So, you’ve found yourself with five days to spare in southern Thailand, and you’re at a loss for what to do. Well, you’re in the right place. If it’s sun, sea, and stunning scenery that you’re after, there’s nowhere better than Koh Phi Phi to spend your time.
The Phi Phi Islands are a group of islands off the south coast of Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, in the Andaman Sea. The Phi Phi Islands are characterized by their limestone cliffs that jut out of the sea, turquoise tidal lagoons, and stunning coral reefs. Only one of Phi Phi’s islands is inhabited, and that’s Koh Phi Phi Don, a bustling mecca of narrow market roads, compact hostels, and buzzing beach bars. Still, there’s a lot to see in Koh Phi Phi, and five days is the perfect amount of time to squeeze it all in.
Our five-day itinerary for the Phi Phi islands is the perfect way to spend the end of your vacation or to press the reset button before you head off on the rest of your travels. Koh Phi Phi might only be reachable by boat, but its location makes it a great vantage point into the rest of Thailand. This itinerary can be chopped and changed, and if you have more than five days in Phi Phi, don’t worry. There are plenty of other activities to keep you busy. But this is the ultimate five-day Koh Phi Phi itinerary for exploring the best that these islands have to offer.
Day 1 – Koh Phi Phi Don
You’ve just arrived on the island, fresh off the ferry, suitcase in tow. Why rush to sightsee when there’s so much to do right in front of you on Koh Phi Phi Don? First stop, catching your breath. Because the looming limestone cliffs that welcome Phi Phi’s visitors are sure to have taken it away.
Koh Phi Phi Don is touristy and developed despite its small size, but it’s full of small island charm. Apart from authorized vehicles for emergency services, there’s no transport on the island, so all you’re getting around has to be on foot. This only makes exploring the island’s narrow roads and rickety buildings more exciting. It’s easy to get lost among the market stalls, treetop bars, and boat tour sellers, but that’s part of the adventure.
There are atmospheric hostels and guest houses in the center of the island in Tonsai Bay. You can wander off the ferry and bag a night’s stay if you like to be in the middle of the action. But for more privacy and unspoiled views, head to Long Beach in the east for luxury resorts and private beaches. If you’re lucky, your hotel rep will arrive to cart your luggage to your room to save your weary traveler arms the slog.
There’s no shortage of bustling local restaurants and classy western eateries to sit down for a Pad Thai or freshly caught fish dinner. Head to the northern side of the island, where you’ll find Loh Dalum beach for the best views of the sun going down over the bay.
Day 2 – Phi Leh Lagoon and “Viking Caves”
When you first arrive in Koh Phi Phi, one thing to remember is to book a boat tour for the following day. You’ll find plenty of package boat tours, but also several local fishermen who’ll be willing to take you out for a cheap snorkeling tour. For Day 2 in Koh Phi Phi, visiting Phi Leh Lagoon, the national park, and the “Viking Caves” are a must.
Phi Leh Lagoon, also called Phi Ley Cove, is a tidal lagoon encircled by limestone cliffs known for its swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing opportunities. The deepwater offers unobstructed visibility in good conditions and the chance to snorkel with a host of undisturbed marine wildlife. A small gap between the cliffs is the only way to reach the lagoon, and the turquoise waters are the only place for you to go.
After a few hours sunbathing and taking in the scenery at Phi Ley, the nearby “Viking Caves” are a must-see. You can’t enter these ancient caves, but you can observe them from nearby boats. Learn from your tour guide about the lucrative industry that still operates inside the caves, where edible bird’s nests are harvested. Finish the day at another snorkeling point if you have time and watch the sun go down before your guide takes you home.
Day 3 – Maya Bay
Maya Bay can’t be missed from your Koh Phi Phi itinerary, and visiting the infamous cove deserves a whole day. The dramatic peaks, pristine white beach, and coin-shaped bay make this location one of the most famous in the world. If the bay’s stunning natural beauty weren’t enough, its cinematic status would catch your attention. Maya Bay rose to world prominence when it was used as the location for Danny Boyle’s 2000 adventure drama “The Beach.” Starring Leonardo Dicaprio, the film is based on a book set in Koh Samui, but Phi Phi Le proved a better location to reimagine the Edenic paradise.
An increase in tourism to Koh Phi Phi was attributed to the film, but the influx of tourists is widely believed to have damaged the island’s environment. For this reason, Maya Bay has been closed for four years for rehab and to allow the natural ecosystems to replenish. In 2022, Maya Bay will finally open up its shores to visitors, making venturing to Thailand’s most famous bay all the more exciting.
If you get the chance, book on to the Maya Bay Sleepaboard and spend the night moored in the bay. This tour will have you enjoying a private dinner party on the beach, snorkeling with luminous plankton, and sleeping under the stars. The sleep-aboard experience is rustic, reasonably priced, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Day 4 – Phi Phi View Point and Monkey Beach
After two days at sea, it’s time to get your legs moving on dry land. For your fourth day in Koh Phi Phi, start the morning with a hike to the viewpoint for stunning 360-views of the Phi Phi islands. You’ll have to get up at 5 am if you want to catch the sunrise, but it will be worth it.
The walk is only half an hour, but the steep steps and hilly climb are sure to break a sweat. There are three viewpoints in the same complex for a small entrance fee of 30 THB, less than $1. If you’re skipping the sunrise, make sure to go when the sun is low, and the tide is high.
After you’ve recovered from your hike, head to Tonsai bay and hire a kayak for less than $5. Head out to explore Phi Phi Don’s caves without a tour guide, and even stop on Monkey Beach. True to its name, you’ll find dozens of monkeys clinging to the cliffs. The animals are friendly if unprovoked and will even climb on tourists. But keep your belongings hidden away because they’re known to steal anything they can get their hands on.
Finish the afternoon at a pool party at Ibiza House or lounging by the beachfront infinity pool at PP Princess hotel. There’s a lot of nightlife to explore on Phi Phi island, mainly concentrated on Loh Dalum Beach, which is lined with beach clubs. If partying is your thing, a night out on Koh Phi Phi won’t disappoint.
Day 5 – Phuket
Day five has finally come. It’s time to pack your bags and leave Koh Phi Phi. But it doesn’t have to be the end of your Koh Phi Phi itinerary. Once you’ve wiped away your tears, you’ll have to find your way to the mainland to either head home or continue your travels. Phuket is just 46 km from Koh Phi Phi, and the ferry takes 2-hours. Your connecting flights or onward travel will likely be from the island, so why not make a day of it?
One day of sightseeing on Thailand’s largest island is the perfect amount of time to get a taste of Phuket life. Visit Phuket city and check out the Thai Hua Museum located in a 1930s manor house. Learn about Phuket’s rich history from inside the heart of its cultural hub. Make sure you also wander the Old Town’s Thalang Road, where you’ll find rows of Sino-Portuguese buildings and 19th-century shophouses.
Phuket is a gateway into the rest of Thailand. Jump on a ferry to Koh Lanta Yai if you’ve not had enough of island life, or catch a flight back to Bangkok. It only takes an hour, and you can easily explore northern Thailand’s cities and mountains from the capital.
How many days do you need on Phi Phi island?
Koh Phi Phi comprises six islands, which you can explore in three days, but five days is the ideal amount of time to spend in the Phi Phi islands. In five days, you can enjoy all of Phi Phi’s top attractions and explore the limestone islands, mystical caves, and turquoise bays of the surrounding islands. You can still squeeze a lot in if you only have a few days to spend on Phi Phi island. Prioritize the national park, Phi Leh Lagoon, and Maya Bay.
Is Koh Phi Phi expensive?
Koh Phi Phi is one of the most expensive Thai islands, especially when it comes to accommodation. The world-famous attraction, Maya Bay, where the movie “The Beach” was filmed, has been a huge pull factor for tourism to Koh Phi Phi. But this has made prices skyrocket in the last few decades. A night in a dorm room in Koh Phi Phi can cost more than $30, with the luxury resorts exceeding $100. As an island that can only be reached by boat, everything in Phi Phi is imported, which bumps up prices even more. The cost of food per person is upwards of 400 TBH per day, or $12. That’s five dollars more than Thailand’s average.
Are there cars on Phi Phi island?
There are no cars on Koh Phi Phi, only paved roads crisscrossing the island. Getting around is easy on foot, but visitors can also take long boat taxis to other areas of the island. The only motorized vehicles on Phi Phi belong to emergency services, and Koh Phi Phi Police have access to the few motor scooters on the island.