Most people who come to Koh Phi Phi Don do so because it’s a convenient point from which to visit Maya Bay. It is certainly that, but there’s so much more to this island than just its proximity to Koh Phi Phi Leh. Here are three suggestions for ways to fill your time on Koh Phi Phi Don (besides enjoying its beautiful beaches, of course).
1. See the cute simians at Monkey Beach
Boats can pull right up to this aptly-named beach where cute monkeys hang out in the trees waiting for tourists to toss them scraps. It’s a common stop on Maya Bay excursions, but you can also charter a longtail and visit on your own. Although plenty of people were doing it, I don’t recommend walking up to the monkeys to feed them, and I say that not just because I care about keeping wildlife wild. The monkeys are rather famously known to bite and scratch people who approach them, so unless you want to end your holiday in the hospital getting a series of painful rabies shots, it seems like an unnecessary risk to take when you can see them just as well from the safety of a boat.
2. Take a longtail excursion to a deserted island
There are two small, uninhabited islands just off the north coast of Koh Phi Phi Don, Bamboo Island and Mosquito Island, and they can easily be reached by a quick longtail ride. They’re popular spots with tour groups, so come early to enjoy peace and quiet. If you head out early enough, you may actually be the first ones to set foot on the island, as we were on Bamboo Island.
When we were there Mosquito Island was closed due to “overtourism” (the Thai government seems to close less important islands periodically with little advance warning, so your best is to check with your hotel or longtail driver about what’s open), but we were still able to cruise around it, even if we couldn’t actually get out on the beach.
3. Hike up to the Koh Phi Phi Don viewpoint (and bring cash!)
Koh Phi Phi Don is almost two separate islands that are joined together by just a thin stretch of sand, and from this viewpoint you really get a sense of the topography of the island, not to mention a glimpse of its beautiful cliffs and turquoise bays. It’s a stunning vista and one of the most beautiful I saw in all of Thailand. Unfortunately, it’s all on the other side of a fee station, where you’ll have to pay approximately $1 US per person for the privilege of enjoying the view. And no, they don’t take pity on stupid tourists who forgot their money, even if it’s your last day on the island and you put on your best sad face and tell them that. Ask me how I know. (Thank goodness for the generosity of strangers!)
On the trail to the viewpoint (especially towards the end), don’t forget to look up…there are lots of monkeys in the trees!
It’s really a shame that so many people visit the Phi Phi Islands for only a day just to see Leo’s beach, because there’s so much more to the area than that. I’m glad we carved time out of our itinerary for a multi-day stay here, and would encourage others to do the same, even first-time visitors trying to see as much of Thailand as possible in a short amount of time.