How to do Koh Phi Phi on a budget

As everyone knows, Koh Phi Phi is one of the more expensive Thai islands to visit. Despite that, there are hoards of budget travellers and backpackers who flock to Phi Phi’s shores every day. And yes, it can be done on a budget, so here in this blog, I will talk how to do Koh Phi Phi on a budget…

When to go?

If you want to do it cheaply, you have to go off season and during rainy months to save pennies. Basically, avoid high season times and that is during Christmas, New Year’s, all of January well into March and during Songkran festivities and busy Thai bank holiday weekends. Best rates on accommodation are during the monsoon season so anytime after Songkran to October.

When to book accommodation?

Ok, you either book accommodation months in advance so you get a great choice and far cheaper rates than let’s say two days before. Or you book it when you get there at the pier. Booking in advance gives you the chance to choose where you want to be and those rates won’t get any cheaper so if you are 100% sure that you’re going to Koh Phi Phi, book your accommodation as soon as possible. If you don’t care where you’ll be staying and you just want a cheap bed, get to Koh Phi Phi and you’ll see rooms advertised on the pier from as little as 200 bahts per night.

Where to eat?

Generally speaking, Koh Phi Phi’s food is by around 30 or 40% more expensive than on the mainland. Even 7/11 is more expensive by as much as 100%. Here, the normal big water can be as much as 70 bahts. So expect to spend a little but more on food than you normally would in the mainland Thailand. Usually the further away you venture from the centre, the cheaper the food. If you walk towards the viewpoint, you should see a little shanty town where the locals live. Last time I went, there were street stalls selling really affordable Thai meals and that’s where I dined.

Where to drink?

Nearly everyone who comes to this island drinks and parties all night long. But soon, you’ll realise that drinks, especially in the beach bars, cost the same as in the Western countries. But if you’re clever enough and on a tight budget, you would get your buckets from street alcohol vendors where you can get pretty much anything alcohol from around 100 bahts. Of course, these buckets aren’t allowed inside the bars, but when it gets late and the beach is packed with revellers, just take it in. No one will notice. And before that, you can drink on the beach and still hear the music. You’ll see the locals and other backpackers do it this way, so you won’t be alone.

Where to shop?

All around Tonsai Village you’ll see stalls selling everything and anything from Thailand wallets to dildos. But those trinkets and souvenirs are expensive on the island. I would personally suggest waiting until you get to the mainland and buy your things there. In terms of fashion, I found Koh Phi Phi’s fashion really tacky so didn’t get anything. But you can still get some typical backpackery things.

Things to do on a budget?

The beaches, the jungles or partying are free. But if you want to do some of the island tours I would suggest to shop around. For example, if you want to go to Maya Bay, you can find that some of the tourist agents do it for 800 bahts. But if you walk away from the main pier, you might find exactly the same tour for 300 bahts less. So my advice to you is to shop around and find the cheapest deals possible.

TIP: When you go on those boat tours to places like Bamboo Island or Maya Bay, you will have to pay the national reserve entry fees which are most often steep. If you don’t leave your long tail boat you don;t have to pay but then again, you can’t really swim.

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