Koh Lipe, Thailand
Koh Lipe (view from the clouds)
Tiny island worth a diamond
Koh Lipe or Paper Island is a very small island located in the southern part of the Andaman Sea, in Satun Province of Southern Thailand, very near to Malaysia's Langkawi Island. Koh Lipe is the southern most island of Thailand. It is part of a group of over 70 small islands designated as the Tarutao National Marine Park. It is easily reached by boats which have links to nearby islands of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Krabi. There are daily speed boats to the island from the mainland at Pak Bara (Pakpara), about 60 km away.
Koh Lipe is the only inhabited island in the surrounding group of islands. There you will meet the sea gypsies or "Chao Ley" in local dialect. This island is surrounded by a clear and calm sea of crystal clear shallow waters, with hundreds of coral reefs and rich marine life. There are large varieties of fish around the coral just a few meters deep straight off all of the beaches. A quarter of the world's tropical fish species is found around this island. Snorkeling and diving are definitely the most popular activities in this island paradise.
The island has 4 main beaches. The most popular is Pattaya Beach. Then you have the Sunrise Beach (Hat Chao Ley), and the Sunset Beach (Hat Pramong), which literally mean exactly that, being situated on the east and the west respectively. And you have the Karma Beach in the north.
Literally Nothing On This Island, Except...
Believe it or not, Koh Lipe has "nothing" to offer except prestine white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters with plenty of exotic marine life! What else would you ask for if you were stranded on an unspoilt island paradise? Maybe you would be surprised that tourist accommodation is more than residential houses in Koh Lipe!
Koh Lipe's main street is called "Walking Street" and closes down for motorbikes from 18:00 until 24:00 in high season. The Walking Street will be bursting with life come sunset, with all the vendors in full action. There is no car on the island! However, there are special motorbike taxies with sidecar that you can take to get around. These taxies have riders with their ubiquitous purple jackets and are very colorful. In addition, there are long-tail boats which can take you to any point on the island.
A Wide Variety Of Accommodation And Food
Accommodation is a plenty all over the island and access to the beaches is a breeze, anywhere within 15 minutes because the island is flat and tiny. There is a wide variety of accommodation, from camp grounds with simple bamboo huts to air-conditioned bungalows and upmarket resort hotels with swimming pools. Beats me, "swimming pools" of all things! Are we going to find refrigerators in Eskimo land as well??
In typical Thai lifestyle, you don't have to worry about food and refreshments where you can pick and choose within a casual stroll along the beaches. Most places are connected by concrete roads, and it usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes to walk between two beaches. Foods ranging from cheap and tasty Thai street foods to highend internaional cuisine are for your choosing. There are also many coffeshops and bars catering mainly for tourists as well.
How And When To Go
Koh Lipe, unfortunately, is no longer a secret and isolated island paradise. It has now become an all-year tourist destination, especially amongst the local Thais, Malaysians and Singaporeans. The usual route to the island is from Pak Bara which operates boat services all year round. From the Malaysian side, there are also boat services from Langkawi Island to Koh Lipe. Weekends are specially crowded with tourists. It is therefore highly recommended that prior accommodation reservations are made.
Peak season is from November to May, with busiest period between mid-December and end of February. Prior reservation for accommodation is a must. It is more advantageous that you go during the off-season period between June and October, or what the locals call the "green season".
So do yourself a favor. You know what I mean!