For a tropical Thai island that serves alcohol in buckets as a standard, Phi Phi Thailand is more than just a fitting name.
This famed, hedonistic beach party location isn’t all trashed backpackers manifesting the #YOLO lifestyle – though if that’s your scene, make sure Phi Phi Don is on your list of places in Thailand to visit. It’s right up there with stumbling through a wild Full Moon party on Koh Phangan.
The karst, ocean-side topography with startling beautiful cliffs and caves, draped in lush jungle, provides an ideal location for honeymoons and family holidays also. You just have to know what part of the island to be on.
Before you start slinging F’s around like they named the archipelago after some New Yorker’s miniature poodle, let’s get that pronunciation straight. It’s ‘Pee Pee’ – straight and simple.
So, stand a little bit closer to the urinal and don’t make a mess of it.
It’s actually this same sort of pronunciation that stops the nearby tourist hub of Phuket from being “F*ck It” – not that it stops the snickering.
Phi Phi Thailand is, in fact, an archipelago of six islands nestled into the Andaman Sea on the cusp of Phang Nga Bay. The largest of the islands, at 3.76 square miles, is the one that gets all the attention. When people say they went to Phi Phi, they mean they went to Phi Phi Don Island. And, more often than not, they mean they went to Ton Sai on Phi Phi Don.
Three Phi Phi Flows
Phi Phi Don can be broken up into three distinct areas: Loh Lana (high-end, family, luxury); Long Beach (chill, family, and reasonably priced); and Ton Sai (Bro, you want another bucket of Chang?).
Loh Lana runs along the northeast edge of the island, cut off from the intense party scene as higher end hotels, such as the Holiday Inn and Zeavola, work hard to create a very specific “Thailand” experience for their guests. Of course, if you want to check out the party scene, it’s easy enough to hire a traditional longtail boat taxi to zip you around the island to Ton Sai.
Long Beach, within walking distance of Ton Sai, is the perfect compromise. You can enjoy the beach without awakening to the aftermath of last night’s party scene, while still being able to reach the bustle of the tiny tourist town if you don’t want to eat at your hotel.
Phi Phi in many backpacker’s minds is Ton Sai. The cobbled streets snake through a small isthmus between Loh Dalam Bay and Ton Sai Bay. During the day, it’s packed with day-tripping tourists arriving as part of a flotilla of speedboats from the mainland, diving touts trying to drag you out to sea for your PADI open water course, massage parlors (of varying decency), restaurants, and shopping options.
Buckets, Buckets, Buckets!
Name your booze, name your mixers, and watch the bartender or the dude chilling at a stand in the streets crack open a mini-bottle and dump everything you desire into a bucket of ice with enough straws poking out of it that you can share. If you’ve not tried SangSom whiskey with a Thai Red Bull mixer, you’ve not partied in Thailand yet. So, get a bucket of it.
There are a number of highlights to the hedonistic party town.
You and your best mate can jump into a Muay Thai boxing ring and slug it out for a free bucket at Reggae Bar. Before you make the painfully naive mistake of thinking that you’re the first pair to think of “just going light”, remember that once you’re in the ring and the crowd starts cheering you on, things will escalate. Seriously, it will escalate, but as gran-pappy always told me – “Ain’t nothing can’t be fixed with a free bucket of cheap Thai booze.”
Slinky Bar right on the beach also offers some serious booze prizes if you can ride their animatronic bull. Insider’s secret: it’s all in the hips. Bros who skip leg day are thrown in seconds while a woman who can keep her hands in the air and her hips loose can ride her way to free alcohol.
“Squeeze those thighs, boys!” – Not a quote from granpappy.
The real attraction of Ton Sai isn’t just lounging on the beach, dancing to mediocre DJs, and trying to find someone to hook up with on a beanbag. The real attraction is the fire performers. Over the years, the fire performing troops at the beachside bars have become more and more extravagant in their performance.
Sadly, though perhaps it’s for the best, crowd participation in fire jump rope, fire limbo, and jumping through the old ring of fire, has come to an end as a certain amount of sensibility has gotten its foot in the door. That being said, it is Thailand, so, who knows when it will all come back.
Enjoy a Sober Phi Phi
If you’re not suffering a debilitating hangover on one of your days in Phi Phi Thailand (what have you been doing?), there are a number of activities to keep you busy.
Within walking distance of Ton Sai there are a number of bolted climbing routes for climbers at all levels. The epic views at the anchors are always worth the work of getting there, especially if you are prepared to do a multi-pitch climb. There are climbing shops, such as Phi Phi Climbers and Ibex Climbing and Tours, that can rent you equipment or provide a guide.
If you’re not ready to face off with the beautiful climbing cliffs, take the trail up to the Phi Phi Viewpoint. There are in fact three viewpoints, each progressively better than the last. The final view is the classic, as it focuses your attention on the spectacular beauty of the sand isthmus below.
If you have the discipline to stay away from the drinking or like to take serious risks underwater, Phi Phi provides a breathtaking (pun intended) diving experience. Diving at spectacular soft and hard coral sites around the unpopulated Phi Phi Leh offers the opportunity to cross paths with Seahorses, Leopard Sharks, Black Tipped Reef Sharks, and a whole aquarium of tropical fishes.
Phi Phi is also home to Maya Bay, made famous, and subsequently ruined by the movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The once idyllic beach is now bumper to bumper day-trip boats and tourists posing for selfies. If you really want to soak up the magic of the place, consider booking an overnight boat trip, so you can stick around long past when the crowds of tourists are swept away.
Of course, if staying sober during the day seems like too much effort, there are also booze cruises – just saying.
Find Relief Through Sleep
Dig massive, wicked treehouse bungalows with hammocks and wraparound porches with ocean views? Of course, you do. And, if you don’t – take a look in the mirror and start re-evaluating who you’ve become. Viking Nature Resort, situated between the more relaxed Long Beach and the party scene at Ton Sai, provides some of the most unique and reasonably priced accommodations on the island.
Having cornered the honeymoon market on the Phi Phi Don ages ago, Zeavola is a fantastic option for those wanting a bare-foot, luxury experience. This is the kind of place that when you return to your room after dinner, your bedding has been turned down, the room smells of eucalyptus, and there’s often a small gift on your pillow. At the same time, the meandering sand paths and dispersal of the private villas take the edge off feeling the need to be too fussy. Basically, if you show up in shoes, you’re overdressed.
Of course, you can steal a few winks of sleep in a dingy room somewhere in Ton Sai for 250 baht a night depending on the season. Admittedly, there is a certain point in a drunken night at which one no longer demands a whole lot from your hotel room.
How To Get to Phi Phi Thailand
Because Phi Phi Don is a relatively small island, the only way to get there is by boat. Ferries to Phi Phi can be caught in Ao Nang, Rai Leh, Krabi Town, and Koh Lanta. However, the majority of tourists headed to the island catch one of the several daily ferries departing from Phuket, which is also home to an international airport.
Phi Phi Thailand Up Shit Creek
Currently, there are issues with tourists on Phi Phi island producing too much wastewater, causing large amounts of it to be pumped out into the ocean untreated. Talk about taking the islands’ name sake to heart! That being said, anyone who’s gone to Phi Phi Thailand will tell you that the islands are still worth a visit.
Do you have a trip planned to Phi Phi Thailand? Are you worried about what to wear? Are you interested in showing up on the scene in the most stylish, bad-ass threads for the occasion? Have you been? Are you proud of going Phi Phi? Did you put your big boy pants on and do it all by yourself, or did you need a little help from your friends? Either way, nab one of these wicked big boy, or big girl, tanks and share that pride.
Momma always said that the best way to deal with a walk of shame is to own it.
Here’s the Men’s Tank Top:
Here’s the Women’s Tank Top:
And, while you’re at it, say f*ckIt, buy a Phuket Thailand tank too:
Here’s the Men’s Phuket tank top:
Here’s the Women’s Phuket tank top:
Send us your Phi Phi shots – @Putin @TheRealDonaldTrump – on Twitter @TanksGetAround. We’ll retweet our favorites!
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