Thailand is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and one of those beauties is Maya Beach on Koh Phi Phi Leh, an island off of the popular party island, Koh Phi Phi. Maya Beach charmed the world when it was featured as the main location in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach. Now, up to 5,000 travelers per day visit Maya Beach, which can only be accessed via boat.
That much traffic has been causing damage for years, unfortunately, and now Thailand is taking steps to protect Maya. For the first time, the Thai government has chosen to close Maya Beach to visitors from June to September.
One marine expert claimed that nearly 80% of Thailand’s coral reefs have been destroyed, and the main reasons for the destruction are plastic waste and boat anchors. The hope is that this closure and others like it will give Thailand’s beaches and reefs a chance to recover, but the move is unlikely to go far enough.
June to September is actually Thailand’s low season for tourism, so if the beach reopens in the fall, the damage will simply continue at a similar rate. The move feels a bit like an empty gesture. The country doesn’t want to do anything to deter tourism, which makes up 17% of the country’s GDP. But hopefully it is just a first step that will encourage many of the 35 million annual visitors to Thailand to treat the natural wonders found there with care and respect.
Maya Beach is a true wonder, and missing out on it might feel like a big blow. But did you know that Thailand has over 1,400 islands? Maya Beach is far from the only beautiful beach around, and if visitors do a little more research and seek out less well-known places to visit, they’re likely to see the same beauty with a lower environmental impact and much smaller crowds. Here are just a few of Thailand’s other gorgeous destinations:
Railay is a peninsula off of the mainland that is only accessible by boat. It’s enclosed by magnificent limestone cliffs and lush vegetation.
- Sunrise Beach
Named for its sunrise views that are supposed to be among the best anywhere is the country, this beach on Ko Lipe is less touristy than other destinations around Thailand.
- Khao Sok National Park
This wildlife reserve has pristine water, stunning peaks, and jungles full of elephants, barking deer, bears, tapirs, and all sorts of monkeys.
- Chang Mai
If you’re ready for a break from the beach, you can’t miss Chang Mai. This amazing city in northern Thailand has jungle motorcycle tours, an awesome zoo, elephant rescues, and endless spas to enjoy a day of pampering and Thai massage for a fraction of what you’d spend in the United States.
If you’re ready to book your travel to Thailand, remember that you can get your Thailand visas online. If you have any trouble or need a special Thailand travel visa for work or an extended stay, let us know and we’ll be happy to help.