Are Phi Phi Islands worth visiting in 2024? Get the pros and cons

Are Phi Phi Islands worth visiting? Find out if you should put Koh Phi Phi on your Thailand bucket list.


Phi Phi island is the most famous island in Thailand.

We all remember it as the gorgeous, pristine beach that Leonardo DiCaprio discovers in “The Beach”.

Since the movie was released in 2000, The Beach – also known as Maya Bay – has been a popular place for tourists along the Andaman Sea coast.

So, as you can imagine, the beach is not so pristine and hidden as in the movie. The question is – are Phi Phi Islands worth visiting?

Let’s take a look as I go over the pros and cons.

This post contains referral links for products I love. Adventurous Miriam earns a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through my links. I appreciate your support ♡ Learn more

Are Phi Phi Islands worth visiting?

In a hurry? Then let’s get to the point:

Phi Phi is worth visiting IF and only if you keep your expectations real.

I visited because I wanted to see the filming location of The Beach. And although it was not the pristine island paradise I thought, I’m still happy I went.

BUT if you’re looking for a beautiful, clear-water beach in Thailand – and not neccesarily The Beach – I would recommend another Thai island that hasn’t been ruined by tourism.

There are so many great ones to choose from – for instance Koh Tao, Koh Lanta or Koh Lipe.

Where are the Phi Phi Islands?

The Phi Phi Islands are located in Thailand, between the larger island of Phuket and the western Strait of Malacca coast of the mainland.

Phi Phi Islands map:

Best time to visit Koh Phi Phi

The best time to visit Koh Phi Phi is from November to April. It’s the dry season with temperatures ranging between 23-30°C (73-86°F).

You can expect clear skies, calm seas, and great visibility for diving. Just remember, it’s a popular time, so book your stay and activities in advance!

Phi Phi island, Thailand

Pros and cons of visiting Koh Phi Phi

To make it easier, I’ve created an overview of the pros and cons of visiting Koh Phi Phi.

I’ll go over each point below.

✅ Picture-perfect beaches It’s overcrowded
✅ Great nightlife It’s ruined
✅ Amazing snorkeling and diving It’s pricey
✅ Scenic hikes It’s not like “The Beach”
✅ Great day trip options❌ Trash issues

The Pros

Should you visit Phi Phi Islands?

Below, I’ve listed the pros of visiting Phi Phi Islands so you can decide for yourself. Let’s take a look.


Picture-perfect beaches

Ko Phi Phi’s got some beautiful nature scenes with its cliffs and beaches – there’s no denying that.

Although the corals are no longer in the best shape, you can still snorkel with fish and sharks off the beach. Plus, the water is incredibly clear.

Phi Phi island, Thailand

Great nightlife

Phi Phi’s got a lively party scene.

When night hits, the bars and beach parties, especially at Loh Dalum Bay, kick in.

It’s a place where you can catch some sun, then enjoy a cold beer with some good music when the stars come out.

Aside from the fire show, there are simple games like skipping rope and musical chairs.

The beach has whiskey buckets, free shots, and loud music. Bars are close together, making it easy to mingle and dance on the sand.

Phi Phi island, Thailand

Amazing snorkeling and diving

Snorkeling and diving in Phi Phi is excellent, especially at Bamboo Island and Monkey Beach.

The clear waters let you see corals and fish up close. For a bit of thrill, Shark Point is where you might spot some reef sharks.

Book here – 7 Islands Full-Day Tour From Phi Phi by Longtail Boat

Phi Phi island, Thailand

Scenic hikes

Hiking in Phi Phi is also greatt with Viewpoint 2 being the highlight. It’s a steep climb but the panoramic view of the island and its bays is worth it!

Another trail leads to Viewpoint 3 for a higher vista. Start early to avoid the heat and the crowds.

Read next: 23 non-touristy things to do in Bangkok


Great day trip options

One of the great things about Phi Phi is that you can take day trips to nearby islands like Bamboo Island for quiet beaches, and Maya Bay for its famed scenery from “The Beach” movie.

Once you’re at Phi Phi, it’s easy to reach Maya Bay. It’s about 30 minutes away, and you can either book a tour there or book in advance.

Our trip included an hour of snorkeling around the island, and we brought our own gear so the price was only a few baht more.

Book your trip – Bamboo and Maya Bay with Lunch By Speedboat

Phi Phi island, Thailand
The Cons

Are Phi Phi Islands worth visiting?

So, we’ve established that Phi Phi is a wonderful island, but it’s no hidden gem. What does that mean for Phi Phi Islands as a destination?

Let’s take a look.

The Cons

It’s overcrowded

Phi Phi’s overrun with tourists. It’s got trash problems, damaged spots and crowds everywhere.

The calm feel is lost with all the boat traffic and loud parties. It’s not the same peaceful island it used to be.

Read next: 20 great reasons to visit Phuket now

The Cons

Phi Phi Island is pricey

Of all the places I’ve stayed in Thailand, Phi Phi was by far the most expensive. We stayed in a ramshackle bungalow for 500 Baht with a sink that suddenly self-detonated and nearly smashed my feet during morning tooth brushing.

And, our neighbour suddenly ran out screaming one afternoon after he’d found a tarantula in the bathroom.

So bottom line, if you go there you should be aware of the quality and prices. And consider booking in advance, especially during high season.

Phi Phi island, Thailand
The Cons

It’s not like “The Beach”

As you can imagine, you’re not the only one who’ve seen The Beach and want to experience that pristine beach with squeaky white sand and turquoise water.

In fact, dozens upon dozens of boats arrive every day with crowds of people pushing each other, trying to get that perfect photo.

It’s difficult to get a real sense of the place and even more so to take a picture without three Russians with an attitude in it.

Maya Bay has a crowd and the corals are more or less destroyed by the many boats that sail through the bay every day. But it doesn’t change the fact that it is a beautiful beach.

Phi Phi island, Thailand
The Cons

Trash issues

Phi Phi’s got a big trash problem. Tourists leave litter on the beaches and it ends up in the ocean, too.

Even with clean-ups, the island just can’t keep up with the daily waste. It’s messing up both the look and the environment there.

Phi Phi island, Thailand

Now to the point: Is Ko Phi Phi worth it?

It is one of the most picturesque beaches I’ve been to, but it’s still far from the best.

Personally, I prefer beaches with few guests and where the vibe is chilled. Thailand has so many gorgeous beaches (like Koh Lipe, Koh Tao or Koh Lanta) and their corals are not completely destroyed by longtail boats.

If you’re in the area, Maya Bay is worth a visit, but don’t fool yourself thinking you’ll find an untouched paradise. Have that in mind when you go, and I’m sure you’ll appreciate the beauty of Phi Phi just as much as I did.

Phi Phi island, Thailand

FAQ – Are Phi Phi Islands worth visiting?

Is Phi Phi Island Tour worth it?

Yes, a Phi Phi Island tour is a go for the amazing views and fun water adventures.

How many days do you need to see Phi Phi Island?

A quick 2 to 3-day jaunt is perfect to hit the hot spots and soak up some sun on Phi Phi. It’s a nice slice of island life without the rush.

Is it worth staying in Phi Phi Don?

Yes! Staying in Phi Phi Don lets you soak up the island vibe and enjoy the beaches without the rush of a day trip.

It’s got a mix of chill spots and lively bars, so there’s something for everyone.

Why is Phi Phi Island so popular?

Phi Phi Island shot to fame due to its picturesque beaches and being a backdrop for the movie ‘The Beach.’ It’s popular for snorkeling, diving, and its vibrant nightlife.

More posts from Thailand you might like

Save it!

Similar Posts


  1. Miriam,

    I agree with you totally on this article. Phi Phi is certainly a stunner but it is very overdeveloped and long gone are the days where it is considered to be a hidden gem. I think if you visit with realistic expectations it shouldn’t overall be too disappointing for visitors.

    1. Thank you, Samuel. Thailand is without doubt my favorite country and I love everything about it, but tourism has changed it a lot since my first visit 8 years ago. I hope Phi Phi is an isolated case and that the other islands will keep their beauty and originality.

  2. Great points! I felt the same way about Phi Phi and Maya beach–so overcrowded and so much harm being done to the corals and the beaches. I would recommend the quieter and also very beautiful Koh Lanta which is not too far away and has some terrific diving and snorkeling spots.

  3. Sadly I agree. It is expensive and has been built up way too much. I returned for 4 days in December and left early. It had turned into a Magaluf or Ibiza type place, full of drunk people ! Sad as I loved it the first time but it has changed so much !

    1. That’s so sad. It was still pretty when I visited years ago, but I haven’t felt like going back since. Especially because there are so many other stunning islands in Thailand.

  4. I wasn’t that big a fan of Koh Phi Phi until I explored the south east of the island and walked round to the view point. However I did like Koh Lanta a lot more. Believe it or not I met 3 people who did overnight trips to Maya Bay! I was able to find a dorm, for 250 Baht but you won’t get to sleep until after 3 am.

  5. Sadly I agree. Beautiful but over priced and becoming a tourist trap. Phi Phi reminded me a bit of Magaluf and Ibiza on my last visit, but not in a good way !

  6. I totally agree with you, we were in Thailand over 5 years ago and thought already then that it was too touristy. I Would love to go back since I love that country but I think its hard to find unique places nowadays!

  7. maya bay was beautiful, but whats the point of a beach if you cannot swim in it with ease. There’s rocks everywhere!!!!!!!! i ran in and stubbed my toes about 20x, then another 100x trying to make my way out. it really was torture trying to get out. Its absolutely cramped with people, boats everywhere and very noisy. I’ll never go back to phuket. filthy, fake smiles, bad service, bad food, we had food poisoning all through out it and only ate at the hotel which was supposedly 5 star but felt more like a 3. patang beach, filthy, rubbish all over the place, tuk tuk drivers very arrogant. never go back, i rather singapore or langkawi, at least u get what u pay for.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad trip to Phuket. Sadly, it is not what it used to be! I hope you will return to Thailand and visit some of the other islands – there are so many unspoiled and beautiful spots where you can experience the real Thailand.

  8. Hi Miriam,

    Firstly, I want to say that I appreciate you writing about your travel experiences. I can definitely agree with you, Koh Phi Phi does look amazing. I remember seeing the movie ‘The Beach’ and thinking, ‘this place is a paradise’. I thought that to even witness such a natural wonder in reality, it would have been nothing short of breathtaking. Sadly, when I got there, I didn’t get that exact feeling.

    I was reading reports earlier in the year about Koh Phi Phi but there were few blogs that highlighted the disparity of their experience to those islands. Nonetheless, I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt so I decided to stay there for a few days in July. At the beginning of my trip, I really tried to keep my expectations low but when I got there, I felt disheartened. Although, it pained me to hear the negative stories about the islands, the biggest issues that I saw on my trip to Koh Phi Phi were issues of sustainability and increasing levels of over-development. There were cases in my trip to Koh Phi Phi where I saw people littering, feeding the fish or monkeys and evidence of oil slicks in the water from the ferry boats.

    Whilst, I understand that there are short term benefits to commercialism, especially in the demographic, social and economic changes to local people, unfortunately, the issues of over-development and a marked increase in tourists without effective regulation come at a great cost. When I saw comparison photos of places in Koh Phi Phi, dating back to 30 years, I just felt that we lost a part of it. Then, when I saw the above issues that I mentioned, I felt a complete sense of hopelessness about the whole situation

    At the end of my trip, I realised that I would much prefer the experiences that I had at a private beach resort in Redang island, Malaysia and a guesthouse in Thoddoo island, Maldives. Travelling to these places gave me an appreciation for a different type of island experience. The chill ambiance combined with a secluded nature feel (powdery white sand, crystal clear blue waters, stunning beaches) and friendly local people was nothing short of amazing. I just hope that these places will last the test of time.

    Once again, thanks for sharing your insight on Koh Phi Phi, I appreciate it. I wish you all the best in your travels Miriam. Have a nice day!!!


    1. I have heard the exact same things. I really loved Koh Phi Phi 10 years ago, but I am not going back there because of the sad development. That’s also why I always advice people to travel outside the touristy places in Thailand. It’s hard not to get a bad impression of the country when you visit places like Phi Phi, Phuket and Pattaya.

      Ps. Maldives sounds amazing and I’m hoping to visit sometime in the near future. Happy travels, Adam!

  9. I am currently traveling in Thailand, and decided not to visit Phi Phi island. Seems that was a good decision. I came to a similar conclusion, after visiting Ao Nang, and Railay Beach. I have now a collection of stunning photographs, but is not singronized with my actual experiences.
    Thailand is overrated, and is polluted by tourist.

    1. I’m really sorry to hear that, but I totally understand where you’re coming from. While I delibertately stay clear of the touristy places (incl. Krabi and Railey), I do adore Thailand. It has a lot to offer if you go the right places, and there are lots of pristine islands and great places left to be explored (like Koh Lipe in the south and Pai in the north). I hope Thailand will show you its better side from now on.

  10. Not overrated but certainly ruined by tourism – I visited in November and could not belive the thousands of tourists and number of boats. Would love to go back and experience some of the less visited places you have mentioned.

    1. Yeah, it used to be unique, but I think we’re better off visiting places like Koh Yao or Koh Lipe. At least if you’re looking for pristine beaches.

  11. I went to Koh Phi Phi in 2001 and 2002, then came back in 2008. Basically didn’t recognize it. I called it “Paradise Ruined” when writing about it, because that basically sums it up. I find it funny when I hear people saying how beautiful it is today because they have no idea – it was the most beautiful place I had even been to before the 2004 Tsunami. But today it is nothing more than a mini-Phuket and I would never go again.

    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. I feel you, Frank. Phi Phi is one of the few places I’ll never return to because I want to keep my memories intact. I have a feeling Koh Lipe is like Phi Phi 15 years ago, but I have still to see it for myself.

  12. I agree with this article, yes the island is very small and attracts large numbers of tourists every day, with that being said it all depends on the time of year and the time of day you visit, I myself have visited this island numerous times and have seen the beaches packed, and i mean there is literally no space whatsoever. On the other hand i have experienced sitting on maya bay beach with only myself one other friend whom I had been traveling with and our boat captain, I have seen the lagoon (pilleh) after sunset with not another boat or tourist in sight only silence as you hear waves gently crashing into the rocks. This is the real taste of phi phi islands for the select few.

    1. Yes, timing is everything! If I’m ever going back to Phi Phi, I would definitely try to go off-season and pray for good weather. The way you describe it is how I experienced it almost 11 years ago. It’s was still beautiful

  13. Well i won’t say its not worth it but yes its become too touristy and people around the world love to come back to the island. I personally would prefer Koh Lanta as i heard from local thai’s that the island is quite good and free from drunk tourists.

    Thanks for the article. It was a great read!

    1. I prefer Koh Lanta as well. It’s much more relaxed although it doesn’t quite have the same gorgeous beaches as Phi Phi (or that it used to have).

      Thanks for pitching in, Ryan.

  14. Well it’s always funny to hear and read “oh it was so nice 10 years ago and now it’s completely ruined”. I mean all we travelers cause this problem by reporting/writing and showing it to other people. You also left your footprint there. Of course the people have to earn money and live from tourism. It’s a point of no return in almost every situation. The same will happen to other islands and places as well. So don’t hight-hat other people who still go there. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your experience

    1. Hi Pete,
      Thanks for commenting, I appreciate your input.

      I’m not high-hatting people who go there, though. I’m just trying to give fellow travelers a realistic expectation so they won’t be disappointed and think they’ll find an untouched paradise. You’re right that I as a traveler left my footprint there and especially as a ‘reporting’ blogger, but I wouldn’t say that every place I’ve been to has been ruined as much as Phi Phi. I’ve been coming back to Thailand for years, and Phi Phi is honestly the place that has changed the most. It’s very sad – inevitable – but sad.

  15. Great article and accurate to the last detail. I loved Thailand. So much, I’d go back in a heart beat. After staying in Phuket, my stay at Phi Phi totally changed my outlook on the entire trip. Luckily, I went back to Phuket and restored my overall amazing experience.
    Another thing about Phi Phi I didn’t love was the service. By no means was anyone rude, but it was almost too robotic for me. I don’t enjoy paranoid service, I almost felt like I had to fake my entire stay there. The scene was pristine. Absolutely stunning. But food, service and overall vibe just wasn’t for me.
    The best part about Phi Phi was the shuttle boat to get there. The photos that I was able to take are nothing short of amazing. It feels like I purchased them. Anyway, for your buck or baht, if you don’t make it to Phi Phi , it can be taken as a plus. You can maximize your experience on other islands.

    1. I agree, Tommy! Or maybe one could just visit Phi Phi on a day tour and not stay there. The view is definitely amazing, but you can find similar beaches and islands in Thailand that are not ruined by tourism.

  16. I’d been in the island once and I just love everything I see in this place. I hope I can come again in this place as I was so relax when I am here. Thanks for sharing this lovely pics!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *