The Koh Phi Phi 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.
Kho Phi Phi Island 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.
Phi Phi, called name is derived from Malay and the original was Pulao Pi ah Pi, where in pulao is the Malay word for island, and pi, pronounced with only a half p sound, was very close in pronunciation to the English word be; the ah was eventually dropped, so the name was said something like Bi Bi. Later the P was pronounced with a stronger aspiration and the name became the Pi Pi we know today (the h with which it is usually spelled is confusing and superfluous). The name refers to the mangrove wood found there. Six islands are in the group; Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Ley, Biddah Nok, Biddah Nai, Yung, and Pai (Bamboo Island) ; total area is about 35 square kilometers. They were incorporated into the national park in 1983.
Koh Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, when nearly all of the island's infrastructure was wiped out. Redevelopment has, however, been swift, and services are back with building regulations in place to limit the height of new buildings to preserve the island's stunning views.
The Kho Phi Phi Islands are located in Thailand, between the large island of Phuket and the western Andaman Sea coast of the mainland. The islands are administratively part of Krabi province. Ko Phi Phi Island meaning "island" in the Thai language) is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants, although the beaches of the second largest island, Ko Phi Phi Lee (or "Ko Phi Phi Leh"), are visited by many people as well.