Phi Phi Island, Thailand

Phi Phi IslandThe best way for me to describe Phi Phi Islands, Thailand would be “the mini Fiji of southeast Asia”. If you haven’t been to Fiji, that may not mean much but you can assume it’s a compliment.

It’s not as extreme as Fiji. It’s not as far away from the rest of the world, it’s not as hard to get to, the boat isn’t as far, it’s not quite as expensive, it’s not as empty feeling, but it’s as close as you get. Maybe I should say it’s the easy version.

Phi Phi Islands

The main island is “Phi Phi Don”. The main pier and the backpacker area is on the southside of the long island. The east side up to the northeast side of Phi Phi Don is where more of the resorts are, like the Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island.

Bamboo Island Thailand


Snorkeling out in front of the Holiday Inn Resort and that beach in general, it’s filled with coral. If you go out past the ropes eventually the coral drops off. If I had never been snorkeling before in SE Asia, it would have been amazing. Tons of fish.

We also went to Mosquito Island rented a boat for 900 THB for 2 hours ($28).

Definitely never saw any of the more interesting things, like sharks, turtles, sting rays, octopus, etc…

Going in low-tide in general is ideal because the visibility isn’t perfect, and some of the coral would otherwise be way down there.


Getting to Phi Phi

From Phuket or Krabi you need to take a two hour ferry boat. The boat roundtrip isn’t cheap, it’s like $30 per person roundtrip, or to get to the Holiday Inn Resort it’s $46 because you have to get a connecting ferry.

The worst part about this isn’t the boat ride it’s that Phuket is ruled by a taxi mafia that monopolizes the prices. So a ride from the Phuket airport to the pier is probably $35 one way. Maybe you could first get a bus to Phuket Town, and then you’ll be close to the pier.


Points hotels

There is only one option – the Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi. It’s 35,000 IHG points, which is either insane or cheap depending on the season. From what I hear, the hotel goes up to a few hundred dollars a night, although I don’t see that on IHG’s website.

Regardless, it was $100/night and we did cash stays given the Big Win promo was almost over and we hadn’t finished. But given that the InterContinental Koh Samui is only 25,000 points, I’d say 35,000 is insane.

However, all the hotels there are over priced in terms of cash, because of its remote location. The hotel itself isn’t glamarous but it’s still awesome.

As plats, we were given an hour of free drinks at the bar each night and a bungalow right on the beach. This bungalow was pretty decently sized, but the best part was that it was on the beach and all ours.

The beach right out in front of the hotel and all the way up the beach in general, is awesome. There’s almost no need to see anything else.



Other things to do

If we go back, we’ll likely do the boat tour to Phi Phi Leh. Phi Phi Leh is incredibly touristy, but iconic and dream-like.

There is a snorkel spot called “shark point” that may be worth doing. Apparently it’s where all the (small) sharks hang out, and since we didn’t see any sharks elsewhere, maybe we’ll go next time. Unfortunately it was on the opposite side of the island from where we stayed.

Lastly, they have plankton tours they do at night. Some tours have you spend the night in Phi Phi Leh or right on the boat, but apparently you can see it from all over if you take a boat at night. Next time as well.



It’s not the Yasawa Islands, Fiji, but it’s a lot cheaper, which is because it’s not actually in the middle of nowhere. Despite being tiny, there are a number of hotels and it’s not that far from mainland.

But the main thing is that the water isn’t as clear. Beaches are awesome, the scenery is awesome, Thailand is awesome and the water is good. Actually, it’s great if you’re comparing to Florida.

It’s been my favorite place in Thailand so far. I’ve been to many places in Phuket and Krabi, but would much prefer Phi Phi to either. It’s also the experience. Other islands including Langkawi and Bali… it’s an easy trip. Phi Phi is also easy but it feels like a journey. You feel alone.

Maybe it helps that we’re traveling in martial law, which has got tourism to an all time low (which is ironic because there has been no violence since martial law started). Off peak season is always my favorite season… unless it’s someplace cold.





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  1. did you get the upgrade bc of Plat from the IHG CC or your RA status ? also, what about the food situation around Holiday Inn, is there any restaurants outside to dine or are you stuck in the Hotel food the whole time.

    • RA status doesn’t work at holiday inn, so just because of plat status.
      Okay, so there is a stand RIGHT next to the hotel, and they have things for like 150 baht. And the hotel would have the same dish for about 200 baht.

      So unfortunately, it’s not too much cheaper. But I will admit to going to the little mart and getting ramen noodles one night and using the boiler and my coffee cup at the room to eat them.

  2. Hey Drew, do you have much of a feel for how much the coup/tourist dearth is affecting prices for budget/midrange travelers?

    We’ve put in a few inquiries for liveaboards and the booking places sure seem hungry (an email per day)! Hope this lasts and translates to lower lodging prices as well….

    • Tourism in general is at an all time low. Prices are very flexible (unless it’s something like a ferry). Chain hotels generally have no way of giving discounts… well at least not nice ones.

      Sometimes it doesn’t feel any different than low season, but it’s like ultra low season. Prices are good, availability is great, etc…

      What’s the deal with liveaboards? Not familiar.

    • Liveaboard is just a dive boat w/cabins that stays out for days at a time, 3-5 dives per day–dive saturation. Generally out of our price range but Thailand is about the cheapest in the world. But less expensive is better.

  3. $100 is ridiculously expensive for Phi Phi, spend a bit of time looking around when you arrive instead if it’s not high season. You’ll find guest houses that are 10x nicer than Holiday INN for half the price.

    I was paying $10/night for something comparable to the Holiday INN rooms last time I went. No 1 hour of free drinks, but I generally don’t spend $90 on an hour of drinks anyway.

    • could you share the place you got for $10 and the process of going about finding these rates for someone that never been to phi phi. thanks

    • I can’t remember the name of the place. Don’t prebook (unless it’s high season) all rates are negotiable. If somebody is meeting guests at the pier (or touting) that’s a service you’re going to be paying for in the room rate.

      Usually I just do a bit of googling for recent trip reports of budget travellers (avoiding the big names that have their trips comped) and see what place is up & coming.

      These places never stay cheap for long, usually it’s just whilst they drum up business and get customers so it’s ever changing.

    • I kind of seriously doubt that you can find a hotel for $10/night in the nicer area like the Holiday Inn. If you want to do the backpacker things (which I don’t, nor is it why I go to Phi Phi), then you can find it, and find cheap stuff. You can pay $5/night in Bangkok… and I have, but I don’t anymore. :-p

      Also, I was right on the beach, a beautiful beach with snorkeling 30 feet away.

  4. Stay safe and keep the trip reports coming. :)

    • I forget about trip reports actually. :-p

  5. Did you encounter a lot of mosquitoes on Phi Phi?

    • No, not really. At dinner sitting in the sand, maybe one or two. But I sometimes asked for their bug spray. They keep it at the restaurant.


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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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