Koh Phi Phi

Introducing Ko Phi-Phi Don

Oh, how beauty can be a burden. About 38km southwest of Krabi, the insanely pretty islands of Ko Phi-Phi Don and Ko Phi-Phi Leh are Thailand’s Shangri-La: a hedonistic paradise where tourists cavort in azure seas, party all night long on packed-out sands and snap pictures of long-tails puttering between craggy cliffs. With its flashy, curvy, bleach-blonde beaches and bodacious jungles, it’s no wonder Phi-Phi has become the darling of the Andaman coast.

Unfortunately, nothing can withstand this pace forever. Phi-Phi’s stunning looks have become its own demise and, unless limits are set, these beloved islands will continue speeding towards ecological disaster.

Ko Phi-Phi Don is practically two islands joined together by a narrow isthmus, flanked on either side by Ao Ton Sai and Ao Lo Dalam. Boats dock at Ao Ton Sai and a narrow path, crammed full of tour operators, restaurants and souvenir shops, stretches east along the beach to Hat Hin Khom. This central sandbar is a cramped, chaotic mess of relentless construction and overpriced accommodation. Hat Yao, facing south, is more attractive.

On the island’s more isolated eastern coast it’s a slightly different story: here you’ll still find sensational snow-white coves and a beachy scene unpolluted by pounding bass. The beautifully languid, long eastern bays of Hat Laem Thong and Ao Lo Bakao are reserved for top-end resorts, while the smaller bays of Hat Phak Nam and Hat Rantee host low-key bungalows.

Choose carefully, tread lightly, manage your expectations, and Phi-Phi may well seduce you as it has thousands of other travellers. You might, equally, find you can’t wait to leave.

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