I’m about to come out with something a little controversial. I didn’t like Koh Phi Phi, and I wouldn’t go back. If you’re wondering whether the Phi Phi Islands are worth a visit, the short answer, based on my experience, is no. If you want the long answer, keep reading.
A word of warning – I’m probably going to sound about 82 in this article. It’s pretty ranty, but I believe every word. Take it with a pinch of salt, please. After a few negative points, I’ll go into the positives of Koh Phi Phi.
Here are all the reasons I believe you should never spend more than a night on Koh Phi Phi. These reasons become stronger if you’re not a heavy drinker, or don’t enjoy sharing small swimming pools with 100 others.
Koh Phi Phi is too touristy
I have a general rule of thumb when it comes to travel – if it feels too similar to home, it isn’t worth visiting. While you won’t find blue waters or sandy beaches in my home city, you’ll certainly find dodgy hotels, passed out drunks, and overspilling bins.
The truth is that Koh Phi Phi is way too tourist-focused. Mix super-cheap drink with thousands of 19-year-olds and you’re going to have a problem on your hands. And, while I appreciate it when a restaurant offers spag bol or a bacon sandwich, Koh Phi Phi, the so-called island of dreams, HAS ITS OWN MCDONALDS. NO JOKE.
It’s a huge party island
On our first full day on Koh Phi Phi we walked down from our hotel to find a man passed out, fully naked, in front of a bar. It was 1pm. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have anything against party holidays, but this seemed a little intense. We should have probably given this island a miss when we read up on it, as I’m not really one for heavy hangovers. Either way, it definitely isn’t how I’d choose to spend my first-ever time in Thailand.
There are a few perks to being the only sober person on a party island, however, which I’ll go into further down this article.
Koh Phi Phi is expensive
The Phi Phi Islands are one of the most expensive places to visit in Thailand. After spending a month in Chiang Mai, one of the cheapest cities of our travels, Koh Phi Phi was a shock. We stayed in a super basic hotel, the cheapest we could find on the island, which cost us £158 for 6 nights. To put that into perspective, a week in Chiang Mai cost us less than £100.
When we checked in, the hotel owner told us our bed was brand new. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve never been so happy about a new bed. After days of watching people throw up on themselves, I dread to think what some of the mattresses on that island look like. One night, we saw a girl stumble out of her hotel room screaming at the security guard for condoms for literally ten minutes. He couldn’t understand a word she was saying. Again, I’ve never been so happy about staying in a new bed.
While I have just spent the last five minutes rambling on about how awful Koh Phi Phi is, there are a couple of ways to make the island work in your favour. Particularly if you’re not a big drinker.
The mornings were our favourite part of Koh Phi Phi. We’d stumble out of the hotel around 5.45am, just in time to see some of the stragglers from the night before heading back to their hotels. We’d then take the two-minute walk onto the beach and go for an early morning swim.
We also landed a few dog friends doing this, who would join us every morning for cuddles and a snooze. They’d even sleep by our stuff while we both headed into the water. I’ve provided pics for your enjoyment below. SO CUTE.
The tide was out a few mornings we did this, but it was still one of the best experiences of our trip. There was something so soothing about watching the sunrise and having the beach to ourselves, even if we were still wiping the sleep from our eyes.
A good stop-off point
At the beginning of this article, I said I’d never visit Koh Phi Phi again. That isn’t entirely true- while I’d never spend six nights there again, it’s an undeniably good place to stop before continuing your tour of the Thai islands.
It’s not far from Phuket, meaning I’d probably use Koh Phi Phi as a good layover spot before taking a second boat to another island the following day. Taking two of those boats a day is a little intense, and you can travel pretty much anywhere from Koh Phi Phi. I’d also love to spend one more morning there just to see the dogs, I won’t lie.
So there you have it, my unapologetic view of Koh Phi Phi. If you’re a big drinker and looking for a party island, it’s perfect. If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy Thai culture, it’s the last place you want to be.
Did you experience the Phi Phi Islands in a similar way to us? Let me know in the comments!