About Phi Phi Islands
Fun fact: Phi Phi is pronounced as Pee Pee, not Fee Fee.
We made the day trip from Phuket with 5 Star Marine, the leading company with private boat trips to Phi Phi for couples, families, and groups.
Day tours to Phi Phi Islands from Phuket mostly have similar itineraries with differences in when they visit which spot.
Here’s what a typical day looks like:
- Early morning pick up from hotel in Phuket
- Light breakfast at the marina
- Maya Bay
- Pi Leh Lagoon
- Viking Cave
- Monkey Beach
- Khai Island or Bamboo Island
Also read: Phi Phi Islands day trip from Krabi.
1. Maya Bay
Maya Bay’s popularity and tourism started shortly after the movie ‘The Beach’ starring Leonardo di Caprio, was filmed there in 2000.
Due to mass tourism, Maya Bay closed in 2018 for reef and nature restoration and was closed for four years.
After many years, they reopened Maya Bay in January 2022 with more restrictions than in previous years.
Swimming in Maya Bay is forbidden; you can only walk in water up to the knee depth. If you go in the water any further than knee depth, rangers will whistle and warn you not to do that, and if you continue doing it, you will be fined.
The ban on swimming in Maya Bay is in place to protect the blacktip shark population that’s breeding there.
Maya Bay is a part of the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, and the entrance fee is 400 baht or 12 USD for adults and 200 baht or 6 USD for children.
Good to know: Some tours to Phi Phi Islands include the Maya Bay fee in the price, but just in case, make sure to check this with your tour operator!
On our tour, we arrived at Maya Bay around 9:40 am and had approximately 30 minutes there, which was just enough to experience it, but we’d love to stay there a bit longer.
While Maya Bay is absolutely stunning and worth visiting, make sure to set your expectations, as this is one of the most visited spots in Thailand, and it will be crowded. It’s something you can not avoid.
Insider tip: Choose an early bird tour or a late afternoon one to have fewer people there (but still some)!
Drone warning: It is forbidden to fly drones in Maya Bay. The area is small, and the rangers will stop you immediately if you try to drone from Maya Bay beach.
2. Pi Leh Lagoon
The next stop on the tour is the beautiful Pi Leh Lagoon.
Pileh Lagoon is located close to Maya Bay, and it’s a beautiful inlet with crystal clear turquoise water, surrounded by stunning karst hills.
We enjoyed a 15-minute swimming stop at Pileh Lagoon. We jumped in from our boat and had a fantastic time.
Note: While Pileh Lagoon and the color of the water is beautiful, it was pretty crowded with boats, so we had to stay close to our boat and swim in a bit smaller area than we’d loved to. Still, it was very much enjoyable.
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3. Viking Cave
On the way to the next stops from Pileh Lagoon, you pass by the Viking Cave, a privately owned cave used for collecting swiftlet bird nests.
The swiftlet bird nests cost a lot of money and are used in bird’s nest soup in many SEA countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and in China. Moreover, bird’s nests have been consumed by royalty for centuries as the most luxurious, priceless, and nutritious food.
4. Monkey Beach
Monkey Beach in Phi Phi Islands is a famous beach where, as the name implies, you can see monkeys.
The monkeys often come to the beach, and you can see them swimming in the water if you’re lucky.
We only had a short stop here and didn’t go out to the beach; we just observed a few monkeys from the boat. And we didn’t mind a brief visit here.
Note: We were encouraged not to feed the monkeys, so if you’re reading this, please remember this if you visit. 🙂
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5. Snorkeling stop
We had around 40 minutes for snorkeling at one of the bays on the way to lunch.
Visibility wasn’t the best, and it wasn’t the best snorkeling spot we’ve been to in Thailand, but we still enjoyed it.
Note: The visibility depends on the weather, as with strong waves and cloudy skies, it will be much lower.
After seeing the main highlights of Phi Phi islands, we were ready for a lunch break.
We had a Thai buffet lunch at the restaurant of Phi Phi Holiday Resort on Phi Phi Don Island.
And the lunch included vegetarian and vegan options as well. So just advise the tour operator of your food preferences in advance.
We quickly ate lunch to enjoy swimming at Laemtong beach. While it’s not the most beautiful beach in Phi Phi, especially as it can get crowded with boats, the water was nice and clear, and we enjoyed swimming there.
7. Khai Island or Bamboo Island
The last stop of our Phi Phi Islands day tour was Khai Island (Koh Khai Nok), a tiny island close to Phuket with a well-equipped white sandy beach and a reef.
We had about an hour of free time there, but unfortunately, it started pouring rain, so we couldn’t enjoy the spot properly.
There is a great snorkeling spot on Khai Island, but due to the rain, we didn’t even try to check it out as visibility was zero.
As we exited the boat, many locals tried selling us things like loungers, souvenirs, or jet ski rides. But they weren’t too pushy, which was great.
Note: Sometimes the Itinerary isn’t the same, and you might visit Bamboo Island, which is closer to Phi Phi. But since bad weather was approaching, they probably decided it was safer to finish off with an island closer to Phuket.
Khai Island and Bamboo Island both have beautiful sandy beaches, so whichever you end up on, it’s a great swimming/snorkeling stop!
You can otherwise also visit Khai Islands on a day trip from Phuket:
What to expect
It’s true that the tour to Phi Phi Islands from Phuket can be a bit hectic, as it is the most popular trip, there are always crowds, and you’re on a tight schedule.
But it allows you to see the main spots and enjoy snorkeling and swimming at beautiful places like the small islands with beautiful sandy beaches.
We highly recommend taking an early bird tour from Phuket so that you can avoid crowds at Maya Bay.
And the most chaotic part is the boat docking at Maya Bay, as they’re not permitted to dock inside the bay but rather on the other side where there is a floating dock. And then you walk for about 5 minutes to get to the Maya Bay beach.
As boats are not permitted to stay docked at the floating pier, after you’re done with the beach, you must stay with your group and board the boat simultaneously. When you’re done, the boat must move away to make space for the other arriving or departing boats.
We were lucky to avoid the biggest crowd at Maya Bay, as when we left 30 minutes later, we saw a much more enormous influx of visitors coming there.
Note: If you want a tour around Phi Phi Islands with a traditional longtail boat, you must first get to Phi Phi Don and then take a longtail boat tour.
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Private or shared Phi Phi Islands tour
We took a Phi Phi Islands day trip on a shared tour with 5 Star Marine Phuket, which otherwise specializes in luxury private tours.
If you’re looking to combine Phi Phi Islands with a visit to Phang Nga Bay (James Bond Island), then check out their unique tour:
For those with a higher budget or groups, doing a private Phi Phi Islands tour makes sense, as you can customize your itinerary, have a more relaxed schedule, and enjoy the places you want more.
On the other hand, the shared boats are a great budget option. And if you want the best deal, take the early bird one.
Check out the top-rated shared boat tours below:
Is the Phi Phi day tour worth it?
And the day tour to Phi Phi Islands is especially worth your money if your budget or schedule doesn’t permit a stay at Phi Phi Don Island.
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What is the price of the Phi Phi Islands day tour?
The price for a Phi Phi Islands day tour from Phuket is between 50 USD and 120 USD for the shared tour and about 1000 USD for the private boat.
What does the day tour include?
The typical Phi Phi Islands day tour includes:
- Return transfer from hotel in Phuket
- Light breakfast
- Fresh fruits onboard
- Water and soft drinks
- Life jackets, snorkeling equipment, and fins
- National Park fees (not all tours include it)
What to pack for the Phi Phi Islands day tour?
These are the main things you need to pack for the Phi Phi Islands day tour:
- Reef safe sunscreen
- Quick-dry Towel
- Bathing suit
- Dry clothes (use code SHIPPEDAWAY for 10% at Unbound Merino)
- Waterproof bag
- Waterproof phone pouch
- Action camera (GoPro with a waterproof case or Osmo Action)
Boats, especially speedboats, get wet, if not from water splashing inside, then from constantly going in and out of the water, especially on snorkeling trips.
Most people were using waterproof phone pouches with their phones instead of action cameras, which works perfectly fine.
Best time to visit Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay
The best time to visit Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay is between December and March when the weather is the most stable.
The hottest months in Phi Phi Islands are mid-March to May, when the weather slowly worsens as the monsoon approaches.
The monsoon season with heavy rainfall in Phi Phi Islands is from June to October.
However, the weather in Phi Phi Islands can be unpredictable. For example, we visited in January and had a mix of beautiful clear blue skies, clouds, and rain later in the day.
But don’t let this discourage you from visiting. 🙂
Conservation and sustainability
While the coral reefs around the Krabi islands aren’t the healthiest in Thailand, they are slowly improving.
We love that there’s lots of effort and measures taken to protect and expand the corals, like replanting and limiting access to some areas.
So, on this tour, it’s encouraged to only apply reef-safe sunscreen at least 20 minutes before getting into the water so it doesn’t wash off your body.
The key ingredients you want to avoid in sunscreen are Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, which are known to be the most destructive to reefs.
Read more: Environmental effects of sunscreen (Wikipedia)
Important to know: If you put sunscreen right before entering the water, it can wash off completely, so you won’t be protected, and you can further damage ocean life.
You also shouldn’t throw any food into the sea. They encourage NOT to feed the fish, which is very important for corals.
We didn’t have high expectations for the Phi Phi Islands day tour from Phuket, but we thoroughly enjoyed our day around the fascinating scenery. So going there just on a day tour is, in our opinion, still very much worth it.
While we did a day trip to Phi Phi from Phuket, you can also do it from Krabi or Koh Lanta.
And if you want to experience Phi Phi Islands fully, you can stay on the bigger Phi Phi Don Island in one of the many accommodations.
Best places to stay in Phi Phi Islands
Loh Dalum Beach
Loh Ba Kao Bay
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