The jewels in the crown of Thailand’s many wondrous paradise islands, the pair of islands known as Ko Phi Phi Don and Ko Phi Phi Le, hover alluringly under the glistening blue skies beyond Phang Nha Bay and are well served by ferries from both Phuket and Krabi.

PHI PHI DON

Both islands, which together comprise Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, afford splendid vistas, beautiful beaches, sparkling bright waters, and are characterised by shapely limestone outcrops. The larger of the islands, Ko Phi Phi Don, is highly developed and the only one with accommodation, catering for a wide range of stays, with everything from budget to luxury available.



At the centre of Ko Phi Phi Don, is a narrow isthmus, with the main settlement of Ton Sai village nestled picturesquely between the opposing crescent beaches of Ao Ton Sai and Ao Lo Dalam. With no proper roads on the island, travel to the further beaches and resorts is achieved by water taxi or, for the energetic, by walking.



The most peaceful beaches and exclusive resorts are to be found on the northwest coast, at Ao Lo Bakao and neighbouring Hat Laem Thong, which is also the best for snorkelling, popular with honeymooners, and home to a community of Sea Gypsies. Also along this coast are the beaches of Hat Pak Nam and Hat Ranti, with little in the way of accommodation. The busier beaches of Hat Yao and Hat Hin Khom are situated in Ton Sai Bay.

A popular pilgrimage for Phi Phi’s Visitors, especially at sunrise and sunset, is the walk to the viewpoint overlooking the twin crescents of Ao Lo Dalam and Ao Ton Sai, which provides a stunning vista and a great photograph.

KO PHI PHI LE

Smaller and uninhabited Ko Phi Phi Le is a breathtaking day trip, and one of the most wonderful natural sights in the world, its dizzyingly beautiful forms rise tall out of two pristine curvaceous and sandy bays, Ao Pileh and Ao Maya, both resplendent with marine life.



Ao Maya was understandably chosen as the mesmeric backdrop to the film ‘The Beach’, to represent the mythical ‘perfect beach’ of that story, though the original inspiration for the book of the same name was actually another Thai island, situated in An Thong Marine Park off Thailand’s east coast.



An unfortunate consequence of this superstardom is that, whereas in the past it was perfectly possible to spend a whole day alone in this magnificent setting, you are now far more likely to be in the company of many other visitors, so much so that in recent years, for reasons of environmental preservation, daily restrictions now apply and the beach is closed altogether from June through to September.

The island is also host to the ‘Viking’ Cave, whose walls are coloured with chalk drawings, understood to have been the artistic produce of a pirate hideaway in centuries past. Cruising around the island may also afford an opportunity to observe the dangerous local passion for collecting the lucrative swift nests for use in the famous Birds Nest Soup, upon its high cliffs, their precarious endeavours accomplished with twined vines.