The Phi Phi Islands in Thailand. For one a tourist trap for the other the ulitmate tropical dream. For me ? Both. The Phi Phi Islands are located in the South of Thailand. Quite easy to get there. Take a flight to Phuket and from there a boat to the islands. You can also go from Krabi. All same same but different 🙂
Phi Phi Islands became famous after the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed there. A couple of years after tourism started to grow and grow. Everybody wanted to see that insane beautiful beach. In the years after, tourism exploded. ‘Come see The Beach !’ I have worked there as a tour guide and photographer and have seen how many boats loaded with tourists come up there. Now, more than 2,000 people daily. That’s more than a 100 speedboats a day EVERY DAY !
Unlike some other islands like the Similan Islands, Phi Phi is open all year. But that is about to change. The Thai Government made proposals to close a part of the islands for the low season. And for good reasons: tourism became to big and due to the climate change the corals around the islands are as good as dead. Really there is very little alive down there.
So what is it with Phi Phi Islands that everybody wants to come there ? If you ask me it is a package of multiple things. The stunning landscape, the several islands, the clear green turqoise waters, the sun and white sandy beaches. And it’s true: on a quiet day, full sun, calm water it is really your all time tropical destination. But those quiet days are very hard to count.
The Phi Phi Islands took a hard hit when the tsunami in 2004 occured. The wave swept from one side of the island to the other side and wiped everything away. All the palm trees, small places, huts, restaurants where gone. After that, Phi Phi has been rebuild but not in the same way. All the land has been used to make exclusive hotels and the number of visitors has risen dramatically. Also the transport from and to the islands have increased. All at the cost of the beauty of the islands and the once so wonderful underwater world.
But if you look beyond the massive tourism and focus your eye on the magical landscape and clear water, you can still have a good time there. Though the snorkeling and diving is rubbish but enjoying the beach and bathe in the clear warm waters can be relaxing. Plan your trip right. Check which time of the year is ok to go. Do your research. Also because of the weather. Due to the climate change it can be raining in high season, full sun in low season or something in between. Also check with various tour operators. They don’t take safety so seriously….
Personally, I really hope that the proposals from the Thai Government will make it. Close the islands for half a year and let nature regenerate.
Despite the mass tourism, despite the massive amount of boats, despite the changing weather conditions….. I sometimes miss the islands a lot.
More photos. Click to enlarge.