One place backpackers in Thailand always want to visit is Maya Bay. It’s the iconic beach Leonardo Di Caprio once graced with his presence when filming the 90’s Hollywood hit The Beach. Although they super imposed the look of Maya Bay slightly in The Beach by adding in an extra rock or two, it is still as beautiful as you’d hope and expect. Obviously this makes it very popular with tourists and you do have to choose your times wisely. With that, you also have to choose how you get there wisely as well; you can go in a group or hire a private boat for a tour.
When I visited Maya Bay, a friend and I went privately and had a great time so I would recommend doing that. We left early in the morning at around 8am, and although there were a few tourists it was nothing compared to what it’s like in the afternoon. I think everyone I know who has been has visited in the afternoon and mentioned it has been incredibly busy. Additionally, if you travel in a group tour you have to pay an additional island tax upon arriving in Maya Bay; some people do avoid this by not getting off the boat, but then what’s the point in going! I think we paid a little more going privately then by going with the group tour, however there were only two of us, if you had three or four people it would be good value. I don’t mind that we paid a bit more as I felt we got a better experience.
Another thing I heard about the group tour (the one my friends went on anyway), is that even though you’re supposed to visit Monkey Beach, their boat didn’t actually stop there but just pulled up and then sailed past so they could only look. I’d be pretty pissed off! Our guide took us to Monkey Beach and we had half an hour there.
Monkey Beach is only a small beach and it’s really not an area for you to sunbathe and relax, the sole purpose of visiting is just to visit the monkeys. They are everywhere! I don’t think you’re supposed to feed them, but I don’t recall seeing any signs telling you not too. People were feeding them nuts which I guess is ok, they did look quite sweet taking them from your hand. There were a few monkeys drinking cans of Coke! That made me feel a bit uneasy I’m sure they shouldn’t be doing that, but just as much as tourists give them things they shouldn’t, the monkeys do steal things as well so I guess it can’t be helped.
The monkeys are cute and incredibly playful but you do have to be careful as well. I don’t mean to sound like a paranoid parent, but rabies is rife in Thailand. I do know of someone who got bitten by a monkey at Monkey Beach and actually contracted rabies. Luckily he’d had his jabs and he got rid of it quickly but you just have to be aware! Anyway back to the fun stuff, here’s me and the cute monkeys.