Tonsai Bay is a hive of activity from morning to mid-afternoon. When the last ferry boat leaves, calm descends on the place and it returns to its sleepy village feel. With ATMs, convenience stores, and a host of cheap and cheerful Thai restaurants and food stands, it's got just about the essentials you need in its compact area.

    In this quick guide, we show you a general outline of the popular bay in Phi Phi, from all about getting around Tonsai Village to brief introductions to Tonsai Bay, Tonsai Beach, and Tonsai Pier.

    1

    Getting around Tonsai Village

    In Phi Phi there are really only 3 modes of transport: walking, long-tail boats to more remote areas and bicycles around Tonsai Village. People who work here use bicycles and the soft 'tring tring' sound when they want to overtake you is quite a pleasant background to walks around the village. Unfortunately, things are a little disorganised and accidents sometimes occur.

    You can walk to most places in Tonsai Village within 10 minutes. Long Beach can be reached in about 30 minutes. Long-tails ferry passengers to and from Long Beach day and night, and can be rented for half- or full-day trips around the other Phi Phi Islands.

    Stunning Tonsai Bay has turquoise waters and is a hive of boating activity. Ferries come and go, yachts anchor, dive and tour boats pick up their customers and long-tails whiz back and forth carrying passengers or goods.

    The bay is nearly 2 km long from the outer points, with tall cliffs giving way to small beaches inhabited by monkeys and with coral reefs fringing the west side. The east side of the bay is shallower, with large areas of coral and a series of beaches and hotels occupying the shore. At the mouth of the bay, on the east side, is Long Beach and Shark Point, which face Phi Phi Leh.

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    Although the area close to the pier is taken up by boats, the far west end of the beach is very isolated. Silky-soft sand, clear water and coral await. It's strange that it's not more popular. From afar, it looks like there's nothing there, but the 10-minute walk along the beach is well worth it.

    You can rent deck chairs and kayaks for very little from one of the small bungalow resorts. Lunch, drinks and snacks are provided, and there are toilets as well. Snorkelling is good all along the edge of the bay and the close-by cliffs are used by climbers to test their skills. If you're looking for somewhere close to Tonsai Village that's secluded to relax at... then this is your spot.

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    4

    Tonsai Pier

    The pier is Phi Phi's lifeline to the outside world and acts as a hub. The atmosphere changes throughout the day, with the focus on the ferryboat schedule. At certain times, the area around the pier is as busy as any city railway station in rush hour, with passengers milling around while waiting for their boat.

    New arrivals and daytrippers hover and look bemused at the hustle and bustle of this island paradise while touts try to sell accommodation. In general, time in Phi Phi is measured in boats… ferryboats. After 2.30pm, when the last boat leaves, the atmosphere becomes much calmer, and the streets less crowded.

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    Stephan Audiger | Traveler Kompulsif

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