Ko Phi Phi, Thailand for Less than $25

Living on a Shoestring in Ko Phi Phi

Crisp white sands, spectacular mountain views and sumptuous warm water – this was my first impression of the beautiful islands of Ko Phi Phi. Located on the South-West coast of Thailand, caressed by the marine-rich Andaman Sea, this compact and truly unique mass of land won me over before I even had a chance to take a sip of my beer.

ko-phi-phi-beach
My first view of the lush beaches that Ko Phi Phi has to offer

 

When it comes to things to do on Ko Phi Phi, there are endless options. Ko Phi Phi Leh, the small island next to the main island, is where they famously filmed ‘The Beach’ and is uninhabited. If there is one place that you absolutely must visit then it’s here. You can pay for a half-day (5 hour) boat trip that will take you out snorkelling on many of the different bays around the island and then finish the trip to watch the sun set into the horizon on the famous Maya Bay. All of this will set you back only 300 Baht ($10) and includes your lunch and water throughout the trip. You can also stop by Monkey Island to hand feed fruit to the wild monkeys that dwell within the trees. That experience is one that I will never ever forget so I can categorically say that it is well worth the money.There are no automobiles on Phi Phi at all and you can easily walk from one side of the island (Ko Phi Phi Don) to the other within 15 minutes. This instantly saves you loads of money in transport due to the fact that you will walk everywhere. When it comes to accommodation, Phi Phi is much cheaper than many of the other islands in the South of Thailand but it will still be your largest expense. The condition of the hostels within the island is generally good and you can stay in a shared dorm (fan room) at Blanco Beach Bar for around 400 Baht ($13) which is located right on the beach front. If you’re looking for somewhere that is a little cheaper then take a trip to the other side of the island and stay at Harmony House which is ridiculously cheap and is a great place to stay. If there is three of you then you can get a room for 170 Baht each ($5.50), so I would recommend at least taking a look there.

maya-bay
We adhered to the typical tourist pose on Maya Bay!

 

When it comes to food and drink on the island you need to be quite careful with your money. Prices vary greatly across Phi Phi so if you’re trying to save money then you should try to avoid eating on the beach front. One of the best value-for-money places that we ate was at ‘Garlic’ restaurant (opposite Jong’s Guesthouse), where you can get a curry with rice for 120 Baht ($4). Alternatively you can go to one of the street vendors on the strip down towards the main beach and pick up a really good pizza for around 80 Baht ($2.50). You’ll probably find yourself sampling the street vendor food after a few drinks anyway!

It’s really easy to get a bit carried away with the atmosphere on Phi Phi because the nightlife is pretty relentless. Like Koh Tao and Koh Phangan, Phi Phi has a huge number of Western tourists that spend a lot of their time there partying. If you’re looking for a more chilled out atmosphere then you might be better off traveling east over to Koh Chang or up North to Chiang Mai. Having said that, you are easily able to get a bit of downtime on the island at places like High Bar (nicknamed ‘the highest bar on the island’ for a reason!). My advice would be to buy any alcohol that you want from the 7/11 stores and take them down to the beach with you; you would only end up spending four times the amount if you buy if from the beach bars themselves.

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The unbelievable view of the sunset from High Bar

 

If you’re really struggling for cash then you can pick up work pretty easily. Go pay Dojo Bar a visit and you can get some work doing leafleting there. You will get paid around 250 Baht ($8) a night and you get free drinks all night. It sounds like you’re getting ripped off but the work is really easy and you can literally have as much as you like to drink for free. Alternatively, go see the guys at the Phi Phi Party Crew who do booze cruises around the islands. They sell tickets for around 2,500 Baht each and you can get around 10% commission on any sales you make – not bad at all really.

About the Author

Matthew Barby runs the Melted Stories Travel Blog that gives backpacking advice, stories and sometimes utter nonsense. Matt loves to talk about his experiences from traveling around East Asia and likewise he loves to hear the stories of other travellers. You can find out more on the Melted Stories Twitter and Facebook page.

This post was originally published in
About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"


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54 Comments

  • Some great tips here Matt and Agness.

    I’ve never been to these islands but have read a lot about them. They sure look beautiful and are renowned for great parties and lots of fun. At those prices I can see why :-)

    • Thanks! I’ve been to Koh Phangan Island in Thailand and I have such great memories from there. Golden beaches and stunning sun sets – awesome! Need to visit Ko Phi Phi as well.

    • Yeh, it was fantastic in Phi Phi. The nightlife was amazing and the scenery was out of this world. It was definitely one of the most picturesque places that I visited within Thailand.

      Matt.

    • Yep, it’s overloaded with backpackers and tourists nowadays but still worth visiting :). Nice to hear you had a great time there :)x

  • The more I think about it the more I realize I should just move to Thailand and live there and work online for a few months and live cheaply and here are some wonderful instructions. Good thing I never bought a couch. My laziness turned out to be useful!

    • Thailand is certainly a place where it’s easy to get lazy and stay this way. Think that you might really get by with low expenditure and some online income. If you decide to do that, please share the info with us!

    • Haha! You can easily get by living in Thailand on a really low budget. One of my friends is out there now living for the foreseeable future and he just does odd bits of work at bars and makes easily enough money to get by.

      Matt

    • I’m sure you’ll have a great time. The photos, although the look amazing, still don’t do Phi Phi justice. You really have to go there to experience it properly.

      Also, make sure you travel up North to Chiang Mai becuase that has to be my favourite place in the world!

      Matt

  • Love the pics! A warm sunny beach wold suit me just fine right now as we still have snow on the ground here in Manitoba, Canada. It’s been a VERY long winter!

    Thailand is definitely on my bucket list for the future.

  • Wow! This is actually really cool. You can end up in the positive if you skip dinner and work instead. Alcohol has calories to keep you going ;)

  • Awesome!

    I’m surprised that you can do Phi Phi for under $25, that’s impressive! I love anything and everything to do with budget travel, so thanks for the great post :)

    Cheers!

  • I loved the night life on Koh Phi Phi when I visited about 5 years ago now, but back then I wasn’t on a backpackers budget. When we went on our RTW trip last year we actually missed out Koh Phi Phi because we were travelling in high season and had not been able to book anywhere to stay on the island (and we were scared of ending up in a really rubbish beach hut on our budget!). We headed to Koh Lipe instead which they say is set to be the new Koh Phi Phi… it is paradise but I just hope it doesn’t get as popular as Phi Phi because i’m worried it will ruin it!

    • We’ve heard of Koh Lipe and we would love to go there as well. During out last visit, we headed to Koh Phangan Island only, missed Ko Phi Phi but planning to go there next time. The nights on every Thai island are spectacular.

  • Thanks for all the great trips! We were there in March 2012 on our honeymoon! We leave for our 2+year RTW June 29th and we will be in Phi Phi December 23-26 Christmas with my parents! They are flying in from Chicago for 18 days in SEA! Cant wait to return!

    • You’re welcome. So glad to hear that! I hope you had a last on your honeymoon and enjoy it this time! :) Can’t wait to see you on the road again!!! x

  • Loved Phi Phi Island – althought we were only there for the day (on a tour), i have always said we have to go back and stay there! We could then go to the “famous beach” without the hoards of other tourists… We were barely able to move around when we went.

  • Isn’t it amazing that place exist like that in the world? I’ve been to Koh Poda (near Krabi) and your beautiful pictures reminded me of my experience. Nothing like freshly made papaya salad and grilled corn on the beach, too!

    Thailand is a wonderful place for those who want to stretch their budget. Well worth a trip to the southern beaches for only $25 a day!

    • Yes, it’s so amazing. Unfortunately, we have not been to Koh Poda:(, but hope to make it there one day. Yes, we love fresh papaya salads made by locals and have them on the beach as well!! :)

  • Love the jump shot picture! I’ve always wanted to go to this area after seeing The Beach. You’ve got some great ideas here to save money including going to work for free drinks all night and still get paid. something very appealing to many, I’m sure :)

  • I just spent a few weeks on Ko Lanta. I didn’t make it to Ko Phi Phi, but your pictures look really scenic. There are no mountains on Ko Lanta like you showed on Phi Phi. I guess I put it on my agenda for the next trip.

  • I love the fact that tips on how to make money were also mentioned – and where to visit if you weren’t heavily into the party scene.

  • Didn’t know you could pick up work! Wish I knew about that. Would’ve stretched my trip longer and would’ve been a perfect way to hunker down for a while without feeling like I was only draining my wallet.

    • Exactly. There is actually a great variety of work you can pick up :) so you don’t need to panic when you run our of money.

  • Hey Agness,
    Funny that you mention the ‘High Bar’ in Koh Tao.

    I will level with you here and tell my story of the high bar..

    I had NEVER EVER driven a scooter in my life until I landed on Koh Tao and a friend suggested I rent one and we go to a bar he was at one time (The High Bar). and We proceeded to the bar, during which we got lost about 6 times as it is hidden amongst the foliage and jungle of Koh Tao.

    On arrival we were offered a beer and some Thai weed joints pre-rolled.. As weed is highly illegal in Thailand, we were apprehensive.. Two beers in and a HUGE thunderstorm rolled upon this little island.. We sat back in our hammocks and watched the black clouds swallow the island..

    Suddenly a joint didn’t seem like such a bad idea!

    I hadn’t smoked in months and don’t toke very often, but for some reason the ‘HIgh Bar’ during a thunderstorm seemed like the place to do it so we payed 100 THB each for a dooby and chilled on the deck as the rain pelted on the wood outside..

    3 hours and a few conversations later, all calmed down and we could make our way back to the main strip to our hotel..

    Lesson learned – visiting the ‘High Bar” on your first day driving a scooter and getting high for the first time in months is probably not the best idea in the world :)

    Stay safe kids,

    I love Thailand :)

    Adam

    • Yep, not the best idea LOL. We paid for our crushed scooter a lot :((( Thanks for sharing!

  • My friends and i have been looking for beach partying islands. And we heard tha phi phi island is one good island to party, wonder if that’s true? Love your group photo at Maya Bay! Makes me wanna go there with my friends immediately :)

    • We would recommend the Koh Phangan Island and its famous Full Moon Party. It was great, we absolutely loved it. As for other islands, we have no idea. Never been to them before so we can’t say it.

  • Will be hitting Thailand for the first time at the beginning of the year. I was a bit worried about the prices in the southern islands as I would very much like to visit them, even just for the pure natural beauty alone. I am on an extremely tight budget for all of my travels (about $25/day tops) and this article has put many of my concerns to rest. Thank you for the great write up!

    • You can easily make it in Thailand for $25, especially if you travel with someone. If you need more info or tips, send me an e-mail. Hope you’re gonna have fun in the Land of Smiles :).

  • Hi guys,

    Great review. I’m supposed to travelling there soon so just wanted to ask what would be the cheapest and best way of getting there?

  • If you go to PP island. I would recommend Phuket island. Last month my husband and I visited Phuket island of Thailand. One of the places we really enjoyed was a Thai Cultural Theme Park – Phuket FantaSea. Every service area there was beautiful and neat. We enjoyed watching their beautiful, costumed parade culminating at an outdoor stage with a Bangok theme show. The place is really somewhat like Disneyland of Thailand! The highlight their main show held at a beautiful Palace of the Elephants Theater. I must say it was pretty amazing, I left overwhelmed by their beautiful culture. International buffet dinner was good, particularly the noodle soup. We remember it as one of our nicest outings in Phuket and do recommend it for a quality evening-into-the-night entertainment. Don’t miss it! .

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