Easily one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands, the stunning cliffs framed by turquoise water surround you at every view. The Phi Phi viewpoint is some of the most stunning scenery we had seen in Thailand and of course you cannot forget the movie ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed on and around Koh Phi Phi.
I should just come out and say it, I did not like Koh Phi Phi and no I have not seen ‘The Beach’
Koh Phi Phi is unsurprisingly very touristy and developed. However, I pictured mid range package tourists exploring Thailand for 1 week and flying back home to work. I pictured young families watching the sunset over the cliffs. I was wrong.
The first night we waltzed around the island getting to know it and the many restaurants looking for something good to eat. There was honestly traffic jams on an island with no cars. Many people under the age of 25 were pouring on to the streets to purchase ‘buckets’ of alcohol and start the night of intoxication.I’m no prude either, I enjoy a good party and can let loose when the time is right but Koh Phi Phi was over the top with hedonism. The beaches, lit up in neon, were a harsh contrast to the islands natural beauty.
The music pounded late into the night and fire dancers performed the same show night after night. The countless tattoo shops were open 24 hours a day and got the most business during the wee hours of the night. I witnessed a group of college aged men funnelling a beer from a bar balcony two stories up and woke up to the sound of a fellow roommate in the much overpriced 16 bed dorm-room throwing up.
Also for such a touristy area we were very disappointed in the lack of vegetarian fair. We have become quite accustom and lucky to say that we usually eat at 100% veg restaurants and not have to worry about meat, fish sauce or eggs in our dishes. Koh Phi Phi has a few good options and you can read about them here.
I day dreamed of El Nido in the Philippines which had similar landscape, clearer water, and was a tranquil quiet paradise in comparison to most of Thailand. It seemed that Koh Phi Phi has turned into a commercial island full of overpriced market clothes, 24 hour massage parlours, and copious amounts of booze. It draws a large crowd of young people who want to let very loose for a few days, staying up all night, before relaxing on nearby Koh Lanta.
If you are set on visiting I would limit your stay to two nights. This gives you adequate time to walk to the view points, have a beach day and possibly visit Maya Bay if you wish. Just don’t plan on sleeping much.