(Photo by Livia
Ko Phi Phi (pronounced Ko Pee Pee) is
famous for its spectacular limestone cliff scenery and white
sandy beaches, both of which will be remembered for a long time
after any visit here. It is also well-documented that the movie
"The Beach", starring Leonardo Di Caprio was partly
filmed on Ko Phi Phi. The island also has a degree of infamy
now, due to the devastation it suffered from the tsunami of
26th December 2004. However, it seems that things are pretty
much back to normal here and despite the fact that large numbers
of tourists come here it is still a very beautiful place indeed.
There are some really luxurious places to stay here which can
make Ko Phi Phi an excellent place to relax and recover from
forest bird watching which can be quite tiring at times.Before
the tsunami, development had made some parts of Ko Phi Phi Don
quite grubby. One can only hope that redevelopment might have
taken place in a manner which better blends into the beautiful
islands are not known for their birds, but there are certainly
species worth making the trip for. Ko Phi Phi is the only
reliable place to see Frigatebirds in Thailand and they can
provide a spectacle that won't be forgotten quickly. Other
seabirds reguarly seen here are Black-naped Tern, White-bellied
Sea Eagle and Bridled Tern and it would be worth keeping an
eye out for Sheawaters, Petrels and Tropicbirds which have
occasionally been reported.
themselves hold some birds of interest with Pied Imperial
Pigeon being one of the most attractive, but Black-nest Swiftlet
is here too, which can be tricky to confidently identify.
Nicobar Pigeon should be present on these islands but I have
never heard of a report so perhaps they have been wiped out.
(Photo by Vincent
van der Spek)
here for a checklist of the birds of Ko
Tours : Check the suggested itineraries for
ideas on creating a tailor-made birdwatching trip to Thailand:
to Ko Phi Phi is a simple affair due to the thriving tourist
industry there. There are many travel agents that sell tickets
for the boats that go a couple of times a day from Krabi with
prices the same whichever company you choose; around 400baht
return. For those that have money and like to travel in style
speedboats can be chartered, again via travel agents, for
something like 8000 baht.
to Krabi it depends where you are coming from on which mode
of transport you will use. If coming from Bangkok by bus I
would recommend taking one to Surat Thani from the Southern
bus terminal and then taking an air conditioned mini bus to
Krabi. Avoid a bus going to Krabi via the West coast and Phuket
as the terrain is steep and the roads small, making for a
lengthy journey. There are also regular buses from Hat Yai
if arriving from Malaysia.
is possible to travel from Bangkok to Surat Thani by train
and then again taking a mini bus.
most convenient, but most expensive, method of arrival is
by plane. Krabi has a small airport about 10 kilometres from
the town, and there are daily flights from Bangkok for about
3000 baht return.
is also possible to arrive here from Phuket and similarly there
are numerous travel agencies prepared to arrange this for similar
prices to those from Krabi. The same conditions to bus travel to
and from Krabi apply to Phuket (avoid buses that go along the western
coast; this will include virtually all buses direct to and from
Bangkok, instead go via Surat Thani). Phuket airport is an international
airport so flights to and from many countries can arranged.
people do not come to Ko Phi Phi for birdwatching, but the
islands have the potential for a good number of species as
there is still a lot of intact and fairly undisturbed forest
here. However, most birders are here to see Frigatebirds,
and these are easy to find near the two sea stacks beyond
Ko Phi Phi Ley: Ko Pida Nork and Ko Pida Nai. Frigatebirds
and the other seabirds that can beseen in this region are
best observed by hiring a long-tailed boat and driver for
Swiftlet exists here and seems to outnumber Germain's Swiftlet,
if not displace it altogether. I saw plenty of Black-nests
in the small bay protected by Ko Samah on Ko Phi Phi Ley.
Look out for breeding Blue Rock Thrush too.
(Photo by Trevor Hardaker)
Viewpoint trails on Phi Phi Don
: As far as I know
no birders have walked along these trails to see what is present
here. Presumably there should be a reasonable number of birds
as the forest is quite intact and there is the possibility
of finding something interesting, maybe Nicobar Pigeon? Given
the number of migratory species that occur on other offshore
islands in the region the potential for forest species along
these trails is high.
Samah : This tiny bay
contained a number of birds when I was there at around 5 pm
after all the other tourists had gone home. Black-nest Swiftlet
was very obvious here and a few Blue Rock Thrushes were flitting
from rock to rock. Collared Kingfisher was also present and
a number of Pied Imperial Pigeons were easily seen coming
in to roost on Ko Samah itself.
from anything else this is a very pretty little spot, all
the more so when one does not have to share it with lots of
others, presumably it gets quite busy earlier in the day.
Pida (Nork & Nai) :
This area is an absolute must for bird watchers and is a well-documented
hotspot for Frigatebirds. Lesser Frigatebird is seen by nearly
all who take the trip in the winter months, but Christmas
Island Frigatebird is also often encountered. Some people
claim Great Frigatebird here too, but this can be extremely
difficult to seperate from Christmas Island with confidence;
make sure you don't jump to conclusions! I was taken here
by a boatman who was very familiar with the habits of these
birds and found a flock of well over 1000 birds way to the
West of these islands shortly before dusk. This was an extremely
memorable trip, read an account of it here: Ko
Phi Phi trip Report.
boatman at Ton Sai pier by asking them if they know Nok Jon
Sa-Lat (this is Thai for Frigatebird) or click to see this
in Thai script to print and show the boatmen: Frigatebird
Thai Script. I was charged only 600 baht for
this trip and the boatman was not concerned about how long
we stayed out for.
a well-visited tourist destination Ko Phi Phi has no end of
facilities from cheap backpackers' hostels to swanky beachfront
chalets. A wide range of food is available to cater to tourists'
needs and internet cafes allow one to catch up with friends
is an ideal place to relax and perhaps recover from the rigours
of hot and sweaty jungle birding; I enjoy a trip here after
slogging around the leech infested Khao Sok National Park
before moving on to Khao Nor Chu Chi. It
would be pointless for me to try and recommend anywhere to
stay or eat as just about everything was destroyed by the
tsunami of 26th December 2004, but I'm sure the whole place
will be operational and receiving visitors as usual by now,
but prices for accomodation are higher here than other parts
of Thailand. Before the tsunami there were some very luxurious
resorts here and I'm sure they have been reconstructed by
now, so why not treat yourself to one of these? Ko
Phi Phi Hotel Reservations.
(Photo by Peter
addition there are numerous places that operate diving and snorkelling
tours and I understand that the quality of the underwater life here
of places here trade in second hand books in case you've run out
of reading material, unfortunately the prices favour the seller
rather than the buyer.
This is a National
Park so one is supposed to pay the 400
baht entrance fee, but I do not remember being asked
to pay this.
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Southern Thailand Birding Locations
Wilczur's Bird Art: Gurney's Pitta, Banded Pitta & Rufous-collared
Islands and Beaches