Satun Bay: The sand and caves that inspired The Beach

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Bali jungles of Indonesia are used as an inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s drug-smuggling protagonist

Thailand’s Satun Bay was turned into a landmark of one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s most iconic movies – but not for very long.

The 2,000-year-old Thien Fornar district has remained off-limits to the general public in a bid to preserve it from tourism.

Now, a plan to open up its beaches to the public has been given the green light.

They will include picturesque sands and caves, or a children’s zoo, local governments say.

One of the drawings above is said to be from Maya Bay in Bali

Satun was featured in the 2004 Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach, but has been closed since 2007.

According to its traditional rulers, the locals only need three to four days to notice a tourism boom – they discovered that soon, Thien Fornar was being overrun with tourist tents.

Up to 30,000 tourists pass through the beach each day, they say.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Satun Navosa Basic Nature Reserve is often used to attract boat tours for tourists

Is Thien Fornar really so unsafe?

The government is hoping that the new beach plan will be part of an effort to meet Thailand’s tourism goals.

Tourists often mistake the area for a popular spot along the Andaman Sea in Phuket.

In fact, it is actually a few miles away, in Bangkok province.

But because of the prolonged period of closure, its most famous attractions have been reduced to historic murals.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Tourists can be seen wandering around Thu Payam Temple in Satun Bay

The new wave of tourists has even been blamed for a measles outbreak in parts of the country.

As part of the new project, a children’s park that will provide children with an introduction to Buddhism, might be included as an attraction.

“Visitors, especially children, should not go near the caves because they could confuse the papyrus trees with caves,” the Boonlert National Park’s senior management officer said.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption tourists seeking to stay in Satun may now be able to book into a children’s zoo

“And that’s why the current situation of tourist incidents should be fixed,” he said.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Could the holiday hotspot be getting more visitors than it can handle?

Satun is part of the Boonlert National Park, which is seen as the real Saudi Arabia of Thailand.

The Satun National Park is one of the country’s highest tourist destinations, attracting millions of visitors each year.

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