• Maya Bay Tips

10 Tips for Maya Bay

The famous beach where Leonardo DiCaprio played a backpacker in the movie, “The Beach”, looks pretty stunning… if you get there early enough to beat the crowds. It’s Koh Phi Phi Leh, and most likely you’ll be coming from Koh Phi Phi Don (if you’re not spending every day sleeping, recovering for Phi Phi’s raging parties). Below, I’ll outline a few tips for Maya Bay to help you plan it out as well as a tour you can pre-book on the cheap.

10 Tips for Maya Bay

1. Take a Long Tail Boat

Take a private long-tail boat instead of a speedboat. If you have a group of people, try to rent out a whole boat for yourself. You’ll save at least half your money, and the more people you get to take the tour, the more you can divide the cost by. We had three people and paid 600 baht each when we booked it on the spot. That was about $18 and took haggling and the bother of asking many people on the beach. I found the same price on Getyourguide (linked here) that you can book ahead if you want to have it pre-arranged and guarantee a good price. If you have a group and can get a boat to yourself, the other benefit is moving at your own pace. You can snorkel longer if you want, play with the monkeys longer, or just sunbathe. If you want to go on a group speedboat tour, then here is a tour for that on Viator.

2. Check on the “tax”

Discuss up front whether or not you’ll have to pay a “tax” when you get to Maya Bay. On the tour we booked on the beach, this is supposedly included in your price; when we arrived without a guide we were forced to pay it. Others we talked to said that it isn’t a real tax, so be sure to ask the man you purchase tickets from. It was 200 baht.

maya bay the beach

maya bay the beach

maya bay the beach

3. Bring snorkel gear

Make sure decent snorkel equipment will be on the boat and ask for the boat driver to bring water with him in the morning because it gets hot once the sun rises. He could also bring food for the monkeys (FYI: signs say don’t feed the monkeys but it’s clearly not followed. I just hope the monkeys are okay during the off-season when no tourists feed them). Also, make sure he brings a water-safe bag for cameras and phones to take up to the beach. Almost all boats offer these nice things! Don’t bring anything other than that! Wearing a swimsuit and sarong is all you need.

4. You only need a half day

Don’t take a full day tour; it would be overkill. You need about 2-3 hours for the whole tour and a half-day would be nice. The boat will take you around to see Viking Cave, perfect snorkeling water, and Monkey beach as well. We spent the most time snorkeling, which I wouldn’t change. Actually, I wish I would have snorkeled longer and seen Maya Bay for less time.

maya bay the beach

maya bay the beach

maya bay the beach

maya bay the beach

maya bay the beachlearned that monkeys can swim! This boat is a large group tourist boat. They had more food than us, so the monkeys loved them most, but Evelyn did get one to eat out of her hand.

maya bay the beach

5. Add time as you go

If you need to ask for more time on the boat, the driver isn’t going to say no to extra pocket money, so just ask to extend and decide on a rate that works for you both. If you book through an agent, of course, the boat driver is just getting paid a percentage of that money. Negotiate for more time as you need it that the agent doesn’t need to know about and then your driver gets more money for himself.

6. Start earlier than you think

Go early in the morning, I’m talking leave your hut at 6 A.M. If you don’t beat the massive crowds, there’s really no point in going. We avoided the wild Ko Phi Phi nightlife the night before our trip to Maya Bay.

7. There’s more than just Maya Bay on most tours

There is nothing on Maya bay in terms of food and drink, so it’s not somewhere to hang out. Honestly, it’s pretty but it’s one of those ‘enjoy the moment and leave’ places like the Taj Mahal.

maya bay the beach

maya bay the beachin the movie, there is another rock photoshopped in to block off the bay

maya bay the beach

8. See if you have to go in the back way

According to our boat driver, long-tail boats cannot go into the bay from the front side (but others have commented that they DID so maybe our guy lied or it’s changed). He took us around the backside and you have to be a strong swimmer to make it to the island and be up for some bumps and bruises to get to the top. After swimming against the current, and over rocks in shallow water, you’ll have to climb a rope. Then you’ll walk through a park until you see Maya Bay. From the front side, larger tour boats will come through, because unlike the movie, there is no rock closing off the bay- that was digitally added.

maya bay the beachbelow here is what you have to swim to from these boats! scary stuff.

maya bay the beach

9. Remember your boat to leave

Make sure you know which boat is yours! When it’s time to leave you’ll be looking down from a cliff at 10 long tail boats that look the same. The water is rough, so you don’t want to swim out to the wrong one and have to start over.

maya bay the beach

10. Book more tours through your driver

If you like your boat driver, try to book other tours directly through him. Save yourself the middleman fee. Remember to tip!

Got a big trip to Thailand, other than my tips for Maya Bay, check out these other articles and resources for your trip.

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tips for maya bay


About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing and lived on the beaches of Goa, India for the five years. Now she lives in Mexico where she gives advice on the 40+ countries she’s visited in the last 10 years. She’s the author of two India travel e-books: Guide to India and Insider’s Guide to Goa. Her blog, Hippie in Heels, like its name, is a contradiction combining off-beat adventurous places with glamorous and bespoke travel. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE, Marie Claire, Grazia, and Cosmopolitan magazines. She’s a writer for Bravo TV.


  1. Alex @ ifs ands & butts January 23, 2014 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Whoa so many good tips, it really sounds like you have to be so protective of your wallet in Thailand, but what a fantastic location! And the monkeys!

    • Rachel Jones January 24, 2014 at 4:51 am - Reply

      Yes you should be careful. A friend of mine had her bag sitting next to her on the beach at night, near a bar. and someone snatched it from beside her took her iphone out and then left the bag down the beach. Another friend had her hut robbed on ko phi phi. That stuff is such a bummer when you’re traveling!

  2. Stef January 24, 2014 at 10:13 am - Reply

    Thanks for all the tips. I’d love to visit Maya Bay.

    • Rachel Jones January 24, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

      I hope you get to go one day! It’s not the most amazing place on earth or anything- but it’s freakin’ pretty!

  3. Soltatio February 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    I’m surprised that the longtail boats couldn’t go in directly from the front. When I was there in 2012 most of the boats were longtail boats and we didn’t have to swim anywhere?

    • Rachel Jones February 19, 2014 at 4:47 am - Reply

      I have no clue! Maybe the weather was choppy while we were there? That’s interesting.

  4. Clothes and Creativity April 5, 2014 at 6:31 am - Reply

    Rachel, just wanted to ask if it’s a good idea for”not-so-great” swimmers to visit the Maya Bay? I don’t think we’ll be up for swimming that much.

    • Rachel Jones April 5, 2014 at 6:48 am - Reply

      Yes! So strangely, some people have told me they think they went the back way but didn’t have to swim- so there may be another way I’m unaware of. Someone else recommended going the night before to see the plankton lit up and then camping on maya bay to miss the crowds in the am!

  5. Miranda W. May 30, 2014 at 5:30 am - Reply

    Dear Rachel,

    Thanks for your amazing tips! Me and my friend are going to Thailand in July and these tips are really helpfull :) I had a question, if we want to go to Maya bay I want to bring my expensive Sony camera with me. But I was wondering how to deal with the water? I can’t swim with my camera right?

    • Rachel Jones May 30, 2014 at 10:48 am - Reply

      You will have to make sure your guide has a water sealed bag- then you just pop it inside! we all put our iphones in one.

  6. Zach July 9, 2014 at 4:30 am - Reply

    I was just there in January and the longtail boat entered from the front. Maybe I got lucky.

    • Rachel Jones July 9, 2014 at 6:39 am - Reply

      Maybe! Idk, maybe it had something to do with weather or was only temporary? Not sure!

  7. Severn Jones August 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Thank you for your thoughtfully written and fun to read content! Your blog has become my bible while planning a a three month trip backpacking through India and then Thailand. Your backpack packing list was the first helpful one I found on the internet. I have officially added Maya Bay to my “must do!” list. Thank you!

    • Rachel Jones August 18, 2014 at 2:57 am - Reply

      wow I’m so glad my blog could help you! Let me know if you have any more questions.

  8. Tbreeze October 6, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    I’m thinking of visit Phuket and Maya Bay in a few months. I’ve been researching online for guides and tips and came across your nice site.

    What month(s) did you travel to Maya Bay?

    The reason why I ask is because the seas can get very rough around that area. I’m wondering if it makes any difference between high and low seasons.

    Thank you.

    • Rachel Jones October 6, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

      I was there in October and it was great condition. I am not sure when their monsoon hits!

  9. Ajay September 27, 2016 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    Lol! I think I have met you in Palolem once! Not sure of the exact date though. Anyway, my wife and I are planning a two day trip to Phi Phi in Nov. She’s not a great swimmer but wants to get that perfectly posed picture at the bay alongwith all the goodies you mentioned! Could you tell us where to get the longtail boat booking? We’ll be staying somewhere in Phi Phi Don (transferring from Phuket) for the night and taking it early the next day and return to Phuket in the afternoon. Thanks!

    P.S. We lived near Bogmalo for a while and Goa is pretty much like our backyard. Your posts on Goa are also spot on! Cheers!

    • Rachel Jones September 27, 2016 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      Small world! Thanks for the compliments on my Goa posts :)

      You just book them by negotiating down on the beach – I don’t know any companies to book ahead although I’ms ure there are some.

  10. Anna November 6, 2016 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel, thank you for your tips. I’m going to Thailand in 3 weeks and will def use your tips.
    I’ll be exploring the islands by myself and keep thinking how do I go for a swim and leave all my belongings on the beach. It would be a shame not to swim because of that. Do you have any tips? what did you do with your stuff? Thanks in advance.

    • Rachel Jones November 6, 2016 at 5:55 pm - Reply

      I was with some friends, but I”m sure you can ask someone there to watch your things. it’s not that crowded and you don’t have to go too deep in :)

  11. Maury January 13, 2017 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Hi. I was wondering if I am coming from Koh Samui and I have one night in Phi Phi at the Holiday Inn. Can I go on that 4 hour excursion the same day I arrive? What is the latest time those boats leave to Maya Bay? Thank you

  12. Deepansh January 18, 2017 at 8:36 am - Reply

    It’s amazing to know that you left your nursing job and shifted to Goa. I always had a dream to own a shack somewhere on a the beach (anyone) of Goa. Sadly i am still stuck in my IT job in Singapore. I love Goa, which happens to be the most amazing place in our country,Mother India. Loved your article about Maya bay. Visiting it in 4 days.

    • Rachel Jones January 18, 2017 at 12:49 pm - Reply

      I hope your dream job comes true, it’s never too late!

  13. Erin April 26, 2017 at 5:06 am - Reply

    Hi Rachel, Thanks for all of the great info! My husband and I will be in Phi Phi for our honeymoon. We are actually staying on the northern tip of Phi Phi Don so we have to get from the main harbor to our resort by boat. I’ve heard there aren’t a lot of long boats that hang out at the beaches on that end of the island. Do you know, could we go to the main beach when we first arrive on the island and set up a long boat to pick us up one day for a private day tour of the other islands? Just wondering how reliable that would be (if they would definitely show up on requested day). I’m sure we could have the resort set something up but they’d probably charge quite a bit more. Thanks for any insight and again for al of the info on your blog!!

    • Rachel Jones April 26, 2017 at 10:51 pm - Reply

      Hey Erin! I think on the main beach you’ll have better luck. Our guy promised to be there at a certain time and took no money upfront – from what I remember!! and we went there. It would be a bummer if he didn’t show which could happen but this is what most tourists were doing also

  14. Vik May 4, 2017 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Hey Rachel! You may wanna update your article because long tail boats do take you in from the front and I’ve done this on more than one occasion. Whether or not you wanna pay tax and get down on the island is upto you though…

  15. Nancy May 15, 2017 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Super useful tips – thanks for sharing! Would definitely not have thought about your tip about remembering what boat you came from but I can see how that would be important to remember!

  16. Ankita Chowdhury July 10, 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply


    I would like to know about the opening time of Koh Phi Phi and Maya Bay for this year. I am getting information from some tour operators that it will open on 1st October,2017 and some says it will open on 15th October,2017. As I am planning for the vacation in 1st week of October, please enlighten me with correct closing and opening time of Koh Phi Phi and Maya Bay.

  17. AAMIR October 3, 2017 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    ” long-tail boats cannot go into the bay”

    my wife and me planned to do long tail boat trip to maya-bay. she doesnt know how to swim.

    so we have to change our trip plan from long tail boat to speed boat?

    • Rachel Jones October 3, 2017 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      some people have commented that they did take a boat into the shore – but I didn’t’ see this while I was there 5 years ago. Maybe things have changed

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