After almost four years of closure, the famed Maya Bay is ready to welcome visitors again starting Jan. 1, 2022.
With its turquoise waters embraced by towering karst cliffs and powdery white-sand beach, Maya Bay has been one of Thailand’s banner destinations. The bay became famous after Leonardo DiCaprio's 2000 movie The Beach was filmed there.
Thai Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa announced the opening date for tourists and said in a statement that with the rehabilitation, the bay has “returned to good condition.”
The minister said the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park is in the final stage of building a pier on the island and an area for swimming, the Bangkok Post reported.
A new set of rules will be placed once the famous bay is opened to manage the tourists that may troop to the area, especially now that Thailand is slowly starting to open its borders to fully vaccinated tourists from low-risk countries including the Philippines.
In a CNN report, citing the Department of National Parks’ conditions, the number of visitors will be limited to a maximum of 300 tourists per round in the 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. visiting window.
Only eight boats will be allowed to dock at a time and tourists will only have a maximum of one hour to swim in a designated zone to protect the reefs.
Starting 2022, Thailand will be imposing a 500 baht (P770) tourism fee to foreigners entering the country to fund tourism-related projects.
The bay, which is part of the Hat Noppharat Tara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, became a hotspot for tourism, and at its peak saw over 5,000 visitors and 200 boats arriving per day.
This many visitors proved destructive to the 15-meter wide and 250-meter long bay, with tourists leaving trash, animals being disturbed by visitors, and a significant number of coral reefs destroyed by anchors of boats that ferry tourists in the area.
In June 2018, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said that the bay, located in the Phi Phi Le Island, will be closed for just four months. But it was announced in October 2018 that the bay will close indefinitely for rehabilitation as the marine ecosystem needed more time to recover.
(This move was made a few months after the Philippines’ world-famous resort island, Boracay, was temporarily closed to tourists for over six months for rehabilitation.)
As of this writing, Thailand welcomes fully vaccinated travelers from 63 low-risk countries and territories. Tourists from these countries, including the Philippines, do not need to quarantine upon arrival in Thailand.