Maya Bay (Koh Phi Phi Ley)

Updated on 10.06.2018

Maya Bay is the iconic tourist spot for Koh Phi Phi Islands , and Phuket areas and Krabi - this beautiful cove surrounded by steep cliffs in the sea was made famous by the filming of The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio. Here is some information to prepare your visit.

Ships in Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Islands, Thailand ©Odyfolio

Our expedition to Maya Bay

We arrived on the site in the late morning from the other side of the island, at a place called Ao Loh Samah. There are many boats but the site is of a wild beauty. Our ship is anchored a few miles from Koh Samat Island. The crew launches kayaks while we protect our cameras in waterproof bags.

Ao Loh Samah Bay, Koh Phi Phi Ley Island, Krabi Province, Thailand ©Odyfolio

Our ship anchored between Koh Samah Island and Koh Phi Phi Ley Island ©Odyfolio

There are two ways to enter the island: a walk through a cave, accessible only at low tide, and climbing the cliff with a rope net. It is high tide, so it is the second solution that imposes on us.

Access point to Maya Bay, near Koh Samah Island, Koh Phi Phi Ley Island, Thailand (Krabi Province, near Phuket) ©Odyfolio

Detailed Map of Maya Bay Beach, Koh Phi Phi Islands, Krabi Province, Thailand ©OpenStreetMap contributors

The place is called Lo Sa Ma Bay (or point of observation Leonardo DiCaprio according to our map). It is rather sporty, followed by a short walk on a path crossing the island. We imagine then the beautiful beach of the film available to our eyes and camera lenses, immaculate, out of reach of other tourists. But the further we go, the more people there are. Where do all these tourists come from? That's it, we're on the edge of the rainforest and we see a wooden hut by the beach. Was she in the movie? We are not really sure.

Access to Maya Bay by the island Koh Samah is rather sporty, unless you wait for low tide to take the passage on the bottom left. ©Odyfolio

Warning sign at Lo Sa Ma Bay, near Maya Bay, Koh Phi Phi Islands, Krabi Province, Thailand ©Odyfolio

Wooden Hut on Maya Bay Beach, Ko Phi Phi Islands (South Thailand) ©Odyfolio

But arriving on the beach is disappointment. There are thousands of tourists who have not had to take a complicated approach to kayaking or climbing the cliff. Dozens of speed boats and Long Tail are moored on the beach. In an area bounded by floats, many bathers, while on the shore is a multitude of selfie poles that move to capture the souvenir photo to share on social networks.

Tourists bathing at Maya Bay, Phi Phi Islands archipelago, Thailand ©Odyfolio

We then understand the full meaning of the Phi Phi Don tour in many travel agencies, with an early start at 6:30 am to escape the crowds.

We still find the side of the traditional boats Long Tail some beautiful views for the photos, then leave to the south of the island retrieve our kayaks to join our ship.

Stairs to observation point on Ko Samah Island, nicknamed the observation point Leonarfo DiCaprio (Ko Phi Phi Islands, Thailand) ©Odyfolio

Kayaking access to Maya Bay through the passageway across the island of Ko Samah, in the Phi Phi Islands archipelago, in the Krabi area, near Phuket, Thailand ©Odyfolio

How to choose your trip to Maya Bay

The choice of the tour and the service provider depend primarily on your accommodation. The closest ones are on the island of Koh Phi Phi Don (15 to 30 minutes by boat, see our articles on accommodation on the island). But as the archipelago is central to the region, it is also quite possible to book a day trip from Phuket Island, Krabi or Koh Lanta.

From Koh Phi Phi Don, you can either rent a traditional boat (Long Tail) or an outboard (Speed Boat) to get to Koh Lanta. Or go on a half-day or full-day excursion, which will include other natural sites conducive to snorkelling, beach and beautiful photos. Half-day excursions start at 500THB per person (700THB for a whole day in the islands of the archipelago). These rates do not include the entrance fees of 400THB in Maya Bay National Park.

From Phuket, Krabi or Koh Lanta, although it is possible to go to Maya Bay for half a day, we recommend taking a day trip, which will include transfers from your hotel, the lunch and entrance fees to Maya Bay.

When comparing prices, make sure that prices include similar services, and especially if the entrance fees of 400THB are included or not.

If you want the Kayak option with the sporting approach that we have to do, know that we have booked this excursion directly on the island of Koh Phi Phi (700THB the day per person without the entrance fee in the parks). A bit sporty, but also comfortable thanks to a large ship.

Access restrictions

The Thai authorities have decided to close the access to the site from June to September. These four months of closure should allow the underwater ecosystem to regenerate. It will also allow scientists to study its evolution. If the ecosystem fails to recover autonomously, the closure of the site will likely be prolonged and new corals planted.

The movie The Beach

Adapted from an Alex Garland novel written in 1996, the film The Beach was shot in 1999 partly on the island of Koh Phi Phi Ley. Released in 2000, this dramatic English-language adventure film tells the story of a young backpacker to whom someone confides in Bangkok the existence of an island paradise whose location is kept secret. He manages to get there and discovers in the sublime setting of Maya Bay a living community folded on itself with its own codes. But the well-kept secret crumbles and the small group is destabilized by newcomers. The film then had some success, including its cast composed in others of Leonardo DiCaprio, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet or Tilda Swinton.

The success of the film also sounded the end of this heavenly place, paced not tens of thousands of tourists every day in high season.

Map and location of Maya Bay (Koh Phi Phi Islands)

Location of Phi Phi Islands (Koh Phi Phi Islands) in Krabi Province, South of Thailand ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Phi Phi Islands are located in Krabi Province, Southern Thailand ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Phi Phi Islands are an archipelago of islands located in the Andaman Sea, near Phuket and Krabi ©OpenStreetMap contributors

Hotels in Maya Bay

There are no hotels in Maya Bay because Koh Phi Phi Ley Island is uninhabited. To find a hotel, a guest house or any other type of accommodation in the area, go to the island of Koh Phi Phi Don (see our article).

Photos of Maya Bay

Moored boats at Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Don Island, Southern Thailand ©Odyfolio

Tourists taking pictures of Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand ©Odyfolio

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