The Phi Phi Islands (Thai: หมู่เกาะพีพี)
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.
The Phi Phi Islands were also the setting for the hide-out of Scaramanga in the James Bond Film 'The Man with the Golden Gun.'
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.
The province of coal mines, Fossil shell beach, towering mountains, beautiful streams, an abundance of islands, palm plantations, sandy beaches, wonderful sea world, Emerald of Andaman, and heavenly Phi Phi Islands.
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.
There are 5 villages on Koh Phi Phi under administration of Ao Nang sub-district, Muang district, Krabi Province.
The villages are:
* Ao Maya
Destination Air offers private chartered seaplane service to and from Ao Nang and Ko Lanta in Krabi and Phuket.
The islands feature beaches and clear water that have had their natural beauty protected by National Park status. Tourism on Ko Phi Phi, like the rest of Krabi province, has exploded only very recently. In the early 1990s only the most adventurous travelers visited the island, staying in only the most basic accommodation. (Wikipedia:VERIFY) Nowadays, however, the place has turned into one of the major destinations for visitors to Krabi. The is still significantly less developed than the nearby island of Phuket, or Ko Samui, on Thailand's opposite coast.
* Phi Phi Leh - The second largest of the Phi Phi Islands is pretty, and pristine, but authorities in charge do not allow visitors to stay overnight, with the exception of limited camping with one company. Besides the beach, other attractions include the Phaya Naak Cave with its prehistoric paintings and edible-nest swiftlets.
* Ton Sai Bay - Phi Phi Don Ao Ton Sai is where most of the tourist activity is centered. The area contains restaurants, bars, hotels, and guesthouses.
* Yao Beach - Phi Phi Don Yao Beach, just south of Ton Sai, offers visitors some scenic views and coral reefs for snorkeling and scuba diving.
* Laem Tong, Phi Phi Don Laem Thong is located at the very north of the island.
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.
Down on the Ton Sai Beach there are lots of bars where visitors can have a drink while swinging in a hammock. Away from the beach there are bars playing the latest techno sounds from the West with an area for dancing. The law states that such bars must finish playing loud music at 2am, however there are some bars who have informal permission to stay open later.
Culture & Life-style
Events and Festivals
* 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.
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.
Medical Health Care
There are some other retirees though, who reside in extremely quiet locations well away from the tourist scene.
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.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the island was evacuated. The Thai government declared the island temporarily closed while a new zoning policy was drawn up. Many transient Thai workers returned to their home towns, and former permanent residents were housed in a refugee camp at Nong Kok in Krabi province.
However, January 6, 2005, a former Dutch resident of Phi Phi, Emiel Kok, set up a voluntary organization, Help International Phi Phi. Hi Phi Phi recruited 68 Thai staff from the refugee camp, as well as transient backpacker volunteers (of whom more than 3,500 offered their assistance), and returned to the island to undertake clearing and rebuilding work. On February 18, 2005, a second organization, Phi Phi Dive Camp, was set up to remove the debris from the bays and coral reef, most of which was in Ton Sai Bay.
By the end of July 2005, 23,000 tonnes of debris had been removed from the island, of which 7,000 tonnes had been cleared by hand. 'We try and do as much as possible by hand,' said Kok, 'that way we can search for passports and indentification.' The majority of buildings that were deemed fit for repair by government surveyors had been repaired, and three hundred businesses had been restored. Hi Phi Phi was nominated for a Time Magazine Heroes of Asia award.
On October 31, 2005, Deputy Prime Minister Pinit Jarusombat proposed an upgrade to the hotels and restaurants on Phi Phi Don, and a limitation to the number of tourists visiting. 'It'll help us preserve its environment,' said Pinit. However, after consultation with residents and land-owners, many of whom opposed the plan, the Bangkok Post reported on February 17, 2006, that the proposals would not affect Phi Phi.
As of 6 December 2005, nearly 1,500 hotel rooms were open, and a tsunami early warning alarm system had been installed by the Thai government, with the help of volunteers.
Landline telephones, mobile phone systems and internet are (ADSL) available. There is a post office in Ton Sai.
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