Phi Phi Islands are a category 4 National Marine Park. The full name of the park is: Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park. Its a world famous National Park with white sand beach and iconic rock formations. The National Park shot to fame after being used as a film set in the late 90’s for ‘The Beach Movie‘.
The National Parks name is a phonetic transliteration from Thai Language. And translates as follows:
‘Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park‘
Noppharat Thara: The Name of The Beach (in Ao Nang)
Mu: Group of (Islands)
Phi Phi: The Name of The Islands
The Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park is a marine park with the headquarters located on Noppharat Thara Beach. Which is in Ao Nang, Krabi Province. All of the areas included in the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park are in Krabi Province. There are also ranger stations on Bamboo Island (Koh Mai Pai) and Koh Phi Phi Leh Island at Maya Beach, Koh Phi Phi Don, Chicken Island and Poda Island.
Covering almost 400 sqm the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park is one of the largest National Marine Parks in Thailand and includes the following places:
- Had Noppharat Beach
The ‘Four Islands’
- Poda Island
- Gai Island (Chicken Island)
- Tub Island
- Mor Island
The Phi Phi Islands
- Bamboo Island
- Mosquito Island
- Phi Phi Leh Island
Hat Noppharat Thara / Ko Phi Phi National Park Entrance Fee
Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park is one of the most expensive National Parks in Thailand. Also known as the Maya Bay National Park, the admission cost is set at 400 Baht for foreigners and is often free for Thai citizens, although the official price is 40 Baht. The price is expected to increase to 500 Baht before 2024.
The Phi Phi National Park Entrance fee was doubled in 2017. The cost used to be 200 Baht.
When you visit any National Park you would be issued with a ticket granting admission. Admission tickets are valid for entry as many times as you need on the purchase date. You only need to pay once. All the locations within the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park can be accessed using the same ticket. For example if you are in the Phi Phi Islands and you paid the National Park fee at Phi Phi Leh, you can use the same ticket to get admission to Bamboo Island or Chicken Island.
Noppharat Thara Beach, although it is part of the National Park, is still free to visit. You’ll only be charged the National Park fee when you visit the Islands.
When To Visit Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
Some parts of the park are open all year round including the ‘Four Islands’, Bamboo Island and Noppharat Thara Beach. Maya Bay Beach, which is on Phi Phi Leh, closes seasonally during the off-peak season from May until October, as part of the ongoing conservation project at the beach. Mosquito Island has also been completely shut to tourism since January 2016 and there are no current plans to reopen the island.
The best time to visit is between November and April. The weather is best during these months although that also means the beaches are the busiest during these months. During the off-season months (‘Monsoon Season’) seas can be rougher. Although the benefit of visiting during the off season is fewer tourists will be there.
The Best Way To Cover All of the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
Because this National Park is spread out across such a wide area it is difficult to see it all in one day. I would recommend allowing two days to see everything.
Dedicate the first day to Noppharat Thara Beaches and the ‘Four Islands’. It’s best to stay in Ao Nang. You can visit the beaches early in the morning, before taking a Longtail Boat tour to see the four islands. These tours can be booked on site and there is a choice of private tours or group tours depending on your budget.
The second day can be spent exploring the Phi Phi Islands. Phi Phi Island National Parks are a little further away so it’s recommended to book a tour/boat in advance. I recommend Five Star Thailand Tours for a private tour, or Get Your Guide for a shared boat tour. Because the islands are so far out they can only be reached by speedboat or ferry.
If you want to get the most out of your visit you can take a Ferry to Phi Phi Don and stay overnight on the island before taking a boat to the National Parks from there.
If you want to stay overnight on Phi Phi I recommend the Chao Koh Phi Phi Lodge for an affordable but nice place to stay.
Is Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park Worth Visiting
If you are in Ao Nang then Noppharat Thara is one of the nicer beaches and generally there are few visitors, if you’re looking for a spot to chill for a few hours or a place to string up a hammock then it’s worth a visit.
The islands on the other hand, probably not worth it, in my opinion anyway. Firstly the entrance fee of 500 Baht is off-putting, especially when the Thai price is 40 Baht.
Then there is the sheer number of tourists who also want to visit these islands. I was lucky enough to visit Maya Beach with DNP staff on a conservation project during the Maya Beach closure and again during the COVID shutdowns- it was mesmerising once, ok twice in a lifetime experience. Experiencing Maya Beach without tourists. Nowadays the newly built pier looks like a floating market; there just isn’t enough space to accommodate the hoards that visit. Plus much of the nature and coral has been destroyed due to over tourism.
And when it comes to the ‘Four Islands’ tourists here get treated worse than cattle, crammed onto the boats, packed as tight as possible, shouted at by ‘tour leaders’ and then herded then from one island to the next.
So in short the places are nice thanks to nature. But it’s the people, both locals and tourists, that make it somewhere I wouldn’t recommend visiting. If you’re in the area, by all means go and make your own decision but don’t go out of your way to come here, there are much nicer Marine Parks in Thailand.
Activities In The Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
If you decide to visit the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park then there are a few tips to make it more enjoyable.
Tip: Try to choose a private boat charter of the Marine Park to avoid being headed around.
(Five Star Thailand offer this service).
Tip: Try to visit as early as possible, and I mean early. Sunrise early, before 6.00am you’ll have a short while to enjoy the National Park before the crowds start arriving.
Camping is usually permitted in Thai National Parks however overnight camping at Maya Bay, and Bamboo Island has been prohibited since 2016. There is a tour company who allows you to sleep on their boat docked near to the beach however.
Asides from visiting the white sand beaches, snorkeling is popular in this national park and so is kayaking. Snorkel sets and kayaks can be rented on Phi Phi Don island. There are a number of scuba-diving sites in the area too including the King Cruiser Wreck and Bida Islands.
Wildlife in Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
Black Tip Reef Sharks are known to live at this marine park in large numbers. They are often seen in and around Maya Bay, both from the surface and while snorkeling. Hawksbill Turtles live in the area too between migrations to the Andaman Islands. Whale Sharks can be seen deeper underwater if scuba diving, and on very rare occasions dolphins have also been sighted around the Phi Phi Islands. There is also an abundance of parrot fist, clown fish and other fish species that can be seen while snorkeling in the National Park.
Visit the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park only if you are in the area. But don’t go out of your way to come here. Set your expectations low. And prepare to be ripped off by the National Park. If you imagine the park is going to look like it does on Instagram you’re going to be disappointed. Try to visit as early as possible, take a private boat to explore around and don’t expect to be alone! Despite the countless negatives the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park has, the nature here is still incredible to see in person.