright as the path divides and walk to thetop of the hill.

The Scenery Guest HouseA bit of a step up 6/10On the steps to the viewpointT: (086) 627 1147300 - 800BAt the top of the steep steps (but with new

development going on above it at the timeof writing in 2009) Scenery does offer aview, but the standard of accommodationis not the greatest on Phi Phi. The nextplace up the hill from Lux, it's a definitestep up with clean, bright and spaciousrooms, featuring tiled floors and a bit of abetter view, although most views are par-tially obscured by trees. All rooms havefan and private bath but no hot water. Fineif you're fit and healthy but if you plan onhitting the bars, a place a little closer to theground may suit you as the steps are steep!

Garden InnDecent bungalows in a garden setting 6/10Near the end of the Viewpoint RoadT: (089) 651 7194,(081) 787 4351650 - 2,200BLocated near the end of the viewpointroad at the base of the hill, this place is avast improvement over what you'll findon your way up the road. Garden Inn hasquite decent bungalows in a sort of a gar-den spot. They have hardwood floors andstay cool during the day. All have safesand private baths. Some of the doubleshave optional air-con. A few bungalowshave been added in recent years, and atthe top end the bungalows are quitesmart. However, prices charged here area tad high. Low season rates for the fanbungalows are reasonable, but prices risedisproportionately for the higher bunga-lows and for the high season. Your staywill be in comfort and the staff are super-friendly, but you can get more bang foryour buck elsewhere.

PP Valentine BungalowsGood deal for the price 6/10The Ao Lo Dalam Ton Sai RoadT: (081) 797 0201300 - 500BPP Valentine is located in a fertile valleythat was once perfect for cultivating riceand has now been given over to harvest-ing a bumper crop of tourist dollars. The'courtyard' grounds have been given amake-over and are quite pleasant to lookat nowadays (in the past they were wild).The rooms around the courtyard are spa-cious and quite cool temperature wise, butsomewhat spare. A two-storey buildingoffering more rooms is located at one endof the courtyard and they also havecheaper, smaller huts with steamy interi-ors fronting the road. Don't expect pro-fessional service or amenities if you stayhere, as the staff are far too interested inday-time soaps and sleeping, but it's still agood deal for the price. All rooms are fan

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only with private, cold-water bath.

J. J. BungalowReasonable value 6/10The Ao Lo DalamTon Sai RoadT: (075) 601 090-2 F: (075) 601 [email protected] - 1,940BThere are two outfits named JJ Bunga-lows -- the other offers bamboo bunga-lows and is next to JJ Guesthouse in TonSai village, run by the same owner. Thebungalows are concrete resort-style affairsset on a very steep hillside with views ofthe valley and the viewpoint hill on theother side. Interiors are spacious and clean,though the mismatched furnishings couldbe improved. Rooms all have tall slidingglass doors that give on to pleasant balco-nies, and come with private bath with hotwater shower, air-con, fridge, and TV withinternational cable. It's a better room thanyou'll get on Ton Sai Beach for the sameprice, but then if you hunt around there

are better locations to be had, particularlyif you like a view of the ocean. A smallcommunity village is expanding on the hill-side here, which may add a little noise tothe equation.

PP DreamBasic budget rooms in a long-house 6/10Soi ViewpointT: (081) 170 8937,(081) 704 [email protected] - 1,000BAs you walk along the soi towards the view-point, PP Dream is the large longhousejust past the water treatment park. It's ablend of rustic bamboo thatched-wallrooms and a handful of cement air-connumbers. The bamboo rooms offerbudget fare for the backpacker crowd, withsome of the cheapest prices on the island.The toilets however are minuscule -- evenby Thai standards these are ridiculous. Thesame goes for the air-con rooms -- barelylarge enough for a bed let alone the at-tached bathroom, but you do only come

here if you want to save cash and spendyour savings on beer in the bars. The staffare relaxed and helpful, and run a basicminimart downstairs. An internet cafe ison site and a small bar occasionally sellsFrench food. The drains in the area dohave a special aroma which lingers at times,particularly in the drier months.

New Wave BungalowsBest of the worst 4/10Soi Viewpoint300 - 700BThe best of the worst on Soi Viewpoint --the rooms aren't great, but they are lo-cated along a funky stone-work gardenpath that climbs up an alley on the hill.Popular with local Thais and some longtermers. There's also one room whichfronts directly onto the street; great ifyou're a social animal but good luck sleep-ing past 8am! The tiny restaurant besidesit does great sandwiches and pancakes, andat a good price too.

Ton Sai BeachThere's no accommodation along thebeach road heading east until you reachthe headland upon which sits PP DonChukit Restaurant, half a kilometre down.Thereafter, the resorts are packed to-gether in a row, and it's hard to tell onefrom the next. Most of Ton Sai beach of-fers really lousy swimming -- the bay is aparking lot for longtails extruding petroland debris into the water -- though it getsa little nicer as you approach theBayviewArayaburi resorts at the very endof the beach. For better swimming, headfurther east to one of the other beachesalong the southern and eastern stretchesof Ko Nai, or to the other side of the isth-mus to Ao Lo Dalam.

Viking Place ResortBeautiful bamboo bungalows 8/10Between Ton Sai and Long BeachT: (081) 930 8866,(075) 819 399www.vikingnaturesresort.com700 - 2,500BActually past the end of Tonsai Beach,heading towards Long Beach, this is amerger of Viking and Maprao Resorts.The management has fixed up some oldbungalows and have added great newones. It's inevitable that in the future thewhole hillside will be developed here asthe new owners paid top dollar for theland (we heard 300m baht for 60 rai). Fornow it still maintains its original style andbeauty. Despite the name, the decorativetheme here is not so much Viking as Tikki,

with huge wooden posts everywherecarved into colourfully painted totem-likeheads. The bungalows are standard bam-boo thatch, but a lot of care has been takento furnish and decorate the interiors, andthey all have great mosquito nets and bal-conies. Unfortunately, most rooms haveshare bathrooms, and the cheaper unitshave the lesser views and fewer furnish-ings. Bathrooms border on exquisite andare a good example of what you can dowith a little creativity. There's a beautifulbay with a private beach and not-so-manylongtails as elsewhere -- it's quiet at nightas well. They have a huge, rather impres-sive reception area for such a small outfit,with a restaurant on premises servingmostly Thai food and water sports equip-ment available for rent. This place is anup-and-comer among bungalow outfitsalong the coast, and they're getting off to agreat start. We've had some reports ofthem not answering emails so be patient.

Quirky but romantic 7/10Along its stretch of beach, Viking is really unique.It has way more personality and feels less over-developed than its neighbours, even though it issandwiched between other busier areas. The beachis really pretty and the bungalows are cute -- ourswas up on stilts overlooking the ocean. It kind offeels like luxury camping -- there were no glass orscreens on the windows, and we had to kind ofwalk out and around to get to the bathroom(though it was private). The mosquito nettingand open-air arrangement is really fun and ad-venturous-feeling. Our only real complaint wasthat it was loud -- with long-boats going past andthe staff blaring music late into the night. Itwastough to sleep, but, if you're a sound sleeper andenjoy feeling like you're in Robinson Crusoe, thisplace can be awesome. 11/2008

Bad service, not worth the money! 5/10We booked the bungalow by e-mail, then we calledthem in a day before we arrive, but nobody met uson the pier. When we came to the place, we foundout that they do not have the bungalow we booked!And the last one with the sea view was very pricey.The beach near the resort is tiny, though clean.After a quick discussion, we moved to the neigh-bouring beach and found wonderful bungalowswith balcony and sea view at cheaper rates. 3/2009

Chaokoh Phi Phi LodgeSpacious and tidy 7/10157 Moo 7, Ton Sai BeachT: (075) 601 083 F: (075) 601 [email protected],000 - 2,700BPrices have been rising steadily at this re-sort after the post-tsunami rebuilding wascompleted. Rather than rebuild on the oldsite, which was all but destroyed by thetsunami, they decided to build a new placefurther up the beach. The rooms are enor-mous and tidy, and come with TV, mini-bar, safe and hot-water bathroom. It'swhat you would expect in the price range,in a fine setting with a particularly pleas-ant pool and a notch up in terms of qual-ity relative to its neighbours. It's a bit of ahike to the town centre now, but the plusside is it's only about a 15-minute walkfrom Long Beach. A terrific seafood res-taurant is attached and on the beach sidethere's Carlitos Bar, which is one of the inspots for evening drinks, particularly dur-ing the fire show. This resort does still of-fer value for money, despite the price rises,but if the trend continues it will soon priceitself out of the market.

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Phi Phi Andaman ResortImproving with time 7/101 Moo 7, Ton Sai BeachT: (075) 601 111 F: (075) 601 113www.phiphiandamanresort.com1,000 - 2,900BIt is easy to mix up this place with PPAndaman Bungalows, as they're right nextto one another. Renovated after the tsu-nami, the rooms here are clean and offera certain sense of design. They are taste-fully done with white walls and traditionalwood style decor. air-con, TV, fridge andhot water come as standard, and rates in-clude breakfast. The beds are comfy andmake use of stylish linens, and there arenice touches like silk pillows and wood carv-ing decorations. Balconies are furnishedwith a couple of chairs and enjoy the viewof the resort gardens, which are quitepleasant, scattered with palms and frangi-pani. The resort has started offering itsbasic rooms at lower rates.

Arayaburi Resort & Bay View ResortSpectacular views 7/10Ton Sai BeachT: (076) 281 360-4 F: (076) 281 [email protected],700 - 4,500BThis resort is slightly hidden away fromthe main beach area. To get here on footfrom the pier, you have to continue upTon Sai beach to where the path ends andwalk along the beach past the school. Somepeople take a longtail, which isn't totallynecessary, but more convenient if you havea lot of bags. All the rooms are privatebungalows, some of which are quite a longhaul from reception up a steep hill, butthe views from the very comfortable andspacious verandas are brilliant. Rooms arefully equipped with air-con, TV, hot show-ers, mini-bars and safe -- they vary a littlein quality but overall are not too bad, anddefinitely a step up from most of the placesyou'll find along the way. It's an amalga-mation of two resorts -- the Arayaburihas slightly more upscale offerings to theleft and in back of reception, and theBayview accommodation is up on the hillto the right. The resort mainly goes by theBay View name now. They have a privatebeach in a cove just past a rocky outcropthat marks the end of Ton Sai beach -- it'sa little small but you're only a 10-minutewalk from Long Beach. A few Travelfishusers have complained about the servicehere, though when we checked it out thestaff catered to us in a professional andcourteous manner.

Phi Phi Villa ResortEfficient and well run 7101 Moo 7, Ton Sai BeachT: (075) 610 100-2 F: (075) 601 [email protected] - 4,800BQuite a few additions and a lot of mainte-nance has greatly improved this resort inthe last few years. There are a nice selec-tion of well-furnished rooms with tilefloors, decent bathrooms, and nice viewsof the garden. The resort is run in a pro-fessional manner and staff are friendly andhelpful. The pool is good, and overall PhiPhi Villa is probably a better option thanother places in the vicinity. The newbeachfront bungalows (luxury deluxeseaviews) are by far the best option andare well worth the extra money if this isthe place you decide on. All rooms comewith air-con and satellite TV.

Phi Phi Don Chukit ResortAging and no great shakes 6/101 Moo 7, Ton Sai BeachT: (075) 618 126 F: (075) 618 126700 - 4,000B

This place was clearly built during Ko PhiPhi's more humble early years of devel-opment. Signs of ageing are everywhere.Some of the rooms are getting a littlemusty, the grounds are no great shakes,and it won't be winning any design awards.No structural or cosmetic improvementshave occurred for many years. With 110rooms, they try to be all things to all trav-ellers, offering a range of budget and'luxury' accommodation. Small, decent fanrooms are out back, but you'll have to dealwith the constant noise of the resort's gen-erator, buzzing away night and day. Thepricey seaview rooms along the beach havemarble floors and tile walls -- cool tem-perature-wise, but a bit reminiscent of amausoleum. The bathrooms throughoutleave a lot to be desired as well -- the sav-ing grace is that you're on a relativelysleepy stretch of beach so you can spendmost of your time there and not coopedup in the room. Prices vary drastically dur-ing high and low season, which makes thisa good option for some low season deals.

Pak Nam


To Phuket



Ao Yong Kasem

Ao Ton Sai

Ao Nui

Laem Thong

Ao Lo Bakao

Ao Lo


Long Beach

Laem Pho

Ao Lo M

oo Dee

Ao Rante


Ao Toh K


Laem T


Kata Yai Beach



Accommodation1 Andaman Beach Resort

2 Ao Poh Resort

3 Ao Toh Ko Bungalows

4 Arayaburi Bay View Resort

5 Chaokoh Phi Phi Lodge

6 Long Beach Bungalows

7 PP Erawan Palms Dive Resort

8 Paradise Pearl Bungalow

9 Paradise Resort

10 Phi Phi Andaman Bungalows

11 Phi Phi Andaman Resort

12 Phi Phi Don Chukit Resort

13 Phi Phi Hill

14 Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort

15 Phi Phi Natural Resort

16 Phi Phi The Beach Resort

17 Phi Phi Villa Resort

18 PP Blue Sky Resort

19 PP Rimlay

20 Rantee Beach

21 Rantee Hut

22 Rantee Garden/Remember

23 Relax Beach Resort

24 The Holiday Inn

25 The Zeavola

26 Viking Place Resort






















See Phi Phi detail map





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Phi Phi Andaman BungalowsSqueaky clean 6/101 Moo 7, Ton Sai BeachT: (075) 601 106-8 F: (075) 601 [email protected] - 2,990BFollowing a trend in this area, Phi PhiAndaman have reduced their prices, es-pecially for the low season. Competitionis big around here so don't be afraid offlexing your bargaining powers and get-ting good deals. Phi Phi Andaman Bunga-lows is set around a pool and largegrounds. The accommodation is fairlybright and clean, but on the whole, thequality is so-so. Rooms are reasonablylarge, but the design is bland. One of thebest points is being close to the pool -- theother is the staff who seem unnervinglykind and helpful, even for cynical travelwriters. This is a good mid-range option,but don't expect the kitchen sink.

Andaman Beach ResortClean huts, crowded pool 6/10Ton Sai BeachT: (075) 621 427 F: (075) 621 [email protected],500 - 4,850BThis resort has a holiday camp feel to it. Itis beautifully designed and well main-tained, and the staff wandering around inbright shirts with 'can do' attitudes cer-tainly adds to the overall impression. Thesmallish rooms feel a bit like a travel lodge,but they're more than adequate. The bun-galows are clean throughout with a choiceof fan or air-con. While certainly not themost stylish imaginative offerings on theblock, they're more than adequate.

PP RimlayPleasant huts in spacious garden 6/10Ton Sai BeachT: (075) 601 1041,000 - 1,500BThis small outfit only has six bungalowsbut they're decent enough. They comewith air-con, clean interiors, spaciousenough bathrooms and large porch ar-eas. The rooms all front onto a huge ex-panse of grass area which is as yet unde-veloped, bar some light foliage and smalltrees. It's a tranquil area at first glance butbear in mind that this place backs onto themosque so the silence is broken five timesa day -- but that can sometimes add to thecharm. The staff here could definitely dowith a customer service refresher course.The responses to polite questions rangedfrom indifference to open hostility. Theywere slow or unforthcoming with requestsin the restaurant as well.

Ko Phi Phi on a budgetA lot of people show up on Phi Phi Is-land ready to spend like drunken sail-ors and the prices have been rigged ac-cordingly. One way for budget travel-lers to save money is to simply not gothere! But it's definitely worth seeing,so we've come up with some ways tovisit without emptying the bank account.

Getting to Phi Phi can be expensive de-pending on where you depart from. Ifyou're being asked to pay more than400 baht, you're getting ripped off. Tryshowing up at the pier and talking di-rectly to one of the boatmen. They willsometimes let you on for as little as 350baht, but you have to be a bit persua-sive, very discreet, and speaking a littleThai will go a long way.

Once you get to the Island, the biggestbite will be accommodation. There aretwo dubious places you might try: LongBeach Bungalows -- they ain't much,but they're cheap. Rantee Beach offers400B bungalows in low season. Bewarned: you'll have to take a vigoroushike to get to both these places if youdon't want to spring 100B for a longtail.

It's more realistic to plan on spending400B a night in low season, 600 to 800Bin high season. Your choices multiply,and we feel more confident steering youto the places below.

Viking Place has bungalows for 700Bin low season. The Paradise Pearl, thefirst one along on Long Beach, offers400B bungalows in low season, but theyjump in high season.

Ao Toh Koh is reachable by an hour'shike over the viewpoint, and their rateshave crept up a bit -- expect to be pay-ing at least 600B -- call ahead to makesure they have a bed for you!

There are a quite a few places in theTon Sai village area that charge around400B in the low season and 600B in thehigh season: JJ Bungalow and Guest-house, Harmony House, New WaveBungalows, PP Valentine Bungalowsand others. All these rooms are dou-bles, and not that you don't alreadyknow this, but even if you're travellingalone, you can save a ton by grabbinganother backpacker in the same straitsand splitting the cost.

Internet is 2B per minute no matterwhere you go. Sports Bar and CarpeDiem have free WiFi, which is handy ifyou're a budget traveller with a com-puter. Otherwise, you'll have to makereally good friends with someone whoruns a dive shop or do all your e-mail-ing before and after your stay.

To save money on food, eat where theThais eat -- just turn down the alleyalongside Barracuda Divers, and, voila!No more steak and pizza, lots of riceand noodles at cheap prices. Whileyou're in Ton Sai village, don't blow pastPhi Phi Bakery thinking it's out of yourprice range -- surprisingly reasonableprices are to be found there.

Since you don't want to live like a monk,you may want to have a beer at somepoint. Phi Phi has a 7-eleven, andprices there are only a few baht morethan on the mainland -- to the extentyou imbibe, buy your booze here. Also,local shops sometimes offer even bet-ter deals on bottles of Chang -- keepyour eyes peeled for signs. If you'relooking to meet some fellow travellerswhile you tipple, steer clear of the barsalong Ton Sai Beach, to be sure, andhead out to the viewpoint road.

For a low-cost activity, consider hikingover the viewpoint to one of three bayson the other side, if you haven't alreadyholed up there -- Rantee, Ao Toh Koh,and Pak Nam beach. All of them aremuch better beaches than the ones 'intown' and they all have affordable res-taurants to grab lunch at. Be sure toplan your return before sundown toavoid having to take a longtail back.

The most affordable evening of funwith friends can be found at ReggaeBar which offers Thai boxing nightly -- if you don the gloves and get in thering -- and win -- your table gets twofree buckets.

Being a budget traveller in Phi Phidoesn't mean you have to miss out onthe fun. In fact, by seeking out its cheaplittle corners, you'll probably meetmore interesting people, learn moreabout the island and have a much bet-ter time than all those suckers liningup for drinks at Apache Bar.

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Long Beach (Haad Yao)This gorgeous stretch of brilliantly-whitesand is only a 10-minute walk from theArayaburi and Bay View resorts on theeasternmost stretch of Ton Sai, just pastViking. It hosts six resorts offering a verywide range of accommodation, and someof the best deals on Phi Phi.

This beach is sometimes congested withlongtails, but when the waves are toorough for the boats, most operators won'tventure here and instead drop off and pickup at Ao Poh, a seven-minute walk to theeast over the headland. The going rate is200 baht per person each way.

If you book more than three days, somespots will throw in free transport -- thoughyou're usually on your own getting back.

Paradise Pearl BungalowLong a backpacker favourite 8/10138, Moo 7, Long BeachT: (075) 618 050 F: (075) 622 [email protected] - 2,500BThis is the first place along the beach asyou arrive and is a long-time backpackerfavourite with a lot of character and a re-freshingly no-nonsense attitude about theart of hospitality. It gets a steady year-round trade, which makes it a great placeto meet other travellers who have checkedthemselves out of the Ton Sai madhouse.The popularity of the place keeps the staffhopping, but they do try hard to attend tothe needs of their guests. They have a widerange of good bungalows, with a lot ofchoices in the mid-to-budget range -- noth-ing too swank, but generally spacious andcomfortable with private bathrooms andbig porches that are a good deal for theprice. Advanced booking, especially in highseason, is highly recommended. The res-taurant at the front is part of the resortand one of Long Beach's favourites. Serv-ice is a little sluggish due to demand, butdon't let that put you off.

Phi Phi The Beach ResortA beautiful addition to the island 8/10Long BeachT: (075) 618 267-8 F: (075) 618 [email protected],640 - 6,900BYou've seen the movie, now experience theresort. Actually, this place had nothingwhatsoever to do with the movie and wedoubt highly that Leonardo DiCaprio hasever stayed here, but who's watching?What you will find in residence are large

tour groups scampering around in flip-flops under the supervision of a talkativeguide. It was erected post-tsunami, andthe energetic, ambitious owner seems de-termined to put the place on the map.There couldn't be a starker contrast be-tween this place and neighbouring LongBeach. Staff here are well-dressed, cour-teous and attentive. The on-site restau-rant serves international fare designed tocomfort the palates of guests whereverthey hail from in the world, which seemsto attract a lot of patrons staying elsewhereon the beach. The gorgeous pool sits be-side the restaurant and has a classy barnearby. The 40 bungalows are stunning,perched high up on the hillside withbreathtaking views. They are solid teak andhave spacious private balconies. All roomshave air-con and private bath. They getbooked up quickly, especially in high sea-son, so get in early. Recent price increaseshave done little to dampen enthusiasm forone of Phi Phi's gems.

Awful experience 4/10Arrived to a rinky dink restaurant and bar areaand a tiny, lacklustre pool. With such beautifulnatural surroundings, you would think they’d trya bit harder to design the hotel grounds. Ourbungalow had no view, an old, tiny and verygrungy bathroom, and about a hundred mosqui-tos festering outside of our front door. We askedthe front desk to see a different room, letting themknow that US$89 a night (in the low season)renders nicer accommodations.Rude and unhelp-ful staff. We got a refund and left. 8/2009

Phi Phi HillGreat views 7/10Long BeachT: (075) 618 203 F: (075) 618 203www.phiphihill.com400 - 1,500BThe fan bungalows at Phi Phi Hill are largeand comfortable, some with great views,some with tree-obstructed views. But evenif you get stuck in one of the latter, thereare really great views also from the hill-side restaurant, although the feedbackwe've received indicated that the food andservice leave a lot to be desired. The air-con bungalows have the best views, but allare well-kitted out and spacious for theprice range. The cheapie bungalows haveno porches and shared bathrooms, butyet again -- great views. Located on a steepslope with lots of stairs, it can be a bit of awork out to get around, but luckily theyhave some sort of funicular contraptionto pull your bags up to the top upon ar-rival! If you book in advance, they'll throwin a free boat ride out there.

Average 6/10Stayed here for three nights in a 750 baht fanroom. It was very basic, but large. We stayed onthe sunrise side so you really feel like you’re on the

other side of the hill once you walk down the path.Stairs up the hill were definately annoying, spentmost of the day time out so we walked up at nightwhen it was cooler! Room wasn’t cleaned oncewhile we were there. Overall this is a nice enoughplace but unless you really like views I’m sure youcould find somewhere better. 2/2009

A great disappointment 3/10We stayed in a double fan bedroom with an extra''bed''(the bed was just a mattress lying on thefloor.) The staff were very unfriendly and seemedto be bored. We stayed there for seven nights be-cause there was no cheaper place available on thebeach. They only cleaned our room when we askedfor it. The ''garden'' around the bungalows is to-tally dried up. Compared to three years ago thebeach has changed considerably and the manyboats passing by are really loud. In the afternoonthe water gets messy with seaweed. We were reallysad and disappointed that this idyllic place hasbecome a victim of mass tourism. 3/2009

Don't do it 4/10We chose a sunset bungalow with fan and werevery disappointed. I was okay walking up the neverending stairs and was impressed with the viewbut our bungalow was not worth the 1,200 baht. Ithad not been cleaned properly for a long time.Our toilet dripped into a pile of scum underneaththe tank. Yuk. The deck of our bungalow was ingreat need of repair with broken, unsafe boardsand I didn't dare sit back on my broken deckchair. Thinking I was paying extra for a sunsetview was a joke. If I stood on my tiptoes and leadover the porch I got a slight view. 3/2009

Paradise ResortPopular with families 6/10Long BeachT: (081) 968 3982 F: (076) 610 [email protected],000 - 2,700BLocated in the middle of the beach, thisplace is sometimes referred to as ParadiseFamily because it specialises in rooms thatsleep three or four people. The resort hasbeen built with a subtle eye. The roomswe saw were spacious, clean and well-fur-nished, and the staff were extremely effi-cient and friendly. It's popular, and not abad choice for families looking to stay onLong Beach. When we passed by in lowseason it was already full so be sure tobook in advance. Possibly the best loca-tion, smack in the centre of Long Beach,however it isn't the best value in the area.

Long Beach BungalowsCheapest on Phi Phi 6/10Long Beach, Ko Phi PhiT: (084) 390 3190 F: (076) 232 096300 - 1,000BLong Beach is the budget option on LongBeach, and it's not a bad deal for the money.The grounds and bungalows are run-down, but here's its saving grace: it's by farthe cheapest place to stay in this part ofPhi Phi and it's on a great beach with ac-cess to restaurants and facilities at resortsnearby. The fan-only rooms are fairly

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crappy, and the cheaper ones have squattoilets, but the bedding is clean and youshould get a good night's sleep. The serv-ice is more relaxed than at the otherhigher-end resorts on Long Beach, but itisn't bad. Budgeteers, heed the call!

PP Blue Sky ResortScary colour scheme 6/10Long BeachT: (089) 881 7929

[email protected],500B - 3,600BWhomever chose the external colourscheme at Blue Sky has some kind of is-sue. The colours really jar, especially withinthe context of Phi Phi and Long Beach.The sky blue (hence the name) colours justdon't fit, but it is a theme. Having said that,the interior of the bungalows are excel-

lent and relatively new. They come withall mod cons, TV, fridge, air-con and hotwater. The bathrooms are excellent andthe rooms themselves are spacious. Thewelcome at the sky blue reception is warmand genuine. Staff speak excellent Englishand the location, close to the centre of thebeach and with the bungalows facing thesea, make this a good mid-range option.

Ao PohThis small, picturesque and often over-looked bay is home to a single bungalowoutfit. It's a seven-minute walk over theheadland from the easternmost point onLong Beach (the road goes up the hill be-hind Phi Phi The Beach Resort). It's a goodhalf-hour hike from start to finish fromthe Ton Sai pier -- but if you love to hike,it's quite an enjoyable trek. If you continueon 15 minutes or so, you'll pass the newgypsy village, and another beautiful, as-yet-undeveloped bay, Lo Moo Dee. Thewalkability makes it a good compromise ifyou want peace and quiet during the dayyet want to party hard at night in the main

town. The beaches further north whichrequire a boat journey can cost as muchas 800 baht to reach by longtail boat atnight. One thing to bear in mind here isthat we've had mixed reports about theocean -- apparently it's full of nettles andurchins.

Ao Poh ResortA great getaway spot 9/10Ao PohT: (086) 690 5086500 - 1,000BThis is the one of those places you'll findalong the coast where the old spirit of PhiPhi lives on. At present there are 12 bun-

galows, with no plans for expansion as theywant to keep the place relaxed and lowkey. The bungalows have a great atmos-phere, with stonework jungle toilets,porches with hammocks and a settingthat's perfectly tranquil. A restaurant onsite serves reasonable Thai food. The staffare polite but shy. A great getaway spot.

Away from it all! 7/10It is still there, the Ao Poh resort, and it is great!Highly recommended. Very relaxed at a nice, smallbeach. To get there, take a long tail boat from TonSai. You can walk, but it is a long, hot way with abackpack. In high season, expect to pay 700 bahtfor a bungalow with a bathroom, 300 baht for asimple bamboo hut right on the beach -- just aroom with a view! 2/2009

Ao Toh KoLike Ao Poh, this great little bay is one ofKo Phi Phi's undiscovered little gems.There's a single resort here, with greatswimming and a beach that is desertedmost of the time. You can get here on footby taking the path to the view point andcontinuing on down the other side -- takesan hour, and it's a good stiff hike, espe-cially with a pack on your back. Couchpotatoes among us will definitely opt forthe 100 baht boat taxi from Ton Sai pier -- but you may have to wait until there's afew people wanting to go.

Ao Toh Ko BungalowsTop spot 9/10Ao Toh KoT: (081) 537 0528; (081) 678 [email protected] - 1,800BRarely does a bungalow operation stir somuch positive feedback on Travelfish asAo Toh Ko. There is very good reason forthis, as this exceptional little secluded spotis a great hideaway from the rest of theisland and has a collection of 32 well-de-signed, basic bungalows, some set back,others on the beach front. The friendlyowner is very approachable as are the staffin general. Almost every room here is dif-ferent, varying from wood to bamboo tocement construction. Some have particu-

larly good views over the beach and out tosea and while they are very no-frills offer-ings, they are comfortable and all havereasonably sized balconies -- check out ourfavourite huts, 'The Beach' and 'The View'.If you are looking for peace and quiet thenthis is the location for you. The snorkel-ling here is simply outstanding. A smallon-site restaurant gets rave reviews fromTravelfish users, as does La Buena Suerte,their hillside bar with great views. We sug-gest you call before arriving on Ko Phi Phito check bungalow availability. In the past,we've had repeated complaints about res-ervations not being honoured. We havespoken to them and even tried the book-ing procedure ourselves and everythingseemed fine, though they do ask that youcall a week beforehand to reconfirm dueto no-shows. However, things do getpretty busy here in high season and some-times mistakes occur. The staff were ex-tremely friendly and helpful to us. Thelongtail ride from Ton Sai should costabout 400/500 baht depending on yournegotiation skills.

Hmmm....mixed bag 5/10Well....it certainly is a quirky place! The bad bitsfirst ... Booking via email was a bit hit and miss.The owner seemed confused about our bookingbut after some discussion sent us to a room on thetop level (1,500B). The room was very basic (whichis fine and as I expected). However, there was nohammock as advertised, no hot water at any point

during our stay and a slightly grubby feel to theplace -- holes in the mosquito nets, windows miss-ing glass, grimy louvre windows. The worst thingthough was the litter. From our balcony you couldsee dozens of empty lager bottles, drink cans, plasticbottles etc. The service at meal times is sloppy atbest. The food -- when it arrived, was really goodthough. There were positives. There is a nice feelto the place and residents would often chat overdinner or a drink in the bar. We also went on afaultless trip to Phi Phi Leh. 1/2009

Our fave 7/10If you want a chilled spot with a good vibe andawesome snorkelling - this is it! We found thestaff incredibly friendly and helpful.The cheapbungalows are small and basic, but still comfort-able and more than adequate. Had our own bath-room and mosquito net with no holes in it. A nicebeach with stunning snorkelling. The swimming'snot great at low-tide but still fine to snorkel. Lovedthe restuarant, vibe and had really good food andservice -- and a couple of winning cocktails. Onlytwo negatives, the litter, which is a problem; andthe longboat traffic -- which carries on all dayand does detract from the peacefulness. Besidesthe two major negatives, it was our favourite spotand we'll definately be back. 2/2009

Paradise away from the crowd 8/10We were picked up at the pier as agreed by phonejust a day in advance, stayed for three nights, andhad a perfect time. Friendly people, excellent foodand a stunning location. Hiking to Phi Phi 'town'is about 45 minutes. 10/2009

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Rantee BeachRantee beach was for a long time one ofKo Phi Phi's great hideaways -- nowadaysit's being outclassed by newer bungalowoutfits on Pak Nam Bay and Ao Poh,where much of what you're looking forhere is in more abundant supply. Ranteeis still a laid back affair, with only three(and one of those is only open in the highseason) hut operations on the beach. Thebeach has its own private generator, withelectricity available from 18:00 to 24:00, sotake that into consideration before payingmore for a room with a fan. Air-con isentirely out of the question. Be sure tobring along a torch and plenty of mos-quito repellent.

There are a few chilled out bars, and alater night venue named Tune-In, so it'snot always peace and quiet during the eve-nings. The main highlight of Rantee is theabundance of stunning hard and soft cor-als which lie directly off the beach. It's ar-guably the finest snorkelling spot on all ofPhi Phi, and you don't need a boat to getto it. Try spotting the rays, reef sharks andpuffer fish.

Rantee may not always be the quiet back-water it is today, with signs of redevelop-ment, but its location means that it willnever be one of Phi Phi's busier haunts.

At the moment, boat access is the mostefficient means of arrival and departure,with a price tag of 400 baht per person for

a ride to or from Ton Sai. There is a pathto Ton Sai village, however this really doesgive you a considerable workout andshouldn't be relied on as an efficient modeof transport.

Rantee HutWell spaced-out huts 7/10Rantee BeachT: (089) 741 4846400 - 1,000BAt the south end of Rantee beach lies thissimple but charming little place, with arestaurant in a pleasant setting and slightlylarger bungalows well spaced out at thebase of the hillside. They are quaint bam-boo and thatch huts up on stilts with ham-mocks hanging on the front porches. Thefood at the restaurant is a little bland, butfor the beach it is the best option. TheEnglish-speaking staff are welcoming andthere's a relaxing atmosphere in the res-taurant. Staff are very knowledgeableabout Phi Phi and its surrounding islands.Tours and trips can be booked here.

Rantee Garden/RememberLaid back and friendly 7/10Rantee Beach500 - 1,200BThis place is only open during high seasonand, as explained by the guys lurkingaround when we passed through, it hastwo names: Gardens or Remember. Fourpeachy coloured huts sitting directly onthe sand offer a slight step up from thebudget accommodation on the beach as

they are made from cement and bricks.Small cosy balconies face the ocean, andthere's a beach bar named Tune-In directlynext door. These huts are at the most ex-pensive end of the accommodation priceson Rantee, but are still very competitivecompared to other beaches. This spot isfor those who want a relaxed and laidbackholiday in isolation.

Rantee BeachUnimpressive but friendly 5/1032 Moo 7, Rantee BeachT: (086) 746 [email protected] - 800BRantee Beach Huts is located at the centreof the beach and has a cluster of hutsperched mainly on the hillside to the rear.It's a laid back, if unimpressive spot thatalso runs a dinky restaurant with a verylimited menu. They offer small, basicthatch bungalows with wooden floors --the cheapest bungalows come without afan, which makes sense since you'll onlyhave electricity six hours a day in the eve-nings anyway. All the huts are looking wornand tatty. The bathrooms are quite franklygrotesque -- when we visited the whitepaint was barely visible due to mould onthe walls. If the other two places are full,then this will do, but barely. Owners arefriendly, but there is only so far thatfriendly can go. In high season, the 800baht price tag seems like daylight robbery.

Pak Nam BeachAnother beautiful, overlooked beach, PakNam has only a single accommodationoption, proving that Ko Phi Phi has notyet died the death of a thousand diveshops. As with all such beaches along thecoast on the way to Laem Thong, there'sgreat snorkelling, tons of peace and quietand limited access to electricity. The beachis slightly more rocky than others, so per-haps not ideal for children or paddlers. Beprepared to pay 300 baht for a longtailtaxi to Ton Sai.

Phi Phi Relax Beach ResortVery pretty setting 8/10Pak Nam BeachT: (081) 083 [email protected] - 1,900BRelax have been spending a few years hon-

ing their brand of welcome and relaxationthrough discreet service. The staff aregreat, providing the right combination ofleaving you be and being attentive. Theisolation may make some feel out oftouch, but for others it will be heaven onearth. Relax Beach Resort has well-de-signed and well-maintained bungalows ina very pretty setting along the beach. Theydon't exactly charge backpacker prices, butthis is a great little place to stay if you'relooking for an out-of-the-way bungalowexperience with a bit more polish and com-fort. All the bungalows are sturdy, withhardwood floors and good attention todetail -- each with a very decent attachedprivate bathroom. Cute little day beds areattached to the front of the hut, great forlounging in the breeze during the hot day.The barrestaurant has a very pleasantcharacter, with a raised platform full ofmats and cushions for chilling. While all

the rooms have a fan, bear in mind thatthe electricity only gets switched on at18:00. If you occupy yourself at the barpast the witching hour, they mercifully keepit running for a couple hours after peoplego to bed -- usually until about 03:00.

Count your baht

AUD: 31.15CDN: 31.91EUR: 49.95GBP: 55.27

The $ in this Travelfish guide means US$.Exchange rates for Thai baht (THB)

Source www.xe.com 12 November 2009

JPY: 0.37NZD: 24.72SGD: 24.03USD: 33.28

Money on Ko Phi PhiThailand's national currency is thebaht. You will be expected to usebaht for all your cash transactions.There are international ATMs onKo Phi Phi and also exchange facili-ties. You will be able to get a cashadvance on the island and WesternUnion is available.

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Ao Lo BakaoHome to a single resort, Phi Phi IslandVillage, Ao Lo Bakao is one of Ko Phi Phi'smore stunning stretches of sand. Quietmost of the time, Ao Lo Bakao is great forswimming and other water sports. Thewater is very shallow indeed and when thetide is out you will have to wade for about100 metres until you reach the beach aslong tail taxi boats cannot get in any closer.

Phi Phi Island Village Beach Resort &SpaStyle, style, style! 9/10Ao Lo BakaoT: (076) 222 784 F: (076) 214 [email protected],900 - 25,200B

If you're going to pay ransom money toenjoy a four-star luxury resort, you'd bet-ter be sure your kidnappers will put youup in high style. With that in mind, don'thesitate to surrender to Phi Phi Island Vil-lage and leave all future negotiations onyour release in the hands of your creditcard company. The rooms here are ex-quisite, and the staff and facilities first class.It's an idyllic, romantic spot popular withhoneymooners, particularly Australians.Even the standard rooms (that is to say,Superior Bungalows) are superb. Themore expensive rooms have separate liv-ing room salas, and the pieces desresistances are the pool villas, offering pri-vacy, luxury and a private splash pool highup in the hills. A full range of services are,of course, available -- a spa, water sports,

tennis courts, golf-cart chauffeurs, threerestaurants and a huge, free-form infinitypool with a swim-up bar and jacuzzi. Ah,if only we could land our private jet here.Be aware that this place is often full, evenduring low season, so be sure to book inadvance. Check online rates, which staffkindly informed us may be lower than thatcited here.

Beautiful Place 910We stayed here for two nights and got a last minuterate of 3,300 baht a night. I cannot tell you hownice it is. The rooms are beautiful. Also the beachand pool are fantastic. The dinner buffets are ex-pensive but great. Do yourself a favour, splurge alittle and stay here. Recommended 8/2009

Laem ThongHaad Laem Thong (Palm Beach) is themost remote of the remote beaches, butalso one of the most developed, with sev-eral large resorts filling the surroundinghills. At the same time, a small commu-nity of Chao Ko still live here and run shopsand food stalls that charge Thai prices rightalongside the overpriced resorts. A schoolis located here right smack in the middleof the Natural Resort, so there's still lotsof local life going on. The beach is one ofthe island’s best. It’s great at high tide andbig enough to accommodate large num-bers of people in high season without toomuch crowding. The 600 baht one-wayprice tag on a long tail transfer puts offmost people from a casual visit, but this isone of the beaches to head to if you havea desire to be far from the maddeningcrowd.

Zeavola HotelRecommended, if you can afford it! 9/1011 Moo 8, Laem ThongT: (075) 627 000 F: (075) 627 [email protected],900-26,000BThe Zeavola could be the poster child forecologically-friendly luxury developmenton Phi Phi. Accommodation is so discreetlysituated you don't even know it's therewhen passing by on the beach. All you seeis a small sign and beautiful reception areawith welcoming staff. The bungalows thatappear as you turn each corner are abso-lutely magnificent, boasting dark wood,open-plan units, rich, colourful decora-tions and sumptuous attention to detail.The rooms are enclosed in glass to allowfor air-con, but they don't lack that bright,

airy feeling the best fan rooms have tooffer, and you can always open everythingup and switch off the air. The beds havemilky-white mosquito netting for sleep-ing in the night-time breeze. The bath-rooms are situated for most rooms acrossa teakwood breezeway that doubles as alounge area. An antique writing desk hasbeen converted into a vanity-cum-sink-trestle just outside the door of the stone-work bathrooms with large showers. Roll-down bamboo screening can be employedto afford more privacy without reducingairflow. The pool is another hidden joy,though some villas have private splashpools. The resort has a fabulous massagefacility, but you may be happy just loung-ing around on the beach, taking in thesounds of your surroundings. It would behard to find a place that better combinesthe joys of nature with the pleasures ofwealth. The warm welcome, naturalbeauty and elegant design combine tomake this the best resort on Phi Phi -- ifnot all of Thailand. Recommended, if youcan afford it!

Holiday Inn Phi Phi IslandA good family vacation spot 8/10Moo 8, Laem ThongT: (075) 627 300 F: (075) 627 [email protected],000 - 9,000BWe know what you're thinking. There's aHoliday Inn a couple miles from whereyou live, out on the highway. You neverstay there, why would you stay here? Well,because this one really is quite attractive.There's a great pool, the staff are atten-tive, and it's got all the facilities and activi-ties you need for a family holiday: kayaks

and snorkelling gear, a gym, tennis court,game room, and a video theatre with aDVD library. Rooms are very decent --clean, colourful, well-stocked with ameni-ties. They may be a tad reminiscent of theones out on the highway, but you're onKo Phi Phi in Thailand, where there areno roads, and Laem Thong has a world-class beach. All rooms come with a king-sized and single bed, though you pay moreif you bring along a guest to sleep in theextra bed. Of course you have your choiceof bars and restaurants, and more areavailable along the beach. The exteriordesign is traditional Thai. This Holiday Innhas to number among the best that thischain has to offer and is definitely not tobe overlooked.

PP Erawan Palms Dive ResortPerhaps a good deal for a long stay 6/10Moo 8, Laem ThongT: (076) 957 246 F: (076) 236 [email protected],600 - 8,700BA poorer relation to the nearby HolidayInn, the Erawan offers 26 spacious, decentrooms with TVs, mini bars, and so-so bath-rooms, with good porches attached. Apool, spa and a dive shop are also on of-fer. Staff are friendly, if a little laidback,but service is slick and the resort is of ahigh standard. It doesn't add up to goodvalue when you factor in the price and lo-cal competition, but is acceptable if youcan get a good deal on a longer stay. Itslocation in the middle of the beach is aplus and the resort does offer everythingyou'd expect from a place in this pricerange, but it suffers from its proximity toother high-end resorts. There are deals to

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be had, such as pay three nights, stay four.Check their website for further details onspecials.

Phi Phi Natural ResortFriendly but aging 5/10Moo 8 Laem ThongT: (075) 613 010-1 F: (075) 613 [email protected],100 - 8,250BNatural Resort, which surrounds the localprimary school, is in a decidedly natural ifsomewhat overgrown setting. Other

forces of nature are at work here as well -- the natural tendency for things to de-grade and fall apart and for staff to giveup doing much about it. Accommodationranges from townhouse type villas to pri-vate detached seafront bungalows. Thelatter were once decent, but they're start-ing to look like low-rent rooms with rustyfridges and scummy bathrooms. Thatsaid, many have splendid water views andthe resort has its own private beach. Thereis a tiny but well-placed pool overlookingthe water, but it's arguable whether you'dwant to use it as it was pretty iffy during

our visit. A huge restaurant on site servesgrand buffet spreads and has plenty ofgood tables with sea views. Overall, Natu-ral isn't worthy of its current price tag andthe resort is decaying -- the local competi-tion really knocks spots off it. It seems thatPhi Phi Natural is focusing its attention onthe Russia and Eastern Europe markets,perhaps trying to take advantage of theirinfancy. With a little work this resort couldreclaim its past glory, as the staff are ex-tremely helpful.

Ko Phi Phi diving guideBoth in terms of variety and quality ofdive sites, the offerings around Phi PhiIsland are excellent. You'll find a diverserange of topography under the water -- wall diving, pinnacle diving, swimthroughs, beautiful hard and soft coralformations -- and a wider array ofaquatic wildlife is on display than any-where else in Thailand.

Visibility is good even in low season, atabout 10 to 15 metres, and excellent athigh season, at 15 to 25 metres. Thereare only about three or four days everyyear where adverse weather preventsthe boats from going out. The estab-lished rate on Phi Phi for a two-diveday trip is 2,200 baht per diver. It's gen-erally up to the operator to pick the sitesbased on weather conditions and whichsites are the least crowded on a givenday, but definitely consult with yourguide if there are particular sites youwant to see.

Hin Daeng and Hin MuangAn hour from Ko Phi Phi by speed-boat, these two five-star dive sites areactually two undersea mountains stand-ing side by side -- Hin Daeng justbreaks the surface and Hin Muangpeaks 15 metres below it. The namesmean 'red rock' and 'purple rock,' andthat's not just hyperbole -- they're cov-ered with brilliant, vividly-coloured softcoral formations from which they gettheir names. On any given day, majes-tic manta rays are bound to be swirlingaround the area. Strong currents canbe a bit of a problem here, so it's notrecommended for absolute beginners.The water is too choppy to get out herein low season, so you can only visit fromMay to November. It's the furthest off

of the local sites, and it's the most expen-sive at 5,500 baht per diver.

Bida Nai and Bida NokThis is a superb dive site, accessible year-round, with gentle currents -- suitable fordivers at all levels of experience. The is-lands are surrounded by a rich variety ofhard and soft corals, attracting a broadrange of sea creatures: leopard sharks,hawksbill turtles, moray eels, black-tippedreef sharks, blue spotted sting rays, seahorses, trumpet fish. Huge gorgonian fancorals are also on display. There's one swimthrough, and you make your way along asandy-bottom among large boulders toget from one island to the other. This sitecounts as two dives on the 2,200 baht daytrip.

Phi Phi Shark PointDiving is only available here during slacktide and flat water. It's the garden spot forshark-lovers, and while there's never anyguarantee, the site is typically visited bylarge numbers of leopard sharks. The cut-tlefish on view here are especially good.There's more hard coral in these watersthan soft. It counts as one site on a two-site day trip.

The King Cruiser WreckThis ship wreck has admittedly been col-lapsing a bit in recent years, becoming alittle less interesting to look at. It's a popu-lar site, though, so local operators areworking on the idea of sinking another ship.We look forward to seeing how that goes.The King Cruiser costs a little more to seethan other sites in the two-site daytrip rollcall -- it's 3,900 baht as part of a three-sitedive trip and 3,200 baht as part of a two-site excursion.

Anemone ReefThis is what the King Cruiser actually

crashed into before it sank. It's anothergreat, easy dive for beginners, whereyou'll get a gander at anemones, hugemorays, travellies, rainbow runners,angel fish, bat fish, barracudas -- a buf-fet for lovers of aquatic nature.

Phi Phi LehThere are several dive sites on the westside of Phi Phi Leh only available in highseason. Maya Corner, near Maya Bay,offers turtles, soft and hard coral, manyswim throughs, and the opportunity tobe surrounded by clouds of tiny glassfish. There's also Palong Wall, some-times called Whale Shark Wall -- there'sno guarantee you'll see whale sharks,but there's a better chance here thananywhere else. Phileh Wall on the eastside of Phi Phi Leh offers something abit different -- a slow-drift dive, mov-ing along the wall with currents. Ifyou've got an under-water camera, thisis the best place to take pictures. Nearbyis Table Coral City -- it's one of the fewsites affected by the tsunami. A lot ofthe table corals were snapped off thepinnacle they attached to, and it's wortha look just to survey the damage. Fi-nally, there's Mushroom Rock on thenorthwest end of Phi Phi Leh, anothersite rich in soft corals and underwaterlife.

Cave diving and night divingCave diving is usually technical divingreserved for very experienced divers,but there's a cavern in Wang Long Bayin the shape of a horseshoe that's wideenough for any diver to get throughsafely with a torch. Other more difficultcave dives are available in Maya Bay andat Bida Nok -- ask your guide for pricesand info. Night dives leave at 18:00 andmostly go to Phi Phi Leh or Ton Sai wall-- it's a one-site dive, 800B.

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Eat and meetThe first thing many people do when theyget to Phi Phi is take a walk around Ton Saivillage and see what there is to see. It's agood idea to familiarise yourself with thearea on your first day, since none of thestreets have names, and everyone navi-gates relative to landmarks and the moreconspicuous establishments.

Phi Phi is known for its nightlife, attract-ing a mostly young crowd. The bars liningTon Sai beach are the most notorious hotspots.

The first one along is Carlitos, with its ta-bles on the beach. This is where the re-covery centre was set up right after thetsunami. They play the music loud here tomake up for the lack of atmosphere.

Next one along is Apache Bar, a concrete,beer-soaked monstrosity with a hugewooden phallus guarding the door. (It's afertility symbol, pre-dating Buddhism,that many establishments in Thailand dis-play, generally on a smaller scale, to en-sure 'productivity' in business). The ApacheBar is crass and butt ugly, but they put onweekly 'lady boy' shows, they have a dancefloor and it's usually packed to the gills.

Further up is the slightly more mellowHippies Bar and Restaurant. The restau-rant portion is still a good family optionbefore things get rolling at 21:00 or so.Nightly fire dancing shows are always onthe menu -- locally it's called 'poi' and in-volves swinging bits of burning ropearound in circles.

Even further up is a better option for anenjoyable night out, Carpe Diem. Theyplay a good mix of music that won't numbthe mind, and the atmosphere is just right-- Indian-style seating at low tables, someof which is found inside an old longtailand they lay mats with pillows on the beachin the evenings, surrounded by tea can-dles, to create an intimate ambience.

However, the party has moved in recentyears to Ao Lo Dalam. Here you will findthe crowds and the party-til-dawn set. Themusic is loud, the beach is crowded andthe people are all in it for the party. Buck-ets (a bucket, for those not in the know, isa bottle of booze poured into, well, abucket, with mixers and ice, to be com-munally slurped-up with straws -- you canbuy them cheaper on your way to thebeach), cheap Thai whiskey and any otherconcoction you can think of are the drinks

of choice, all set to a theme of thumpingdance music.

There are three main bars which holdsway on the beach, to the left as you ap-proach the beach is Slinky's Bar. There isa stage set up every night for your dancingpleasure and the bar closes at about 3am,but can go on much later in the high sea-son.

The other main bars on the beach areApache Bar (yes, the same brand as theone on Ton Sai), which competes on anequal footing with Slinky's. The same typeof stage, the same drinks and the samemusic.

For a slightly quieter time, head to theIbiza Bar, just next to Apache Bar. Thisshuts slightly earlier and has a more re-laxed, 'sit and enjoy the music and stars'kind of feel. All the bars here do the ubiq-uitous fire shows nightly. The fire showsare strictly for the early bird crowd as theparties don't really crank up on this beachuntil midnight.

In Ton Sai village proper, Sports Bar is anaptly named place with three big screenTVs ensuring that everyone in the jointgets a good view of the football match orthe Formula One race with an audibleEnglish commentary.

A bit deeper into the village is Reggae Bar,which doesn't necessarily play reggae mu-sic, but they do have a muay Thai boxingring with regular exhibition events andoccasional real fights -- on any given nighttourists are invited to get in the ring andfight for the grand prize of two free buck-ets for his or her table. For those whofancy their chances in the ring, bear inmind that getting into any boxing ringwhen drunk is very very very stupid. Alsobe aware that medical facilities on Ko PhiPhi are basic at the best of times.

Don't over look Tide and Time a mellow,friendly place along the road to Palm Bun-galows where you can actually have a con-versation with all those cool people youjust met. The undiscovered gem of the barscene, in our book, is the bar with no nameon the road to the viewpoint, below thePhi Phi Dreams guesthouse. It's run by aFrench expat who serves drinks at bar-gain prices and cooks up tasty Gallic farewhenever the mood strikes him. It's usu-ally open, but sometimes he and his Thaiwife close the place up. Ah, l'amour.

There are a lot of places to eat, many of

them quite mediocre, and you can missout on a lot of good meals going by trialand error. For breakfast, head to the PPBakery just down from Barracuda Divingas you walk away from the pier, for veryreasonable prices, Western-style pastriesand really awful service -- the TV is al-ways on and the staff never take their eyesoff it.

For a hearty and delicious English break-fast, Little Britain, which has recentlymoved from Reggae Bar to Soi Viewpoint,is your best bet -- it's named after the in-famous British comedy series, but the foodis no joke -- they go all out to deliver anauthentic taste of home to expats.

For dinner you may be tempted by theseafood places along Ton Sai beach, mostof which are associated with particular re-sorts. The food is generally quite good,sometimes a little pricey, but worth a try.

In terms of Thai food, locals swear by Pa-paya, which is right near Reggae Bar --great food and generous portions at a goodprice. In the same general area you'll findCosmic Pizza -- all pizzas are currently 130baht, there's a lot of variety, they are quitebig and quite good. Pastas here are only120 baht.

Also, Hibachi is hard to miss and a greatdeal, with its all-you-can-eat 222 baht Japa-nese buffet, including meat kebabs, sal-ads, and an endless supply of tuna sushi.

There is also a great little place called GPPP which serves a selection of Westernfood at reasonable prices. The ambience(relaxed) and fare (the chips are fantastic)really make this a standout option.

Up past the wetlands project, along theroad towards the viewpoint, GardenHome serves up wholesome and deliciousfood that regular patrons rave about. Thebagels with cream cheese get a big thumbsup.

In the same area, just by Tara Inn, you willfind the Banana Sombrero which is a greatchoice for Mexican food.

If you're looking for an eating frenzy torecoup that energy you burned off diving,or to soak up last night's beers, head toMatt's Joint in the centre of town. It's aneat all you can BBQ place with chicken fil-lets, burgers, sausages, salmon steaks, ke-babs, baked potatoes, pasta and salad.Stuff your face for 250 baht boys, 220 bahtgirls.

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Down at the main pier, Amico Restoweighs in as a heavyweight of Italian cui-sine. With flavours you'd expect to find inRome they serve up excellent pasta withfriendly service. There's also pizza on themenu.

Scandinavians or meatball lovers mightlike to head to HC Andersen where steaks,Swedish specials and draught beer keepthe tables full.

Most eateries close up around 22:00 butthen the street carts come out in force. Ifyou find yourself peckish during the weehours then head towards the 7-eleven inthe middle of Ton Sai town and you'll seea myriad of offerings from pancakes to

hotdogs to things you'll have never seenbefore.

Surprisingly, there is also some great, au-thentic Thai food on Phi Phi. Because thetourist industry attracts Thai workers fromall over the country, food stalls and mar-kets cater to a wide variety of regionaltastes, cooked by locals who hail from thatparticular neck of the woods. It helps ifyou have some Thai language skills, butyou may just find the exotic, Thai-foodexperience you've been looking for here.

Turn down the road alongside BarracudaDivers into the part of the village whereyou don't think you're supposed to be, andthat's where you want to be. Some places

have food in pots which can be easily iden-tified and pointed at, but otherwise you'llbe presented with a sanitised English-lan-guage menu designed for the occasionaltourist wandering in, listing only noodlesand fried rice dishes.

Off menu recommended dishes includenua yang, (sauteed, barbecue beef) orgaeng keh ( a meat stew with some verycurious vegetables) and, for the very dar-ing, laab nua deep (raw beef in a vinaigrettesauce.) If you've been pouring through aThai culinary phrase book and dreamingof trying something, this is the place to askfor it.

Sights and attractionsKo Phi Phi LehIf you've read The Beach, then Maya Bayon Ko Phi Phi Leh is the place where someof the more spectacular beach scenes ofthe movie were filmed.

The 1999 filming was not without contro-versy with the film company concernedbeing accused of damaging the environ-ment during the filming. To many, the shrillcalls of Ko Phi Phi hoteliers that foreign-ers were destroying Thailand's beautifulenvironment seemed more than a touchhypocritical considering the debased stateof Ko Phi Phi at the time -- yes it used tobe in a worse state than it is now!

Perhaps that Phi Phi Leh was closed to thenormal tourist trade during the filming,thus depriving businesses on Phi Phi Donof a slice of their income, had somethingto do with it ... surely not!

Anyway, that's all ancient history now, andPhi Phi Leh is open to all but it can only bevisited on a day trip -- there are no over-night facilities. Maya Beach is indeed stun-ning, but the volume of day trippers, es-pecially in high season, and the rubbishthey leave behind is a chronic issue whichthe tourist business continues to ignore.

Aside from Maya Beach, there's the Vi-king Cave, which has absolutely nothingwhat so ever to do with Vikings, but doeshave some scratchings of Chinese tradingvessels and stacks of birds nests. The birdnests are harvested to make, you guessedit, birds nest soup.

The vast bulk of people visit on organiseddaytrips out of Ko Phi Phi Don -- eitheron large pleasure cruisers or packed into

overloaded longtails. Often snorkellingand lunch (supplied in a foam container -- best cast into the dunes of Maya Beachmany seem to think) are part of the deal.

These organised trip are a very affordableway to visit Phi Phi Leh, but the downsideis you'll be on the beach exactly when eve-ryone else is, and in high season that canbe loads and loads and loads of people ...and we mean loads. Expect to pay around500 baht depending on the boat size.

A far better way to visit is to roll your owntour, rustle up a few like-minded souls andprivately organise your own longtail to getout there -- expect to pay 1,000-1,500 bahtfor the entire longtail depending on yourbargaining ability and number of people.Be sure to leave Ko Phi Phi Don as earlyas possible so that you can dodge thehordes.

Scuba divingThe scuba-diving around Phi Phi isworldclass. It's easy enough to find a diveshop on Phi Phi -- the question is, whichone to choose? Every dive shop on theisland offers the same services at a fixedprice established by mutual agreement, sodon't bother trying to haggle. They did thisto avoid price wars which only force op-erators to overcrowd their boats and re-duce the quality of service.

As a result, you'll get a much better expe-rience across the board on Phi Phi thanyou might in a place like Ko Tao. Just re-member the mantra: oil cartel bad, scubacartel good.

No new visitor to Phi Phi can fail to noticethough that certain dive shops have re-sorted to acts of desperation in order to

pull in customers, aggressively hawking forbusiness every time you walk within 50metres of their shop.

Everyone finds it annoying. It's up to you,but you might send them a message vis-a-vis their sales techniques by taking yourbusiness elsewhere.

The best dive shops survive just fine onthe basis of good service and good word-of-mouth, so take your time, ask aroundand don't go for the first operator thatpulls you off the street.

All shops offer three-day PADI coursesfor 13,400 baht (set rate throughout theisland), two-dive day trips for 2,500 baht,three dives for 3,100 baht. You'll pay anextra 1,000 baht if you want to see the KingCruiser shipwreck as one of your divesand going out to Hing Daeng and HinMuang costs 4,800 baht.

For those looking to further their qualifi-cations, you can take advanced courses --Emergency First response for 4,500 baht,and Rescue Diver 12,100 baht.

It can be hard to decide what dive shop togo with, especially in places such as Phi Phiwhere there are so many choices. Ouradvice is to wander around town and chatto the various shops.

Everyone offers a variation of the sametrip, so don't be sold on any secret loca-tion tales. Find a shop where you under-stand the staff, and where you feel they’remature enough and experienced enoughto know what they are talking about.

On one trip we chatted to one extremelyyoung instructor who spoke for ages about

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how Phi Phi was so much better than KoTao, only to reveal he had done each andevery one of his dives in Phi Phi and hadnever even been to Ko Tao.

Bottom line, these guys work on commis-sion and therefore want to sell to you. Soby all means have a chat but don't opt forthe first place just because it sounds good.Shop around and you can always head backafter you've checked the competition.

Ask who will be accompanying you (ie divemaster or instructor), what kind of boatthey have and whether they have toiletfacilities, for example.

Diving is a fun and safe sport, IF doneunder the correct conditions and super-vised by experienced professionals. In ouropinion a 22-year-old who's gone fromstudent graduate to dive instructor in fivemonths may well be qualified, but a 32-year-old with 10 years' experience is a farsafer bet.

Diveshops on Ko Phi Phi include:Aquanauts Scuba Diving Center (PADISSI)Ton Sai Villagewww.aquanauts-scuba.com

Barakuda Diving Centre (PADI 5*)Ton Sai Village. T:(075) 601 006.www.phiphibarakuda.com

Harlequin (PADISSI) (NITROX)Ton Sai Village. T:(075) 601 074.www.harlequinscuba.com

Moskito Diving (PADI 5*)Ton Sai Village. T:(075) 601 154.www.moskitodiving.com

Phi Phi Scuba Diving Center (PADI)Ton Sai Village. T:(075) 612 665 086 282 4421.www.ppscuba.com

P.P. Seafrog Diving Center (PADI)Ton Sai Village and Opposite Carpe Diem Bar.T:(075) 601 073www.ppseafrog.com

Viking Divers (PADISSI)Ton Sai Village. T:(075) 601 110.www.vikingdiversthailand.com

Visa DivingTon Sai Village. T: (075) 601 157.www.visadiving.com

Boat cruises & toursA one-day cruise around the island andthe islets off the coast will cost you 650baht by speed boat or large boat (contain-ing kayaks etc), 600 baht by longtail.There's also a shorter Sunset Cruise (15:30;19:45 including dinner) available for 500baht. All trips offer the opportunity tosnorkel, but you can also just enjoy thecruise and the views if you like -- thoughthat won't get you a break on the price.Snorkelling equipment and snacks areprovided as part of the package and youcan book a tour practically anywhere inTon Sai village or at one of the resorts. AShark Watch tour is available for 550 bahtand they promise you're absolutely guar-anteed to see a shark or you'll get yourmoney back. Yeah, right. Maybe it's astuffed shark? You also can roll-your-ownsnorkeling trip and set your own itineraryby getting a group of friends together andrenting a longtail for the day -- 1,800 baht,or around 1,000 baht for a half day (3-4hours).

Blue Skies One Day CruiseT: (084) 627 5812,(081) 893 8901.Runs from 09:00 to 15:30Daily Snorkel & Sunset TripT: (086) 276 3154,(084) 851 2104.Runs from 09:00 to 16:00 and 11:00 to 18:30 (sun-set)

Legacy Sunset TourT: (075) 601 298,(075) 601 108; F: (075) 601 298.Runs from 14:30 to 19:00

P.P Sunset TripT: (084) 690 8149,(089) 6450752; F: (075) 601 278.Runs from 15:30 to 19:45

Climbing, leaping, walkingFor gravity fans, Phi Phi offers some cliffsthat are ripe for the jumping, with adrena-line-filled plunges from 6 to 18 metres (intothe water, of course) -- trips take threehours, cost 600 baht and also include snor-kelling.

For those seeking vertical trips in the op-posite direction, Phi Phi Climbers on TonSai Beach Rd offers a range of coursesfrom half-day introductions for 800 bahtto three-day advanced courses for 6,000baht. Experienced climbers with their own

equipment can just stop in and ask wherethe best routes are.

One note of caution: the equipment heredenigrates quicker due to the salty air. Itisn't unknown for climbing shops to giveyou equipment which may be unsafe.Whenever you are loaned equipmentcheck it thoroughly. Check for any breaks,abrasions and signs of wear and tear. DONOT ACCEPT ANY SUSPECT EQUIP-MENT.

The Adventure Club, located in Ton Saivillage, offers a couple of unique tours:The Quest includes jungle walking, climb-ing, caving with optional snorkelling andabseiling (800 baht base price, four toseven hours) Our favourite, The 007 Touris advertised as a 'mission to an undiscloseddestination.' To qualify as a participant youneed to be able to do a bit of simple climb-ing, have no fear of heights, and the abilityto keep a secret! (Costs 1,500 baht. Addi-tional information is classified.)

There are some hikes you can venture onalone -- heading east along Ton Sai, youcan keep going over hillside trails or alongthe beach at low tide to Lo Moo Dee. Thistakes about an hour. On the other side ofthe viewpoint there are three paths lead-ing to bays on the other side.

The centre path takes you to Rantee Beach,about a 20-minute hike, and the paths tothe left and right wind their way towardsPak Nam Beach and Ao Toh Koh respec-tively -- both about 45 minutes from thetop of the viewpoint.

They're hardly nature trails -- just pathsused by locals avoiding the cost of a longtailto and from Ton Sai. There are some trickybits, but nothing that requires climbingexpertise.

The Adventure ClubTon Sai Village. Tel: (01) 895 1334.www.phi-phi-adventure.com

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