Regarded by travelers from all walks of life as being among the most beautiful tropical islands of the world, Phi Phi Islands have become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand . In addition, the islands are famous as the location where the movie "The Beach" featuring Leonardo Di Caprio was shot. The islands, together with the nearby Noppharat Thara Beach , a total area of 390 square kilometers, were recently established as a national park.
Phi Phi Islands are located just 40 kilometers away from both Krabi and Phuket. Thus, despite the fact that both Noppharat Thara Beach and Phi Phi administratively are a part of Krabi Province , most tourists think that Ko Phi Phi is part of Phuket Province .
The islands and the coastal hills are composed mainly of limestone and are an extension of the limestone mountain range in Phang-Nga Province . The main characteristics of these mountains and islands are their steep cliffs, large caves and dwarf trees growing out of the rock crevices, like those in Phang-Nga Bay .
The island group is composed of two rocky, tree-covered islets Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. Phi Phi Don, the larger islet to the north, is well known for its fine beaches and coral formations. Above average tourist facilities and accommodations are available along two beautiful curved bays, namely Ton Sai Bay and Lodalam Bay . Several shops at Ton Sai can arrange diving and snorkeling trips around the island or the nearby islands - Ko Phi Phi Le, Ko Yung and Ko Mai Phai.
About 2 kilometers to the south is Phi Phi Le. Contrary to Phi Phi Don, this islet is uninhabited as there is no beach area as the island descends abruptly into the sea on all sides and it is prohibited by the administrative body. The main attraction is a large cave about 3.2 square kilometers in size known as Viking Cave derived from one of the numerous drawings on the wall which resembles a Viking ship. The cave has a 10 to 15-metre high ceiling which contains many ledges inhabited by thousands of swallows, thus a bird's nest collection demonstration is a regular feature of guided tours.
Ao Maya and Ao Lo Sama - Phi Phi Islands scenic coves are favorite snorkeling places while the sea around the islands, especially the southern part, which are deep and full of coral formations are popular diving spots. With its emerald crystal sea, secluded beaches, mountain cliffs, colorful coral reefs and undersea life, Phi Phi is a paradise in the Andaman Sea . The best time to visit Phi Phi Islands is from November to April, when the sea is calm.
Ko Yung, an island to the north of Ko Phi Phi Don, has a stone beach on the east and small sandy beaches amid valleys. In addition, the island is teeming with diverse colorful coral reefs. Ko Phai, another island to the north of Ko Phi Phi Don and not far from Ko Yung, has spectacular beaches in the north and east of the island. The bank of coral reefs comprised mainly of antler corals stretches from the north to the south of the island.
Ko Lanta consists of two adjacent islands: Ko Lanta Yai and Ko Lanta Noi.
Koh Lanta Yai, This island is home to "Chao Le" or sea gypsies who continue to maintain their traditional lifestyle and beliefs, such as setting a boat a drift to drive out evil and bring good luck, which is practiced during the full moon in June and November. In addition, the island provides tourist facilities while Ko Lanta Noi is the location of the district office. Most of the beaches on Ko Lanta Yai such as Kho Kwang, Khlong Dao, Phra Ae, Khlong Khong, Khlong Nin and Ba Kan Tiang lies in the west, can be reached by road and offer a wide range of accommodations.
This attraction is actually comprised of two islands: Ko Rok Nai and Ko Rok Nok. Ko Rok Nai is composed mainly of steep cliffs with superb beachs and unspoiled coral reefs among rocks. O n the other hand, Ko Rok Nok has soft white sandy beaches and shallow water coral reefs towards the southeast and south with Hat Thalu and Ao Man Sai situated at the end of the island. Visitors can contact tour operators, resorts and bungalows on Ko Lanta Yai for an excursion to Ko Rok by speedboat. However, it is not recommended to take the trip by long-tail boat.
Ao Nang is located approximately 6 kilometers from Hat Noppharat Thara and 20 kilometers from the town of Krabi . A large bay with scenic beaches and 83 small islands, Ao Nang has several famous beaches which include East Rai Le, West Rai Le and Tham Phra Nang (cave) which stretches to the foot of a prominent limestone range. A boat from Ao Nang Village can be hired for sightseeing excursions around Ao Nang, Hat Tham Phra Nang and Hat Nam Mao, all of which are only accessible by foot. O ther offshore isles such as Ko Poda, Ko Kai, Ko Mo and Ko Thap, are popular destinations that can be reached by a rented boat from Ao Nang. An abundance of colorful coral reefs and lovely cartoon fishes make these islands ideal for diving and snorkeling.
Ao Nang has recently emerged as a 5-star tourist attraction due to its numerous 4-5 star hotels and boutique resorts complete with facilities such as diving shops and rental boats. Popular activities include sightseeing by canoe along the beachfront and paddling tours by inflatable canoes or kayaks of the coast and its mangrove forests, islands and semi-submerged caves.
Koh Poda is a small limestone island 25 minutes by boat from the beaches of the Raileh peninsular (which can be seen on the horizon in the photograph). The circular island is no more than a kilometre in diameter, covered in palm trees and almost entirely encircled by a soft white sand beach. A coral reef lies 20 metres offshore, and the combination of scenery, beach and excellent snorkelling make it one of my favourite places to spend a lazy day in this part of the world.
Chicken Island got its name from a bizarre rock formation which resembles the head of a chicken. One end of the island consists of steep cliffs, while the other end has beautiful beaches along a peninsula. This peninsula gets flooded at high tide, creating a small island. There is no accomodation on Chicken island.