The Ultimate Guide to Phi Phi Island Tours

Phi Phi Islands are some of the most well-known islands in Thailand, and rightfully so. A natural wonder of South-East Asia. The unique beauty of the archipelago is like no other. But why do people visit Koh Phi Phi, it’s simple, aside from the relaxed atmosphere and laid back lifestyle, taking a Phi Phi Island Boat Tour is one of the most rewarding & fulfilling experiences in Thailand.

Without a doubt, snorkelling with Koh Phi Phi’s marine life, cruising around and island hopping on a local Thai boat is one of Thailand’s greatest attractions.

Tour boats parked for a snorkelling session on Koh Phi Phi Don

So if you’re seeking a slice of tropical paradise to swim, snorkel, relax and lap up the sunshine. Beautiful clear blue oceans, white sandy beaches and pristine limestone formations. Koh Phi Phi is the place for you!

There is no better way to immerse yourself in nature than on a Koh Phi Phi Tour. There are day tours heading out and around the islands stopping at amazing locations like Maya Bay, Pilleh Lagoon, Loh Samah Bay, Viking Cave & the Monkey Beach.

But the greatest thing about an overnight stay on Phi Phi Island is not being pushed for time, not having a deadline to meet in order to return. You’ll feel free relaxed and able to take the Phi Phi tour at leisure. 

If a visit to these islands is not already on your list, consider refreshing your Thailand itinerary, making sure to leave time for a few days spare; to chill out in paradise.

In this post, I’ll cover the basics about booking Phi Phi Tours Online & Offline, tours from Patong, Phuket and Phi Phi Don island itself.

Thai Longtail Boat in Phi Phi Leh's Pilleh Lagoon (National Park)
Longtail Boat Captain Awaits His Tour Group Joining From Koh Phi Phi Don

WHERE TO BOOK A PHI PHI ISLAND TOUR

You’ll be hit with such a huge magnitude of results when researching the best boat tours in Koh Phi Phi, and with so many tour operators all offering somewhat similar tour packages. It can be a pretty daunting task to begin sorting through all the potential possibilities.

Five Star Thailand Tours can help out when it comes down to Phi Phi Island Tour bookings. Their small group sizes, and focus on quality Phi Phi tour packages really set them apart from the rest.

The natural beauty of Koh Phi Phi and the close proximity to Krabi and Phuket make the islands so desirable, and a natural magnet for tourism.

Unfortunately, many boat tour operators have shamefully taken advantage of the islands popularity. It’s a common sight, to see boat tours leaving the shores packed with 20 – 35 (disappointed looking) tourists, on a single longtail boat.

When booking a Phi Phi Island Boat Tour, the best piece of advice I can give is to book with a reputable operator like Five Star Travel. When looking for a Phi Phi Tour Company, you are ideally looking for someone that operates their own tours and limits passenger numbers.

In this day and age, most legitimate tour companies have shifted to the digital era, offering online reservations. 

It’s usually best to reserve tours in advance, as the most popular packages tend to fill up quickly! Especially during the peak season, which falls from November thru April. 

Of course, it is still possible to take the old-school route and book a boat tour in person, after arriving on Phi Phi Island (or Phuket). There are literally hundreds of travel shops scattered over Koh Phi Phi. You won’t have any difficulties finding a Phi Phi Island Tour agent, itching to sign you up. 

But here’s what to watch out for. The agents selling tours from shops, & kiosks, generally speaking, don’t operate any tours themselves. So you’ll be sold a boat ticket, the ticket seller will earn a small commission and you’ll find yourself on the same boat tour, regardless of where you end up booking your Phi Phi tour!

With hundreds of touts, re-sellers and stalls all competing for your cash, all selling the exact same boat tours, and no way to differentiate themselves from other sellers. Competition is fierce.

So it’s not uncommon for the salesmen to feed you a few white lies in order to close a sale. They’ll often claim that if you book with them there will be a smaller group on the boat, their captain speaks better English, or the food on their’ tour will be of better quality. It’s only when it’s too late that you find out just how untrue this is. If it seems too good to be true it probably is!

Koh Phi Phi is for most, a once-in-a-lifetime trip. It’s a special place, and it’s important that you have the best experience possible. That’s why booking a Phi Phi Island tour online, and spending a little bit of time to find a trustworthy company; who operate their own boat tour packages is extremely important. 

WHICH IS THE BEST PHI PHI ISLAND BOAT TOUR COMPANY?

There are a crazy amount of Phi Phi Island Boat Tours out there, so which one should you choose? And who should you book with?

For starters, I wouldn’t recommend booking any of the cheaper public Phi Phi tours. There are way too many people packed into these boats for it to be enjoyable. 

The length of time you’ll get in water will be limited and it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll have a miserable experience of Koh Phi Phi. 

I can speak from experience here when I say that Five Star Thailand Tours are a great example of a quality tour company, one that really stood out to me. 

Their Semi-Private Phi Phi Island Tour, which they run, has a cap on passenger numbers (a maximum of 8 people), to avoid overcrowding. Or chartering your own private long-tail can offer even more exclusivity and flexibility to your day.

They are a local tour operator and hands-on, on the island. Some tour companies are online-only, some are resellers, but with these guys, while they are accepting reservations online they still maintain travel shops that you can visit in Thailand and meet a real person. They also have incredible and responsive support when booking.

You’ll be sure to have an incredible experience with them! If you’ve travelled thousands of miles around the world to get the islands, it’s more than likely you’ll only do this once. So it’s 100% worth paying a little extra to have a smaller group and a better experience or even having a boat to yourself.

Two Traditional Thai Longtail Boats Moored On Bamboo Islands White Sand Beach
Riding on a Traditional Thai Longtail Boat Into Koh Phi Phi Leh National Park

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME FOR A PHI PHI TOUR

Taking a Phi Phi Island Tour at Sunrise is the best time to get out on the water. It can be tough to set an alarm for 5’oclock in the morning, especially on your holidays.

But why would you want to wake up so early, on a hard-earned vacation! Well, it’s all about beating the crowds, Koh Phi Phi is a tourist magnet, and the later you leave it, the busier the islands get.

Besides, it’s peaceful, quiet and deserted. Sunrise is always the most beautiful time of day, the crimson sun on the horizon makes the islands feel so restful. 

And for a brief moment, it is as if there are no other people around as if you are back in the 1980s and Koh Phi Phi is still an untold secret. Most people can only dream of experiencing Koh Phi Phi like this.

There are very few others around at six am and even fewer boat tours. Usually no more than a handful of private charters cruising around this early on.

The sand remains flat from the night before, the water is perfect. Clear, blue and warm. And with the sunlight just appearing, the lighting makes the beach seem even more peaceful than usual.

A Beautiful Sunrise Emerging On The Horizon Of Koh Phi Phi
Sunlight Just Begining To Appear Through Loh Samah Bay On The Phi Phi Sunrise Tour

Koh Phi Phi really does feel like a totally different place, compared to later on in the morning. Almost like something out of… a movie… starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

A Sunrise tour can’t be compared to any other Phi Phi tour package. It’s truly magical at sunrise, so have a slice of this paradise island to yourself, while you still can. 

HOW MUCH IS A PHI PHI ISLAND TOUR?

There are a crazy amount of tours available in Koh Phi Phi so I’ll stick with the most popular packages. The price will be higher if you’re staying in Phuket, while those staying on Koh Phi Phi can take advantage of the lower tour prices. 

For tours leaving Phuket, you should be paying in the region of 4,000 Baht for a decent quality tour. Or in Koh Phi Phi, that price should be lower at around 1,500 Baht.

You can even find tour packages leaving from Koh Phi Phi for as low as 500 Baht! But bear in mind, you get what you pay for.

Here are a few examples of tours for a rough idea of what a boat tour will cost you.

  1. Semi-Private Phi Phi Sunrise Supreme / Sunset Supreme. These tours cost on average 1,500THB for each person. With a maximum of eight people on the boat. Coffee and croissants are included in the sunrise. Beers, a chicken baguette meal-deal, and a Thai fried rice is included on the afternoon trip.
  1. Charter a private longtail boat. The price of a private longtail boat depends on where you leave from. If you are staying in Phuket the cost is 4,950 THB per person. With hotel collection, and speedboat transfers included. If you stay in Ko Phi Phi the cost can be even lower than that!

CAN YOU DO A DAY TRIP TO PHI PHI ISLAND FROM PHUKET?

A day trip from Phuket to Koh Phi Phi is doable, but contrary to popular belief, the island isn’t as close as most people would like to believe.

Koh Phi Phi takes over two hours to reach by ferry, or one hour when travelling by speedboat.

So while day trips from Phuket & Patong are totally possible, it is much better to stay overnight on the island if your schedule allows for it.

The great thing about an overnight stay on Koh Phi Phi is more time to explore the main island of Phi Phi Don, there are some awesome places to check out on the island such as hiking to the viewpoint or watching a fire performance on the beach.

If you’re travelling on a tight schedule and your time in Thailand doesn’t allow for an overnight stay on Koh Phi Phi, there are plenty of speedboat tour packages from Phuket which will show you around the islands hotspots. 

There are a couple of other choices when it comes to picking a Phi Phi Tour from Phuket. The most popular choice is a Private Longtail Trip, these tours will typically include return transfers from Phuket in the ticket price. A group speedboat tour is another option, but the prices can be dear, and there tends to be quite a lot of people on these boats. 

Or lastly, ferry companies operate tours to Koh Phi Phi from Phuket, where they will arrange for a speedboat to meet the ferry on arrival. So essentially you still get a great speedboat tour of Koh Phi Phi, but by travelling to and from the island by ferry, you get tickets at a fraction of the price! 

Andaman Wavemaster is one of the companies who run ferries to the island from Phuket, and bundle in a speedboat tour on arrival. While I’ve heard positive things about them, I can’t speak from experience. If you end up booking such a tour, leave a comment at the bottom and let me know about your experience!

There are plenty of other activities to partake in Phuket! Here are some more awesome things to see and do in Phuket, Thailand.

Tip: if you want to see the Phi Phi Sunrise or Sunset, you’ll have to stay overnight! Boats cannot travel to the island before the Phi Phi Sunrise or later on after sundown!

On Day Tours From Phuket The Andaman Wavemaster Ferry Will Dock With Smaller Cruise Boats At Sea Making Phi Phi Island Tours From Patong An Option.
The Andaman Wave Master SHip (Royal Jet Cruiser 10) Travels From Phuket To Koh Phi Phi in The Morning At Returns To Phuket In The Afternoon. Carrying up to 800 Passengers Each Day.

WHICH BOAT SHOULD I CHOOSE

One of the greatest things about taking a Phi Phi Island Boat Tour is having the chance to ride on an authentic Thai Longtail boat.

If you’re taking a tour from Phi Phi Don Island, you have so many more options. But, keeping it real and opting for a traditional long-tail boat will add so much authenticity to your Phi Phi Island Tour. Speedboats can be ridden (almost) anywhere in the world. Whereas you’ll only find Longtail Boats in the south of Thailand.

These Thai Long Boats were originally used as fishing vessels, and are now more commonly used to take tourists out on snorkelling excursions. 

The Thai Longtail Boat has a certain, unexplainable charm – much as riding a Tuk Tuk in Bangkok is many people’s first experience of the Kingdom. Riding a Longtail Boat will get you the most memorable Phi Phi Island Tour.

But here’s the catch, Longtail Boats will only be found leaving the shores on Koh Phi Phi Don. There are no Longtail Boat tours from Phuket, as it would be unsafe and reckless. And above all, a terrifying ride!

When leaving form Phuket, the alternative to the Thai Longtail Boat is a speedboat, while faster, more modern & arguably more comfortable. There just isn’t the same charm of which you’d fell on a Long Boat.

But it’s not all bad news for visitors staying in Phuket. Five Star Thailand Tours, combine the best of both on one of their private tour packages when booking a private longtail boat leaving from the shores of Koh Phi Phi Don they have an option to bundle in return Speedboat transfers, to and from the island. So you don’t have to miss out on this awesome experience!

Wild Monkeys Can Be Seen Roaming The Beaches And Up In The Cliffs. Be Careful Of Your Packed Lunch. You Cant Walk To The Monkey Beach or Monkey Island, So Taking a Phi Phi Island Tour Is The Only Option.
Riding a Longtail Boat on a Phi Phi Island Tour Is One Of The Most Rewarding Experiences In Thailand.

WHERE DOES A PHI PHI ISLAND BOAT TOUR VISIT

Koh Phi Phi Leh National Park is a short distance away from the main island (Koh Phi Phi Don), it takes around ten minutes to ride across the Andaman to this Island and it is where the best spots to visit are.

The island is home to Monkey Beach, Viking Cave, Phi Phi Lagoon, Loh Samah Bay &  Maya Bay Beach.

MONKEY BEACH

Monkey Beach is incredible, the Marquee Monkeys which live here will come on down to the beach to greet your boat (and grab your sandwiches, given a chance)! 

These playful creatures roam wild and free on the white beaches and up in the towering limestone cliffs. 

The beach is only accessible by boat from Phi Phi Don. With no option of walking, kayaking, driving or swimming! The best bet is to book onto a Phi Phi Boat Tour to get out and meet the Monkeys.

The bay is quite small and it can get pretty busy after mid-morning. So it’s best to head out as early as possible before all the other tours begin to arrive.

You are not allowed to feed the Monkeys, however, sadly, most people do. Feeding the Monkeys essentially domesticates them and causes them to show signs of aggression.

VIKING CAVE

Viking cave is a historic spot at Koh Phi Phi Leh and a must-do on a Phi Phi Boat Trip. Swiftlet Birds live inside the cave and historically the nests of these birds were harvested by sailors, which according to local legends would boost virility.

Nowadays a Phi Phi birds nest soup is a well sought after delicacy, bringing in a decent buck for the few who live in the cave! 

The nests are exported to China, where they can fetch up to 10,000USD at market. The idea of a birds nest soup, and especially at the eye-watering prices, surprisingly doesn’t appeal to me. I’ll be sticking with Thai Fried Rice for the time being!

There is a makeshift bamboo structure outside, however, you can only see the cave from afar, as the cave itself is closed off to the public. You can only reach the Viking Cave by boat, so you’ll be able to grab some photographs as you cruise past. 

It’s also a fantastic place for snorkelling, with plenty of marine life in the area and beautiful clear blue waters.

Don’t worry about bringing along your own snorkelling equipment. Any reputable boat tour company will provide quality gear for you to use!

PHI PHI LAGOON

Also known as Pilleh Lagoon or the Blue Lagoon amongst many other names. It’s one of the top spots for snorkelling on the island with stunning underwater corals and marine life.

This amazing mind-blowing location is an incredible cove on Phi Phi Leh Island. And by far one of the most stunning destinations to visit. Due to the lagoons close proximity to Maya Bay, both these places can often be seen on one Phi Phi Tour.

It’s a surreal experience, taking a long-tail boat from the shore of Koh Phi Phi Don over to Phi Phi Leh, to snorkel in the clear transparent waters. It takes around twenty minutes to reach Phi Phi Lagoon.

As your boat pulls into the mouth of the cove, you’ll be immersed by limestone cliffs towering all around and the peaceful sounds of waves lapping into the cliffs. You can’t walk to the bay or kayak there, so the only option is to book onto a Phi Phi Excursion which will take you there.

Even for backpackers on a budget, Pileh Lagoon is a must-do in Koh Phi Phi.

Snorkelling in the blue lagoon will blow your mind, it is hands down one of the best things you can do in Thailand. It’s easy to see why this place is such a hot spot with tourists, so if Pilleh Lagoon isn’t on your Thailand bucket list, now is the time to add it!

LOH SAMAH BAY

Loh Samah is a bay to the rear of Ao Maya bay, it’s a top snorkelling destination, and relatively unheard of. But that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked!

It’s one of my favourite places to visit and there is a perfect white sand beach which is exposed at low tide.

The emerald waters are perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The best advice is to get here as early in the morning as you can. Before all the other tour boats start tricking in.

MAYA BAY

Maya Bay Beach in Thailand is arguably the most stunning destination to visit. The beautiful bay was brought to fame by the movie ‘The Beach’. Shot in the late 90’s starring Leonardo DiCaprio, this film brought the beauty of Koh Phi Phi to the public eye for the first time.

Sadly in recent years, the Department of National Parks (DNP) has been forced to close off Maya Bay for restoration. While it’s sad that visitors often show such little respect for the palace. It is great that the authorities have taken action.

The bay will be closed for three years and is set to reopen again in November 2021. Plans have been drawn up for a new pier, which will stop boats from mooring on the beach and tourist numbers will be capped per day.

Visitors to Maya Bay will also need to book a tour in advance online, through a licenced tour operator. There will be much more control and no last-minute bookings once the beach re-opens.

THERE IS MORE TO A PHI PHI TOUR THAN KOH PHI PHI LEH

The beauty of taking a private boat tour is that you have the freedom to visit anywhere you’d like to! So while the aforementioned places are the most beautiful, they also attract the biggest crowds. You’ll find much quieter, secluded beaches on Phi Phi Don.

So if you’ve made it all the way to the end, here are a few more secretive spots that you should definitely be checking out!

  • Loh Lana Bay is amazing for snorkelling, it’s rare to see other boats around here.
  • Loh Bakao Bay, you have an entry point to the secluded Phi Phi Village (not to be confused with the town) there are a couple of remote bars here.
  • Laemtong Beach – There will be a few others around here, but not too many people in comparison to Koh Phi Phi Leh! The sand here is just as white as Maya Bay, and the sea just as blue.
  • Hin Klang – For snorkelling its got to be the #1 spot on the island, relatively unheard of, you have a better chance of seeing sharks here than you would at the ‘Shark Point’
  • Runtee Beach – If you really want a beach without any other people, this is the one. The sand is not as white as other beaches. But that’s a small sacrifice to have the place to yourself.
  • Nui Bay – On the northernmost tip of Phi Phi Don, the remote bay is in my opinion even more beautiful than Maya Bay. Its started to see more and more visitors in recent years, but it’s still worth a visit. You can even walk to this beach from the town! But it’s not an easy hike!

In conclusion, if you are going to be in Phuket, Koh Phi Phi or Krabi. One of the best things you can do is a Private Phi Phi Island Boat Tour.

There is no better way to visit the gorgeous Maya Bay and so many other fantastic snorkelling destinations.

Prices for a Phi Phi Island Boat Tour won’t break the bank, and even on a backpackers budget, a private boat charter can be totally affordable. If you’ve travelled around the world to reach the islands. Don’t cheap out on a miserable tour, booking a semi-private or private tour is the way to go!

In my opinion, this is one of the best activities you can partake in during a stay in the Kingdom, the photo opportunities are incredible and the Phi Phi Boat Tour is something to hold in your memories forever.

Feeling even more adventurous? Scuba Diving in Thailand is something everyone should try at least once. Find out more about the top five diving spots in the county.If you want to get in touch with Five Star Thailand about your upcoming trip, you’ll find contact details on their website (https://fivestarthailandtours.com), message them over WhatsApp. (+66 92 710 6807). Or leave a comment on this post and I’ll be happy to help you out!

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