Picture: Beautiful Phi Phi Island
Location: Phuket, Thailand
The Phi Phi Islands (Thai: หมู่เกาะพีพี) are located in Thailand, between the large island of Phuket and the western Andaman Sea coast of the mainland. Phi Phi Don, the larger and principal of the two Phi Phi islands, is located at 7°44′00″N 98°46′00″E. Both Phi Phi Don, and Phi Phi Leh, the smaller, are administratively part of Krabi province, most of which is on the mainland, and is located at 8°02′30″N 98°48′39″E.
Ko Phi Phi Don ("ko" (Thai: เกาะ) meaning "island" in the Thai language) is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants, although the beaches of the second largest island, Ko Phi Phi Lee (or "Ko Phi Phi Leh"), are visited by many people as well. There are no accommodation facilities on this island, but it is just a short boat ride from Ko Phi Phi Don. The rest of the islands in the group, including Bida Nok, Bida Noi, and Bamboo Island, are not much more than large limestone rocks jutting out of the sea.
Phi Phi Don was initially populated by Muslim fishermen during the late 1940s, and later became a coconut plantation. The Thai population of Phi Phi Don remains more than 80% Muslim.But the actual population if counting laborers, especially from the north-east, from the mainland is much more Buddhist these days.
Ko Phi Phi Leh was the backdrop for the 2000 movie The Beach. Phi Phi Leh also houses the ‘Viking Cave’, from which there is a thriving bird’s nest soup industry. There was criticism during filming of ‘The Beach’ that the permission granted to the film company to physically alter the environment inside Phi Phi Islands National Park was illegal.  The controversy cooled down however, when it was discovered that the producers had done such a decent job of restoring the place that it finally looked better than it had done before.
Following the release of The Beach, tourism on Phi Phi Don increased dramatically, and with it the population of the island. Many buildings were constructed without planning permission.
Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island’s infrastructure was wiped out. Redevelopment has, however, been swift, and services like electricity, water, Internet access and ATMs are up and running again, but waste handling has been slower to come back online.
From archaeological discoveries, it is believed that the area was one of the oldest communities in Thailand dating back to the prehistoric period. It is believed that this province may have taken its name after the meaning of Krabi, which means sword. This may have stemmed from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.
The name Phi Phi (pronounced ‘pee pee’) originates from Malay, the original name for the islands were ‘Pulao Pi ah Pi. The name refers to the mangrove wood found there. They were incorporated into the national park in 1983.
Ko Phi Phi is considered to be one of the most naturally beautiful islands in the world (in fact, there are six islands in Phi Phi). They lie 50km south-east of Phuket and are part of Hadnopparattara-Koh Phi Phi National Park which is home to an abundance of corals and amazing marine life. There are limestone mountains with cliffs, caves and long white sandy beaches. The national park covers a total area of 242,437 Rai. Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le are the largest and most well-known islands. Phi Phi Don is 28 sqm: 8 meters in length and 3.5 meters wide. Phi Phi Le is 6.6 sqm
Koh Phi Phi comprises 6 islands, 2 of them main – Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Le. On Koh Phi Phi there are 2 villages and under administration of Ao Nang sub-district, Muang district, Krabi Province. The islands are surrounded by the Andaman Sea.
Weather in the region is tropical – there are only two seasons: the hot season from January to April, and the rainy season from May to December. Temperatures during the year average 25°C to 32°C (77°F to 89.6°F) and the yearly rainfall averages 2568.5mm. The rain in this region comes down heavily over short periods.
Diving & Snorkeling Ko Phi Phi is a popular place in Thailand for diving and snorkeling. There are plenty of excellent sites with crystal clear water and colourful coral. There are dozens of places on the island organizing trips. There are numerous operators and dive shops open on Koh Phi Phi catering too all levels of divers. The area is well-known for its coral and one of the most favoured dive and snorkeling destinations in Thailand.
Kayaking Many tourists use a kayak to see the natural environs and the island’s impressive features.
Cliff Jumping Cliff jumping is fairly new to Tonsai Bay. There are cliffs from 6 to 16m that are ideal for cliff jumping due to the depth of water below.
Bird Watching Many rare birds are to be seen there: Gurneys, Finfoots, Bigwinged Brown Kingfishers, Egrets, Bitterns, Herons and more.
Sailing & Cruising Krabi has plenty of anchorages, usually deserted and all so pretty.
Fishing Fishers can catch the likes of marlin, sailfish barracuda and tuna.
Spa Spa service is available at the top hotels and resorts.
Events and Festivals
Krabi Boek Fa Andaman Festival (งานกระบี่เบิกฟ้าอันดามัน) This is annually held in November to inaugurate the province’s tourist season. Water sports competitions, cultural shows, and good-natured fun are the schedule.
Laanta Lanta Festival (เทศกาลลานตา ลันตา) The festival is usually held in March every year at the Old Community in Ko Lanta called Ban Sanga-Au, which has a very old history of more than 100 years. Ancient Chinese style houses can still be seen here. In this festival, tourists can see the traditional culture, previously unseen ceremonial demonstrations, Southern local performances, folk games, water sports competitions and enjoy the tastes from various kinds of food booths which are provided by prestigious hotels on the island.
Sat Duean Sip Festival or Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month (งานประเพณีสารทเดือนสิบ) This is the southern traditional merit making occasion to honour one’s ancestors. Food offerings such as Khanom La, Khanom Chohu, Khanom Phong, Khanom Ba, and Khanom Kong or Khai Pla, are made offer to Buddhist monks.
Chak Phra Festival (งานประเพณีชักพระ) The original waterborne procession, where Buddha images are put on elaborately decorated pulpits on boats are pulled along on the river, has been replaced by a land procession. The festival was formerly accompanied with a performance of traditional boat songs. However, the traditional waterborne songs have since disappeared.
Loi Ruea Chao Le Festival (ประเพณีลอยเรือชาวเล) This old ritualistic tradition takes place on Ko Lanta during the full moon of the sixth and eleventh month in the lunar calendar. This is a religious rite performed by the sea gypsies of Ko Lanta, as well as, from other neighbouring areas, who gather on the beach near Sala Dan Village. They dance their famous "rong ngeng" round the boats of misfortune to be set adrift. Ceremonies feature singing and dancing. This festival is expected to bring prosperity and happiness to the participants.
In general, Southern Thai food is renowned for its spiciness. Much of the cuisine has its origins in Malay, Indonesian and Indian food. Favourite dishes from the south include Indian-style Muslim curry (massaman), rice noodles in fish curry sauce (Khanom Jeen) and chicken birayani.
As for Ko Phi Phi, reasonable priced and tasty seafood is obviously what most tourists long for when visiting a coastal province like Krabi. In this connection, the wing shell (หอยชักตีน) is the province’s famous cuisine. In addition, stirred fried Spotted Babylon (หอยหวาน), which is found in mangrove forests, with chilies and basil is also famous. This cuisine is common in Ko Phi Phi’s restaurants. Another great provincial taste is seafood.
On 26 December 2004, much of the inhabited part of Phi Phi Don was devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami. The island’s main village, Ton Sai (Banyan Tree, Thai: ต้นไทร), is mainly built on a sandy isthmus between the island’s two long, tall limestone ridges. On both sides of Ton Sai are semicircular bays lined with beaches. The isthmus rises to less than two metres (six feet) above sea level.
Shortly after 10 am on the morning of 26 December, the water from both bays receded. When the tsunami hit, at 10.37 am, it did so from both bays, and met in the middle of the isthmus. The wave that came into Ton Sai Bay was 3 metres (10 ft) high. The wave that came into Loh Dalum Bay was 6.5 metres (18 ft) high. The force of the larger wave from Loh Dalum Bay pushed de tsunami also breached low-lying areas in the limestone karsts, passing from Laa Naa Bay to Bakhao Bay, and at Laem Thong (Sea Gypsy Village), where 11 people died. Apart from these breaches, the eastern side of the island experienced only flooding and strong currents.
At the time of the tsunami, the island had an estimated 10,000 occupants, including tourists.
Source from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phi_Phi_Islands
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