Home to Maya Bay – made famous by the release of 2000 film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio – they’re ridiculously stunning, a place where towering limestone cliffs frame frosty white beaches.
But like countless tourist hotspots before them, Phi Phi’s beauty has led to unmanageable arrival levels.
Located in Thailand’s Andaman Sea about 46 kilometers from Phuket, Phi Phi has two main islands – Phi Phi Leh and Phi Phi Don.
Phi Phi Leh is where you’ll find Maya Bay. There are no accommodations here, as staying overnight is prohibited.
The much larger Phi Phi Don, considered a backpacker paradise due to the abundance of budget and mid-range accommodation options in Loh Dalum, is famous for its wild party scene.
Both are part of the Hat Noppharat Thara-Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park, which according to government stats attracted over 2 million visitors in 2017. Maya Bay in particular drew an estimated 3,700 visitors a day on average, many of them day trippers roaring in on speedboats from nearby Phuket.
This year, the government took the surprising step of closing the bay to tourists for four months, from June 1 to September 30, to embark on a rejuvenation project that includes coral restoration work and the installation of a new jetty.