Ko Phi Phi


If Phuket is where all the drunk tourists go to party, Phi Phi is where all the backpackers go to do it. Phi Phi is a tiny little island that is so small there are no cars. If you want to get from one side of the island to another, you walk or get a boat out and round. Phi Phi is beautiful and so are the surrounding islands you can go to, including the one the film “The Beach” was shot on, but since the main activity on Phi Phi is partying I’ll start with that.

Partying

Phi Phi is a party lovers paradise. Every night there are parties in Phi Phi and there are even a lot during the day with popular pool parties on certain days of the week.

Parties on the Beach in Phi Phi

This is where the biggest parties take place, all along the beach every night, with fire shows, limbo, silly bar games like musical chairs and lots of dancing.

Some early evening Limbo. This is probably about 10pm in the evening. The parties don’t properly kick off till late on the beach hence the empty seats behind us

A lot of the bars run a promo that if you do the limbo topless as a girl or naked as a guy you get a free bucket (you get a free shot each time you do it fully clothed as well). That probably paints the most accurate picture I can give you as to what Phi Phi is like! The fire shows on the beach get started about 9pm-10pm but the parties don’t kick off till later with a lot of people staying in the bars in town until about 11pm or even midnight. The fire shows are really impressive and worth checking out at least once or twice as are some of the things the guys can do with the limbo.


Yes, this guy is walking on a tightrope whilst spinning fire!

The jump rope, and musical chairs below

The two most popular bars on the beach are Slinky’s and Ibiza bar and they’re fun but result in photos like the below.



Word of warning: It is near impossible to dance on sand in flip flips, so most people take them off and shove them to the side or under a chair. If you do this, nine times out of ten you will lose them or they will be stolen. It’s just what happens. Do as those living and working in Phi Phi do and just go bare foot.

Best Places to Party in the Center of Phi Phi


Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome is the best bar in the center of town to spend your night before going down to party on the beach. They have multiple beer pong tables, randomly give out free shots and the music is good.

Dojo Bar

Dojo Bar is opposite Stockholm Syndrome and has a similar vibe. I personally much prefer Stockholm Syndrome however since they’re both opposite each other you don’t really have to make a choice, you can easily pop between the two.

Banana Roof Top Bar

Somehow, even though I spent 3 weeks in Phi Phi, I only went upstairs to Banana Roof Top Bar on my last day. Such an idiot. The view from up there is a great and it’s the perfect place to chill out during the day. They also play a movie in the evening each night before the partying begins. It’s above a great Mexican Restaurant, Sombrero. It’s not easy to get a good burrito in Asia, I have had a lot of disappointing experiences, but this place has got it nailed.



Reggae Bar aka Muay Thai Bar

Reggae Bar should come with a health warning since, as well as having nightly professional Muay Thai fights ,spectators are also allowed to volunteer to fight each other too (you get a free bucket for doing so). As I’m sure you can image, there are injuries galore there.

Princess Pool Party

Princess Pool Party is the most popular pool party that happens once a week on Phi Phi. Beer pong is of course played, like on most of the island.

The Princess Pool Party at Songkran (Thai New Year)

Ibiza Pool Party

Like the Princess Pool Party this runs once a week but I wasn’t as keen on the Ibiza Pool Party as they had a tendency to blare out trance music so loud you couldn’t talk from about 1pm onwards. There’s enough of that in the evening, I wanted to at least be able to have a little bit of a chat during the day.

Boat Trips on Phi Phi

There are a lot of parties on Phi Phi but it is also an absolutely beautiful place so it is very much worth getting out and about during the day once in a while. One of the best ways to explore is with a boat trip, here are a few of the different options.

Standard Island Hopping Boat Trip

These boat trips will take you to a couple of the nearby islands, like Monkey Island and Maya Beach (where the film “The Beach” was shot), and you’ll stop along the way to go snorkeling. Maya Beach really is stunning.


The climb to get to Maya beach. You can just go through a cave on the ground if you don’t fancy the rope climbing though

You can also go cliff jumping on these day tours, but you do have to pay extra to do it.

The first cliff jump I did in Phi Phi was from the top of this rock. It’s a lot higher than it looks and people do frequently injure themselves cliff jumping. One of the girls on our trip did and she didn’t even go from the top of the rock, just half way up. Make sure you follow the instructions from your guide as closely as possible. No pulling stupid shapes in the air as you jump or anything. At the speed at which you hit the water you do not want there to be any arms and legs flailing, or worse private areas or bums exposed to take the brunt of the impact.

Depending on which tour you book you can also see glow plankton at the end of the tour once it gets dark.

Waiting for the sun to set to see the glow plankton


If you decide to check out these tours I’d recommend booking through Ibex once in Phi Phi.

Captain Bob’s Booze Cruise

The name pretty much says it all on this one. It’s like the above standard island hopping tour but with all you can drink booze included in the price of the ticket and therefore pretty much just one massive party. It’s because of that tour that I learnt one of my favourite words of all time too “Flinking” = Floating and Drinking. It’s where you put on a life jacket like a daiper and then get into the water and float and drink (and look super cool like me below).



People are constantly wandering around the center of Phi Phi promoting Captain Bob’s Booze Cruise but if you don’t see anyone wearing a Bob’s Booze Cruise shirt just head down to where you arrived on the ferry. Their stand in just on the right before the jetty.

Watersports Experience

This is like Bob’s Booze Cruise and has all you can drink beer included in the ticket price but the Watersports Experience also comes with watersports. It’s therefore a little less party focused since some vague level of sobriety is needed for the watersports. The watersports included are tubing and waterskiing/wakeboarding. You can pick one or the other.

There are usually people around promoting this during the day at the end of the alley way that goes to Banana Roof Top bar and Sombrero Mexican Restaurant.

Long Beach

The main part of Phi Phi is really party heavy and busy so if you’re feeling in need of some peace and quiet just hire a longtail boat to take you round the corner to Long Beach. The beach is so tranquil and there are hardly any waves so you can just float for hours in the water undisturbed.

You can also walk to and from Long Beach too but it involves going up and down through the woods.

Kayaking

From Loh Dalam Bay (the main beach the parties are on) you can hire kayaks to go to a couple of small beaches nearby (one is round the corner to the left of the rocks and one to the right).


This is one of the bays you can go to when kayaking from Loh Dalam Bay





A couple of important warnings for while on Phi Phi:

Booze

In a lot of Thailand mixed alcoholic drinks are sold in buckets, it’s pretty standard. There have been a lot of instances of dodgy booze being used in these though so make sure you see it being poured from a sealed branded bottle.

Also, in general it’s worth steering clear of the local spirits, in particular the local vodka which is called “White Spirit” (really no more warning should be needed than the name but it still took me a while to learn). Drinking this stuff is basically like roofie-ing yourself. There’s no “Oh, I’m a little tipsy now” faze, then “a bit drunk”, then “drunk” then “wasted” and starting to forget parts of your evening. It takes you straight from sober to “wasted” and having a patchy, at best, memory of the night before.

Chang in the cheapest local brand of beer in Thailand, which doesn’t taste too bad but there is no regulation as to the strength of the beer. I think it says 4% on the bottle but drinking it is like playing Russian roulette. You could drink five and feel nothing one night then the next night drink one and be on the floor. Better to pay the tiny bit extra and buy Leo beer.



Injuries on Phi Phi

There aren’t many people who make it off Phi Phi island injury free. I would say I don’t know what it is about that place that causes such an excessively large amount of injuries but given the quantities of booze consumed it’s no surprise.

It’s unlikely you’ll get away without at least a cut or a scrap and if you do get one just be careful to keep it clean so you don’t end up with a bad infection or in the hospital like many people do.

It’s so common to get injuries there we all even dressed up in fancy dress one evening with injuries because that’s only fitting on Phi Phi.



How to get a job in Phi Phi Thailand

If you would like to stay in Phi Phi for over a week or so it will get incredibly expensive as accommodation costs a lot and all those nights out add up. Luckily it is incredibly easy to get a job in Phi Phi if you’d like one.

Working in bar on Phi Phi

The bars that line the beach are always looking for people to work for them by handing out flyers for an hour or two each evening and then being in the bar for the rest of the evening encouraging people to take part in the limbo, handing out free shots and generally making the places look busy and ensuring people are having fun.

For while you work each night you’ll be given tokens that will get you three free buckets (which no person can actually consume all on their own).

You’ll also be paid per hour you “work” but it’s a small amount. The work won’t pay enough for your living expenses each day but it will mean you don’t spend any money on going out (the biggest expense on Phi Phi) and give a you a little bit of money for food each day.

Promoting pool parties or island tours

Both the Princess Pool Party and Ibiza Pool Party hire people to walk around town handing out flyers to promote them and encourage people to have fun once at the pool party (by playing beer pong, drinking etc.) You’ll get paid for each hour you hand out flyers, but not a lot and at the pool party you get free buckets for your hard work.

The main island tours that hire foreigners to promote them are Captain Bob’s Booze Cruise and The Watersports Experience. Depending on the season and on how busy the island is a the time you will either just be paid a commission for each person you sign up for the tour or be paid for each hour you promote it too.

A word of warning: whilst everyone ‘pretty relaxed about work on Phi Phi and it’s easy to find a job if you want one it is technically illegal to do so if you don’t have the right type of visa . Lots of people still do it but you should be aware that occasionally immigration do come over to Phi Phi and do random busts of those working and it has resulted in people being arrested (what happened after that I’m not sure).

When’s Best to Go To Phi Phi

High season for Thailand in general is October to April and on Phi Phi as it starts getting quiet towards the end of April which is the start of rainy season. You can really see the number of people there dramatically decrease. It does make it easier to negotiate prices for accommodation going in the off season though.

The second time I was in Phi Phi was for Songkran (Thai New Year) and it was great being there for it. For Thai New Year everyone basically has a giant water fight. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest about this, super soakers are used and sold on every street corner.



As there are no cars on the island these wheel barrow esq devices are what hotels use to pick people up from the ferry port and carry their luggage for them. They are usually reserved for luggage though, no people

Chang Mai is the most popular place to go for the Songkran but Phi Phi is number two and given Phi Phi is right on the beach, rather than in a city, it’s where I’d much rather be for a mass water fight. It was madness, but really fun madness.

Where to Stay in Phi Phi

I’ve been to Phi Phi twice and stayed there for 3 weeks the second time so have stayed in a number of places. I read a review of one of these hostels before I went to Phi Phi the first time saying it was really noisy till late at night because you could hear the music from the beach till 3am. That’s true of almost any hostel in Phi Phi. It’s a party island. It’s going to be pretty tough going on Phi Phi if you don’t want to join in the parties unless you stay further inland or on Longbeach instead.

Here’s the run down of the places I’ve stayed.

Ibiza House

Almost all hostels cost more than you’d normally pay on Phi Phi as it’s such a popular destination. As a result the first time I went I decided if I was going to have to pay more than I usually would, and than my budget really allowed, I might as well pick the hostel with the pool, which is Ibiza House.

The pool actually really comes in handy as the main beach by that area, where all the night life is, is kind of disgusting. You don’t see it at first but wait till the tide goes out and you’ll never want to get in that sea water again. And Phi Phi is really hot, so if you want any chilling time in the sun you need there to be water to cool off in nearby.

I however wouldn’t stay in Ibiza House again unless I was travelling with others. If you’re already going with people you know, it would be great but as a solo traveller it was a some what lonely experience There is no common area which makes it much harder to meet people and a lot of the people there are on holiday for a week or two with friends rather than backpacking and so more set in their groups and less open to new comers. You can still of course meet people even if you do stay there, I did by just going out and doing a boat tour but it meant I had a kind of lonely first night when arriving at 7pm with only 2 other people in my dorm who disappeared straight away. And unfortunately for me that was at a time when I really wanted to meet some new people and go for a night out having just come from the deserted hostel in Phuket.

The Rock Backpacker Hostel

Don’t stay at the The Rock Backpacker Hostel. I think it might be the cheapest hostel on the island. It’s certainly the cheapest I found but DON’T DO IT. I’m no princess when it comes to accommodation and I will give almost anywhere a go but fuck man are those beds uncomfortable. Just look at that plastic mattress and pillow in the photo below. It really wouldn’t surprise me if they were thinking of the mattress and pillow when they named the hostel. Seriously you could kill someone with the pillow alone it’s so hard.

Oh and also expect to get VERY cosy with the person in the bunk next to you if you do decided to stay there.



Blanco Dorm Room and Restaurant

Stay here. Blanco's hostel is great (apart form the one person who stole the bottle of water I’d left out to cure my hangover in the morning, which is just not cool, but I can’t blame the hostel for that one asshole!).

Comfy beds, great bar area, friendly atmosphere, really centrally located. It’s perfect (although it doesn’t have a pool but what I didn’t know when factoring that into my decision to stay at Ibiza House hostel the first time I went to Phi Phi is that you can just go to a pool party to get free entry to one!)

Best Accommodation for Longer Stays in Phi Phi i.e. Rooms by the Month

If you want to stay in Phi Phi for longer, like a month plus, you can negotiate cheaper rates on hotel rooms that then work out no more than a hostel would cost you. That’s what all the people working in the bars on Phi Phi do.

The best rates are frequently reserved for those living and working there but I’m guessing if you want to stay a while that might be what you’re planning to do.

Harmony House

Harmony House is the most popular accommodation with those living and working on the island and it provides some of the best monthly rates. To make it affordable though you'll probably have to get a fan room and Phi Phi is very hot so it can take a bit of acclimatising.

Phuttachot Resort

A friend and I both rented rooms at Phuttachot Resort. I ended up there because she’d negotiated a good deal for a month so got them to do the same for me for a few weeks. The place is lovely. Air con rooms, balcony, free water. If you’re been travelling for a while in hostels staying there feels like a complete and utter decadent luxury but a the rate they agreed with us was more than affordable.

I would thoroughly recommend staying there in terms of the quality of the accommodation, the only problem is they revoked the deal they had given both of us at the last minute trying to charge us both a lot more. Which is somewhat difficult to really fight when the owner works with the police. By all means stay there, it will be a lovely stay, but if you negotiate any form of deal get it in writing or pay everything up front to avoid any future problems.

How Long to Stay in Phi Phi

At least two days to make sure you get to do an island tour and see the surrounding area by boat, including Maya Beach (the place “The Beach” was filmed). You could easily spend much longer than this on Phi Phi too. Just depends how long you want to spend partying on a tropical island where you walk everywhere in only a few minutes and don't need to wear shoes.

Getting from Phi Phi to Ko Lanta

It’s quick and easy to get a boat from Phi Phi to Ko Lanta. Just book at one of the stalls on the main strip in Phi Phi but be aware the prices for ferry tickets do vary greatly so look around a little before choosing who to buy your ticket with.

Where next?

Ko Lanta
Krabi-Ao Nang



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