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Still shade to be found on Phi Phi, off Phuket, but not for long

Phi Phi Won't Escape Crackdown

Saturday, August 23, 2014
PHUKET: Army officers visited Phi Phi this week to post notices warning of a coming crackdown on the hedonistic rites-of-passage destination.

Fire show performers are among the first to be burned, having been told to stop. Sunbeds and umbrellas still survive, if only briefly.

The Mayor of Krabi's Ao Nang district, Pankum Kittithonkul, who oversees Phi Phi, told Phuketwan that a crackdown was coming on Phi Phi, where precious space on the island's narrow roads had been commandeered by street vendors.

''Enforcement on Phi Phi is difficult because the police seldom act,'' he said. ''They are influenced by bar owners and other businesses.''

More than 1000 day-trippers usually visited the island each day of the week and left Phi Phi with little to show for it, he said. Most of the day-trippers come from Phuket and it is Phuket that benefits from the money they spend, he said.

''We would like to change the rules to make it compulsory for anyone who visits Phi Phi to spend at least one night in Krabi before being allowed to go there,'' Khun Pankum said.

Garbage and bad water continue to be among the small island's many environmental problems. Visitors now arrive on the iconic island to find a shopping mall being erected near the pier.

Tourists are charged 20 baht on arrival but the money barely covers half the six-million-baht annual cost of removing Phi Phi's garbage, Khun Pankum said.

The island, once remote and beautiful, now has 2000 rooms and hundreds of businesses, which Khun Pankum says is too much.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


''They are influenced by bar owners and other businesses.''
How many times have we read that?

Posted by Pete on August 23, 2014 09:57


Last time when I was on PhiPhi 2 weeks ago Loh Dalum bay beach was as usually covered w/sunbeds 150THb/bed, and for arithmetically challenged people it was even precalculated "1 person 150THB, 2 persons 300THB". However I noticed that only 2 sunbeds were hired during whole day.

Most of folks got under trees, some embraced unobstructed sunshine, and most get soaked in the bay.

So it means anyway there was a little interest in sunbeds.

Another change I want for Phi Phi, that there would be at least one place where they serve seafood on ice for lunch, as now it is limited only for dinner, but probably it is not a kind change the Army should be burdened with.

Posted by Sue on August 23, 2014 10:23


I first went to Phi Phi in 1985 and it was simply a paradise. Crystal clear waters and an unspoilt island that was pristine in its beauty.

About 6 years ago I returned and I was shocked. Dirty diesel polluted water and rampant building had destroyed the place. It was soul destroying to see how bad it was.

Where the boats now anchor used to be an empty bay with the clearest water and whitest sand I'd seen. Gone forever now.

Posted by Arun Muruga on August 23, 2014 10:37


@ Arun Muruga - you're so right. It (the water in particular) was extraordinarily clear and beautiful. Though the villagers weren't friendly like people on Phuket more generally (though probably can't blame them - faced with a slow but steady invasion) Haven't been there since 1984 and don't think I could bear to see the contemporary horror.

Posted by Kaen Phet on August 23, 2014 12:02


I love the idea of being forced to spend a night in Krabi before being allowed on to PhiPhi - I can just see the growth of a new industry in Phuket: PhiPhi People Smuggling - for a few thousand baht the speedboats will smuggle you over dodging the inspectors who will want to see your hotel receipt ! Hilarious !

Great idea though - especially as Krabi is so much nicer than Phuket, but can't see it working in practice!

Posted by Amazing Thailand on August 23, 2014 13:38


Phi Phi used to be a National Treasure, why not make it a National Park? That's probably as unrealistic a suggestion as Khun Pankum's compulsory overnight stay.

Posted by Alan on August 23, 2014 14:01


The Mayor wants people to stay in Krabi so they would be allowed to go to Phi Phi? That is insane. Its a country not some ones private island.
20 Baht is paid and doesn't cover the cost of removing the 6mb worth of rubbish? Shouldn't this be a TAX on all businesses to pay a premium for their refuse to be collected?

Posted by Tbs on August 23, 2014 14:01


Tourists are charged 20 baht on arrival but the money barely covers half the six-million-baht annual cost of removing Phi Phi's garbage, Khun Pankum said.

Hmm, since this news article says more than 1000 tourists visit Phi-Phi every day, my simple maths tells me that someone seems to be syphoning off about 4.3 million baht every year......

(1000 tourists/day @ 20 baht = 7.3 million baht)

Posted by Simon Luttrell on August 23, 2014 14:28


Entrance permit for Rock islands in Palau costs 50USD(1500THB), valid for 10 days, but entrance fee to jellyfish lake 100USD (3000THB)same ten days, Rock is. inclusive.

Charge Phi {hi Don entrance fee 1500THB, and appearing Phi Phi Lay vicinity 3000THB and issue of big number daytrippers will be solved, subject to honest collection of fees. For those who will stay longer, entrance fee will depreciate over a stay duration and will not look as extraordinary high fee.

Do not think Rock. is./Jellyfish lake are in principle very different to Phi Phis, or that it is so different market.

Posted by Sue on August 24, 2014 01:23


Interesting concept bar owners and businesses dont pay for removal of trade waste they profit from the tourists do! so there not sharing the load and what visitors do pay is syphoned off by the math, the police do little as their influenced by the traders the inference being palms are crossed with silver ,Mr Mayor your island has corrupt influences evident its amazing your position seems impotent likely due to long and deep entrenchment of these corrupt influence's and how frustrated you are by the goings on I hope the army can answer your prayers and return Phi Phi to the place it once was with allowances for progress and evolution best wishes for your future endeavor's.

Posted by slickmelb on August 24, 2014 03:11


Before going to Phi phi finish the job properly in Phuket. The only concern was destroying illegal buildings, nobody seems to stress to clear this tonnes of concreet from the beaches for the high season. Again a good example of poor management.

Posted by Eric on August 24, 2014 07:46


- Sue

Palau is totally different in just about every conceivable way.

First of all there are virtually no cheap flights or charters. No package or mass tourism. All individual travelers.

Secondly the state of Palau has very strict regulations in place to protect the environment which are actively enforced.

Diving is more or less their only tourist draw and places like Blue Corner are said to be among the best, if not THE best dive site in the world.

70 islands are a national park with no public access allowed. Even on the other islands onshore access is limited to a few select beaches to protect the environment.

Koror and especially Babelthuap are many times larger than Phi-Phi. Peleliu is about the same size but it is a sleepy, small community of about 800 people which makes Phi-Phi look like New York in comparison.

You usually make informed comments but this one makes me wonder if you've ever even been to Palau.

Posted by ThaiMike on August 24, 2014 08:11



Yes, I've been personally on Palau... Some of my avatars have been made there..

Although I can dive , I am not huge fun of diving as it is in general of too much hassle: a process takes too much time and preparational efforts ; as well I often become bored fast with what I see there, so in most cases not deep diving sites are enough good for snorkeling too, and, then, snorkeling is an activity easier to manage to 10 minutes or two hours as per minutiae decision.

But my visit to Palau was not motivated neither by diving opportunities, which surely is a very big sector of Palau tourism, but I am not sure still if it is absolutely preponderant one, nor by snorekelng.

My top priority interests are pretty unsophisticated: 1. virgin picturesque swimming beaches 2. nice food, so for Palau that what at first 1).

Cruising on a Sam's Tours speedboat around Rock islands, with snorkeling and picnic lunch stops, is breathtaking experience itself.
On top of swimming at Milky Way, snorkeling to see real really Giant Snails of an age if my grand(X10)grand mother , as well as sight of leopard shark is even more exciting.
Surely swimming and snorkeling in a jelly fish compote in Jelly Fish lake only adds to excitement, and sights of small juvenile jelly fish riding on a back of large adult one like on tram are really amusing.
Site of Survivor filming is not less enjoyable god swimming too, as well as optics around , of The Arch.
On swimming beach on islet at Rock islands at picnic lunch Japanese touristees asks for a joint "V" picture, as it seems for them a pic with a white man seems to be a part of exotics.

But apart Rock island and adjacent attraction, I was so happy with my visit to Badelboab island with an excellent road - to drive a whole island around for, among others:
- Rai stone monolites in Ngarchelong state;
- my dream secluded &picturesque beach near North Beach cottages - for lunch, swim , and yes, water is really shallow , for soaking into and making avatar pic ;)

In term of 2) priority of nice food, Japanese original restaurant Dragon Tei was among the best I ever visited , Tokyo - seating on tatami, and fare so far of westernized Japanese cousine if sushi/sushimi/roll.

To go out , beach bar at Palau Pacific is nice , and serves among other fresh orange press, that is rarity there.

I am jealous to my Singapore friend who on a visit to Palau have eaten fruit bat soup, that I unfortunately have missed.

Back to Phi Phi , much higher access fares to Phi Phi Don, and to Phi Phi Lae, like 1500/3000 THB will surely reduce number of visitors, but definitely will not put them strongly off, as extra charge for a day trip of 2600THB (giving current 400THB nation so patk fee to Maya Bay and Bamboo is.), is appr.equal to price differential with snorkeling trips to Simlan/Koh Tachai/Surin off Phuket, and so many people are booing both day tours to Phi Phi and one or few trips from the said subset - even though logistics off Phuket is soo uncomfortable, especially for Surin day trip.

Posted by Sue on August 24, 2014 17:37


- Sue

I don't believe a word you say. Anybody can research names and stories online but there's only so much you can lift off someone else's travel blog.

Your response is so desperately full of details no traveler could spontaneously remember in an obvious attempt to try to convince you know Palau.

For you to claim "it's not so different market" is a clear sign you've never set a foot on Palau. Alternatively you are both blind and deaf.

Phi-Phi is a heaven for 20 somethings on a backpacking tour across Asia. Nightlife is what they thrive on.

You see none of this in Palau and except for a couple of KTVs around the stadium, there is zero nightlife in Palau.

Your attempt to try to be an expert on everything is ridiculous. The ability to research the net does not make you one.

FYI I used to work at Fish & Fins.

Posted by ThaiMike on August 25, 2014 07:59



What a funny post of you :D

I've been to 70+ states, in most of them with an idea to go to beach, and many of them are of Palau archipelago scale.

Yes, stone monoliths aka on Easter is., they are Badrulchau Stone monilites,in Ngarchelong state, ca.161 A.D., just mixed states names, many of them starts with Ng-.There is a quite a steep entrance from the main road , but my rented Toyota jeep made it.
"Stone faces" kind was as well near the road in Melkeok state.

There are so many people who came from Phillipines for work.
The girl from Sam's tours who picked up me from the hotel, was Phillipino - and to my great surprise - she told she is going to marry soon, and a destination which she wants to go is surprisingly - BVI. In last respect then I could share my experience there.

Then, when my Badelboab was in substance finished , and I was on my way back to a hotel in Koror, with rationed time to check out fast and immediately get to airport, my Toyota stalled, like 15 km from Koror - and it is a place where there is absolutely nothing by road, and my mobile didn't get a roaming on Palau.
Fortunately, some Philipino road workers were driving along a road in a huge road roller, so they picked me up, brought to a first gasoline station already on Koror, where I was able to call hotel,and arrange they come to see me urgently with all my staff, since I don't have time to go to a hotel back. That worked , and I even managed - in a driver seat - to drive 120kph with a bit terrified rent-a-car manager, to a site where a car stopped, to recover a watch I forgot in, and manage to airport for check in.

Obviously working for Fish'n'Fins you got a wrong impression that most of 100k visitors came there for diving or live aboard , but they are not . And that people can drive for a sunset drink to Palau Pacific and then drive for dinner to opposite side of Koror to Dragon Tei.,

After I told about my trip to Palau , in particular the drive around Badelboab is., few of friends repeated that in almost the same fashion, again - no diving , and they very far are not in retirement age, and are seasoned travelers, and were all very happy.

If your idea of good holidays is different , then don't tell that "no sane" people goes to FSM and RMI except for purpose of diving - they do: I've been to Majuro atoll of Marshall island, Kosrae of FSM and Guam;: in Kosrae surprisingly there was even good food, but yes , absolutely zero beaches - still Lelepu ruins and jungle walks, as well as snorkeling still was a nice thing; but RMI was obviously a mistake - as even on remote Laura beach at the tip of Majuro atoll, and where an owner, while charging 2USD per entrance, didn't dare a move at all in his hammock - my driver had to insert money into his palm(so Thailand tuk tuk hammock drivers are still pretty dinamoc ones)- but it was full of garbage, obviously even there in-the-middle-of-nowhere during long time garbage accumulates well from the ocean.

Some goes to PhiPhi to night life of Ton Sai bay, some goes to Phi Phi Village, Holiday Inn and Zeavola.
I just once got into a hotel around TonSai bay ( "Phi Phi island hotel") and then I said -never again-, not because I don't like night life, but because of terrible facilities and even more of service.
I don't go for a night life PhiPhi style and don't drink alcohol buckets.
If I go to Phi Phi then to a beach - Bamboo is. or Monkey Bay, and occasionally for snorkeling g Lh Saman/Pi Lae lagoon.

Most of Phi Phi visitors are day trippers, not those who stays overnight - it is well described in the article , and is the point of it.
Adding 2600THB to a charge of Phi Phi day trip(increase of current 400 THB to 3000 THB) , if incl. Phi Phi Lae, will make the price on par with Surin/Koh Tachai is., so the number of visitor will decrease - and that is good for environment, but probably will generate more money for rangers etc.
And if to put charge for just Phi Phi Don at 1500THB increase of 1480 THB, and that would grant a leave for up to 10 days stay, then for kids who stay there , and who came there mostly from Europe or NA, these extra 50 bucks, actually nothing, especially amortized over the stay.
If number of overnight visitors from cheap end will decrease, again, it be only good things - and part of cheap accommodation options , obviously , have to die - as it serves as a magnet for this sector.
On Phi Phi there are simply too many visitors for this place.

Posted by Sue on August 25, 2014 12:54



Especially for you
my pic , that includes a guide (in the center) on Sam's Tours boat, taken somewhere not far from Milky Way.

My friends always laugh at demographics of patrons at this pic, bit actually another demographics is simply on other side of the boat, expat CEO of Taiwan large semiconductor factory with family, who all time complained that there is no up-to-standard resident real estate in Taiwan available.

The guide claimed to be a lac land told as us owns one islet, not far from The Arch - really photogenic one, in front of which we gladly took some pics.

Palau conservationist efforts are those what is worth to study, in terms of approach . Only one jellyfish lake open to public, among few available etc. Erecting barriers like access fees to Rock is., Jellyfish lake etc.

PhiPhi as an attraction is as much interesting and should deserve comparable conservational approach.

Posted by Sue on August 25, 2014 14:07


@ Sue. Did you know your rants now sound and read like a metal drum being kicked, yes you know the hollow boiing sound. Please limit your comments to ones that make sense and are presentable.
Heed the warning," Empty vessels make the most noise". Thank you.

Posted by Duncan B on August 25, 2014 16:05


@Duncan B.

You may well be of species of those who unable to see behind a tip of his/her nose, and to whom any thinking effort beyond a trivia brings terrible headache as of those grass-root people who finish any day of manual labour with a brain anesthetics of alcohol with a similar result.

I made a case of supporting Khun Pankum efforts by bringing analogy with conservation from Palau.
Someone disagreed, so I put few extra points.

My advice to you, Duncan B., is always learn from other people, especially those with wider life experience than you, and continue do it through whole your life.

My experience of traveling to other (islands) destinations, for sure , incompatibly with your one, is much more extensive. So I therefore I am able to make a competent opinion on a subject by comparing what I saw at those destinations with Thailand and by bringing an analogy from another region, and you, please ,Duncan B., study it, if you are genuinely interested in success of protecting Thailand beaches , and not just one more blah-blah-blah incident, as per your another post of today.

Posted by Sue on August 25, 2014 16:52



I got to a desktop, thus being to make amendments at Gravatar, and for your pleasure updated my avatar back to the one taken in Ngaraard state of Palau at the beach near North Beach cottages. The picture is taken by me an is taken me an dis of me, so anyone using it improperly or claiming rights, sill be sued.
Enjoyed so much strolling along a beach and through a shallow water.

Wish Thailand southern beaches were be so clean and an immediate coastline would look so undeveloped.

Thailand as well has a lot to learn from Palau about marine resources conservation.

Posted by Sue on August 25, 2014 20:37

Editor Comment:

Thai Mike won't like the thought of being sued, Sue.


- Sue

Thank you for making it clear you are indeed both deaf and blind.

I only worked there for a couple of years and lived in the cocoon provided by my employer. Of course I know nothing and certainly not more than tourists.

Instead of addressing the issue of different markets of Phi-Phi and Palau, you decide to copy a travel blog here.

All the smokescreens you try to throw do not distract from the ridiculous statement you made previously.

You obviously also do not have the character strength to admit it either.

These 2 destinations are diabolical opposites in terms of their target market.

Palau has virtually zero cheap flights, accommodation, transportation or food. Nightlife is non-existent. It's in the middle of nowhere and not along any commonly traveled air routes.

The typical backpacker crowd that comes to Phi-Phi is looking for all that.

In addition to these facts, the State of Palau has made it very clear they do NOT want to have backpackers. Thousands of rowdy partygoers like on Phi-Phi would be the worst nightmare for Palauans.

When you talk with local people, they will leave you in no doubt about their support for this policy.

They want quality, not quantity and that's what they get. The market could not possible be more different.

Whatever respect I had for your opinions before are all gone now. To me you are nothing but an armchair quarterback trying to be an expert on everything by using Google.

If anything, you have way too much time on your hands and obviously a large, emotional void in your life.

I will no longer respond to any of your comments and just ignore them, much like some other readers have decided to do.

Posted by ThaiMike on August 27, 2014 10:51



You apparently fail to see that higher entrance fees are intended to transform market:
to bring visitors number DOWN - that the goal , as described by Khun Phankum ;
to change the composition of crowd to exclude cheapies;
to increase revenue for state/municipal coffers.

There is no doubt that today a big part of PhiPhi crowd, around mainly Ton Sai bay, who stay there overnight , are backpackers .
Still there is Phi Phi Village, Holiday Inn, Zeavola, Cabana and so on.

Another , bigger part of crowd are day tripper.

You completely missed the point:
you rise an entrance fee - this changes the market:
500THB/night guests disappear , or come in much smaller numbers, so this segment of accommodation will die/downsize
1000THB day tour will disappear too, there will be fewer visitors, but still enough, even you add 3000THB extra - at 4000THB it is quite on par Surin/Tachai, assuming 1500THB entrance fee for PhiPhiDon or vicinity up to say 10 days, or 3000THB for the whole archipelago .

Night life to some extent will die too, with fewer visitors and fewer backpackers, so more focus on natural beauty - that is a goal.

Nothing is static. You change the price - you change the market. Goal is to bring Phi Phi crowd composition closer to Palau crowd.

In longer perspective some accommodation and other facilities on cheaper will shut down, part will be refurbished for another market segment.

P.S. I don't write travel blogs, quite a few of my travel pics are available to general public, beyond some narrow group of friends on some social networks. So just to warn you one more time - whoever claimed or used my travel pics, will be sued.

Posted by Sue on September 4, 2014 09:52



"National park as a nightlife destination" - it is actually inconceivable how wrong went management of Phi Phi.
It simply attracts wrong visitors - cheapies , for a wrong reason - nightlife , instead of natural beauty - that goes against the ratio of national parks law, it is wrong activity for the national park, and in addition it attracts too many visitors for the islands.

That is why Phi Phi should be transformed back.
Of course,there are available various tools that could facilitate that transformation, i.e.zoning - but this tools acts slowly and can resolve only part of problems listed.

Steep increase of entrance fees is what can bring transformation to Phi Phi fast, nightlife lovers will have to do night life where it belongs - on Phuket is., or in Krabi Town.

There is no need to worry that visitors will disappears at all - part of more affluent overnight visitors is already there, the mentioned hotels makes ca.15% of room stock! with closure of cheaper end and refurbishment , if share of similar rooms will rise to 30% it will be very good, if to 50% , then even better - as everyone of affluent class complain about lack of decent accommodation at Ton Sai bay(and overall on Phi Phi).
Even backpackers will not be exterminated completely - and I read through the lines that you feel a bit pity for such perspective - as 1500THB for PhiPhi Don is absolutely affordable for European /North American/Singaporean backpacker too.

For more affluent visitors - day trippers - if Phi Phi tour prices are priced on par with Surin/Tachai , over even a bit higher - giving much shorter logistics , the choice at least on these grounds, in most cases will be in favour to Phi Phi, assuming that hypothetical customer is indifferent to substance of day trip.
I actually never went to Similan/Tachai or Surin off Phuket, I do this always off Khao Lak.
This April when I went last time to Surin is., it was pick up 7:30 in then morning from Northern Khao Lak to Kuraburi to Surin is.
I wonder what time is a pick up time to Surin is. say off Kata, 6:00?, or may be even earlier .

No need to demonise the idea on the basis that I am misanthropic toward party people - as I'm not: back home in Europe, clubs are open up to 9-10AM, they are much better than anything in Phuket or Pattaya, and I am often there on weekly or even more often basis.

Will compile a letter to Khun Phankum and will send over a weekend , who knows , may be it can bring some input, that will be utilized.

Posted by Sue on September 4, 2014 11:15

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