Southeast Asia is quickly becoming the most popular region for people from America and Europe to spend their vacations. While Thailand and Malaysia continue to be the popular choices, during my recent trip to Southeast Asia I discovered the ‘secret jewel of the Andaman Sea’ or more simply the island of Koh Lipe.
Located about 65 kilometers south of mainland Thailand, Koh Lipe is a remotely located exotic island that has plenty to offer. Part of a series of Butang islands scattered across the Andaman Sea inside the Tarutao National Marine Park, Koh Lipe is part of the Satun province of Thailand. However, the island itself falls outside the jurisdiction of the ‘National Park’ which is not particularly a bad thing as it has led to much infrastructure development there in recent years.
Most tourists pick the island of Koh Lipe as their last stop during their stay in Southeast Asia. Since, Koh Lipe can only be reached via sea route it is important to remember that Pak Barra in Thailand is the main spot from where you can catch a ferry leaving for Koh Lipe.
The speedboat at Pak Barra usually leaves at 11:30 am and thankfully I managed to board it in time. For tourists who wish to reach Koh Lipe from Thailand, the best route is to fly from Bangkok to Hat Yai and then take a two-hour bus trip to Pak Barra. The main hub for tourists leaving from Malaysia is Langkawi from where two boats travel to Koh Lipe every day.
All in all, Koh Lipe offers three beaches, namely, Sunrise beach, Sunset beach and Pattaya beach. The reason why Koh Lipe is emerging as one of the top tourist destinations in 2012 is that the island has to offer quiet and well-preserved beaches which allow tourists to take a break from the overcrowded beaches in mainland Thailand. The Pattaya beach in the south is my personal favorite as it is least crowded of the three beaches.
From grass huts to luxury hotels, Koh Lipe has to offer a wide variety of accommodation options. Similarly, you can find restaurants and cafes that offer all types of cuisines to dazzle your taste buds. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities on the crystal clear shores of Koh Lipe. You will easily find shops that rent the required equipment for such activities.
Exploring the refined shores of Koh Lipe is totally worth it as you will get to take a closer look at rare aquatic species and coral reefs. The Walking Street in the middle of the island is a popular place to shop and eat, while you will also find exotic beach resorts and bars to spend your evenings merrily.
Finally, a word of advice for all readers! In case you prefer carrying plastic money or credit cards with you on foreign trips, you might want to carry some cash as well as there are no ATMs on Koh Lipe.