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Destination Phi Phi Island in Thailand

Visiting Phi Phi (pronounced “Pee Pee”) Island, you may expect to see Leonardo DiCaprio swimming toward you as you stand on the shore. The famous American actor starred in “The Beach,” a 1999 movie set on this island, between Phuket and mainland Thailand, in the balmy Andaman Sea. And Phi Phi makes a dramatic backdrop indeed, with its overgrown tropical vegetation, steep rocky cliffs and mysterious caves. The added bonuses of smooth sandy beaches and sparkling blue green sea water makes it an ideal vacation spot, as well. Koh Phi Phi, to give it its full name in Thai, is actually a group of islands, of which Phi Phi Don is the largest and the only permanently inhabited one. Phi Phi Leh, the site of the film, also has gorgeous beaches which are frequented by tourists, while the remaining islands, Bida Nok, Bida Noi and Ko Mai Phai (Bamboo Island), are basically just breathtakingly huge unpopulated limestone boulders.

For a Great Vacation

The Phi Phi Islands are also known as the site which was hardest hit by the infamous tsunami in 2004, when an underwater earthquake caused a wave of monstrous proportions. By now, the rubble left behind has been cleared away with the efforts of government workers and volunteers, and the island has been restored to a lovely state. Phi Phi’s gracious, friendly residents are glad to see tourists once again enjoying their charming home island. This is a great vacation destination for singles, couples and families alike.

Leisure activities on Phi Phi mainly center around the dramatically beautiful landscape. Splashing in the sea, swimming and sunbathing are a wonderful way to spend your first couple of days on Phi Phi, while you relax and let go of all your cares. Your children will enjoy paddling in the warm, soothing water and building sand castles on the sheltered beaches. After that, you will find that Phi Phi is the perfect setting for snorkeling and scuba diving, two of Thailand’s most popular sports which can be enjoyed by vacationers of all ages and levels of skill (lessons and guides are available for beginners). Colorful coral reefs and rainbow hued fish are two of the amazing sights you will see on your underwater journey. With the help of a guide, you can also explore the undersea caves and overhangs created by the enormous limestone formations. Swimming with the black tip sharks (which are harmless … so they say) is a once in a lifetime experience for the adventurous soul.

Naturally, with gigantic cliffs in abundance, rock climbing is a hot activity; once you’ve reached the summit, you will be rewarded with spectacular views. Cliff jumping is an adrenaline pumping option for those with boundless energy and brave hearts. Kayaking is yet another great way to see the other islands in the group and spend a pleasant, active day outdoors. A less physically demanding way to admire the panoramic beauty of the Phi Phi Islands is to take an aerial helicopter tour from neighboring Phuket.

Shopping and Dining

For the shopaholic in you, take in the Phi Phi bazaar. This market place of winding paths and small stalls sells all sorts of interesting, pretty and useful items. For example, you can pick up snorkeling equipment to use during your stay or the local specialty of exquisite silver or shell jewelry, to take home as lovely, much appreciated gifts for your friends … or for yourself. Look for some of the regional handicrafts such as batik cloth or pineapple paper. Bargain hunting and bartering with the local merchants over prices – always with a smile and a sense of humor – is all part of the fun.

There is a wide variety of dining options on Phi Phi. Island restaurants are very inventive even though many of their ingredients – with the obvious exception of fresh caught seafood – have to be shipped in from the mainland. Be prepared: Thai food in general is known for its delectable spiciness, and the food of Southern Thailand, where Koh Phi Phi is situated, is even hotter. If your Western palate needs a break, you will be relieved to know that Phi Phi features several Italian and even British restaurants. Enjoy an English style “cuppa” with your breakfast.

Nightlife is varied. Listen to sophisticated jazz sounds at the upscale hotel bars or fill your beer cup from a bucket as you dance and party on the beach. If you’re looking for the wildest youthful party scene – or looking to avoid it – it is based on the beaches on the island’s south side, where the bars can stay open until 4 in the morning. For exotic evening entertainment, take in a show of fire dancing or Thai boxing (muay Thai).

Accommodation, as can be expected in Thailand, is reasonably priced and available to suit every type of traveler. For full service luxury, try a 5 star spa resort, or if you are traveling with limited funds, budget priced hotels may be more your thing. Phi Phi also still boasts some of the traditional Thai beach bungalows, which have largely disappeared from more developed areas like Phuket.

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