Ko Phi Phi on a budget

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First published 18th November, 2006

A lot of people show up on Phi Phi Island ready to spend like drunken sailors, and the prices have been rigged accordingly. One way for budget travellers to save money is to simply not go there! But it's definitely worth seeing, so we've come up with some ways to visit the island without emptying your bank account.


Getting to Phi Phi can be expensive depending on where you depart from. If you're being asked to pay more than 350B, you're getting ripped off. Try showing up at the pier and talking directly to one of the boatmen. They will sometimes let you on for as little as 300B, but you have to be a bit persuasive, very discrete, and speaking a little Thai will go a long way.

Once you get to the island, the biggest bite will be accommodation. One dubious places you might try is Long Beach Bungalows, offering 200B doubles in low season -- they ain't much, but they're cheap. The future of the place is on uncertain ground, though, so there's no telling what they'll charge in high season.

It's more realistic to plan on spending 300B a night in low season, 400 to 500B in high season. Your choices multiply, and we feel more confident steering you to the places below.

Maphrao Resort has small bungalows for 300B in low, 400B in high season, and it's a great place to stay -- you can walk there from the pier, takes about an hour, and it's a beautiful hike. Viking Place next door has bungalows for 400B in low season. The Paradise Pearl, the first one along on Long Beach, offers 300B bungalows in low season, but they jump to 600B in high season.

Ao Toh Koh is reachable by an hour's hike over the viewpoint, and promises 300 and 400B bungalows year round -- call ahead to make sure they haven't changed their minds! It also happens to be one of our top picks for places to stay on Phi Phi.

There are a quite a few places in the Ton Sai Village area that charge 300B in the low season and 500B in the high season: JJ. Bungalow and Guesthouse, Harmony House, New Wave Bungalows, P.P. Valentine Bungalows, Gipsy Village, and Gypsy Village 2. All these rooms are doubles, and not that you don't already know this, but even if you're traveling alone, you can save a ton by grabbing another backpacker in same straights and splitting the cost.

Internet is 2B per minute no matter where you go. Sports Bar and Carpe Diem have free wifi, which is handy if you're a budget traveller with a computer. Otherwise, you'll have to make really good friends with someone who runs a dive shop, or do all your e-mailing before and after your stay.

To save money on food, eat where the Thais eat -- just turn down the alley alongside Barracuda Divers, and, voila! No more steak and pizza, lots of rice and noodles at cheap prices (for Phi Phi, that'd be ten or twenty baht more than what you might be used to). While you're in Ton Sai Village, don't blow past The Phi Phi Bakery thinking it's out of your price range -- surprisingly reasonable prices on many dishes are to be found there.

Since you don't want to live like a monk, you may want to have a beer at some point. Phi Phi has a 7-eleven, and prices there are only a few baht more than on the mainland -- to the extent you imbibe, buy your booze here. Also, local shops sometimes offer even better deals on bottles of Chang -- keep your eye peeled for signs. If you're looking to meet some fellow travellers while you tipple, steer clear of the bars along Ton Sai Beach, to be sure, and head out to the viewpoint road. There's a 'Bar with No Name' right beneath Phi Phi Dreams offering drinks and a relaxed, good-time atmosphere for half of what you'd pay elsewhere.

For a low cost activity, consider hiking over the viewpoint to one of three bays on the other side, if you haven't already holed up there -- Rantee, Ao Toh Koh, and Pak Nam beach. All of them are much better beaches than the ones 'in town' and they all have affordable restaurants to grab lunch at. Be sure to plan your return before sundown to avoid having to take a long tail back. The most affordable evening of fun with friends can be found at Reggae Bar which offers Thai Boxing nightly -- big buckets of booze run 100B, and if you don the gloves and get in the ring -- and win -- your table gets two free buckets.

Being a budget traveller in Phi Phi doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun. In fact, by seeking out its cheap little corners, you'll probably meet more interesting people, learn more about the island, and have a much better time than all those suckers lining up for drinks at Apache Bar.



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Read 8 comment(s)

  • i agree with most stuff in this article in principle....but who the hell is gonna trek for an hr with a backpack 15+ kgs on their back to a place that is 100baht cheaper per night than most other places in the centre. i stayed in 'Oasis' last April and it costs 400baht for a double rm- that place is on the main road after the 7eleven, right by the beach & internet. Also ppl want to have a good time so do get ur drinks in 7eleven and predrink outside Jordans till around 11, then into Reggae bar for few fights n then off down to carlitos, then onto hippies for the ppl who want to watch d sunrise. thats my opinion of a good time, to hike back to ur place after that would be next impossible...but each to their own.

    Posted by stretcho on 14th January, 2009

  • Ahhh, Phi Phi...ginormous toilet that it is. Yes, the main beach at Phi Phi Don had crap floating around with toilet paper. What was really surprising was how many people were playing in it. Ewww!

    We stayed at Garden Home guesthouse. Unfortunatley, my friend wanted AC so we didn't stay in the cute garden accommodations, but the one across from a giant water container and heavier foot traffic.

    She also had her purse stolen at one of the beach parties by a team of thieves: one working to distract her and the other to grab the purse. I hear this happens a lot on Phi Phi.

    I would suggest going there for a day trip and seeing Phi Phi Lay, but not staying overnight unless you are at one of the nicer resorts up north. Unless that is you're there to get your drink on and swim in pee-drenched waters.

    Posted by Steph on 30th January, 2009

  • I have been to Phi Phi on four separate occasions and had the best times of my life.. the accomodation at times are basic but you can have luxury if that's what you want. There are thieves in places all over the world, just be carefull. Please do not let comments by Steph above put you off visiting one of the most relaxing/beautifull places in the world. I love it and am returning for 4 days in 2 weeks time. Cant wait.

    Pearl

    Posted by Pearl Richardson on 9th November, 2009

  • Hey Pearl, thanks for the positive info!

    I am planning a trip to Pi Pi in December, since you have been four times, any advice. Where should we stay? I have heard Oasis is clean and cheap I am a big fan of no cockroaches. As well what is there to do on the island? any sort of like jungle tour type thing?

    Posted by Alix on 18th November, 2009

  • Hi, Good article, when was it written though? Looking on online booking sites the prices are way higher than mentioned here.
    Ie. The Paradise Pearl as mentioned having High season bungalows for 600B, on the website they're all 2,800-3,300B and upwards. Is the website a very 'premium' priced way of booking, or are the articles prices out of date?

    Could the author comment on dates?

    Thanks! :D

    Simon.

    Posted by Simon on 19th November, 2009

  • This article is slightly outdated so wanted to provide a few up to date comments. Firstly, if prices at Viking Resort were 400B at the time this was written, it has certainly incurred a price hike. The cheapest bungalows in low season 2010 were 600 and 800B. Also, it DOES NOT take 1 hr to walk there. In fact, when the tide is low, you can pretty much walk from Tonsai directly to the resort along the beach. At high tide, you can take a cemented path running through another establishment virtually the whole way. It took anywhere between 15 -25 mins. We did it with packs, both day and night.

    Also, getting to Phi Phi from Phuket Town is expensive if you pay the price advertised by every company. They ask 600 one way, 1000 return. Having read this article, we thought it would be cheaper on the pier but it we had a cheaper price offered to us in the Phuket airport upon arrival! I speak basic Thai so I was able to bargain the price down to 400 each way but this is still a rip off when you see that once you get to Phi Phi, some guesthouses/resorts are selling one way tickets for 250-350.

    Finally, I have to say that the best decision I made was staying outside of Tonsai Bay. Its noisy and gross. While Loh Dalum is a nice beach, Long Beach is far better and far more peaceful. The distance between the centre and Long Beach is far enough to get away from the hustle and bustle but close enough, if you like walking, to immerse yourself in the party scene and to shop and eat. Walking to and from saved us money we would otherwise have spent on longtail boats but if you do eat at Maphrao or Long Beach, be prepared to pay a little more for food.

    Phi Phi still has beauty - you just have to look a little further beyond Tonsai.

    Posted by Michelle on 7th August, 2010

  • Thanks a million! Been trying to find some decent insight :)

    Posted by Bianca on 9th July, 2011

  • hi - any update on prices for this article please?

    Posted by ajf on 11th May, 2012

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