Maya Bay Thailand: The Beach Is Open! (Phi Phi Leh)
The beach at Maya Bay is one of the most famous and photogenic places in Thailand, and it was the main thing responsible for bringing tourism to Phi Phi island. In fact, it’s now one of the most famous white sand beaches in the world.
Maya Bay is open again! It just reopened for tourists in 2022 after being closed by the government of Thailand for almost four years, so now is a great time to visit the Koh Phi Phi islands!
The entire beach is surrounded by tall limestone cliffs. The water is clear turquoise with baby sharks swimming around, and the sand is white as snow. Everything about it looks perfect. Yep, this is paradise!
Of course, the beauty of Maya Bay has attracted the tourist hordes, just like any of the amazing places in the world, but if you plan your visit right you can still enjoy the beach without too many people.
This travel guide will explain how to visit Maya Bay Thailand, current entrance fees at Koh Phi Phi Leh island, open / closed status, and everything else you need to know before you go!
Maya Bay Day Tour Packages
First of all, if you’re on a tight schedule or want to skip the extra steps involved in arranging your own trip to Phi Phi island and Maya Bay, GetYourGuide has prearranged day trips to Phi Phi from Phuket or similar day trips from Krabi, complete with hotel transfers, boat tickets, island tour, lunch, and same day return.
These day tours visit all of the top sights in the Koh Phi Phi islands, including Maya Bay, Pileh Lagoon, and Monkey Bay.
We’ve used GetYourGuide for lots of day tours and activities around the world, and they’re great! Highly recommended.
Where Is Maya Bay?
Maya Bay is part of Phi Phi Leh island, which is located in the Andaman Sea of Thailand, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Phuket and about the same distance from Krabi.
There are six Phi Phi islands in total, with the two main islands being Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don, and they’re all considered part of the Krabi province of Thailand.
The only inhabited island is Phi Phi Don, which has hotels, restaurants, and everything else you might want for a short stay.
How To Get To Maya Bay
The only way to reach the Phi Phi islands is by boat from Phuket or Krabi, and you can use either a ferry or a speedboat to get there.
There’s no airport in Koh Phi Phi, so the closest place to fly is the international airport in Phuket (HKT) or the one in Krabi (KBV). You can shop for flights to Thailand on Skyscanner.
There are a bunch of boat companies making the trip to Phi Phi daily from either Phuket or Krabi, and they usually include free hotel pickup and drop-off.
The slow ferry from Phuket to Phi Phi Don takes about 2 hours, while the fast ferry (speedboat) takes half as long. If you’re starting from Krabi instead of Phuket, the boat travel times to Phi Phi are about 30 minutes shorter.
Keep in mind these are just transfers to the main island of Phi Phi Don. Once you arrive, you’ll need to arrange a longtail boat trip if you want to go touring Maya Bay and the other sights in the Phi Phi islands. You can arrange this on the spot at Ton Sai Beach in Phi Phi Don, and the prices are very reasonable.
The other option is booking a day tour to Phi Phi by speedboat with a Phuket or Krabi-based tour company. There are shared or private tours, and they visit most of the main sights, including Maya Bay, in one full day. This can be a great option if you’re on a tight schedule or want to skip the hassle.
Maya Bay Thailand: What To Expect
Maya Bay is accessed by landing a boat at Loh Samay Bay (on the back side of Phi Phi Leh island), and then doing a short and easy shaded walk through the jungle to get to the beach. The walk is flat and takes about 5 minutes.
In the past, boats could go inside of Maya Bay and land directly on the beach, but they don’t do that anymore. The Thai government has spent the last several years working on conservation, so the only way to get to the beach now is to walk to it from the back side of the island.
I think this change was a good idea because it keeps the bay clear of boats, although I do miss those perfect postcard photos of Thai longtail boats sitting on the beach at Maya Bay.
The main beach is incredibly photogenic. It’s about 250 meters long, and the end of the beach has a shallow cave that’s nice for photos. If you want to escape the crowds, there are usually less people at the far end of the beach.
Most Phi Phi island tour packages give you one hour at Maya Bay, which is plenty of time to explore the beach, take pictures from every angle, and dip your feet in the water (swimming isn’t allowed at Maya Bay anymore).
I have to say the beach has been kept very clean, and we didn’t notice hardly any trash, even though as many as 5,000 tourists come to this beach sometimes in a single day! The park rangers have done a good job with cleanup.
Maya Bay was popularized by a Hollywood movie in 2000 called ‘The Beach,’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie itself was a bit of a critical flop, but it opened peoples’ eyes to the natural beauty of the Thai islands.
Overall, Maya Bay is an amazing experience, and it’s one of our favorite beaches in the world!
National Park Fee
There’s a national park fee of 200 baht per person (~$6 USD), which is collected in cash when you disembark at Maya Bay. The ticket also includes entrance to Bamboo Island and the other sights in the Phi Phi islands.
This fee is charged every day you visit either of these two locations, so if you visit Maya Bay two days in a row, then you’ll have to pay the national park fee twice.
Some Phi Phi tours may already include this fee in the price, but usually you pay it separately in cash when you get off the boat.
Is Maya Bay Open / Closed?
Good news: Maya Bay is once again OPEN for tourists since October 2022!
The Thai government closed the beach for conservation in June 2018, hoping to give the coral and wildlife some time to recover. The rest of Phi Phi island stayed open during this time, and only Maya Beach was closed.
Maya Bay stayed closed for a whopping 4 years, but finally reopened for tourists in January 2022. In the low season of 2022, Maya Bay was again closed for 2 months (August and September), but it reopened for business on October 1, 2022.
It seems likely that Maya Bay will be closed for at least a couple of months every year for conservation, so that’s something to keep an eye on, especially if you’re thinking about visiting in the rainy season.
Where To Stay
Maya Bay is uninhabited except for Thai national park staff. It has a small shop with snacks and drinks, and there are restrooms by the path when you first disembark at Loh Sama Bay.
There are no hotels at Maya Bay or Phi Phi Leh island, although you can stay in nearby Phi Phi Don island. This can be a great idea if you want to spend some extra time exploring all of the sights in the Phi Phi islands.
You can find some of our top Phi Phi hotel recommendations below.
Phi Phi Island Hotels
Is Maya Bay Worth It?
Yes, Maya Bay is definitely worth it, even if you have to brave the crowds! This is bucket list scenery, and the prices are very affordable.
I’d say Phi Phi is the single best place to visit in Thailand, and also one of the best places in Southeast Asia. These are incredibly beautiful islands.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Maya Bay depends on what you’re looking for.
The weather in the Andaman Sea of Thailand (including Phi Phi) is best from November to April, when it’s more dry and sunny, and the sea conditions are better for boat tours. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so it’s more crowded.
The weather is not as good from May to October. There are more rainy days, and there are frequent storms in the evenings. However, there are less tourists in these months and it’s still possible to have a great trip if your time is a bit more flexible.
If you visit Phi Phi in the rainy season, it’s good to have a few extra days to spare in case there’s some junky weather leading to the boats being canceled for a day or two.
You’ll also want to make sure Maya Bay is open, because like I mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s closed for part of the rainy season.
We’ve visited Phi Phi in the dry season and also in the rainy season, on separate trips. In both cases, we had an amazing time and the weather was mostly great for weeks!
More Things To Do In Phi Phi Island
Maya Bay is definitely one of the top sights in the Phi Phi islands, but there are lots of other great things to see and do, including blue lagoons, limestone caves, viewpoint hikes, hidden bays for kayaking, and much more.
Most tours to Maya Bay also include stops at Pileh Lagoon, Viking Cave, Monkey Bay, and Bamboo Island. These are all spectacular places and well worth seeing. Pileh Lagoon is famous for its bright turquoise water.
Don’t forget to check out my complete Phi Phi Island Travel Guide for more information before you visit Maya Bay Thailand!
What To Bring
Here are some packing suggestions for your trip to Maya Bay Thailand.
- Snacks & Drinks: You’ll want to pack some snacks and drinks in the boat, because it’s harder to buy them at Maya Bay. You can bring these from Phuket or Krabi, or there are plenty of cheap snack and drink stands in Phi Phi Don near the port.
- Sunscreen: There is usually some shade in the speedboats and longtail boats, but you can still get roasted while swimming or walking on the beach, so you’ll want to bring a hat and sunscreen for the boat tours.
- Waterproof Bag: Essential for keeping your electronics safe on the boats. I brought a 30 liter bag and was able to fit my drone, tablet, camera, phone, and a bunch of other stuff inside. Everything was kept dry, even when I took the bag swimming a few times!
- Waterproof Phone Pouch: Same as above, but these are for your phone only. Great if you don’t have other electronics and just need something small to protect your phone at Maya Bay Thailand.
- Snorkeling Gear: Good for exploring the clear waters around Koh Phi Phi island. Snorkels and masks can be borrowed or rented from the boat companies too, but if you plan to stay on the island or do multiple tours then it’s better to bring your own gear.
- Water Shoes: These can come in handy sometimes while snorkeling in case you need to walk on rocks to get out of the water.
Can You Fly A Drone At Maya Bay?
Thailand is pretty relaxed about drones, and you can fly them in most of the islands, but they don’t allow you to fly in the national parks.
That includes Phi Phi Leh and Maya Bay, which are patrolled by park rangers who will fine you if you’re caught flying a drone. They’re especially strict at Maya Bay, and the rangers there are watching all areas of the beach constantly.
However, if you’re discreet it’s still possible to fly from other locations. For example, you can park your boat at Pileh Lagoon or Viking Cave and launch the drone from there, and usually no one is likely to notice or care unless a park ranger boat happens to drive by and see you do it.
The drone restrictions don’t apply to Phi Phi Don island at all. You can fly drones anywhere on Phi Phi Don without a problem, although you’ll still want to be considerate and only fly in places where it won’t bother people, of course.
- Phi Phi Island Travel Guide: Best Things To Do In The Koh Phi Phi Islands
- Thailand Travel Guide – Info, Pictures, & Blog