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Krabi Province - Attractions - Islands

Phi Phi Islands

The name is derived from Malay, and the original was 'Pulao Pi Ah Pi', where in 'Pulao' is the Malay word for island, and 'Pi', pronounced with only a half p sound, was very close in pronunciation to the English word be; the 'Ah' was eventually dropped, so the name was said something like Bi Bi. Later the p was pronounced with a stronger aspiration and the name became the Pi Pi we know today (the h with which it is usually spelled is confusing and superfluous). The name refers to the mangrove wood found there. Six islands are in the group; Phi Phi Don Island, Phi Phi Ley Island, Biddah Nok Island, Biddah Nai Island, Yung Island, and Maiphai Island; total area is about 35 square kilometers. They were incorporated into the national park in 1983. Some of the interesting places to visit include:

Phi Phi Don Island

Ton Sai bay, Phi Phi Don, KrabiPhi Phi Don Island (Koh Phi Phi Don) covers a total area of 28 square kilometers: 8 kilometers in length and 3.5 at its broadest point. At the north end is Tohng Cape (Laem Tohng) where there is a Chao Ley, or sea gypsy village. These sea gypsies emigrated from Lipeh Island in Tarutao National Park, near the border with Malaysia. Diving at Tohng Cape is excellent, as it is also at Hua Rah Ket to the extreme south. There are long beaches with rocks scattered about. Two curving bays are especially beautiful: Ton Sai Bay (Ao Ton Sai) and Loh Dalam Bay (Ao Loh Dalam). This is also where accommodations and tourist services are found.

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Phi Phi Ley Island

Loh Samah Bay, Phi Phi Ley, KrabiPhi Phi Ley Island (Koh Phi Phi Ley) is 6.6 square kilometers in total area: 3 kilometers in length and 1 kilometer at its broadest point. The Island is entirely limestone and steep cliffs rising from the sea very nearly ring it. Surrounding waters average about 20 meters in depth, reaching 34 meters at the deepest point off the Island's southern tip. Phi Phi Ley Island has several beautiful bays: Pileh Bay (Ao Pi Leh), Maya Bay (Ao Ma Yah), and Loh Samah Bay (Ao Loh Sa Mah); Pileh Bay is very nearly enclosed by the limestone walls of the Island's cliffs, so that the water appears almost to be an inland sea. On Phi Phi Ley's northeast is the famous Viking Cave; this was renamed by H.M. Rama IX when he visited it in 1972, Tahm Pya Nak, from the shape of a particular boulder, which resembles in shape the head of the great serpent of Buddhist legend, the Naga. It is a place much revered by the local people who come there to collect the swift's nests used to make Bird's Nest Soup, a Chinese delicacy. On the eastern and southern walls of the cave are colored drawings dating from historic times. There are of various boats: European, Arab, and Chinese sailing ships; barques, motorboats, and steamships. It is theorized that these pirates who paused in their travels from west to east, sheltering in the cave to escape the monsoon winds, transfer cargo, or make repairs.

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Yung Island

Yung Island (Koh Yung) lies to the north of Phi Phi Don Island. There is a rocky beach on the east side, and a smaller stand of sand in a fold of the hill. Many beautiful and various corals are found there.

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Maipai Island

Maiphai Island (Koh Mai Phai) lies also to the north of Phi Phi Don, not far from Koh Yung. Sandy beaches are on the north and east sides of the island. Broad coral reefs stretch away into the south.

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Getting There

Travel to the Phi Phi Islands, tour operators in both Phuket and Krabi provide transport and tour packages to this popular destination. Regular boat service is available from Rassada Pier and many piers on Sirey Island in Phuket and also Jao Fah pier in Krabi.

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