Phi Phi Islands Sunrise Tour & Why You Should Do It

Woman in Maya Bay throwing peace signs

Let me start by saying that Maya Bay was the whole reason I fell in love with Thailand, so a Phi Phi Islands day trip was a must do. I am not ashamed to admit that watching Leonardo DiCaprio go absolutely batshit crazy on an island in “The Beach” was the reason I found out how beautiful Thailand is. And because of that movie I learned about Maya Bay as it inspired the actual beach from the film. So, after booking my trip to Thailand, I knew I had to visit this amazing bay and the islands it’s found within. But what I didn’t know was just how much I was going to love the sunrise tour to the Phi Phi Islands, and how much I would rave about it forever.

Related: 6 Day Phuket Itinerary

Phi Phi Islands Sunrise Tour Overview

There are many tours to choose from and all of them will be a SUPER early start time, and though that will be temporary pain the unforgettable memories you’ll make experiencing this magical place far outweigh some sleepiness.

Early Pickup

Pay attention to what tour you book and make sure they provide pickup for your sunrise tour of the Phi Phi Islands. You want to make sure you aren’t having to get a ride at 4am, so double check before you book.

Since we were staying on Phuket, it was pretty easy to find a tour that included hotel pickup.

Still need somewhere to stay and looking at Phuket for a portion of your Thailand trip? There are tons of amazing hotel options! We stayed at the Thavorn Beach Village Resort and Spa, which was incredible and I do highly recommend.

Sunrise Ride to the Phi Phi Islands

For our day at the Phi Phi Islands (Koh Phi Phi), the day began at 4:30am. We were so excited that it wasn’t hard at all to wake up, but we also took it easy the day before and saved ourselves from a hangover. Let me just say, our day was incredible. The boat was covered (thank goodness, because we were sunburnt) and we watched the sun rise behind the scattered islands on the ~45 minute trip out to Maya Bay, which was stop 1.

On this ride, I truly felt like a child. My husband and I are from the midwest in the USA so you just don’t see this kind of beauty every day (don’t get mad, St. Louis Arch, you’re still pretty too). I’m decently well traveled, and this scenery and beauty, I have truly just never seen. I was stunned and I can’t believe I was lucky enough to view it.

Related: 5 Must-Bring Items for Your Trip to Phuket

Maya Bay

Our first stop of the day was Maya Bay, where we explored the beach area and wandered around to see the famous Cupcake Island.

Important note: I visited Maya Bay before it closed for years for a restoration project, and was able to enter the water far more than you can today.

Pi Leh Lagoon

From there, we hopped back on the boat and headed to Pi Leh Lagoon.

Pi Leh Lagoon shocked me. The water was SO teal, and it was this beautiful, secluded area. This may have ended up being the most beautiful bit of Thailand we saw in general. But we dropped anchor for a bit, and jumped off the boat to swim in the perfect teal waters. Seriously, I won’t get over the teal waters and you cannot make me.

Related: 8 Southeast Asia Tips for First Timers


Next stop was to snorkel. We got to spend a good amount of time here, and it was a really, really great snorkel spot. Our guides had lots of food to bring the fish around, and they took their underwater camera into the area to snag lots of amazing photos.

After snorkeling for a good amount of time, we enjoyed a delicious lunch.


Monkey Beach

From there, we swung by Monkey Beach where our captain threw bananas at monkeys. They were hilarious, and mean. I mean, they’re wild monkeys. They didn’t want us there at all but let us watch them from the safety of the boat because we had bananas. They also did a wicked doggy paddle and I, for one, was impressed.

I have seen some people get out their boats and get in the water, but our tour guides said this was a bad idea and didn’t let us. Based on how angry the monkeys appeared in general, I’d say this was the safest bet.

Check out my Amazon Beach Trip List for lots of cute beach gear needed for your sunrise trip to the Phi Phi Islands

Bamboo Island

Next, we went and hung out on Bamboo Island (Koh Phi Phi Don), enjoying beach time and relaxation after a busy day. We had free time to do as we wished, which was delightful after the somewhat strict day so far.


Pro Tips for Sunrise Tour of the Phi Phi Islands

  • Do yourself a favor and get up the extra 2 hours early and do the sunrise tour. We were able to beat a lot of boat traffic and sort of go the opposite direction of most tours by doing the sunrise tour. Our guides were phenomenal, and the tour was extremely well organized.
  • As a reminder, you can’t actually go that far into the water in Maya Bay anymore due to the country’s rehabilitation efforts. Don’t push your luck, and make sure to follow the rules there.
  • Pay attention on the trip out to the islands. You’re tired, I get it, but there’s nothing quite like watching a pink sunrise behind all of these incredible islands sprinkled throughout the Andaman Sea.
  • This seems obvious, but please for the love of whatever god, spirit, or otherwise thing you believe in, get some WATERPROOF sunscreen. We got burned (literally) by the first sunscreen we bought because it wasn’t waterproof. Why sunscreen that isn’t waterproof even exists is beyond me, but it does and just please double check yours.
  • Befriend your tour guide. He paid extra attention to us – which came very in handy for photos – because we were super nice to him all day.
  • Buy the photos. Unless you’re really in a pinch, it’ll be nice to have them all. They know things to pay attention to that a tourist just won’t.
  • Eat all the food. Seriously Thai food is amazing and I miss it so much.

So there you go, everything you need to know about booking your sunrise tour to the Phi Phi Islands. As always, reach out if you have any questions!

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