Women and children chao-ley. Koh Lipe. Thailand. March 2009.

Koh Lipe, heads and tails


  Thailand: Islands - February 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text: 

Goodbye Koh Lipe! I left my bamboo bungalow on Sunrise Beach this morning, reluctantly. If I found the dives a bit disappointing, this island in the south of Thailand is still really nice and deserves a stop for a few days of relaxation.

Koh Lipe: one island, three beaches

Koh Lipe is roughly the shape of an elongated triangle. The sides are formed by the three main beaches.

Map of Koh Lipe.

Pattaya Beach...the busiest in the southwest; Sunrise Beachthe most beautiful (to me) stretches all along the east coast; Sunset Beachthe most "isolated", forms the northwest side. You can walk from one to the other in a few minutes.

White sand and turquoise water

It's very small and very cute, Koh Lipe. The first impression is a wonder.

The sand is white from white, turquoise and translucent water.


A small cove just south of Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thailand, March 2009.

The sandy tongue north of Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

I see myself, the day of my arrival, on the ferry from Tiger Line Travel., widening eyes before the incredible spectacle of this island as the exit of a dream. Those who, unlike me, are lucky enough to have a camera in working order strafe everything from the sea.

While the ferry is moored in Pattaya Bay, waiting for the long-tail boats taxis that have to transship us with our luggage on the sand, I glance with an envious eye at my neighbour, a German mother, armed with a sparkling reflex that she uses in ... automatic mode. How frustrating!

But OK. As you know, I caught myself then. ????

On the beaches of Koh Lipe, we go crazy hallucinating at the moment, so it is moist and hot, so the sun bangs.

The sun is beating on Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

But we survive. Just a splash in the water at 29-30 ° C and / or a mango-shake break as soon as the insolation threatens.

The best thing is to walk the sand at the end of the day, or better, at nightfall, under the billions of stars and the silver light of the moon that was all round a few days ago. Or very early in the morning, from 6am, in the cool, at sunrise.

At that moment, there are no long-distance boats. There is only the soft lapping of the surf and the murmur of the wind.

Sunrise on Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

When there is no wind, it is really very hot ... Mid-March, we are already in the rainy season. Sometimes storms erupt in the evening. But still far away, in the clouds massed on the horizon, never on Koh Lipe itself.

At most we get some refreshing gusts of wind at dusk and a short shower in the evening.

The next day, the same moist and heavy heat is reinstated. Fortunately I'm in the water almost every day with the dives and courses of Rescue.

A more authentic island

But, I said in my previous post I'm a little mixed on the island.

It is very pleasant for a short stay, but no longer very authentic. All those I met here in February 2009 and who have known Koh Lipe for several years have told me the same thing: the island has been transforming at full speed for the last two or three years.

Rows of bungalows grew like mushrooms along the beaches. A paved path now connects Sunrise, Pattaya and the village of Chao-Ley, the "sea gypsies" who live here.

The local mafia of real estate entrepreneurs and hoteliers has swept away all the land. The Thais and Malays are, it seems, more numerous than the Chao-Ley, now ...

Varin Resort, Pattaya Beach. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

Bungalows Andaman Resort, Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

This little road on the picture above is very recent, it did not exist a few months ago.

Along the road, there is everything you need for the comfort of the tourist: clothes shops, mini-markets, internet centres, travel agencies, massage and tattoo parlours, pancake and ice cream shops, restaurants, bars...

I was warned: Koh Lipe is in the middle of "Koh-Phi-Phi-sation".

Heaps of ferries and speed boats arrive every day. There are now antennas for mobile phones, high-speed internet and wifi, as well as some chic resorts.

No ATM yet (ATM) but I guess it will not be long.

On the mini-road in hard, circulate for the moment, like vehicles, only the motorcycles of Chao-Ley.

Their village is located in the east, roughly in the middle of Sunrise Beach. A handful of shabby stoves, made of corrugated iron, flanked by henhouses and a few TV parables.

In the village of Chao-Ley. Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

Women and children chao-ley. Koh Lipe. Thailand. March 2009.

Behind the scenes

After the first amazement in front of the turquoise waters, one discovers the other side of the scenery, at the bend of a path, a rock, a tree: small piles of garbage, badly burnt rubbish, abandoned plastic bottles.

Of course, there are some places that are "cleaner" than others, cleaned regularly, with provision of rubbish bins, in front of the beach portions of some resorts and bungalows, as well as along the paved road. But the rubbish scattered in every corner breaks the charm of the island a little.

When one randomly follows the few dirt trails that still cross Koh Lipe, one falls on one of the big dumps, between two noisy generators stashed in the jungle. Dogs forage in garbage bags, birds fly away. It stinks.

Two large barges laden with building materials docked a few days ago in the middle of Pattaya Beach. A backhoe back and forth between blue water and sand-flour so soft under the feet.

Two large barges laden with building materials docked on Pattaya Beach. Koh Lipe, Thailand, March 2009.

Anyway, anyway. How shall I put it?

I was not looking for a desert island, and I really enjoy having mango shakes and wifi, but I do not really like what the Koh Lipe tourist business is doing.

Though. The arrival of a more upscale and more demanding clientele may help to improve the cleanliness of the island and respect for the environment in a few years. To be continued…

Forra Diving

For my part, I was painarde, housed in a huge bamboo bungalow at Forra Diving, in Sunrise Beach, far from the noise, the agitation, without opposite. While being close to everything.

My huge bamboo bungalow at Forra Diving. Sunrise beach, Koh Lipe, Thailand. March 2009.

The comfort is rustic: fan, mosquito net bed, shower in an open-air bathroom with a bougainvillea branch, electricity from 7:30 am to 1 am. But frankly, for a lazy and diving stay, I don't need much else... To be ready in the morning, I only have to get dressed with a swimsuit and a pareo!

I often spent quiet evenings, far from the bars and parties of Pattaya, daydreaming on my terrace, rocked by the sound of the waves and the crackling of insects in the surrounding vegetation. I tried to play the piano on the computer in the hammock, and quickly let go of it, it's not practical at all!

Diving disappointments

I had a good time at Koh Lipe. Met lovely people at Forra Diving.

But frankly, I would not recommend the island as a diving destination (I did not find the exceptional funds). Neither this dive center - which I have yet appreciated - to novice divers (during my stay there was more or less disorganization, to put it mildly).

Diving spots around Lipe.

So yes, except for one or two outings, where I met new beasts, the dives I made were rather disappointing.

Visited rotten, very often. As for the reputation of a site like 8 Mile, it is completely overrated, in my opinion, if you are not lucky enough to come across a whale shark. As for the "big" question, we see the shadow of three unfortunate barracudas in the pea puree and that's it. Well, well.

My main regret is not having the time, with this very addictive Rescue courseto make a small tour of the nearby islands, Koh Adang and Koh Rawi, which are superb views of the open sea, neither on Tarutao, nor on Bulone, further on... It will be for another time!

That's it, Koh Lipe is far away now. I bumped two and a half hours by boat and nearly five hours drive back to Phuket. ????

The clash of cultures is a bit violent. And the usual melancholy, which precedes the return flight, is settling down ..


  Thailand: Islands - February 2009

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  1. What a pity that I was not on Koh Butang, the water was still very clear last week ..................

  2. @FunnyWorld: But if, I will continue, between two trips. I still have pictures and anecdotes in stock ...

    @Alain Michelena: If, yes, we went diving near Butang (which also bears another name). But as I explained above, if the water is indeed very clear on the surface, near the shore and rocks, or even translucent, it is not so much a few meters lower. There are plenty of good spots for snorkelers, but when you go down, the water becomes very green, very charged with particles and very cloudy. As I was coming from Similan, where the visit was much better, it surprised me.

    1. for fifteen years I spent five months a year in lipe, I saw the tourist invasion disfigure the island and steal the chao lae, the fauna of lipe, adang, rawi and koh dong disappear, (eagles, lizards, pythons, otters, fish and corals), there is only some chaos without resources, seven eleven, resorts with swimming pool and monstrous garbage, more than five tons a day, it is the inevitable ransom of tourism, it is we the farangs responsible!

    2. I am currently on site
      Level dirty tourists Asians (especially Chinese) are not the last ....

  3. Thank you for your blog full of riches and beautiful images. I enjoy reading your tickets ... it feels good a bit of tropical sun even if Brittany is sunny at this time.
    Continue to make us dream. I just love it…

  4. I just wrote a post about the excitement that preceded a trip ... The opposite is also true when you feel the return approaching. Fortunately, the writings and photos for the blues!

    There are always good and bad things about a destination becoming more and more popular. I do not think it's necessary to reject everything en bloc. Everywhere on the planet, we hear the same speech. "It was better before, when there were not so many tourists ..." I said it often too. At the same time, I like having wi-fi ... I think you had the best of both worlds: the calm and the good sides of development.

    Anyway, your pictures are dreamy. Thanks for the escape! 🙂

  5. Welcome back with spring!
    🙄 I'll be at CDG tomorrow, Sunday morning,... we might miss each other ! if you see me... jump in my bag and come... !

  6. @Cathy: And thank you for your nice little comment, which I discovered during my stopover in Dubai for the return flight. it is very nice !!! Well, the arrival in Brittany will be less hard for me in a few hours if there is sun! Phew!

    @ Marie-Julie: Oh, well I'm going to take a look at Taxi-Brousse this step ... I quite agree with you: I do not like to hold the speeches "it was better before" in a systematic way. But all the same, there are quite a few corners where the tourist business has really made the landscape dirty. Harmonious development and respect for the environment is undoubtedly a utopia ...

    @Manta: Oh yes!!! I want to jump in your suitcase! But it's my editor who will not agree. I'm supposed to get back to work this week ...

  7. Ah, you're back, it's about time... 👿
    I've been back for a few days now 😡
    Well, I wanted to go for a ride in the south of Thailand in a while after your "clearing", but I do not want to do me a Koh Phi-Phi bis (tourist + diving not terrible)
    For the authentic and beautiful dives, you have to go to the Papuans. The Raja Ampat is sublime 😯
    For CDG, you need to prepare for the shock. A piece of advice: Watch a Korean horror movie on the plane, then a Japanese Z series and end with "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" in Chinese version with English subtitles 😀

  8. @Alimata: Yes, I came back this Sunday in Rennes... What do you mean, it's not too early? 😈

    Indeed, given the quality of the dives that you have already done in your life as a diver, I would not advise those of Lipe. The sites around Phi Phi are better, IMHO. And those of the Similan are always worth it, especially Richelieu Rock, really top.

    As for the atmosphere of Lipe, nothing really authentic. The island is not yet at the stage of Phi Phi, but it clearly takes the way.

    I have been thinking for several years about Papuans and Raja Ampat, I must say ... And my "long" summer vacation trips grow more and more to the east. So I will inevitably arrive a day in PNG. As early as this summer, maybe? I have to check the seasons ...

    Finally, on the plane (brrr, it's scary, your movie program), I prepared myself by offering me the film with Angelina Jolie as a tearful mother (beautiful performance of the pretty, but too tearful atmosphere for my taste), the last James Bond that bored me deeply, a revision of "Working Girl" in VO (too cute, Indiana Jones while young) and another review of Mary Poppins in VO, childhood film seen and reviewed in VF when j I was kid, and there, beautiful sequence nostalgia, I was singing alone in front of my screen stuck in my seat ...
    The classics, that's what's real!!! 🙂

    As usual, at CDG, there were only two guys to ship the passports of an entire plane. Fortunately, I ran back almost the entire corridor to get ahead of the herd, and I waited less than many others and thus managed to catch my train back ...

    Now that I'm home, I'm thinking about my next departure ... : Mrgreen:

    @Nono: Yes, going to have a job ... But pre-sorting is already done, thanks to my little computer technomade. I unloaded and filed my photos as I went.

    It's cold, but beautiful. It makes me a little strange to be back in Rennes ... I resume tomorrow. I think that's going to really make me funny. I'll do as you do: already take care of my plane ticket for this summer. Not decided yet where ...

  9. Already the return..And you will offer you a lot of sleepless nights with all your photos to classify, your fish to sort by size and color.
    Good luck with that. It's cold again. 🙁
    I have my ticket for Pondy but it will be in August. 8)

  10. Welcome back from Lipe so 😉 ...

    Lipe ... well, two and a half years ago, the sheethouse was located along tall grass and a dirt road, there was not much light at night:
    The only Buddhist monk on the island still gave his morning alms:
    Not much to do but the most beautiful beaches of Thailand and always a regret to leave the island. But it's all a bit over... like a taste of tomorrow's party 😡

    I am disappointed that you did not enjoy the dives in Lipe, which without being of the level of the Similans, is to my taste pleasant for the variety of small fauna and its alcyonnaires ... provided that the center chooses its places at the right moment. For a reason that escapes me, some centers persist on the Adang pass in particular, while Ko Yang for example is a beautiful shallow dive.
    8 mile is double or double: I must have already described to you the dive of a freediving member of p.com who was scared with a mini bench of swordfish sailboats and a few bulldog sharks that were running around.

    Now that I have absorbed all my reading time on your Thai journey, it's true: I share the idea that you will have to relocate even more to the Southeast.
    ...on my side, I also have a Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea - Solomon islands that I've been working on for a month 😀 , you have to get there in advance for August... 8)

  11. @ Wet & Sea I really like the picture of the monk... 😉
    Yes, the beaches are beautiful in Lipe, I agree. Dives can be interesting for the small, indeed, but it's still not the best in Thailand, far from it. I agree with you on Koh Yang, which I really liked, indeed. As for PNG ... considering the rates to go there and plow in good conditions, it may be waiting for me to find a way to meet a larger budget. It leaves me dreaming in the meantime!

  12. Yes, I spent my evening yesterday "ogling" me too ... Madang? I will study this. Do we ever know.

    But I should also find a nice golden parachute and a small package of stock options that nobody would want more, to invest in a new camera, with optics, flashes and the box that go well with. Not very "democratic" either this kind of toy ...

  13. PNG : I have the impression that it's getting "democratized", well... not really the term for the 79,900 unfortunate people this month... 🙄

    First you have to pay for the trip to Australia but then the Australian low cost airlines (Pacific blue) provide connections to Port Moresby at rather reasonable prices... I think that in Madang you can find accommodation and wordclass diving at correct prices (in fact I'm looking at this corner 😛 ).

  14. I just returned this morning from the Philippines ... I'm catching up on your site!
    Ah... unfortunately 😉 , I must admit that I made 3 attempts to go swimming with the whale sharks... and this year... they were present each time... I have photos and videos to sort out in the coming months!
    You still don't want to come to Raja Ampat? 🙄

  15. @Manta: Grrr ... do not start provoking me with your whale sharks !!! First, I'm waiting to see the images, to believe it, na!
    Well, I would like to go to Raja Ampat. But it is the planning of my editorial who does not agree. (Sigh…)
    For now, I'm preparing July. I found a great promo on KLM, A / R Paris-Kuala Lumpur to ... 540 € !!! As a result, I intend to return to Sipadan, and perhaps couple with Derawan Indonesia side, and maybe even push to the small islands of the Sunda to discover Alor ... I need to study it more closely. But I'll tell you more in a few days. What are you doing in July?

  16. 😡 I knew you were going to say "Grrrr"!
    ➡ I'm going to start sorting photos and videos ... I'll send you a first picture!
    We will end up finding a common trip ...
    At the end of June, it will be for me Egypt as every year ... As in 2008, a week in Safaga and a week of cruising, on a boat that seems very nice, the Nautilus (see website Anthias diving).
    Your future trip seems very nice!

  17. @Manta: Grrr... and re-grrrr!!!!! 😆
    I want to see your pictures !!!! I'm waiting for the "little picture" impatiently.
    Come on, we'll end up doing well together, one day!

  18. Hi Corinne,
    I should have fallen on your blog before my 2nd stay in Koh Lipe in March 2010, because it's worse NOW.
    The first time I went there in March 2007, there was nothing.

    In any case, I love your blog!

    Small question: do you recommend me Sulawesi or the Philippines? For diving and landscapes?
    The Sulawesi, even without cremations, you would have liked?

    Thank you
    Aurelian, a madman from Asia.

  19. @PEPS: Welcome to my little bubbles elsewhere! Delighted that you like it.

    Yes, Lipe has changed a lot and very quickly. For my part, I do not think to return.

    For Sulawesi and the Philippines, super hard to advise you. I loved both! And both offer a variety of landscapes and interesting dives ... Maybe organization and ease of travel, the Philippines, where everyone speaks English, and where tourism is more developed, it's easier.

    Finally, a little clarification: in Sulawesi, the funeral ceremonies do not give rise to cremations, but to funerals (well, way of speaking, since the coffins of the dead are "buried" in holes dug into the cliffs and rocks) . Yes, I would have liked the trip, even without these funeral ceremonies. People reserve you a great welcome everywhere, the landscapes are to fall, the diving is top. The thing is that you need to have a little time in front of you, because the island is really huge ... Anyway, it is a destination that I highly recommend !!!


  20. Hello,
    Your comments are nice, I liked ... I would like to ask you some tips, because we are going to Malaysia and Thailand in February, and we will spend 3 days in Koh Lipe.
    Do you know if there are ferries connecting Koh Lipe to Trang?
    Then, can you tell me if it is easy to land on this island with large luggage, because we will be loaded and I'm afraid to look con with our gos bag and rolling suit planted in the white sand ... Y does he have any help to reach the hotel? I hesitate to leave luggage in a hotel in Langkawi or Sanun, but this would force us to go back there ...
    Have you visited the Sanun area, especially the forest park? If so, what do you think ???
    Thank you, if you have time, to answer me.
    Good next trip!

  21. @ Patt8484: For the boat connections Koh Lipe - Trang, I do not know, but I think they exist, yes. Not sure it's all year long, that said, it must depend on the season. You should be able to find this kind of info, updates, and maybe even schedules, on the sites dedicated to Koh Lipe (by doing a little research on Google or other).

    To unload, it is true that it is more convenient with a backpack ... But I saw lots of people weighted large suitcases arrive at Koh Lipe! In fact, the ferry or big boat is moored at a distance, and longtails (smaller long-tail boats) come to pick up people and their luggage, to land on the desired beach. In general, if we warn the hotel before, they send a guy to help carry the luggage ... And at worst, if there is no one and you are two, one stays with the luggage on the beach while the other goes to the hotel to ask someone for help. And at worst, for a few bahts, there will be a guy who will be ready to play the porters if needed. In short, it is not difficult to find a solution!


  22. OK, thank you Corinne ... We'll do that with all the luggage, slowly but surely ...
    Do you know if the neighboring island of Koh Lipe has a beautiful primary forest, or do you have to spend a night in Satun to go for a walk in the National Forest Park?
    Thank you.

  23. @ Patt8484: Sorry to have delayed answering again. I did not visit the neighboring islands, I ran out of time, as I was passing my Rescue level for diving. I did not see at all on the treks and walks in the forest at the time ... so I can not really advise you on that. You may find more information by rummaging on the internet. There are some sites specifically dedicated to Koh Lipe and its archipelago, I believe.
    Good preparations!

  24. I stayed 8 days in Koh Lipe last August and I agree a little what you say, when we arrive there we are captivated by the beauty of the place: fine sand and white water more turquoise than you die!
    And then there is also behind the scenes, that is to say a lot of stray dogs but not aggressive (unlike Bali), pieces of glasses and plastic bottles here and there on Pattaya Beach but we explained to me that it was because of the wind that always brought the trash to the same place on the island, and also that in the low season the cleaning was not as regular as in the high season.
    I found the dive sites very beautiful without being exceptional either, sorry that you were disappointed by the dive, that said I'm less specialist than you dive so my opinion is probably not very objective.
    I wanted to stay like you at Forra Diving but it was closed at this time of the year, so I went to another dive center (not sure I have the right to advertise here, so I do not give the name but I can give it in PM) which took us to beautiful sites off Lipe.
    Yes I confirm that it is built permanently on the island, at the time of my passage there was a construction site on Pattaya Beach right next to the military base, another on the heights of Sunrise Beach, my diving instructor. explained that there are still 2 or 3 years there were only 2 shuttles a week with the mainland in the low season compared to 4 per day currently, this is a sign.
    In the end, I would say that it is an ideal destination for a beach or snorkeling stay of 3-4 days max, beyond we end up being ch..r !!

  25. @Eric B: Yes, Koh Lipe is a very cute island, but in truth I did not fall in love with the place. Ambience, atmosphere, maybe too. The galloping construction does not explain everything.