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The Iconic Phi Phi Island Day Trip By Boat From Krabi Or Phuket

When you’re visiting the islands in Thailand, an absolute must-visit is the famous and breathtakingly beautiful Phi Phi Island, which can easily be visited on a day trip from Krabi or Phuket. 

maya bay beach phi phi lei

Phi Phi is absolutely stunning, with its jaw-dropping dramatic scenic cliffs, world-renowned white sandy beaches and its abundant marine life.

drone maya bay the beach koh phi phi from above drone

For a long time, Phi Phi has been a place that has enticed travellers to visit, and it is without a doubt one of the most popular yet unique places in Thailand to visit.

Here is all you need to know to have the best time exploring Phi Phi Island, whether you’re planning to visit on a boat trip from Krabi or Phuket.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

Where Is Phi Phi Island?

Phi Phi is located in the Andaman Sea in the south of Thailand, between Krabi, Ko Lanta and Phuket. Phi Phi is actually made up of two main islands: Koh Phi Phi Don and Koh Phi Phi Leh, both very close to each other. 

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

Koh Phi Phi Don is the larger of the islands, and the only town on the Phi Phi Islands is located here.

This is one of the main backpacker destinations in Thailand, with lots of bars, accommodation and young people around, and there is a very laid-back vibe on the island.

longtail boats on koh phi phi island in thailand

It’s famous for the stunning viewpoint at the top of the island, as well as sadly being hit by the devastating 2004 tsunami – the worst tsunami in history.

Koh Phi Phi Lei, on the other hand, is famous for the iconic ‘Maya Bay’ – the beautiful beach with crystal clear waters surrounded by imposing limestone cliffs that featured in the Leonardo Di Caprio movie ‘The Beach’. 

maya bay beach phi phi lei

The Phi Phi archipelago also includes some other smaller uninhabited islands.

People mostly visit the Phi Phi islands for a day trip from either Phuket or Krabi, although many people also choose to stay overnight for a few days to enjoy this beautiful paradise at a more laid-back pace.

How To Get To Phi Phi Island

To get to Phi Phi Island you will need to take a boat from either Krabi or Phuket.

If you will be staying overnight in Phi Phi you can take the ferry or fast boat over, but if you only have one day to see Phi Phi and plan to return back to Krabi or Phuket in the evening, you’ll need to book a day trip tour.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

Doing a day trip of the Phi Phi Islands independently from Krabi or Phuket is pretty tricky as the timings of the ferries aren’t great if you’re only visiting for a day trip.

Plus to get around to the different spots you’ll need to find someone with a boat to take you round as it’s the only way to get to places such as Maya Bay and Monkey Beach.

monkey beach koh phi phi thailand

The ferries pick up and depart from the pier by Tonsai Beach on Phi Phi Don, and Maya Bay is located on the other island. Take all of this into consideration as it needs some organising.

Therefore a day trip boat tour from either Phuket or Krabi is by far the easiest thing to do so you aren’t stressing about transport all day and can really enjoy these stunning islands.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

You also get to maximise your time at Phi Phi so you’ll spend longer on the islands and see as much as possible.

Tours all generally include a nice lunch on the beach, use of snorkels and an English speaking guide.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip lunch boat and beyond

The tours can vary a lot in price – if you book a private longtail boat it will cost a lot more than if you join on a speedboat tour or a longtail tour.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

We chose to do our Phi Phi Day Trip with Boat & Beyond – a company that offers private luxury longtail boat trips from both Krabi and Phuket.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

I was really keen to do a longtail boat trip as opposed to the speedboat as it is so much more authentic and more relaxing!

We really loved the idea of having a private boat just for us as opposed to joining a tour so we could enjoy it more. It also meant we weren’t tied to a rigid itinerary and could be flexible if we wanted to spend longer in certain stops.

longtail boat thailand from above

The team at Boat & Beyond organised and set up a delicious lunch for us, as well as provided speakers, complimentary drinks (including champagne if you want!), as well as coconuts, fruit platters, afternoon tea, and beach mats, towels and cushions.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip boat and beyond

It was a really enjoyable way to experience the Phi Phi Islands, however if you would prefer to join a tour from Phuket or Krabi there are plenty of options below.

How To Get To Phi Phi Island From Phuket

Lots of the day trips to Phi Phi that depart from Phuket are done on speedboats. This is in contrast to many of the day trips departing from Krabi that are done by longtail boat as Krabi is closer to Phi Phi.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

Note that if you will be visiting both Phuket and Krabi and have the choice in your itinerary to choose where to start the Phi Phi Islands tour from, it’s best to do it from Krabi as a longtail boat is a far more traditional experience! 

longtail boats on koh phi phi island in thailand

Krabi is also closer to the Phi Phi archipelago, plus it is a lot more laid back than Phuket.

Also, the accommodation is a lot closer to the pier in Krabi, in contrast to Phuket which is much larger, meaning all the accommodation is really spread out across the island.

A top tip if you are staying in Phuket is to stay on the eastern side of the island so you are nearer to the pier if you plan to do several boat trips from Phuket!

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

Tours from Phuket usually include hotel pick up and then visiting the main sights around Phi Phi by speedboat.

Here are some of the best Phi Phi Islands tours that depart from Phuket:

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Some tours depart very early in the morning – like this one, which is great to avoid the crowds at Maya Bay and so you can spend as much time as possible enjoying Phi Phi!

Just incase you do plan to get the ferry or public fast boat over to Phi Phi from either Krabi or Phuket, remember to book in advance online as the spaces fill up fast. 

The fast speedboat from Phuket to Phi Phi takes around 50 minutes, and the ferry takes 2 hours. The first boats depart from Phuket at 8.30am, and the last ones to leave Phi Phi to go back to Phuket are at 3.30pm. 

How To Get To Phi Phi Island From Krabi

Visiting Phi Phi on a day trip from Krabi is similar to how it is to get to Phi Phi from Phuket. Here are several day trip options to choose from, departing from either Ao Nang or Railay Beach – two of the most famous beaches on Krabi mainland:

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There are also some day tours from Krabi that combine a visit to Phi Phi with a sunset visit to the 4 Islands, which is a great way to combine two day trips into one! 

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip boat and beyond

The 4 Islands of Krabi are four beautiful islands very close to the shore of Railay Beach that are definitely worth visiting when you’re in Krabi!

Check out the combined tours below:

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If you plan to go from Krabi to Phi Phi on the ferry or public fast boat (again, not recommended for just a day trip due to the similar timings of ferries to Phuket), the boat journey time is slightly less than it is from Phuket (around 1.5 hours).

If you plan to take this route, also book in advance as there aren’t as many boats to Krabi as there are that run to Phuket, so seats sell out quickly. 

Note also that if you are arriving to Phi Phi by ferry or public fast boat from Krabi or Phuket you’ll need to pay 20 THB per person in cash once you get off the boat to get onto the island.

National Park Fee

Koh Phi Phi is located within a national park and so a mandatory national park fee of 400 THB needs to be paid per person.

Most of the tours departing from Krabi don’t include this in the price whereas most of the Phuket ones do include it, so check beforehand. If it’s not included, you’ll need to pay the 400 THB in cash on Phi Phi Lei Island.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

Phi Phi Island Day Trip Itinerary

A full-day boat trip to the Phi Phi Islands from either Krabi or Phuket typically includes the below popular spots.

Whether your trip departs from Krabi or Phuket, the day trips all usually stop off at the same must-visit spots, just sometimes in different orders.

maya bay beach phi phi lei

Koh Phi Phi Leh:

Maya Bay

The most iconic stop on any Phi Phi day trip itinerary is Maya Bay, made famous from the 2000 Blockbuster movie “The Beach” featuring Leonardo Di Caprio.

maya bay beach phi phi lei

Maya Bay is known for its breathtakingly dramatic cliffs, perfectly white sand and beautiful crystal-clear water. It is truly stunning. 

drone maya bay the beach koh phi phi from above drone

Maya Bay has suffered massively from overtourism. It became one of the most popular beaches in Thailand to visit, and the level of overtourism actually caused a great deal of environmental damage so it was closed for 4 years from 2018 to 2022 to help it recover.

maya bay beach phi phi lei

Nowadays, Maya Bay has an annual closure period for environmental restoration for around 2 months every year.

The dates change every year, but it’s usually closed for the whole of August and September. It’s always best to check before you book your trip!

maya bay beach phi phi lei

Even if you visit Maya Bay nowadays when it is open, you are no longer allowed to swim in the bay, only get up to maximum knee-deep in the water (there is a man that will shout at you on the megaphone if you get further than knee deep in the water!).

maya bay beach phi phi lei

Therefore most people just go in the water for a picture and then enjoy themselves for a little while on the beach before continuing on with the tour.

While the beach is busy, this does mean it is very easy to get photos of you here in the water without anyone else in your pictures.

maya bay beach phi phi lei

It is a little sad that this has turned into basically just a spot where people go to take pictures of themselves on the beach and then leave, but there are plenty of other spots on the tour where you can go swimming and snorkel to see the beautiful fish and coral.

maya bay beach phi phi lei

To help with the environmental conservation, boats can no longer dock in Maya Bay, instead they dock on another part of the island and you walk a couple of hundred metres on a boardwalk through the island to reach the beach.

There are a couple of food and drink stalls here if you need a drink or snack.

Pileh Lagoon

Pileh Lagoon is a stunning lagoon that is also located on Koh Phi Phi Lei. It’s just a short boat ride from Maya Bay, so most boat tours will visit the lagoon after Maya Bay.

Pileh Lagoon is a great place to go snorkelling – one of the best places in the whole of Thailand in fact, with so many colourful fish and very good visibility.

koh phi phi aerial drone shot

The enclosed lagoon is surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs 100 metres high, and the water is a beautiful shade of turquoise! It’s a lovely place to also just relax and enjoy the views from your boat if you don’t want to get in the water.

Viking Cave

The boat tours also include a stop at Viking Cave, located on the northern part of Koh Phi Phi Lei. Viking Cave is known for its swallow’s nests, used to make bird nest soup which is a delicacy in Chinese cuisine.

You aren’t allowed into the cave (only the locals who climb up to collect the nests go inside), you’ll just see the nests from outside. Your boat will slow down right outside the cave and you’ll view it from the water in your boat.

Phi Phi Don

Monkey Beach

As you may have guessed, Monkey Beach is home to several monkeys. If you’re keen to get a close encounter with wild monkeys in Thailand, Monkey Beach is a great place to visit.

The beach is beautiful but small, especially if you visit at high tide when the beach almost completely disappears underwater! If you visit at high tide you’ll need to wade through ankle deep water and just enjoy watching the monkeys.

monkey beach koh phi phi thailand

If you visit at low tide, there will be plenty of space to sit and relax on the sand (it’s so soft here!) and enjoy the beach for a while before you leave. Personally I liked visiting at high tide as it meant it was easier to see the monkeys.

Look out for the monkeys in the trees as you’re approaching the water’s edge in your boat.

monkey beach koh phi phi thailand

They’ll usually then come down to the beach to come and see if the tourists have brought them any food. They are curious and get quite close!

monkey beach koh phi phi thailand

When we were there, there were two baby monkeys, and someone from another boat brought along a big bunch of bananas and handed them out to us so we could give them to the monkeys!

monkey beach koh phi phi thailand

Luckily they aren’t aggressive monkeys like the monkeys you’ll find in Ubud or Uluwatu in Bali – the monkeys here are fairly playful and a bit more timid and didn’t snatch or try to steal things from us.

That being said, it’s always wise to never leave any belongings unattended on the beach, especially if you have any food inside, just so you don’t tempt the monkeys.

monkey beach koh phi phi thailand  

Tonsai Village

Some tours will make a stop at Tonsai Village – the main hub of Phi Phi Don.

There are plenty of shops, restaurants and beach bars here, as well as this being the start of the hike to the famous Phi Phi Lookout, but you most likely won’t have time to do this on a day trip tour.

longtail boats on koh phi phi island in thailand

If your tour stops at Tonsai Village, it is usually so you can enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach, or if it doesn’t stop here for lunch, you’ll enjoy your picnic lunch on the beach at another of the stops.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip lunch boat and beyond

Bamboo Island (Koh Pai)

Just north-east of the Phi Phi Islands is Bamboo Island, another popular spot on any Phi Phi day trip tour.

It’s a beautiful island with white sandy beaches and is really good for snorkelling as the water is crystal-clear and lovely and warm, plus there is lots of coral around.

The island is very small at around 700 metres long, but it is so beautiful and there are plenty of spots on the sand to lie down, sunbathe and relax. There’s also a little beach shack where you can get some snacks if you wish!

Nui Beach

Some tours may also stop at hidden beaches such as Nui Beach for some more snorkelling. Some of the bigger boats even bring their own kayaks so you can go kayaking around the secret coves here.

Is A Phi Phi Day Trip Worth It?

A Phi Phi day trip is absolutely worth it if you’re staying in Phuket or Krabi and have a free day to spare. Be prepared that it is busy as it is such a beautiful place and is on many people’s bucket list of places to visit in Asia.

longtail boat thailand

I think the ideal way to see Phi Phi is really to get there by ferry and spend a few days on the island, and then do a day boat trip like this one, starting really early from Phi Phi.

This means you’ll get to avoid the crowds as you’ll be the first to visit places like Maya Bay.

maya bay beach phi phi lei

Staying overnight in Phi Phi also means you’ll get to enjoy more of the island and its chilled vibe, and visit the iconic Phi Phi viewpoint, to get a stunning view of the bay!

If you can only do a day trip and won’t be able to stay overnight, I would recommend visiting by private longtail boat if possible, as it will make your day much more relaxing and you won’t feel like you’re constantly surrounded by people.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip

That’s how we did the trip, and overall we had a great day – I would definitely recommend the Phi Phi day trip we did with Boat & Beyond if you’re looking for a luxurious private and reliable company.

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip boat and beyond

Things To Bring With You On A Phi Phi Islands Day Trip

  • Sun Protection: Bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Especially in the summer, the sun is incredibly strong here!

 

  • Camera: A waterproof camera such as a go-pro is ideal if you plan to do some snorkelling.

 

  • Waterproof bag: We always bring our waterproof bag whenever we are on boat trips or visiting waterfalls. It keeps everything dry and there is plenty of space inside!

 

  • Fast drying towel: These are great as they dry very quickly and don’t take up much space. If you’re getting in and out of the water a lot you’ll definitely appreciate it!

 

  • Power bank: Important if you’re someone who takes lots of photos or videos and you don’t want the battery in your phone or camera to die before the day is up!

thailand island hopping longtail boat trip luch boat and beyond     

        

This article is sponsored by Boat & Beyond. All views expressed however are my own.