The Phi Phi islands comprise Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh and have attracted much attention for reasons both good and bad. The islands have drawn visitors since the 1980s and were made famous by the film ‘The Beach’, filmed on the uninhabited Koh Phi Phi Leh. The idyllic scenery, the emerald waters, white sands and palm trees draw in many visitors each year.
On the main island, Phi Phi Don, the once idyllic Ton Sai beach is now a busy port. The few modest guesthouses which once dotted the beach, have been replaced with hotels, bars, restaurants, shops and markets. The turquoise waters now play host to unwanted litter and boat fuel.
On the bright side, the island has made a significant effort to clean up, and despite the crowds and the racy nightlife, it still retains elements of the tropical paradise it once was. Highlights on Phi Phi Don include travelling up to the northern part of the island for beaches that avoid the crowds, or a boat trip out to Phi Phi Leh. While this part of Thailand is undeniably beautiful, unstructured tourism development has taken over, and we must question the cost it has had on the environment.