The Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi is an archipelago belonging to Thailand. The largest and only inhabited island of the archipelago is Phi Phi Don. The other islands belonging to the group are Phi Phi Lei, Bida Nok, Bida Nai, Bambu and Moskitu. Each of the islands has its own unique history. In the mid-20th century, Phi Phi Don was the favourite island of fishermen, who built villages there. Even today, most of the inhabitants of the island are descendants of the original fishermen. However, fishing no longer plays an important role - now the main activity on Phi Phi Don is the cultivation of coconut and tourism.

The history of Phi Phi Lei Island is different - it has never had any permanent residents. This island certainly would have remained completely unknown if this corner of the world hadn’t found a career in film. In 2000, the island was chosen for the outdoor shots of the Hollywood hit The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Since then. Phi Phi Lei has been extremely popular among tourists, which has had an effect on the other islands of the archipelago - instead of old fishing villages, a modern tourism infrastructure has begun to appear, from bungalows to luxury hotels.

The Phi Phi islands are heaven for tourists: crystal-clear, blue water and numerous virgin beaches surrounded by forests. Frequent guests on these beaches, apart from people, are monkeys, which have become so accustomed to people that they approach them and demand to be fed. One of the beaches is even called Monkey Beach.

The main symbol of Phi Phi Don is the two high mountains nicknamed by locals 'the twins'. Their slopes are overgrown with bamboo forests in which swifts live, the eggs of which are used in the preparation of local dishes. Gathering these eggs is not easy. The height of the trees which have nests at the top can reach seven metres. A stroll through the forests is a unique experience and promises unforgettable views. Because these places can be treacherous and it's easy to get lost, local institutions recommend hiring a guide.

In the north-east is a famous cave with walls covered in ancient drawings by its former inhabitants. Unfortunately it's only possible to see the cave from the outside, since it's still regarded as a sacred place. At its centre there is a huge stalagmite, beneath which the inhabitants of the islands make sacrifices of coconut milk.

An underwater cave situated next to Wang Long Bay was created for amateur divers and dazzles visitors with the richness of its flora and fauna. 19 metres beneath the water there is a long tunnel through which one can reach the main room of the cave.

On the islands there is also the largest maritime nature park, visited every year by thousands of tourists. In the museum of sea gypsies, one can learn the history of a great tribe of people who, for thousands of years, have been migrating from island to island. Specialists estimate the population of this nation at about 40,000 people. They spend most of their time in the sea, where they catch fish and turtles, and on the land they cultivate rice.

Those who prefer natural views should watch the sunset. It's best to observe it from a viewpoint terrace which can be reached via a staircase that is about 200 metres long, from which one can see a beautiful view of the charming forests and sea. 

Tags: Thailand