Backpacker Battle: Phi Phi vs. Gili Trawangan

We have seen this debate being argued in the past so we decided to weigh in on the topic. We traveled to each back to back during our honeymoon in March 2012. The best way to settle this is let the numbers talk. Below you will find average costs of items on both islands along with comments on subjective stuff.

Overall Cost:

Koh Phi Phi – Getting on the island round-trip from Phuket: 960B ($32), Standard private room with fan 600B ($20), bottle of water 10B ($0.33), 22oz Chang beer @ 7-11 store 50B ($1.75), 12oz Chang beer at a bar 60B ($2), no food night market….slice of pizza 80B ($2.75), 120B ($4) chicken curry dish with rice at a sit down restaurant.

Related Article: Koh Lipe $30 A Day Budget

Gili Trawangan- Getting on Island round trip from Bali: 550,000R ($61) 2 hour drive then fast boat 2hr or 10,000Rp ($1.10) 4-6hr by public ferry, Standard private room with fan $10, bottle of water $0.65, 22oz Bintang beer $3.90 at a shop and cheaper at a bar $3.70 , local spirits with coke $1.35, they have a great night market, $1.65 for 10 sticks of chicken sate with awesome peanut glaze, $1 Gado Gado Adams new favorite vegetarian dish, $1 Nasi Goreng with a fried egg!

Winner: Gili Trawangan

Gado Gado

Things To Do:

Phi Phi – $15 for 6 island snorkel trip with lunch, highlight stop Maya Bay. Hiking to the viewpoints is free.  Lots of tour companies with numerous options, ALWAYS negotiate the price. We heard other people on our trip discussing what others paid and NO ONE paid the same.

Gili – For the most part all of Gili’s activities revolve around snorkeling and SCUBA just off the shores of the islands. Prices for the trips are in-line with Phi Phi, you can easily take a half-day tour with lunch for 100,000Rp ($11). Other than that there isn’t much hiking as is a coral island without much height. SCUBA will run about $65 for a “resort” course. One positive of Gili is that for 20,000Rp ($2.25) you can get gear for an entire day and have top shelf snorkeling just off shore.

Winner: Koh Phi Phi

Maya Bay Stop

Party Scene & Nightlife :

Koh Phi Phi – Every night of our trip there were several bars that had a party going on. Drinks at a bar were reasonable and rum/whiskey buckets were available for a cheaper drink. There was no common social area where you could BYOB and just hang out with other travelers.

Gili Trawangan – The island party scene was setup so there would only be one bar per night being the big party spot for the night. This ended up being cool because it seemed everyone who was on the island was there. The crowd here seemed more open and with limited effort we made several friends in a night of drinking. The market in the center of town was a great dinner and drinking place to socialize with travelers over BYOB drinks.

Winner: Gili Trawangan

Bar Menu on Gili T.

Backpacker Appeal:

This is a purely subjective category but I think Gili Trawangan slightly edges out Koh Phi Phi for a few reasons. Gili seems less discovered, not as much trash about, and has a more relaxed feel to it. Gili had the fell of being less discovered by the masses, it really felt like you were far far away.

Winner: Gili Trawangan

Your overall winner based on our sophisticated scoring system is….

Winner: Gili Trawangan

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either we plan to return to both during our RTW trip. We loved them both enough to return in less than 2 years so they got to be good. Please feel free to weigh in below with your thoughts in the comments section.

UPDATE 2017

We have since returned to Koh Phi Phi in 2014 and would not return again. It isn’t that magical place it once was to us. We have found our favorite island in Thailand, Koh Lipe. We have visited Koh Lipe three times, we have never returned to a place as many times as Koh Lipe. If you are looking for that special island in Thailand check it out. Our next favorite would be El Nido Palawan in the Philippines. El Nido is out of this world, the rock formations reminded us of Koh Phi Phi. El Nido is a place we hope to get back to soon as well.

Related Article: Things To Do In El Nido

Which would you pick?

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7 thoughts on “Backpacker Battle: Phi Phi vs. Gili Trawangan”

  1. It could be me writing. Definitely a perfect post.
    Gili T is way different from Phi Phi. I was twice in each place and I can say that Gili yon can enjoy the island and people there. At PP, you can enjoy more what it around the island, the tours and the other island. PP is crowded and I lil bit dirty and overpopulated. GIli is more a root place with more locals and culture.

  2. Nice way of setting it up.

    I still haven’t been to Phi Phi, but I definitely like the Gilis. Gili T for the partying, the two other islands for doing nothing apart from a dive or two.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post! Phi Phi is great, just different that Gili T! We have ‘t made it to the the other two Gili Islands yet, but we will on our upcoming RTW trip! Will check out your Gili posts!

  3. interesting read! I lived and worked as a diver on Phi Phi last year and loved it! This year surfing in Indo and hitting up Gilli Islands is on the cards – will be intrigued to see if my conclusion is the same!

    • When did you live there? We were there end of March 2012! Any insiders tips about Phi Phi you’d like to share?!?! We are going to Phi Phi Dec 23-27th with the parent’s for Christmas.

      That sounds amazing to live & work on Phi Phi! You will love Gili T just as much, maybe even more than Phi Phi! Look forward to what you conclusion is!

      We will be in Indonesia the whole month of April 2014, and we are planning on making an appearance in Gili T for a week of RELAXATION and some partying of course!

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