The Phi Phi Islands are located in Thailand, between the large island of Phuket and the western Strait of Malacca coast of the mainland. The islands are administratively part of Krabi province. Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the most populated island of the group. although the beaches of the second largest island, Ko Phi Phi Lee, are visited by many people as well. 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. The actual population however, if counting laborers, especially from the north-east, from the mainland is much more Buddhist these days. The population is between 2,000 to 3,000 people (2013).The islands came to worldwide prominence when Ko Phi Phi Leh was used as a location for the 2000 British-American film The Beach. This attracted criticism, with claims that the film company had damaged the island's environment, since the producers bulldozed beach areas and planted palm trees to make it look like the book,an accusation the film's makers contest. The film's release was attributed to an increase in tourism to the islands. Phi Phi Leh also houses the 'Viking Cave', from which there is a thriving bird's nest soup industry.Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island's infrastructure was destroyed. As of 2010 most, but not all, of this has been restored.From archaeological discoveries, it is believed that the area was one of the oldest communities in Thailand, dating back to the prehistoric period. It is believed that this province may have taken its name from Krabi, which means sword. This may come from a legend that an ancient sword was unearthed prior to the city’s founding.
The name Phi Phi originates from Malay, the original name for the islands were Pulau Api-Api. The name refers to the Pokok Api-Api, which literary translated as the Fiery Tree which is commonly found throughout the Island. They were incorporated into the national park in 1983.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. Nowadays, however, the place has turned into one of the major destinations for visitors to Krabi. However, it is still significantly less developed than the nearby island of Phuket, or Ko Samui, on Thailand's opposite coast.Ko Phi Phi is a popular place for diving and snorkeling, kayaking and other marine recreational activities.There's no hotels or other type of accommodation on smaller island Ko Phi Phi Lee. The only opportunity to spend the night on island is to take guided tour to Maya Bay and sleep in a tent.