Jamie's Phuket Blog

Family trip to Phi Phi - 16 months after the Tsunami

So one day in April 2006 we decided to take a day trip from Phuket to Phi Phi and be real tourists. The weather looked a little grey, but the plan had been made and tickets already paid for. The ferry to Phi Phi departs from Rassada pier on the east side of Phuket Town, just before the bridge to Koh Sirey. Departure time is 08:30, and the place can be a bit crowded. I think there were 4 boats leaving, all run by different companies. We got the slowest one (Sea Angel). The Phi Phi Cruiser is much quicker. But won't grumble. We got the tickets at a decent price through a friend of a friend. Tickets to Phi Phi and also snorkel tours can be booked through Easy Day Thailand.



As we had arrived just a few minutes before departure time, the boat was packed. No room upstairs, and the only places we could find to sit were cramped down in the front of the boat with a headroom of about 4 feet! Not real comfy. I was not expecting it to be so crowded. The trip over was calm, and I did get upstairs for the last 20 minutes to show mum and dad the islands and be their tour guide.

A bit of a scrum to get off and I could not get back inside to help my wife carry baby boy. If you have kids on these boats, keep them close. The water looked clear, even right off the jetty. A man was throwing bread into the water, and a melee of colourful sergeant major damselfish raced for a mouthful.

Longtail boats at Phi Phi Don

The first 10 minutes on the island were spent trying to work out what our friends wanted to do. A friend with her 3 year old son and 4 month old baby, her sister and cousin had decided that morning to join us, but it was clear they were slowing us down! Getting from the boat to the main street in Tonsai you have to pass about 20 touts for tours, boat hire, etc. and the area is a bit crowded. We were already hot and thirsty, so I stopped at a little shop to buy drinks.

Realised right away that Phi Phi is expensive. In the little shop, canned drinks were 30 Baht - the normal price in Phuket is somewhere from 13-15 Baht. Once we were a hundred meters from the jetty, the touts were gone and we could walk unmolested. That part of the village is rather cramped, with buildings on both side of the narrow street. There are no cars on Phi Phi, but you do need to look out for locals on bicycles and the occasional motorbike (can't be more than a few on the island).

Shell hunting at Phi Phi

The main street opens out a bit after a hundred meters, and you have a clear view of the bay. I was vaguely aiming for the viewpoint, never having walked up there despite many visits to Phi Phi. Looked like a fair walk, and I knew the girls with the young kids were not up for it. Finally they decided to go find a place for a drink. We soldiered on, crossing over to Loh Dalam Bay, after letting my daughter find some shells on the beach. She always loves that.

Towards the end of Tonsai Bay is a path going over a small hill to Loh Dalam Bay (the "other side"). Up on that road you have some small guesthouses and some local houses. A path leads off to the right saying "small view point 400m", but this is not the main view point. When you get to the other side, first thing you see is a big mess where the water treatment plant is being rebuilt. Not pretty, but looks way better than when I was there last in June 2005, when everything was still covered in mud and sand.

The path to the viewpoint carries on to the right (a small sign points the way). We passed a few more rooms and cafes, then came to a steep stairway. Someone said it would be a 20 minute climb. I am supposed to be fit, but was feeling rather hot and was carrying my 13kg "little" boy. Dad's knee playing up, wife was carrying a much-too-big bag....in short, we chickened out and went to find a place for lunch near the beach.

Dad at Phi Phi

Charlies was almost empty and close to the water. Its a simple structure, built since the tsunami with nice wooden furniture (always a bonus - I hate the plastic chairs and tables) and the staff seemed friendly too. Dad looked a bit knackered. Some ice cold coca cola revived him. The varied menu showed us again that Phi Phi is not so cheap - and remember this is coming from someone who lives in Phuket... But then I reminded myself that an average tourist would be saying "Wow this is cheap". I mean we all ate for 600 Baht - less than 10 pounds, at a restaurant with a view over the beach. I'm sure you can eat way cheaper in Phi Phi, but hell, we're on holiday!

Mum and I ordered some fried rice and a chicken with cashew nuts. Dad had some "real" food - cordon bleu with chips, and he was happy to see some carrot too. Food was tasty and plentiful. After eating we headed for the beach. It was low tide and many longtails were stranded on the sand. Time for little boy to run around. He always enjoys getting free and loved getting dirty. I had to put a stop to it when he started throwing handfuls of wet sand in the air, landing in his hair. I think he liked the view. Daughter was looking for more shells.

Boy at Phi Phi Island

There were not so many people on the beach (see photo of dude playing keepy uppy). Quite pleasant and quiet. What I had to remind myself was that this area was once full of guesthouses. Now very empty (which I think is nice). Some places we walked, you could see tiles on the ground that had obviously once been the floor of a hotel room. I could not help but stare out to sea across Loh Dalam Bay and think how horrifying it must have been. With no warning, there is just about nowhere to run. There's a sign up just along from Charlies that says "Hazard Zone - in case of earthquake, head inland"...but along most of the beach, there is no "inland", you walk 2 minutes and you are on the other side of the island at Tonsai Bay...

As a day trip just staying in Tonsai village, it's a wee bit too tacky for me. Lots of day trippers (it was Sunday, so lots of Thai daytrippers too). We had wanted to hire a longtail boat, and I think we will go back sometime again. The weather was not great - see dark skies above dads head, and if you really want to see the beauty of Phi Phi Ley island, blue skies help a lot!

I have stayed overnight in Phi Phi many times on dive trips and in the evening all the day trippers are gone, the bars open and I always enjoyed the evenings. On the dive trips we normally stay at the nice Phi Phi Bayview Resort. Was there for Christmas one time and remember dancing half drunk in Apache Bar. Many times getting rather p*ssed on free tequilas in Tin Tin's bar (which I think has gone now). There's always a good crowd in the bars, and no bar girls molesting you. I do think Phi Phi has to be careful where it's going. Certainly heading more up market, nicer hotels, less for the backpackers who "made the place what it is today", for good or worse. There are still cheapish bungalows, but a lot more mid price resorts with pools, plus on the other side of Phi Phi, you have top quality resorts like Holiday Inn, Phi Phi Erawan Palms, Phi Phi Natural - all very nice places indeed. You also have the excellent Phi Phi Island Village. For more hotel info, you can click on the hotel names above.

Loh Dalam Bay, Phi Phi Islands

The diving is also not as cheap as it used to be. Dive centers all charge the same prices now, and its quite a bit more than the average on Koh Tao, though the diving is better. Things change, and Phi Phi is starting to squeeze the backpackers wallets.... More day trippers coming from Phuket, and I have a feeling coming BECAUSE of the you-know-what, to see if there's any damage left to gawk at, or because they feel they should "do their bit" to support the island. For me a day trip from Phuket is a bit tacky, as you don't have time to do anything much. I would like to do the blacktip shark snorkeling, which is meant to be very good. Well, one of these days, we'll do another trip and stay overnight, hire a boat to see the more beautiful parts of Phi Phi. You cannot deny that a place like Maya Bay or Losamah Bay is spectacular, though in the middle of the day it can be crowded. Staying overnight and getting a boat nice and early is a good option so you get there before the boats from Phuket. Early morning is a great time for travel, great light, cool air and nobody around... Got to do another trip soon!

(update) In 2008 we took a seaplane from Phuket to Phi Phi (and back), a great experience, got some great photos too:

Phi Phi Islands by Seaplane

Going to Phi Phi? Some useful links...

• Ask Easy Day Thailand about Phi Phi tours
Phi Phi Island Hotels - Rates and Availability at Agoda.com


 Family trip to Phi Phi - 16 months after the Tsunami  |  Jamie's Phuket Blog


Jamie suggests agoda.com for Phuket hotel booking

  Comments

  Please do add your comment!


Anonymous lisa :

Hi Jamie, would you know which trusted agency for one day trip to Phi Phi island from Phuket, and how much is the reasonable price?
Thanks!

July 10, 2009  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Lisa,

We did this trip ourselves, no agency. Just went to the ferry port before 8:30am, got the ferry, and took the ferry back at 2:30pm. It's not a lot of time, we might do it again sometime soon as I'd like to hike up to the viewpoint.

If you want a nice tour of Phi Phi with some snorkeling or even with some try dives - have a look at:

Phi Phi Speedboat Tours

July 10, 2009  

Anonymous Anonymous :

Hi Jamie,

Can we go to Phi Phi Lei (Maya Beach) by our own, as in this blog I think you went to Phi Phi Don, the larger island...?

Wanna go to Maya Beach at early morning (are there any boats leaving on 8.00 am?) and leaving around 2 - 2.30 pm. Is that possible? thanks...

Lim

November 24, 2009  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Lim,

If you want to go to Maya Bay early morning, you need to stay in Phi Phi (see Phi Phi Hotels) - then try to negotiate a price for a longtail boat nice and early in the morning - I'd suggest sorting this out the afternoon before. Get there before 9 - 10am otherwise its super crowded!

Jamie

November 24, 2009  

Blogger Tien :

Hi Jamie,

Is there any hostel with reasonable price for backpackers? If staying one night in PhiPhi, are there anything more to enjoy?

Thanks much.

February 03, 2010  

Blogger ug :

Hi Jamie, I'm also looking to go on a day trip by speedboat to the Phi Phi islands from Phuket. I contacted a couple of agencies whose prices seemed reasonable (2500 baht), but they want an online credit card payment, which I'm a little skeptical about. Are these agencies usually trustworthy, or am I better off getting to Phuket and then looking for a tour over there? Thanks!

March 06, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

2500 for a day trip on a crowded boat is about right! But you can easily book these trips when you get here at your hotel or any travel agent. If you wanted something much nicer, you can charter your own boat - have a look here - Boat Charter - very nice boat perfect for 2 - 4 people can get you to Phi Phi, do some watersports if you want, a charter is great for keeping away from the crowds!

Jamie

March 06, 2010  

Blogger KarenmareeG :

Hi Jamie, great blog. Was concerned that PhiPhi (like my experience in Samui) is overtouristed, full of trashy bars & prostitutes. Seems that things have changed a little now, a bit nicer than that it seems by reading your blog.
Many weather sites say September is wet season & monsoonal. Is is worth visiting then?
thanks, Karen

August 08, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Karen,

Ha Ha! No, Phi Phi has never been a bars 'n' girls destination, more of a laid back travlers place, although in the last 10 years more large hotels have been built and prices are somewhat above packpacker level for the most part. There are bars of course but they are not girly bars, more like the Reggae Bar and Carlito's and the Hippy bar.

Worth going, yes, but September can be rather wet. You can take day trips, but better to arrange at least overnight to see more. Worth getting up early and hiring a longtail boat to Maya Bay before the tourists arrive on day trips.

Ask Easy Day Thailand about trips and Phi Phi packages.

Have fun!

August 08, 2010  

Anonymous maykim :

Hi Jamie!

I'll be going to Phuket for the very first time next month. Plan for a day trip to Phi Phi Islands. Have been looking through websites for tours and most of them cost THB2000-3000. But I've also read that if we find the companies in Phuket itself and buy on the spot, it would be much cheaper (THB 1000+). I'm really interested in Simba sea trips actually, but it cost quite a lot. Is is worth it?

Please advise!

Thanks a lot :)

October 25, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Maykim.. you are on holiday, and I do suggest that the cheapest trips are maybe not the best if you want a holiday to remember for all the right reasons... for day trips to Phi Phi ask my friends at Easy Day Thailand, they can help you out!

October 25, 2010  

Anonymous Anonymous :

Hi Jamie,

I have actually planned to visit Phuket in mid May next year and my family would really love to visit Phi Phi Island and the Maya Bay. But I have seen some blogs stating that the period that can visit Maya Bay is from November to April only. Does that mean that in May we can't visit Maya Bay at all??

Thanks alot for your info :)

Lisa~

November 15, 2010  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Yes you will be able to visit Maya Bay unless its a really windy day.. middle of May the wind might still be from the NE, or can be from the SW - if from the SW blows into Maya Bay, but there are plenty of calm days too... in short, the answer is "Yes" ... probably.

November 15, 2010  

Anonymous LN :

Good day Jamie! I'm visiting Phuket next Friday. I've been searching on the net for the day trips to islands. It's my first time to Phuket and have never been diving before, but I would like to spend my first time there. Which island has crystal clear water and perfect white sands which is good for beginners?

Cheers!

January 12, 2011  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi LN

You can contact me at Sunrise Divers, Karon Beach - email info@sunrise-divers.com, we have beginners diving trips every day, to Racha Yai island or Phi Phi.

:)

January 16, 2011  

Anonymous david :

Hi Jamie,

Cant thank you enough for this site.

Thanks for the help so far.

One final question.

We are going to stay at Tanamas House on Nai Yang Beach our first night as we arrive 7.30pm and want to go to phi phi the next morning. Is there somewhere there we can buy tickets for the ferry to Phi Phi for the next morning? We arrive in Phuket at 7.30pm so wont get to the hotel til maybe 8.30-9. Can we buy ferry tickets and still get picked up at 7am the next morning for the 8.30 ferry?

Thanks,
David

April 29, 2011  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hiya David,

You can also book the ferry in advance - my friends at Easy Day Thailand will be able to help - contact them for ferry and anything else you might want to do :)

April 29, 2011  

Anonymous Phuket Ferry To Phi Phi :

This is a good site to spent time on.I just stumbled upon your informative blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

November 01, 2012  

Blogger Emily :

Hello Jamie
My husband and I will going to Phi Phi in February. We are looking at a flight that arrives in Phuket at 1:40pm, I do not think we would make the last ferry with this flight. I have read there are speedboats that can take you to Phi Phi. Do you know how much this would cost for 2 people and how to find the speedboats? Should we just try to get an earlier flight?

Thank you!
Emily

January 03, 2013  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

Hi Emily,

Yes I think you'd have to look at a private transfer - not cheap, as its like 50km from Phuket, I am not sure of the price - you can ask Easy Day Thailand for help, travel company run by some friends of mine. Or you can stay a night in Phuket and get the ferry next morning at 8:30.....

January 07, 2013  

Blogger Shweta Parekh :

Hi Jamie,

We are travelling to Phuket with a 3 year old in the Christmas week...from 25th -30th Dec
Phi Phi island day trip is all over the phuket travel sites, tripadvisor.
However we have also read that the place tends to get really crowded and may not turn out to be the slice of heaven that you expect it to be, due to the sheer number of people. Do you have any other recommendations for island day trip that could be quieter , calmer and more scenic
Thanks in advance..loving your blog.

November 23, 2013  

Blogger Jamie Monk in Phuket :

25 - 30 December - absolutely the busiest time of year. It will be rather crowded wherever you decide to visit. Phi Phi is beautiful, but will be packed with day trippers. Racha Yai island also very nice and a tour around Phang Nga Bay is unmissable. Then there's Koh Yao Noi which gets way less tourists .. but Phi Phi gets all these visitors for a reason! I suggest you contact my friends at Easy Day Thailand for some trips :)

November 26, 2013