Thailand | Mukandaman Phi Phi Islands Tour

For a lot of people, the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Thailand, is The Beach - as in Leo DiCaprio, secluded secret island and that soundtrack. The movie was filmed on Koh Phi Phi, a group of Thai islands, and naturally everybody hopes to visit The Beach when they're travelling in the area. Myself included.

After Koh Lanta, we headed back to the mainland by ferry - to Ao Nang, in the Krabi district. Here we checked out a few travel agents and ended up booking the Mukandaman Phi Phi Islands Tour - we didn't have time to stay on Phi Phi so had to pack it all into one day. There isn't much to do on Maya Bay (the beach) itself, so the day trip includes various stops around the Phi Phi islands, with snorkeling opportunities, drinking water, snacks and a buffet lunch. Pick up and drop off at our hotel was included too. I actually can't remember what we paid but I want to say about 1500THB each?  

We were collected from our hotel in the morning and driven to the pier. There was a bit of waiting around while they got everyone together and prepared the speed boat. Of course there's lots of different companies organising various day trips at the same time so you can imagine this takes a while! Somehow we bagged a space out on the deck and could soak up the rays and admire the views while we sped across the choppy water. 

Our first stop was Bamboo island. To be honest, we didn't take the time to appreciate this stop. We did admire the beautiful beach and dip our toes in the water but my bladder and my rumbling stomach had other priorities! By the time we'd found the toilets and grabbed some chicken fried rice from a little beach hut, there wasn't time for much else.

Up next was my favourite stop of the trip - the lagoon! We sailed in between these huge limestone cliffs towering above us on the turquouise water. It was picture perfect, and our guide made the most of it, volunteering to snap photos of us all individually with this incredible background.

Again the lagoon was busy - there's just so many tours - but we moored up and had the chance to jump off the boat and swim! Honestly this was just such a surreal experience, I loved every minute.

Back on board, we sailed towards Maya Bay, passing a Viking cave along the way! Our guide was really upbeat and fun, making sure to tell us all about the history and culture of the islands.

Just to give a bit of background, Maya Bay is not what you'd expect. It's part of a national park which charges 400THB for entry to help maintain it's fragile eco system. The Beach resulted in an influx of mass tourism to the small bay, and the amount of speed boats mooring up in the area has damaged the coral, not to mention the rubbish left behind by thoughtless visitors.

I'd read up on it before we left for Thailand so I knew what to expect. You won't find that peaceful paradise portrayed in the movie, what you'll find is chaos. People everywhere fighting to get the best selfie or capture the limestone cliffs, crystal blue sea and an empty beach. No mean feat when the beach is literally swarming with people!

Nobody is really doing anything other than take photos. We found a little bench and sat back and people watched for quite a while. Then suddenly, a few speedboats left taking a good chunk of the visiting population with them... We got lucky and managed to get a couple of the shots all those people had been aiming for!

You can see why they picked the location for filming! I've heard if you hire a longtail boat early in the morning, or later on when most of the tours have moved on, you'll have a much better chance of having The Beach to yourself.

Our final destination (via a snorkelling stop where I discovered I'm hopeless at breathing underwater!) was the more built up and commercialised part of Phi Phi Leh. We had lunch at a "restaurant" and some free time, so enjoyed a stroll along the pier and ate some Thai pancakes with banana and Nutella. After a quick pit stop at Monkey Bay we were whisked back to Ao Nang in time for tea. It was an incredible day of island hopping and an experience I'll never forget.

My only negative from this tour was the food. It was served in this huge buffet hall which was clearly used by a lot of boat tours. We'd had amazing buffet lunches on trips in Chiang Mai but this one was poor. It's the only meal of our entire trip that I didn't enjoy. That night we got seriously sick and while I can't say for sure that the buffet was the cause, I'd definitely advise you find somewhere else to eat!

While there are better ways to explore the islands, if you're short on time I'd highly recommend the Mukandaman Phi Phi Islands tour, just skip the included lunch!



  1. Wow the water is so clear! Really lovely to read about this trip on Phi Phi Islands. I love The Beach. I really want to explore Thailand next year so bookmarking this for the future.

    1. Thanks for your comment Mellissa, I'd love to read about your adventures when you make it to Thailand!

  2. Your photos are lovely! It's somewhere I've always wanted to visit, but it's such a shame about the number of tourists visiting, especially with it causing so much damage to the area too!
    xo April | April Everyday

  3. Ok, i think I need to watch The Beach now, its one of those films I've always meant to see but never got around to it. That picture of the cliffs is just stunning, what an amazing part of your trip and how lucky to get some time to yourself without a load of tourists!