Phi Phi Islands
Regarded by travelers from all walks of life as being among the most beautiful tropical islands of the world, Phi Phi Islands have become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. In addition, the islands are famous as the location where the movie “The Beach” featuring Leonardo Di Caprio was shot. The islands, together with the nearby Noppharat Thara Beach, a total area of 390 square kilometers, were recently established as a national park.
Phi Phi Islands are located just 40 kilometers away from both Krabi and Phuket. Thus, despite the fact that both Noppharat Thara Beach and Phi Phi administratively are a part of Krabi Province, most tourists think that Koh Phi Phi is part of Phuket Province.
The islands and the coastal hills are composed mainly of limestone and are an extension of the limestone mountain range in Phang-Nga Province. The main characteristics of these mountains and islands are their steep cliffs, large caves and dwarf trees growing out of the rock crevices, like those in Phang-Nga Bay.
The island group is composed of two rocky, tree-covered islets Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. Phi Phi Don, the larger islet to the north, is well known for its fine beaches and coral formations. Above average tourist facilities and accommodations are available along two beautiful curved bays, namely Ton Sai Bay and Lodalam Bay. Several shops at Ton Sai can arrange diving and snorkeling trips around the island or the nearby islands – Koh Phi Phi Le, Koh Yung and Koh Mai Phai
About 2 kilometers to the south is Phi Phi Le. Contrary to Phi Phi Don, this islet is uninhabited as there is no beach area as the island descends abruptly into the sea on all sides and it is prohibited by the administrative body. The main attraction is a large cave about 3.2 square kilometers in size known as Viking Cave derived from one of the numerous drawings on the wall which resembles a Viking ship. The cave has a 10 to 15-metre high ceiling which contains many ledges inhabited by thousands of swallows, thus a bird’s nest collection demonstration is a regular feature of guided tours.
Ao Maya and Ao Lo Sama – Phi Phi Islands scenic coves are favorite snorkeling places while the sea around the islands, especially the southern part, which are deep and full of coral formations are popular diving spots. With its emerald crystal sea, secluded beaches, mountain cliffs, colorful coral reefs and undersea life, Phi Phi is a paradise in the Andaman Sea. The best time to visit Phi Phi Islands is from November to April, when the sea is calm.
Koh Yung, an island to the north of Koh Phi Phi Don, has a stone beach on the east and small sandy beaches amid valleys. In addition, the island is teeming with diverse colorful coral reefs. Koh Phai, another island to the north of Koh Phi Phi Don and not far from Koh Yung, has spectacular beaches in the north and east of the island. The bank of coral reefs comprised mainly of antler corals stretches from the north to the south of the island.
Getting to Koh Phi Phi – Phi Phi Islands which are equidistant to Phuket and Krabi Provinces can be reached by boat.
– From Krabi : Chao Fa Pier: Passenger boats leave Chao Fa Pier twice daily at 10 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. The trip takes about 2.30 hours.
Ao Nang: There is one express boat trip leaving daily at 9 p.m. taking 40 min.
– From Phuket : Many tour companies in Phuket organize one-day trips to Phi Phi Islands. Tickets can be obtained from any hotel.
Ao Nang is located approximately 6 kilometers from Had Noppharat Thara and 20 kilometers from the town of Krabi. A large bay with scenic beaches and 83 small islands, Ao Nang has several famous beaches which include East Rai Le, West Railey and Tham Phra Nang (cave) which stretches to the foot of a prominent limestone range. A boat from Ao Nang Village can be hired for sightseeing excursions around Ao Nang, Had Tham Phra Nang and Had Nam Mao, all of which are only accessible by foot. Other offshore isles such as Koh Poda, Koh Kai, Koh Mo and Koh Thap, are popular destinations that can be reached by a rented boat from Ao Nang. An abundance of colorful coral reefs and lovely cartoon fishes make these islands ideal for diving and snorkeling.
Ao Nang has recently emerged as a 5-star tourist attraction due to its numerous 4-5 star hotels and boutique resorts complete with facilities such as diving shops and rental boats. Popular activities include sightseeing by canoe along the beachfront and paddling tours by inflatable canoes or kayaks of the coast and its mangrove forests, islands and semi-submerged caves.
Covering an area of 152 square kilometers, the Park is comprised of many different-sized islands, some of which are surrounded by beautiful coral reefs such as Koh Ha, Koh Rok and Koh Hai. The Parks main island is Koh Lanta Yai, where both the Headquarters and National Park Office are located. The island itself is generally rugged and mountainous with gravelly and sandy beaches to the south. The most suitable time to visit Koh Lanta is from November to April.
Travel to Koh Lanta – Boat departs from downtown Krabi to Koh Lanta Yai daily. The journey takes 2.5 hours.
Here’s transportation information on how to get to Krabi:
Here’s Wikipedia’s entry on Ko Lanta:
Here’s Trip Advisor’s entry on Ao Nang