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My favourite part of Thailand was visiting its tropical southern beaches – and I am not normally a beach person! I had a love/hate relationship with Thailand; Bangkok to me was a dirty city, full of disappointment and scams. The northern city of Chiang Mai was cool (and cheap), but ultimately I had similar experiences in the Indonesian and Malaysian jungles which were superior to those in Chiang Mai. However, my trip to Krabi, a southern town in the country famous for its tropical beaches, golden sand, and clear blue waters, restored my faith in Thailand.
Whilst Ao Nang beach is known as backpacker-central, I focused mainly on Ko Phi Phi, which is an island archipelago consisting of rainforests and coral reefs, with water so clear you can see fish swimming above the sand. Ko Phi Phi was devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, but has since rebuilt itself as a prime tourist destination once more.
I took the 9am boat from Krabi, having spent two nights there at the incredible Sheraton Hotel, from which I purchased my ferry tickets. Tickets can be purchased from guesthouses or hostels, and can even be purchased at the dock, on the day – but perhaps this is not advisable in the high season. I paid 400 Baht, which is a little on the high side, but I didn’t haggle. You can probably get a return ticket for around 300 Baht, if you tried hard enough. Included in the price of the ticket was a taxi ride to the ferry pier.
Capture the full video journey to Maya Bay from Krabi Town here:
The journey typically takes around 1 hour from Krabi, but sometimes the ferry does not leave until the ‘captain’ has a near-full capacity, so you may be sitting at the pier for a little while before departure.
The island on which Maya Bay sits is actually a pristine and uninhabited national park, which is not only famous for its glorious beaches, but also its mangrove swamps and in particular the Tha Pom Crystal Stream. Rangers of the park now collect a little fee from each tourists who gets off the boats. This is usually only around 100 Baht and allegedly goes to helping the upkeep of the park. When you do eventually hop off the boats at the end of your journey from Krabi, you will be greeted by the iconic sign below.
Not many people get to experience Maya Bay without the crowds. A typical view of Maya Bay in high season would have the entire beach and bay area itself simply crawling with tourists (and the odd monkey). But like any great tourist attraction in the world, such as the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat, the Pyramids of Giza, there will always be mass crowds taking in the sights – you should just be thankful you are there and that you are one of them!
If you stay beyond mid-afternoon, you can settle yourself down on the beach and await the glorious Andaman sunset, as pictured below. Many tour groups will be doing this as part of their package, so the crowds will not dissipate until after sunset.
I hope you get the chance to experience the wonders of Maya Bay in the near future, although all of the islands around Ko Phi Phi are incredible to just relax, do some island hopping, snorkelling or diving. And with Thai prices, you can guarantee that it will be very cheap compared to ‘western’ norms.
For some more great information and incredible photos from southern Thailand’s great beach areas, I recommend visiting this amazing blog from Burgundy Beaches for a fully comprehensive write-up!