A well-known beach in Thailand that was made famous in a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio is set to close again once more due to overtourism. The famous Maya Bay, located in the Phi Phi Archipelago in Krabi, Southern Thailand, has long since attracted tourists in the millions after the Hollywood movie helped to put it on the map.
However, the sheer volume of travelers descending on the bay since the country reopened could see irreversible harm caused to the site’s ecosystem.
Whilst Maya Bay is no stranger to closing in a bid to slow down or reverse the impact of overtourism, travelers planning to visit the must-see destination this year will have to visit soon – or run the risk of missing out on seeing it completely. Here’s a look why Maya Bay is such a draw with travelers, why it is set to close once more and how travelers can go about visiting the destination.
Maya Bay Closure – Information For Travelers
Located just a few hours from both popular Phuket and scenic Krabi province in the South of Thailand, Maya Bay is one of Thailand’s most famous must-visit locations. A spectacularly scenic bay, enclosed by towering limestone karst mountains on all sides, thousands of tourists visited the location every day prior to the pandemic, keen to enjoy the same crystal-clear waters and soft, sandy beaches the Leonardo DiCaprio popularized in The Beach.
Maya Bay reopened to travelers at the turn of the new year, having been closed since June 2018 in a bid to revive the destination’s severely damaged corals. Years of welcoming hundreds of Thailand’s famous longtail boats each day had taken its toll on the bay, with both coral and several different sea animal species suffering as a result, and so travelers were forced to view the bay from afar, rather than land directly onto it. Already this year, 100,000 travelers have visited the bay, generating more than 20 million baht of income in the process – but such numbers are soon set to vanish once more.
The prolonged closure in 2018 had a significant impact on the bay. Not only did the coral in the region become noticeably healthier, but several different species returned to the bay – most notably schools of black-tipped reef sharks that had been absent.
The entry point was also changed when it reopened, with travelers now made to enter the bay from behind – a move that was made to protect the coral and the wildlife from harm. Having seen the positive impact the closure made, the move is set to be repeated later this year.
Despite implementing strict measures, such as only allowing advance bookings to be made and keeping visitor numbers to 380 per hour that the attraction is open, the Thai government has made the decision to close Maya Bay once more for the purposes of natural rehabilitation – a move that could derail the travel plans of thousands. The decision was revealed just yesterday, coming in the wake of the bay receiving a significant amount of visitors during Thailand’s Songkran New Year celebrations.
However, it’s not too late for travelers to be able to visit. Maya Bay is set to be closed throughout August and September, giving a small window over the next few months for travelers to be able to book a trip to the tourist hotspot. Trips are readily available to be booked from nearby destinations such as Krabi and Phuket, or travelers can purchase tours of the bay from one of the many tourism businesses on Phi Phi island itself.
Visiting in the next few months could also be the last time that travelers can do so at the current price. Entry to Maya Bay is 400 baht (around $12 USD), but plans are afoot to increase the fee. With the spot viewed as a premium world-class tourism destination, Thailand’s Minister of Resources and Environment stated a price hike was likely, but only after the global economy recovers.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories