Phuket and the Andaman Coast: Places to Explore

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Koh Phi Phi

The Phi Phi Islands consist of six islands. The largest, Phi Phi Don, is shaped like a butterfly: The "wings," covered by limestone mountains, are connected by a flat 2-km (1-mile) narrow body featuring two opposing sandy beaches. Phi Phi Don is the only inhabited island.

A posttsunami rebuilding program has left the island looking remarkably developed. If you were unaware that such a catastrophe had taken place, you would think it was a beautiful island under a lot of development, rather than one that was destroyed and has been rebuilt. There's quite a bit of construction these days, as resorts as well as budget accommodations update and renovate their facilities. The popularity of the Phi Phi Islands stems from the outstanding scuba diving; leopard sharks, turtles, and sea horses are some species still frequenting popular reefs. The tsunami actually had surprisingly little effect on the dive sites here, with 75% of coral reefs sustaining low to no impact. The best dive sites were relatively unaffected, and those hardest hit were not good snorkeling sites to begin with.

Since the tsunami, farther-flung beaches on Phi Phi Don have been getting the attention that they deserve. Before Tonsai Beach was rebuilt, visitors who were forced to look elsewhere for lodging discovered the magic of sandy and swimmable Laem Tong Beach and beautiful, peaceful Long Beach.

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