Adventure Cruises in Phi Phi
About Phi Phi Cruises
There is no way to really see the Andaman Sea without a Phi Phi cruise. The island group comprises six islands, with Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Le the two biggest and most frequently visited ones. They are part of the Hat Nopparat Thara-Ko Phi Phi National Park and the province of Krabi. It is one of Thailand's most popular destinations, largely thanks to the 2000 Hollywood film The Beach, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio as a backpacker who ends up living in a commune on one of the idyllic Phi Phi beaches.
Top Things to Do in Phi Phi
The glorious beaches are the most obvious attraction of Phi Phi, as in many other islands in the Andaman Sea. Crescent bays, azure waters, and soft sand are bountiful. Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Le will look familiar to those who have seen the aforementioned The Beach, although its fame has cost the area. The hordes of tourists streaming in every day had caused massive damage to the ecosystem, and things got so bad that the Thai government decided to close the bay to allow the coral reefs to recover. It was only reopened in early 2022, after almost four years of closure.
Over on Ko Phi Phi Don, the most famous strip is Tonsai Beach. It is the most developed part of Phi Phi, with shops, restaurants, and a colorful nightlife. There are, however, tons of other beaches and lagoons to choose from, with Ao Lo Dalam, Hat Yao, Hat Phak Nam, and Hat Rantree just a few of the other highlights of Ko Phi Phi Don. On Ko Phi Phi Le, look for the beautiful bays of Ao Pi Le, Ao Maya, and Ao Lo Sama. Another interesting spot is the Viking Cave, where edible bird’s nests are harvested.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget the other Phi Phi islands. There are four smaller islands: Ko Yung, Ko Mai Phai, Ko Pida Nok and Ko Pida Nai. Ko Yung, or Mosquito Island, and Ko Mai Phai, or Bamboo Island, are located to the north of the two main islands, whereas Ko Pida Nok and Ko Pida Nai lay south of them. Whereas Bamboo Island has a few stunning beaches, the other islands are mainly known as dive sites.
Phi Phi cruises are also an excellent opportunity to admire the vibrant marine life of the Andaman Sea, either by snorkeling or diving. There are several dive sites around the four smaller islands, but also all around all of the islands. One popular trip leads to the nearby dive sites of Shark Point, Anemone Island, and King Cruiser. The first two names make it clear what is to be found there, although the fauna is not limited to anemones and (leopard) sharks. There are also soldierfish, scorpion fish, barracuda, snapper, lionfish, pufferfish, and sweetlips.
The King Cruiser, on the other hand, was a car ferry that operated between Phuket and Phi Phi, until it sank in 1997 after hitting the rocks at Anemone Reef. It was unclear what caused this crash, as conditions were normal, and the reef was well known. One of the theories is actually that local dive companies paid the captain to sink the ship because there were no wreck dives around Phuket or Phi Phi at the time. If this is true, we do not know, but if it is, their plan certainly worked a treat.
Top Tips for Visiting Phi Phi (Where Applicable)
Be mindful when visiting Phi Phi, as mass tourism has already had a destructive effect. The islands struggle to manage the waste generated by tourists, and littering could further damage the natural beauty you’ve undoubtedly come to see. Phi Phi’s popularity also means it can get very loud, especially around Tonsai Beach.
Bringing a snorkel to gawk at the marine life is never a bad idea, even if your trip includes some scuba diving. Mosquito repellent will be your friend at night if you don’t want to wake up covered in bites.
Best Time to Cruise Phi Phi
The best weather for a Phi Phi cruise can be experienced between November and April, as temperatures are quite moderate, humidity is low, and rainfall is rare. However, these are also the busiest months of the year, especially December and January. Prices will rise significantly, and beaches will be packed during this time.
The monsoon season runs from May until November and is less suitable for a Phi Phi cruise because of the heavy downpours. There can be sunny spells between showers, and prices will be low, so things are not all bad. If you can stand the heat, that is because the higher temperatures and especially humidity can make that a challenge.
Where Do Phi Phi Cruises Depart From?
There are a few options for Phi Phi cruises. Many itineraries will depart from Phuket and tend to take you along Ko Racha Yai and Ko Racha Noi or Phan Nga Bay before reaching Phi Phi. For these cruises, Chalong Pier will be your point of departure. It is easily reached from Phuket Town (20 minutes) or Phuket International Airport (45 minutes), which is your most likely point of entry into Phuket. There are no direct flights from Europe at this point, so you will probably be flying in from Bangkok, Malaysia, or Singapore.
Some Phi Phi cruises do leave from Phi Phi itself, though. The main harbor there is Ao Ton Sai Pier, near Tonsai Beach on the island of Ko Phi Phi Don. The easiest way to reach your departure point is to take a boat or ferry from either Phuket or Krabi, where you can depart from Klong Jilad near Krabi Town.