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Koh Lipe

The Beach

Thailand’s southernmost island Koh Lipe is in the Southern part of the Andaman sea. It is located in Satun Province, close to Langkawi island (Malaysia), about 60 kilometres from the mainland. It is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, a large group of over 70 islands, and also part of a smaller cluster of islands called the Butang Islands or Adang Archipelago.

The island is home to about 500 Chao Ley, or Sea Gypsies, who were given a grant to half of the island and live in small villages, predominantly around the far east side of the island near Sunrise Beach. This Thai island has various transliterations of its name such as Koh Lipe, Ko Lipe, Ko Lipey and Koh Lipeh. ‘Ko’ or ‘koh’ is the Thai term for ‘island’ while ‘lipe’ is ‘paper’ in the native Chao Ley language.

Blessed with several white-sand beaches separated by lush, jungled hills, and within spitting distance of protected coral reefs and massive islands thick with wildlife, this was where the backpacker trail led if you were lucky enough to hear the whispers after Phi-Phi broke your hippie heart.

Paper Island has four beach districts, namely, Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, Pattaya Beach and the Karma Beach. Coves and smaller secluded beaches skirt this tiny speck such as Bila Beach and Sanom Beach.

Pattaya Beach to the southwest has the finest white sand and is popular with the younger set thanks to its lively atmosphere. With more than a dozen bars, most of which are clustered near the entrance to Walking Street, Pattaya Beach is the place to be for nightlife.

Sunrise Beach, the longest stretch of sand on Lipe. During high season it's windier and the sea choppier here, but Sunrise still retains a refreshingly low-key atmosphere.

Sunset Beach lies a 10-minute walk to the island's northwest shore, and here you'll find a funky, chilled-out vibe that's popular with hipsters and skinny dippers.

In between Sunrise and Pattaya there’s an ever-expanding concrete maze of cafes, travel agencies, shops and salons, but with more resorts opting to stay open year-round there is definitely a way to find peace within the tumult if you don’t mind a little wind in your eyes.

Karma Beach in the North which faces the Adang/Lipe channel.

All of Koh Lipe can be covered on foot, although its size at first can be a little deceiving. There are few motorcycles around the island, none of which are for rent. There are no cars on the island. Longtail boats will take you from any point on the island to any other point on the island for 50 baht. Small concrete roads link the various beaches.

Prior to your trip to Koh Lipe, stack up on baht as the island has no ATM. Many resorts, though, accept credit cards and they may even give you cash advances on your Visa or Mastercard with hefty charges.

There’s good coral all along the southern coast and around Koh Kra, the little island opposite Sunrise Beach. Most resorts rent out mask and snorkel sets and fins, and can arrange four-point long-tail snorkel trips to Ko Adang and other coral-fringed islands. The best way to see the archipelago is to hire a local Chao Ley captain. Alternatively, you may also rent a kayak and leisurely paddle throughout the day and explore for yourself the various coves and reefs the island has to offer.

You can see choice of Koh Lipe photos here.