From Heart And Seoul

Phi Phi Island Hopping: A Day on the Andaman Sea

February 26, 2017 59 Comments

Where to begin. Thailand is just great all around (the food, the architecture….I could go on), but if you visit just one part of the country – make it the southern end.  Thailand has beaches known as some of the best in the world, and just off the coast there are literally HUNDREDS of islands to visit. You can’t go to the “wrong” one. Spend even a day Phi Phi island hopping and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Itinerary:

 

Pickup

You’ll want to be up bright and early. Pickup for our tour was between 7-8 am. If you have any problems, you can always ask the hotel staff to make a call for you.

Info Session

Our driver took us to the tour office at Boat Lagoon Marina, and we listened to a short instructional overview about safety and what was included in the tour. The tour company also provides tablets for motion sickness if needed, and you’ll have the option to rent snorkel gear if you didn’t bring your own.

 

Phi Phi Islands Phuket Boat Lagoon Marina Thailand

 

Boat Ride

It’s a short walk to the marina, and we’re off once we all board the speedboat. It can get a little bumpy if the water’s choppy, but it’s at least a 30-40 minute ride out to the first island so get comfortable (or at least try).

 

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Maya Bay

Bamboo Island

This was our first stop. You can see it for yourself below, but the views aren’t ugly. Bamboo Island is mostly beach and forests behind you. It’s small, and it’s not developed. There’s nothing here besides the boats that pull up onto the sand, and maybe a drink stand somewhere. We had about 45 minutes here to swim, lay on the beach, snorkel etc. Less than an hour doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but when there are so many islands to see (and you can just hop over to the next one) you’ll really want to make the most of your day. (If you prefer to just lay on a beach and take it easy, you might want to look into an option with less stops.)

 

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Bamboo Island

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Snorkeling Bamboo Island

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Bamboo Island

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Bamboo Island

Snorkeling

After leaving the first island, we rode 10-15 minutes away and stopped in the middle of the ocean over a coral reef. Limestone cliffs all around us, and deep blue-green water underneath us. As soon as you get your gear on, you can just jump off the side of the boat. We had about 45 minutes here for snorkeling, and it was the perfect amount of time. Definitely take a GoPro if you have one! There were lots of smaller colorful fish, and every now and then we got a good photo of some of the larger ones. My favorite was the rainbow-looking fish.

 

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Snorkeling

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Snorkeling

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Snorkeling

 

Monkey Beach

This wasn’t our first time seeing monkeys running around out in the open, but it was by far one of the coolest experiences we had this day. Monkey Beach is literally an island FULL of monkeys. I’m not talking about 5 or 6 of them. There were at least 30+ of them visible when we pulled up to the island. And they weren’t off to themselves, running in and out of the woods. You could see monkeys running the beaches, climbing in people’s laps, drinking out of coke cans (yes you read that right lol)… you name it. Our guide gave us an overview on what to bring and how to act before we got off the boat. Initially, we were very cautious and stuck to watching the monkeys from afar. Some were pretty big, and they can move. They can also get a little aggressive if you have something they want (i.e. don’t bring food, sunglasses or anything shiny). But after 10 minutes or so we found some of the babies to play with. Game over.

 

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Monkey Beach

Phi Phi Islands Monkey Beach Thailand

Phi Phi Islands Monkey Beach Thailand

Phi Phi Islands Monkey Beach Thailand

 

Phi Phi Don

Phi Phi Don is an island you could spend a whole day on, or more. It’s small, but there are hotels, restaurants, and a small strip of tour operators, shops, ice cream etc. If you wanted to stay here longer they have water taxis that can take you back to Phuket, Krabi or another island. However, we just stopped here for lunch (which was included in the tour), and the open-air restaurant we ate at was fantastic. A mix of Western & Thai foods, a huge array of foods was brought out and placed on a lazy susan in the center of our table to eat family style. We ate with a view of the beach and the islands in the background. What more can you ask for. Afterwards we had some time to walk the main strip of shops – which meant coconut ice cream for dessert.

 

Phi Phi Islands Phi Phi Don Thailand Phi Phi Islands Phi Phi Don Thailand

Phi Phi Islands Phi Phi Don Thailand

 

Pileh Cove

After lunch, we piled back into the speedboat for more island hopping. We originally were planning for more snorkeling, but due to jellyfish we had a slight change of plans. So while our stomachs settled, we did a little bit of sightseeing and rode into Pileh Cove. It’s basically a big cove surrounded by huge limestone cliffs – but they are undercut as they meet the water. Kayaking here would be a great alternative, as the water gets super shallow in places where boats can’t go.

 

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Pileh Cove

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Pileh Cove

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Limestone cliffs looking out from boat

 

Phi Phi Leh

Maya Bay

This famous spot was the filming location for Leonardo Dicaprio’s movie “The Beach”. We hadn’t seen the movie (filmed back when he was still pretty young), but regardless it adds a little bit of intrigue to the place. Maya Bay was definitely the most popular of all the islands we visited. You did get the feeling that it was just ever so slightly more touristy, but still – you’re on an island that’s an hour away from the mainland. You’re not fighting for space, and the views here are worth the stop. We spent about an hour and a half here, so you’ll have time to rest and just relax on the beach at the end of a long day.

Phi Phi Islands Maya Bay Thailand

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Maya Bay

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Maya Bay

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Maya Bay

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Maya Bay

 

Loh Samah Bay

Technically this isn’t another stop. It’s on the other side of the same island, but you should walk through the path to get a look at this. My absolute favorite picture from this trip was taken here. You’ll have to go past the drink hut at Maya Bay, and continue on the path into the “woods”. The path is well carved out though and it’s basically sand the whole way. We went barefoot. You’ll head through an open area with some small bungalows – just follow the signs that point the way. Your welcome.

 

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Maya Bay Loh Samah Bay

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Loh Samah Bay

Phi Phi Islands Thailand Loh Samah Bay

 

Return Transportation

Once you’re back on the speedboat, sit back and watch the sunset while you head back to shore. As soon as you get there, you’ll hop right into a waiting car and head back to your hotel!

 Phi Phi Islands Thailand Limestone cliffs looking out from boat

 

Booking:

Phuket Tours Direct for Rak Talay Travel

Keep in mind that when you book through a bigger site (as we did), you may actually be taking a tour from a local travel company with a different name. This is totally normal – plenty of large tour providers outsource to smaller companies who actually provide the service. So just be aware if you book with Phuket Tours Direct. They may outsource to other companies as well, but our tour was provided by Rak Talay Travel and everyone was fantastic.

Our drivers were professional & on time, and our guide (and the rest of the speedboat personnel) was funny, personable and more than willing to give tips, answer questions, take pictures etc.

Inclusions:

  • Hotel pickup & drop-off
  • Bottled water
  • Fresh fruit served to you almost every time you get off & on the boat (this was the BEST!)
  • Lifejackets and snorkel gear (aside from renting flippers if you choose to)
  • Lunch

What to Bring:

  • Sunglasses
  • Cash (Phi Phi Don shopping)
  • Easy clothes to throw on/take off
  • Waterproof phone case (the boat ride can get bumpy!)
  • Towels
  • GoPro & accessories (you’ll especially want this for in-the-water photos!)
  • Selfie stick (perfect for the Monkey Beach if you don’t want to get too up close & personal!)
  • Sunscreen

 

Hope this was helpful! If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, click here to read our full overview of where to stay, eat and play in Phuket.

If you're in Thailand, you can't pass up the Phi Phi Islands along the southern tip. Even if you have limited time, head out from Phuket or Krabi and spend your day snorkeling and boating in the Andaman Sea. Click here for a full itinerary and everything you need to know about Phi Phi island hopping!
If you're in Thailand, you can't pass up the Phi Phi Islands along the southern tip. Even if you have limited time, head out from Phuket or Krabi and spend your day snorkeling and boating in the Andaman Sea. Click here for a full itinerary and everything you need to know about Phi Phi island hopping!

59 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sandy

    February 26, 2017

    Love your pics! Those monkeys are so cute 😀

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      February 27, 2017

      The babies were adorable! You could fit them in the palm of your hands!

  2. Reply

    Laura

    February 27, 2017

    Oh my god.. Your pictures make me so jealous at the moment.. It’s raining dogs here in Belgium, so I wish I was in the Phi Phi region as well.. Oh well.. One day! Love your post!

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      February 28, 2017

      Oh no! Hope you get some warm weather soon! Thanks for reading Laura 🙂

  3. Reply

    Andi

    February 28, 2017

    This looks fun especially the monkeys seeing them eating some stuff. I am wondering, are they aggressive? I love watching them do their own stuff but I am not comfortable jumping off at me. The blue waters are nice to see, but is it really crowded? This will be a nicer place if there’s lesser crowd.

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      February 28, 2017

      They can be aggressive if you have food or drinks within their reach, but just don’t carry a lot with you and you’ll be fine. We didn’t feel it was ever “crowded” anywhere we went though (and we took this trip in July)!

  4. Reply

    Marge

    February 28, 2017

    First of all I love your bathing suit, love the color and design and it looks great on you. Back to the post, I’d love to go to Thailand hopefully this year. It’s like the only popular Asian destination that I haven’t be to yet, at least one where I don’t need a passport. The bamboo island looks interesting to me just because it is not developed. With all the overly commercialized islands, that one is a breath of fresh air.

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      February 28, 2017

      Thanks so much!

      Yes, I agree! Thailand is becoming such a hot spot for Westerners now that a lot of the popular islands are very commercialized. They are all drop-dead gorgeous though – hope you get to visit!

  5. Reply

    Samantha Sparrow

    February 28, 2017

    I’ve never been to Thailand, but Phi Phi island hopping looks like the best!!! I love the look of Monkey Beach! I experienced monkeys on the beach in Costa Rica and it really is a cool experience.

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      That sounds awesome! It is cool to see them just running around on the beach. I’m sure you can’t beat that experience in Costa Rica!

  6. Reply

    Sheena

    February 28, 2017

    I’ve also done this day trip from Phuket, the Phi Phi islands are amazing. I had kind of forgot all the details but this brought a lot of it back, I think the itinerary of my trip was pretty similar! I would love to go back & do a more relaxing trip, staying in Phi Phi Don for a few days

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      Nice! There are some beautiful hotels right on the edge of Phi Phi Don that would be amazing!

  7. Reply

    sophie

    February 28, 2017

    I have heard alot about this Island! also said that if you don’t visit this place when you are in the country then you have not know the culture for well! how much does it cost to go there ? few of my friends were saying that they spent only couple hundred bucks and had like more than ever fun!

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      We actually paid close to $50 USD per person for the entire day trip, which I thought was a steal! You can really get a lot for your money in Thailand!

  8. Reply

    Milijana

    February 28, 2017

    Wonderful photos and very informative post. You two look great in all photos! You seemed to have much fun there. No wonder, Thai island hopping is always lovely !

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      Thank you! It’s not hard to have a fantastic time there 🙂

  9. Reply

    Lydia@LifeUntraveled

    February 28, 2017

    Wow looks like you got a lot of bang for your buck! So many islands in just one day makes for a great excursion (with monkeys to boot)! Instead of island hopping we chose to spend a few days on the little-known island of Koh Jam which was exactly what we needed at the time!

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      That sounds awesome! We were short on time, but I would have loved to stay on a lesser known island overnight!

  10. Reply

    Joy Generoso

    March 1, 2017

    It looks fun and awesome adventure. I love the beaches and cliffs. Similar to the Philippines. That monkey drinking cola is so cute hahaha. 🙂

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      Agreed – the cliffs are one of my favorite things about these islands! We haven’t made it to the Philippines yet, but hopefully soon. Glad to hear good things 🙂

  11. Reply

    Mihaela Lica Butler

    March 1, 2017

    The Beach location looks so touristy and busy… but it is still breathtakingly beautiful. I loved your underwater snorkeling photos – fascinating world. And the baby monkeys… so cute. Was that monkey drinking a Coke? 😀

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      Yes, it was a Coke! haha

      The beach was a little more touristy than we had hoped, but I’d say it was definitely still worth the visit since we hopped around so much!

  12. Reply

    Chiara

    March 1, 2017

    Very iseful article. I’m currently planning a trip to Thailand and this was incredibly helpful 🙂 also, your photos are awesome! Keep posting

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      Thanks Chiara! Hope you enjoy your trip 🙂

  13. Reply

    Sandy N Vyjay

    March 1, 2017

    This looks like a great way to get around the Phi Phi islands. Can see you had a great experience. The pictures bring alive the natural beauty of the place. We missed this on our last trip to Thailand, we will surely take a leaf out of your experience the next time we get there.

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      There’s so much to do in Thailand so I can see how! Were you up towards Bangkok or Chiang Mai? Definitely make time on your next trip!

  14. Reply

    Ingrid

    March 1, 2017

    It sure looks like a great day spent on the sea (and not only). What I found particulary interesting is the fact that they actually offer you tablets for motion sickness, those can come in handy when you’re on a small boat. And the spot where you had lunch it actually looks and most certainly feels like Paradise!

    Great insights to take into consideration for my future Thailand trip (haven’t been there, but it’s on the list)!

    Thanks!
    Ingrid
    https://ingridzenmoments.wordpress.com/

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      Yes! I thought that was interesting too. No way to tell what you’re taking lol but some took it so it seemed safe. Very helpful for those who have motion sickness!

  15. Reply

    neha

    March 1, 2017

    Such beautiful cluster of islands. I am not sure if I would be so comfortable on the monkey island. Though I would definitely love the bamboo island and the rest. Bookmarking your post to return to it when I plan my visit to phi-phi

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      Thanks! At Monkey Beach there were some who even just stayed on the boat. There are plenty of people though, so you can keep your distance and not be bothered. Hope you get a chance to see it when you’re there!

  16. Reply

    Ariane

    March 1, 2017

    Hi Ashlyn, that was a pretty detailed post and very handy! I did a similar tour 6 years back… the islands are just beautiful but what struck me the most was the masses of tourists on every spot. We did another island hop without a group a few days after and went to more remote spots… I prefered that a bit more. That being said, your pics look amazing and I think it’s definitely something has to do: visiting Kho Phi Phi! 🙂

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      Thanks Ariane! It was a great first trip for us, but I do think if we were to go back a second time I’d probably want to see something a little more off-the-beaten-path. These islands seem to be getting more and more popular as time goes on.

      Thanks for your input! 🙂

  17. Reply

    Indrani

    March 1, 2017

    Island hopping seems to be a wonderful activity there. Each time I read a post on them I feel I am missing a lot. The little monkeys there seem harmless 🙂 Thanks for the helpful tips, good to know they do take good precautions.

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      They were harmless enough! We stuck to the baby ones though!

  18. Reply

    Gemma

    March 1, 2017

    I really enjoyed your underwater pictures, the fish were so colourful! Island hopping is a lot of fun and this definitely makes me want to head to Koh Phi Phi. I can’t believe you’ve never seen The Beach though haha, it’s such a classic traveller film.

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 1, 2017

      I know! We meant to watch it when we got back home, but then life happens… haha

      Thanks for reading Gemma!

  19. Reply

    Stella the Travelerette

    March 2, 2017

    Those monkeys are so cute even if they were a little aggressive! I get really excited whenever I see a monkey–it doesn’t happen often in NYC. So I would love to go to Monkey Island. I actually had no idea that Thailand had so many islands. It looks like a great place to go island hopping.

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      Thanks Stella! Glad you enjoyed the read 🙂

  20. Reply

    Ami Bhat

    March 2, 2017

    You seem to have had an amazing beach time. I love the sound of Monkey beach. Snorkeling is the other activity that appeals to me. And as for those caves, would love to kayak through it,

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      I agree Ami! I would have loved to jump down from our speedboat into a kayak for a little while!

  21. Reply

    Tracy

    March 2, 2017

    We are heading to Thailand in August and seeing Phi Phi islands are near the top of my list – after wanting to see them for 28 years I am quite excited! Did you stay on Phuket? Still trying to figure it all out but like the look of a day trip!

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      Hi Tracy,

      I’m so excited you found my post then! You’ll have a blast!

      We did stay in Phuket – here’s a complete itinerary of everything we did there if you want to check it out: http://fromheartandseoul.com/complete-guide-phuket-thailand/

      Regardless of where you stay, I highly recommend going to Baan Rim Pa for dinner one night! Hope you enjoy 🙂

  22. Reply

    Evelina Utterdahl

    March 2, 2017

    Now you’ve made me miss Thailand! Been just over 4 years since I was there last. It really is a special place.
    And P.S. You look absolutely gorgeous 😉

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      Thanks so much lady – you are too sweet! 🙂 Writing this post definitely gave me withdrawals!

  23. Reply

    Stephanie Fox

    March 2, 2017

    Really great comprehensive guide, I wouldnt know where to start island hopping but this really gives all the info. Exploring the coves and seeing the funny little monkeys look like great experiences!

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      Thanks Stephanie! So glad it was helpful 🙂

  24. Reply

    Fillia Barden

    March 2, 2017

    This is super fun trip. I love the place and what you do there. Tho, I have one question: did you cuddle the monkeys? They are cuteeeee xx :p
    Low Budget | Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      We didn’t cuddle the monkeys! We watched, and got close enough to “pet” them and interact with them a little bit, but I wish we had held the babies now!

  25. Reply

    Bhushavali

    March 2, 2017

    Wow!!! That’s one heck of a hopping!!! The water is so pristine and to watch the colorful fishes swim just beside you is so so serene!!! The white sand is incredible as well. Loh Samah Bay looks like a perfect place to unwind after all that sea activities!!!

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      Loh Samah Bay was my favorite spot! It does make for a long & tiring day (but WELL worth it!) at the end.

  26. Reply

    Christa

    March 2, 2017

    What an awesome trip! I would LOVE to try the kayaking around the Pileh Cove, that looks so neat

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      Yes, we didn’t actually do the kayaking this trip, but it looks amazing!

  27. Reply

    Erica

    March 2, 2017

    Reafing thru made me realize how mucch i am missing phuket… mu favorite was my phiphi cruise and staying in ko phi phi! It is indeed a fun experience… thanks to uour post, tourist have a great reference for their next travel!!!

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 2, 2017

      Thanks Erica! Glad you feel the same!

  28. Reply

    Kate

    March 4, 2017

    Oh Phi Phi Island is a dream destination for everyone! Love that place and I’m sure you will have the same opinion that pictures can’t show how great it looks like when you see it with your own eyes! 🙂
    Kate
    http://elysianmoment.com

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 6, 2017

      Yes! It’s so breathtaking in person. I’d brave the crowds any day for those views!

  29. Reply

    Sophie

    March 9, 2017

    We are heading to Phuket in May!!! And this makes me 10x more excited, a few questions: How long did this tour go for? Did you book this tour when you got there or before hand? Hope that makes sense xxxx

    • Reply

      Ashlyn | From Heart And Seoul

      March 14, 2017

      Hi Sophie!

      This tour was an entire day – so about 10 hours (8am hotel pickup and around 5-6pm drop-off). We did SO much during that time, so I think a half day would have been too short. This was perfect!

      We booked the tour beforehand. There should be a link at the bottom of the post to book on Phuket Tours Direct. Let me know if you have any other questions! Hope you enjoy 🙂

  30. Reply

    stephanie

    May 18, 2017

    Koh Phi Phi is lovely. Long Beach is one of the prettiest beaches ever:)
    x

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