Koh Phi Phi Island Tour
The islands in the south of Thailand are world-famous for their bright white sands, crystal clear warm waters and beautiful tropical surrounds. Koh Phi Phi Island group is a well-known group of small islands off the coast of Phuket in Southern Thailand.
The Islands Visited
The area is extremely popular with many companies and travel agents offering day tours to the island group including Koh Phi Phi, Maya Bay, Koh Khai Noi and Monkey Beach. Tour packages for day trips on various size boats to a number of the islands, often including several islands, snorkelling, swimming, lunch and free time on an island.
An island boat tour is a good way to visit many of the islands in only one day, allowing you to get a good idea of what the area has to offer with little fuss or organisation needed. Tours pick you up from your accommodation in the morning, usually from any of the main beach towns in Phuket.
Tours start early in the morning with minibus pickups starting at 7:30 am, and usually, return around 5 pm (of course depending on weather and traffic in regards to returning to Phuket on time).
I went on this tour with my mom, who came to Thailand for the first time, in August 2015. We purchased the tickets for the tour the evening before, at one of the many travel tour booking agents along Patong Walking Street.
Our tour pick up was the following morning at 7:30 am where a minibus took us to the pier area on the other side of Phuket (which was a 1.5-hour journey). After being told informed about the tour, safety and the schedule for the day we boarded the boat and visited many small islands.
What to Expect
Monkey Beach was a small island with heaps of monkeys, that came down from the trees and jumped around, and snatched the bread from people on board (The bread was available for purchase before leaving Phuket).
The monkeys were so used to people visiting their island that one even jumped on the front of the boat, grabbed the whole bag of bread, and jumped back up into a tree (of course to then be chased by all the other monkeys trying to get the bread).
The island is beautiful, the water so calm and clean and the monkeys so beautiful. Of course, this is very commercial and touristy, but it was worth putting up the ‘organised tour’ just to see the monkeys.
There were a few other coves and islands that the boat stopped at and everyone on board was informed as to the importance or the story of the particular island we were stopped at. Some of these included Loh Samah Bay, Pileh Lagoon and Viking Cave.
Activities & Lunch
The boat then made its way to Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi Le, where we were able to snorkel around the boat to see some of the brightly coloured fish and coral. There were around 30 – 40 minutes set aside for the snorkelling, and those that did not wish to snorkel simply just relaxed onboard or watched others in the water.
We then made our way to Koh Phi Phi Don, which is the largest and most well-known island in the group, for a buffet lunch. The restaurant on the beach had everything from vegetarian dishes, rice dishes, meat-based meals, as well as soups, chips, salads, fresh fruits, and drinks.
This was all included in the price of the ticket (there is also water and fruit available onboard). There was a short amount of time after lunch to have a quick explore of the island before boarding the boat again to the final island of the tour.
Koh Khai Noi is a small sandy island, with minimal construction of a few wooden shacks around the inner area of the island. Although the island is quite small (to walk around the circumference only takes a few minutes) the crowds here are unbelievable.
The beach itself is covered in rows upon rows of beach chairs and umbrellas, and the water’s edge has a long row of speed boats all anchored by ropes to the foreshore.
The island itself is far from any other islands or coves and is naturally so beautiful and the water so clear. The crowds spoil the island, with so many boats, and deck chairs the island really has a commercial money-making vibe rather than a relaxing vibe. We were allowed around 2 hours to swim and explore the island before departing back to Phuket.
These tour groups are well organised and well run, with new boards and snorkelling equipment. The lunch was well catered to our large group, and vegan and vegetarians won’t go hungry with many options for all dietary requirements. The pickup and drop off services to and from your accommodation is fuss-free, with polite drivers being on time.
I personally do not like organised group tours, for the main reason that I find them far too commercial and structured. If you do not like being herded from one location to another with a large group of travellers then these tours are most likely not for you, with group tour guides yelling and speaking at the group through large speakerphones and masses of boats and tourists taking photos at everything.
Although, a Koh Phi Phi island tour such as this one allow visitors who have not seen the islands of the south before a good introduction to some of the islands and allows for a day trip with no organisation needed, being picked up, fed, told where to go and for how long and then at the end of the day being dropped home again.