Located in the Andaman Sea halfway between Phuket and Krabi, the Phi Phi islands are incredibly beautiful. They are popular for the scenery, as well as snorkeling amid coral and colorful tropical fish. White-sand beaches ring the islands, and green cliffs rise from the clear green water. There are no accommodations on Phi Phi Leh and no cars on either island.
The Phi Phis (pronounced as PEE) have developed in a somewhat unsustainable manner, and though some see them as a paradise lost, others enjoy the party atmosphere. There remain isolated and undeveloped beaches, but the easily accessible ones are in mediocre condition. Noise from late-night parties is problematic for light sleepers.
Larger Phi Phi Don is a popular hangout for the yachting crowd and is an enjoyable place because of the good food and range of accommodation options. Have a water-buffalo steak and dive the reefs—although some have been destroyed, some unspoiled areas remain.
Phi Phi Leh also has interesting caves worth exploring, many of which contain ancient paintings and are home to sea swallows.
Idyllic Maya Beach on Phi Phi Leh was the filming location for the 2000 drama The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
The islands were decimated by the 2004 tsunami, but have fully recovered.
In recent years, a troubling string of unexplained deaths has occurred in hotels around Phi Phi Don; so far, all of the victims have been young women. Although causes of death remain inconclusive, Thai authorities' insistence that food poisoning was to blame left many suspicious. Others have suggested noxious fumes and dank air-conditioning units in poorly run hotels might be the real culprit. Choose your lodgings with care in this area.
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