Welcome to Ko Phi Phi: the jewels of the Andaman Sea
Sssshh... don't tell everyone!
Here'll you'll find our top ten tips to make the most of your Phi Phi Islands holiday.
How to escape the dreary canteen lunch and go exploring Phi Phi Don: Phi Phi daytrips
The Phi Phi Islands are a group of six islands located in Krabi province, off the south-west coast of Thailand. This guide to Phi Phi is an offshoot of the Your Krabi website and covers hotels, activities, beaches, nightlife and restaurants on the islands.
Originally home to a small fishing and farming community, Ko Phi Phi has grown rapidly from the idyllic backpackers' paradise it was in the mid 1980s to an international resort area, complete with dive schools, five-star hotels and a lively bar and restaurant scene.
When the mediocre movie 'The Beach' was filmed here on the islands (in Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Leh) in 1999, this only increased Phi Phi's popularity, drawing in a new crowd of daytrippers from Phuket - often interested only in snapping the spot where the film's star, Leonardo Dicaprio, hung out.
But despite the (inevitable) growing commercialisation on the Phi Phi Islands, you can still find friendly local people, touches of the bohemian island lifestyle, as well as an astonishing natural landscape, both above ground and underwater.
Did you know that Phi Phi is pronounced with an aspirated 'P' sound, not an 'F'? To avoid sounding like a tourist, you should say 'Pee Pee', not 'Fee Fee'. By the way, the same goes for Phuket - Poo-ket, not Foo-ket!
But what about the tsunami? Ko Phi Phi Don, the main and only inhabited island in the group, was by far the worst hit area of Krabi province on 26 December 2004. Giant waves struck on both sides of the narrow spur where tourist activity is concentrated, wiping out nearly everything in their path.
The rubble and the debris along the coast has all been cleared, thanks to a mammoth effort from government and volunteer workers. Although much has been reconstructed, there is still a giant 'hole' in the middle of the island, where permission to rebuild has not yet been given.This large, empty space means you can, for the first time in years, see from one side of the island to the other.
Further north along both beaches, it is now very much business as usual - and has been for a couple of years. Hotels, restaurants, bars and dive shops are all open and there is absolutely nothing visually disturbing left to be seen. People who actively seek out tsunami 'stories' from residents will certainly find them; otherwise there is little in people's everyday demeanour that would make you feel 'bad' for being there - on the contrary, the eternally optimistic Thai people have been only too happy to see tourists return to Phi Phi since the dark days of early 2005.
In terms of natural assets - beaches, coral, water - Phi Phi was relatively unharmed. Apart from a few small reefs near the shoreline of Phi Phi Don that were damaged by sliding rubble, the rest of the island group is as beautiful as ever.
For more on Phi Phi and the tsunami, see our tsunami page.
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