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Update 2020: there is currently a ‘tourist ban’ to Maya Bay until 2021 due to overtourism.
Ah, The Beach! It was one of my favourite moves that inspired me to travel to Thailand. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie starring the gorgeous Leonard DiCaprio or read the book by Alex Garland, I’ll give you an insanely brief summary. It’s a story set in Thailand about a backpacker who wants to search for a forbidden island in the Thai gulf. An island that has been untouched by the western world and is a paradise with freedom. He’s gifted with a hand drawn map at his hostel in Bangkok and goes south on the search with some travellers he meets on the way. They swim off the shores of Koh Samui to find the island, on landing they jump off the cliff to find the secluded beach… I’ll leave it there, if you want to read/watch more!
It’s an amazing book which paints the picture of a backpackers dream, living in utopia while being self sufficient without money and celebrating absolute freedom! The movie brought it to life for me though and when I found out I could visit the film location at Maya Bay I just had to go and see!
There was one problem though, tourists. Although I was one myself, when reading reviews of Maya I just saw pictures of hundreds of tourists and boats pulled up on its shore…not the picturesque secluded beach that Alex Garland spoke of. So, I decided to beat the crowds and go early! Here is all the info you need to visit The Beach and get it to yourself!
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Maya Bay is situated around 30-40 minutes from Koh Phi Phi. It is on a little island called Phi Phi Leh and the boat will crawl around and pull into the bay. You can go on an organised boat trip, which travels around the surrounding islands with other tourists but they set out from around 8/9am. By 12pm there are just crowds and crowds of people swarming the place!
What you can do to avoid this, is get a private boat from the harbour and negotiate a rate for going early. You will need to travel around 7/7.30am but it is SO worth it! Alternatively, you can go on a Maya Bay Tour from Koh Phi Phi and stay the night there – no crowds whatsoever!
If you’re worried about being sleepy, you really can’t beat the sunrises in Thailand – the colours will wake you up!
Sounds great! How much is it?
We paid around £20 for our charter to the Island. Not a bad price to go on a private charter and explore paradise. You will pay less for an island tour, but not by much!
What can you get up to in Maya Bay?
Explore around! It is so serene and beautiful as the mountains curl around the bay. There is a cafe/bar on the island and the infamous Maya Bay sign!
How long does it take to get there?
As long as you like! The great thing is that you can swim there, chill out, have a drink and just take in the atmosphere. There doesn’t have to be a time limit.
Is there anything else you can do on the tour?
After we explored Maya Bay and saw more and more tourists arrive, we jetted off around the Island and went scuba diving! The waters are so crystal clear, you can see all the colourful fish floating around you. There’s also caves and other bays to explore, just ask you captain to pull you over to what you want to see!
Was it worth it?
Absolutely, I loved every second and the fact that there wasn’t anybody there, really made my dream of visiting The Beach come true! It was worth every penny of my tight budget, plus if you negotiate with one of the drivers beforehand you will save so much more than booking online before hand!