Ko Phi Phi "Top Tips"

The insiders' guide to Ko Phi Phi: ten tips to make the most of your stay

Sunrise over Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh islands1. Visit Maya Bay in the afternoon From 9.30am until past lunch the beautiful bay used in the film "The Beach" is completely clogged with tour and dive boats, which can be a frustrating experience. If you are staying on the island, take a longtail boat out there for a couple of hours around 4pm. The place will be deserted and you can enjoy Maya's splendour properly.

2. Don't ask for a tsunami discount It's bad taste; it's selfish; it's horribly thoughtless, yet it has been done. You will endear yourself better to local people and make more friends if you are happy to pay the going rates on the island. (Haggling over the price of souvenirs is of course acceptable and expected behaviour; we are talking about boat prices and hotel rooms.)

3. Fly to Phi Phi It's an amazing ride over the islands of Phang Nga Bay, you don't get seasick, plus it's very, very cool! Available from Phuket only, price from 7000 Baht per person one way. See getting here page for more info.

4. Watch your bucket! If you've never drunk Sangsom before, be aware that this local Thai rum used in the famous Phi Phi 'buckets' tends to have a delayed action - but its final kick is as lethal as a Thai boxer's. Be very careful, or you may well end up passing out in the sand, or worse.

5. Best time to visit the viewpoint It's hot work getting up there, so try to get an early start, or go late in the afternoon, just before sunset. There's a minimart at the top, so there's no need to carry vast quantities of water or food with you.

Lao Bileh lagoon on Phi Phi Leh island6. Head north If the parties and crowds of Ton Sai are not for you, don't give up on Phi Phi! There are many faces to this beautiful island, and the blindingly white northern beaches are home to several more civilised, upmarket resorts, where you will find peace, quiet and perfectly mixed martinis.

7. Chill out on Runtee Bay Similarly, for a taste of the old-style backpacker Phi Phi, head over to Rantee Bay (either by boat, or by continuing on the viewpoint path). Bamboo huts, hammocks and a very laidback vibe will make you feel like you're on a different island to Ton Sai.

8. Remember where you are The majority of Phi Phi's Thai residents (as opposed to the long-haired, tattooed boys that come to work there) are Muslim. They of course tolerate western holiday behaviour - that's how they earn their living! - but would be much happier if their kids didn't have to see topless women or drunk guys being sick on their way to school. While Phi Phi is basically a holiday place, and much more liberal than the mainland, basic respect for local people will go a long way towards island harmony.

Afternoon game of voleyball on Lodalum Bay9. Discover the joys of volleyball Never played before? Doesn't matter. Head down to Lohdalum Bay around 5pm and you can join in one of the many informal games of beach volleyball that take place every day. There's a good mix of visitors and locals and it's a fun way to pass an hour.

10. Dive in If you leave Phi Phi without putting at least your head under the water, you will be a poorer man (or woman). Snorkelling or scuba diving is a must here: the abundance of coral reefs in local waters make for a seascape that's just as fascinating as the crazy rocks and colours above the surface. Enquire in any of the dive centre about courses; or go on a snorkelling trip with a longtail boat.

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