LIPE, Thailand 19 February 2021: The November to April cool season is the perfect time to enjoy the Andaman Sea coast’s beauty. Seas shimmer in the sunlight as smooth as glass sheets reflecting clear blue skies.

Monsoon tropical storms are far away drenching the opposite coastline facing the Gulf of Thailand. It leaves the islands off the Andaman coast serene and sheltered until May when the compass swings dramatically to herald storm clouds blown on the wind from the southwest. No wonder, discerning Thai beachgoers, vote Koh Lipe one of the top-ranked islands in South Thailand.

Thailand is home to 936 islands, located off the coastline of 19 provinces adjacent to both the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Of all the islands, 562 are in the Andaman Sea and Koh Lipe stands head and shoulders above its neighbours for some excellent reasons.

The island is the perfect answer for those who are looking for a hideaway paradise to enjoy natural marine beauty but with resort comforts. Besides its picturesque scenery, the island offers vast choices of tourist accommodation and other supporting facilities such as shops, restaurants and bars. It is a favourite choice for visitors looking for a travel base to explore Tarutao National Marine Park ranked as one of ASEAN’s Heritage Parks.

A favourite Lipe Island programme for domestic holidaymakers extends for four days and three nights. It gives visitors a chance to explore marine attractions and enjoy a relaxing chill out from a busy routine back home..

From Bangkok, a flight to Satun, the nearest airport town to Lipe, takes around one hour and 25 minutes. From Satun, there are shuttle van services that take travellers to Pakbara Pier to connect with a ferry or speedboat service to the island. The overland trip to the pier takes around two hours, while the speedboat trip to Lipe takes another one hour and 30 minutes. 

Before booking the flight to Satun, make sure that you can reach Pakbara Pier, before the last speedboat departs for the island, usually at around 1400. Double-check with the boat operator as the timetable depends on the season and at present, the island is off-limits to travellers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

There are other travel options for the transfer to Satun such as air-conditioned tour buses and daily train service to Hat Yai. Travellers board the Hat Yai-bound train in Bangkok.  Once they arrive in Hat Yai, they join a van service at Kaset market to Pakbara Pier.

If travellers opt to take the Satun-bound bus from Bangkok, they need to disembark at Amphoe La-Ngu where they board the local bus or Song Thaew, to Pakbara Pier.

Although it may sound like quite an effort to reach Koh Lipe, it is worth the effort. The white-sand beaches and crystal-clear seas in Lipe will revive your energies, and you will quickly forget the exhaustion of the long overland commute and ferry transfer to Koh Lipe.

Lipe beaches

There are three main beaches. The favourite spot is ironically called Pattaya Beach, not a reminder of the popular resort southeast of Bangkok, but rather a Thai language reference to ‘gentle breezes.’ The 1-km long beach is the social hub of the island where most of the tourist facilities are located, including hotels, shops, and restaurants. It is also a spot for those who enjoy beach bars after sunset.

Sunrise Beach is an excellent choice for travellers looking for a quieter spot to chill-out. Then there is Sunset Beach, as the name suggests, a favourite spot to enjoy stunning sunset views and the opportunity to capture them with an Instagram post.

As a travel base, Lipe opens up the treasures of Tarutao National Marine Park, where sightseeing tour packages are offered by local operators who curate trips that explore the abundant marine life up close.

For those who arrive on Koh Lipe before 1430, there’s a chance to kick start the holiday activities with a sunset snorkelling programme that also includes an introduction to sightseeing activities around the island.

The top sightseeing spots include Jabang – an underwater sea-cave, Koh Hin Ngam – a small island on the south of Adang island known for its shiny black rocks covering the coast, Koh Yang. Travellers can discover soft multicoloured corals while Koh Adang is famed for its unspoiled natural marine beauty and sunset scenery.

Lipe is best suited to travellers who have visited all the famous tourist islands off the coast of Thailand and yearn for a quiet natural environment that has been carefully protected at Koh Lipe for future generations.  This is not your usual mass tourism haunt. Here the emphasis is on exploring a national park and the opportunity to join full-day snorkelling trips covering the inner and outer marine zones of Koh Lipe.

Then there are the sunsets unrivalled on the Andaman Sea coast. They are simply remarkable.  Equally attractive are the full-day excursions that unlock the beauty of Koh Hin Sorn – another stunning island known for its rock marvels, and  Koh Rok Roy – a small island on the west side of Koh Hin Ngam. Koh Rok Roy is known for its stunning white sand beach. Other favourite snorkelling sites include Koh Dong, Koh Rawi, Koh Pung and Koh Pai which are also well-known for their abundant marine life.

After a full day of sightseeing and snorkelling activities, relax in a beach-side restaurant and sip a well-earned iced drink while you order from an extensive seafood menu.  The chef will recommend the Spicy Sea-Food Salad and the Tom-Yum Kung Stir-fried Shrimp with Garlic, courtesy of the fishing village’s morning catch. To end your amazing Lipe meal try the local speciality, a ‘Roti ‘dessert that goes well with a glass of sweet milk tea to recharge energy for tomorrow’s island adventure.

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