Most of Thailand’s secrets have long been common knowledge, but there is still one little island – Koh Lipe – which stands out as a slice of paradise and is only now just being discovered.
Koh Lipe (http://www.kohlipemapcom), a small island in the Andaman Sea, is a little gem 60 km off the coast inside the Tarutao National Marine Park. Koh Lipe has become the southern anchor of the busy north-south Andaman tourist route and getting there these days couldn’t be easier with boats arriving from all up and down the coast including Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Krabi and Trang. Koh Lipe is also the jumping off point to Langkawi and Malaysia.
At its largest the island is only 2 km long and 1 km wide. With 2 main beaches each with their own distinct character, there is something for everyone. The busy one, Pattaya beach has a wide beach stretched in a long crescent of fine white sand. In the evening it transforms as restaurants and bars set out chairs and bamboo mats on the sand and lit by candle light, reggae tunes drift down the beach.
On the other side of the island is Sunrise Beach with views of several small nearby islands and a cool onshore breeze most of the year. Sunrise Beach is the opposite of Pattaya beach, with just a few resorts and bars, it is very laid back. It also has a very large coral reef with the best snorkeling on the island directly from the beach.
There are no cars on the island and thankfully few motorbikes so people get around by walking. The whole island can be explored on foot in a couple of hours. Pooh’s Bar (http://www.poohlipe.com) in the middle of the island is run by the charismatic Pooh and is almost an institution on the island. Famous for its live music in the evenings it draws a large crowd.
Karma Bar (http://www.karmabar.net) at the north end of Sunrise Beach is well known on the back packer scene with its mellow music and great location. At the other end of Sunrise beach is Castaway Resort (http://kohlipe.castaway-resorts.com) has stunning sea and island views which viewed from its raised candle lit deck has to be the ultimate in chilled out dining and drinking.
Tarutao National Marine Park has some of the best dive sites in all of Thailand. Within easy boat reach of Koh Lipe are hundreds of coral reefs with an amazing variety of huge hard and soft corals. The corals and seas around Koh Lipe are full of marine life, offering everything from turtles to huge rays. Even if you aren’t a diver you can enjoy the marine world drifting along the edges of coral reefs with a mask and snorkel. Compared to other dive and snorkel areas there is so much to see and no competition to see it.
Koh Lipe still has a lot of cheap back packer’s accommodation, with places like Varin offering simple bamboo huts close to the beach. At the top end is Sita Beach with a swimming pool and Castaway Resort with their 2 story breezy bungalow which was described by the Lonely Planet as ‘the most chic on Lipe’.
Tips for Travelers:
• If you are traveling from Hat Yai be in Pak Bara before 11am to catch the speed boat.
• If you are traveling from Langkawi the boat journey is shorter and there is a small efficient immigration on Koh Lipe.
• There are no ATM’s on the island so make sure you bring enough cash for your stay, and then double it as you’ll end up deciding to stay longer!
• Varin 2 on Sunrise beach has the newest and cheapest bamboo bungalow huts.
• Castaway resorts has the chicest accommodation http://kohlipe.castaway-resorts.com