Where was the beach filmed?
The Beach was filmed in Thailand in the late ‘1990s. With the majority of the shots being captured on Maya Bay Beach, located in the Phi Phi Islands. Although some scenes were filmed in other provinces throughout Thailand, including Bangkok, Phuket and the Khao Yai National Park.
The Beach is a hit movie from the noughties, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Sometimes known as the ‘Leonardo DiCaprio island movie’.
The movie has inspired a lot of backpackers to follow in Richard’s footsteps, and venture to Thailand in search of adventure. Myself included. In fact, I’ve been lucky enough to visit the locations shown in the movie and I even spent a few months working as a tour guide at Maya Bay.
So in this post I’m going to share exactly where the beach was filmed, and how these locations look today. But first, here is where you can watch the movie if you are yet to watch it.
Where To Watch The Beach
Unfortunately, the Beach is not available on Netflix! So Amazon Prime is the best choice, (watch the beach on Amazon Prime). It costs a few dollars to rent the movie or you can watch it for free with a Prime subscription.
If like me you prefer to read, you can also pick up a copy of the book, online. An in my opinion, when it comes to The Beach, the Alex Garland novel is much better than the film! If you’re reading this while travelling and don’t have the option of ordering online then not to worry, you can find a copy of the beach on the front shelf in almost every airport and bookshop in Asia!
The Beach Movie Locations: Thailand Filming Locations
“You hope and you dream. But you never believe that something’s gonna happen for you. Not like it does in the movies. And when it actually does, you expected to feel different, more visceral, more real. I was waiting for it to hit me.” – Alex Garland, The Beach (film)
All the scenes in the beach were shot in Thailand. But while the story and the book are set within the Gulf of Thailand, around the islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Surat Thani. The film was actually shot on Thailand’s western coast in Phi Phi Islands. Which are located in the Andaman Sea.
Koh Phi Phi Leh Island is the home of Maya Bay Beach, and there was no better film set than here. Maya Bay is enclosed by limestone cliffs surrounding the bay on three sides, but in the movie, the beach is totally closed off. Using CGI an extra cliff was digitally added into the film post-production, to give the impression that the bay was totally sealed off.
The film crew took over the entire bay for 4 months of filming in 1998 where they converted the beachfront to the mysterious camp that the travellers had constructed or stumbled upon in the movie.
Where Was The Beach Filmed In Thailand?
- Bangkok: Khaosan Road
- Phuket Town: The Memory At On On Hotel
- Khao Yai National Park: Haew Su Waterfall
- Koh Phi Phi Leh: Maya Bay
The film itself was not a great success, scoring a low 20% approval rating on rotten tomatoes. But it did firmly place the beach on the map, earning Maya Bay a spot on the Forbes list of the worlds 10 most beautiful beaches. A title which the bay has held for over two decades.
Bangkok – Khaosan Road
The opening scenes of the beach are captured in Bangkok, showing Richard navigating his way through the crowded markets, whilst being harassed by the local vendors. As he narrates- the classic backpacker spiel about his dreams of getting off the beaten track, little does he know that unlike most travellers; that is exactly what he’ll end up doing.
Any backpacker who has ever been to Thailand will recognise this filming location a mile off.
So where was the beach filmed in Bangkok? The beach was filmed in Bangkok at no other than Khao San Road. The infamous party strip where young backpackers congregate and take selfies eating scorpions. It’s often the first stop for most people starting out on an Asia backpacking trip.
Phuket (Town) – The Memory At On On Hotel
Scenes from the beach were also captured in Phuket, which is nearby to Phi Phi Island, where the actual beach is located. But where was the beach filmed in Phuket?
After the opening sequence in Khao San Road DiCaprio heads into his hotel, which is actually in Phuket town- hours away from Bangkok!
The guesthouse is called ‘The Memory At On On‘, which at the time of filming was a run down, budget backpackers guesthouse. The hotel has re-branded, with a complete makeover in recent years- helped partly due to films success the Memory At On On is now a three-star hotel.
Room 204 is advertised by the hotel, and this is the room where DiCaprio’s character allegedly bunked in the movie.
Richard would have paid close to 300 Baht for his stay, but if you are wanting to stay in Richards room, before visiting the Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay, it’s going to cost you a little more than Richard would have paid. Today a night in the same room costs 3,000 Baht. You can book DiCaprio’s Room at The On On Hotel here. But make sure to request room 204.
Khao Yai National Park – Haew Suwat Waterfall
The waterfall must be crossed in order to reach the beach, and there’s only one way down. At least that’s how it is in the film, jumping off the waterfall in real life would land you in the Khao Yao National Park, or probably hospitalised, as the water at the bottom is nowhere near deep enough! Either way, the waterfall is nowhere near Maya Bay or the Phi Phi Islands.
This two days overnight private tour of the Khao Yai National Park is just $275 USD and will have a local guide show you through around the incredible waterfalls. Including Haew Suwat waterfall from The Beach.
Koh Phi Phi Leh – Maya Bay
Maya Bay in Koh Phi Phi. Easily the most lusted over beach in all of Thailand. This is where 90% of film is set, which shows how a group of travellers have manage to escape the norm of society and their day-to-day lives, to found paradise on a unknown beach in the middle of nowhere.
It’s now one of Thailand most popular tourist attractions and you too can visit The Beach. It does tend to get a little busy due to the popularity, but if you’re staying on Phi Phi Island itself, you can take advantage of a sunrise tour at 6:00 am and beat the crowds.
What beach was the film The Beach filmed on?
Maya Bay Beach is where the majority of The Beach was filmed. Where is the island from the beach? Koh Phi Phi Leh is the island which is home to Maya Bay. It’s an uninhabited island in the Andaman Sea, a few hours away from the coast of Phuket.
How Much Was Paid To Use Maya Bay As a Filming Location for The Beach?
The budget to produce The Beach was 50 million dollars, global takings reached 144 million dollars. And DiCaprio’s character Richard earned a 12 million dollar paycheck, surprisingly the cost to take over the entire beach seem so little in comparison.
Thailand was paid by 20th Centenary Fox just $81,000 USD to take over Maya Bay (2.5 million Baht). A minor 1.62% of the films total budget.
105,000 dollar was also said to have been put aside to reshape to beach to a natural state after film crews had left, but this money never materialised.
Today it is estimated it takes the National Park administration at Maya Bay less than 30 days to generate the same amount, (2.5 million Thai Baht) in revenue from tourism.
Controversy During The Filming Of The Beach
Filming of The Beach caused controversy at the time when the crew tried to level out the terrain of the beach with a bulldozer.
20th Century Fox gained permission to dig up Maya Bay, removing shrubs and plant coconut trees to ironically make the beach more ‘Paradise-Like’. When the bulldozer moved in, accusations began against the National Parks Service, with outraged locals claiming that the land was being sold.
Lawsuits were filed by environmentalists who believed the damage caused by Boyle and his team had permanently damaged the ecosystem and after the movie crews had left, restoration attempts had repeatedly failed.
A clear flat area at the end of the beach was left behind by the crews, the artificial layout was never rectified as promised by Fox and the entire area remained damaged until the bay was hit with a tsunami in 2004. The Tsunami reshaped the beach into a natural state and lawsuits were dropped in 2006.
Effects To Maya Bay After Being The Beach Movie Location
The beach wasn’t a great movie, but what is was, was an advert for Koh Phi Phi. And one that was broadcast across the globe- opening peoples eyes for the first time, to the beauty of Phi Phi Islands.
As more people heard about the paradise beach, more tour operators wanted a slice of the cake, and more travellers wanted in on the action. Causing the bay to sadly suffer at the hands of mass-tourism, finally being forced to close to the public indefinitely in 2016.
How Old Was Leonardo DiCaprio In The Beach
How Old Is Leonardo DiCaprio in the beach?
When the beach was filmed, Leonardo DiCaprio was just 24 years and played the character named ‘Richard’. This was more than two decades ago, since the release of The Beach DiCaprio is now 45 years old and has gone on the have starring roles in a further 26 movies, bringing his total film appearances to 44.
How much did Leonardo DiCaprio get paid for the beach?
Leonardo DiCaprio was well paid for his staring role in The Beach, he earned a salary of $12 million and another $8 million in royalties. The success of the film Titanic in 1997 had put DiCaprio is a prime position to demand such a large pay check.
The Beach Book
The Beach film is based on the Alex Garland novel ‘The Beach’, the book still holds a prominent position on shelves at airports and book shops around Thailand. But if you want to get your hands on a copy, here is where you can do so.
Do you prefer reading the book or watching the film? Let me know in the comments section below!
And of course, you can rent the full movie on Amazon Prime, or watch for free with a 30 day trial of Amazon Prime Video.
Further Reading About Where The Beach Movie Was Filmed
Where was The Beach filmed: Sleeping where Leonardo DiCaprio slept – The Star (MY)
More about where The Beach was filmed – Wiki
Details about where The Beach was filmed – Movie Locations
Other Film Locations From The Beach- Legendary Trips