Femmes et enfants chao-ley. Koh Lipe. Thaïlande. Mars 2009.

Koh Lipe, front and back


  Thailand: Islands - February 2009

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, the original and correct version can be found here:

Farewell Koh Lipe! I left my bamboo bungalow on Sunrise Beach this morning, reluctantly. If I found the dives a little disappointing, this island in southern Thailand is still really pretty and deserves a stop for a relaxing stay of a few days.

Koh Lipe: an island, three beaches

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

Carte de Koh Lipe.

Pattaya Beach, the most animated, to the southwest; Sunrise Beachthe most beautiful (in my eyes) stretches all along the east coast; Sunset Beach, the most "isolated", forms the north-west side. We 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.


Une petite crique tout au sud de Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thaïlande, mars 2009.

La langue de sable au nord de Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thaïlande. Mars 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 moored in the bay of Pattaya, waiting for the long-tail taxis that must tranship us with our luggage on the sand, I eye with an envious eye my neighbor, a mother of German family, armed with a sparkling SLR that she uses in automatic mode. What frustration!

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.

Le soleil cogne, sur Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thaïlande. Mars 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.

Lever du soleil sur Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thaïlande. Mars 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 postI am a little mixed on the island.

It is very nice for a short stay, but more very authentic. All those that I met here in February 2009 and who know Koh Lipe for several years told me the same thing: the island has been changing at full speed for two-three years.

Rows of bungalows have mushroomed along the beaches. A solid road now connects Sunrise, Pattaya and the village of Chao-Ley, the "gypsies of the sea" established 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, Thaïlande. Mars 2009.

Bungalows d'Andaman Resort, Sunrise Beach. Koh Lipe, Thaïlande. Mars 2009.

Koh Lipe, Thaïlande. Mars 2009.

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

Along the way, there is everything you need for the comfort of the tourist: clothes shops, mini markets, internet centers, travel agencies, massage and tattoo parlors, pancake and ice cream vendors, restaurants, bars ...

I had been warned: Koh Lipe is in full "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.

Au village des Chao-Ley. Koh Lipe, Thaïlande. Mars 2009.

Femmes et enfants chao-ley. Koh Lipe. Thaïlande. Mars 2009.

Behind the scenes

After the first wonder in front of the turquoise waters, we discover behind the scene, at the bend of a path, a rock, a tree: small piles of garbage, badly burned waste, plastic bottles abandoned.

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

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.

Deux grosses barges chargées de matériaux de construction ont accosté sur Pattaya Beach. Koh Lipe, Thaïlande, mars 2009.

Short. How to say ?

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.

Mon immense bungalow en bambou, chez Forra Diving. Sunrise beach, Koh Lipe, Thaïlande. Mars 2009.

The comfort is rustic: fan, bed with mosquito net, shower in an open bathroom where a branch of bougainvillea is swinging, electricity from 7:30 to 1am. But frankly, for a relaxing and dive, I do not need much else ... To be ready in the morning, I only have to wear a shirt and a sarong!

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 sizzling bugs in the surrounding vegetation. I tried to strum on the computer in the hammock, and quickly dropped the case, it is 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).

Les spots de plongée autour de Lipe.

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

Rotten visit, very often. As for the reputation of a site like 8 Mile, it is completely overrated, in my opinion, if one does not have the chance to cross there a whale shark. Question "big", we see the shadow of three unfortunate barracudas in mashed peas and that's it. Bad.

My main regret is not having the time, with this very addictive Rescue course, do a little tour on the neighboring islands, Koh Adang and Koh Rawi, which are great views of the open sea, neither on Tarutao, nor on Bulone, further ... 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!

  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.

    In any case, your photos are dreaming. Thank you for the escape! 🙂

  5. Welcome back with spring!
    🙄 I will be at CDG tomorrow, Sunday morning, ... we may miss crossing! 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 finally, you come back, it's not too early ... 👿
    It's been a few days since I'm back 😡
    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 the beautiful dives, you have to go to Papuans. The Raja Ampat is sublime 😯
    For CDG, you have to prepare for the shock. Tip: Watch a Korean horror movie on the plane, then a Japanese Z-series and end with "Welcome to the Ch'tis" in Chinese version with English subtitle 😀

  8. @Alimata: Yes, I came back this Sunday in Rennes ... How's that, 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, there's that 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. It's cold again. 🙁
    I have my ticket for Pondy but it will be in August. 8)

  10. Welcome back from Lipe then ...

    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 especially the most beautiful beaches in Thailand and always a regret to leave the island. But all that is 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.
    ... for my part, I also have a Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea - Solomon Islands that I potash for a month 😀, it must be done in advance for August ... 8)

  11. @ Wet & Sea I really like the photo 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 is "democratized", well ... well not really the term for the 79,900 unfortunate this month ... 🙄

    We must first pay for the trip to Australia but then the low cost Australian Pacific (Pacific blue) provide connections to Port Moresby at reasonable rates ... I think in Madang we can find accommodation and diving wordclass at the right price (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 swim with the whale sharks ... and this year ... they were present every time ... I have photos and videos to sort through months to come!
    Do not you still 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 answer "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.