Today, the island is still considered one of the most beautiful in Thailand, but the increasing number of tourists threatens to push it to become very commercialized.
Koh Lipe is located in the southwestern region of Thailand and is the fourth largest island in the Adang archipelago ( this does not mean it is a big island, since it takes only a few hours to circle the whole island with a kayak). Koh Lipe is located just 60 kilometers north of Langkawi Island in Malaysia, and during the peak season, there is a boat service linking the two islands.
The island was first occupied in the early 1920s by several Gypsy families who discovered it. In the early 1970s, a large part of the island was bought by a Thai businessman, and then a heated debate over ownership rights began. Iron fences sprang up all over the island, hinting at the beginning of extensive development to come to the region. Although it is not yet clear who will ultimately benefit from this process, the Tarotau Nature Reserve has also begun to strengthen its hold on the island and is currently charging 200 baht entrance fee from foreigners.
In 2010, the pace of construction on the island increased significantly, and by 2015 there were already about 100 resorts, hotels and luxurious villas along the amazing landscape, and areas that once were jungles, today are becoming construction sites.
Despite all this – the island’s rare beauty will still leave you speechless and excited. The color of the water, especially on sunny days, and the extensive underwater visibility, make the entire area one of the most beautiful diving and snorkelling sites in Thailand .
Koh Lipe is one of 22 islands belonging to the Adang Archipelago and the Tarotau Nature Reserve. Other islands belonging to this archipelago, such as Koh Adang, Koh Ravi, Koh Hin Nagan and many other mysterious islands, are still mostly covered with thick jungles, calm beaches, waterfalls and amazing snorkeling and diving areas. Those who can’t find what they were looking for on Koh Lipe, can ride the famous longboat, or use a kayak, to reach the nearby islands and enjoy all the good things they have to offer.
On the western side, there is still a long undeveloped area that includes the three large beaches of Koh Lipe, forming the widest point of the island. There are isolated roads connecting these beaches, and it takes only about 15 minutes to get from one coast to another on foot.
The more developed and modern beaches of Koh Lipe, Sunrise and Pattaya beaches, offer a great variety of restaurants, grocery stores, massage parlors and tourist agencies. The main street of these beaches is called the Walking Street: about 600 meters of colorful beach strip connecting the two beaches. Sunrise Beach is the longest on the island. The atmosphere on this beach is very calm, especially after sunset, there are also some quiet bars on the beach that allow you to enjoy a refreshing drink in a romantic atmosphere.
In the eastern part of Pattaya beach, you can find most of the nightlife and entertainment the island has to offer, while the side closest to the Walking Street maintains a quieter atmosphere and offers some inexpensive accommodation near the beach.
Today, Koh Lipe is under major renovations and development. More and more large gray resorts are popping up all over the island. And slowly the atmosphere of a “desert island” is disappearing. Modern western facilities are common and you can find branches of Bangkok International Hospital, combined with the Southern Andaman Medical Center, as well as the Siam International Clinic. In both places you can receive advanced Western medical treatment, and in case of emergency, a speed boat service, to a more advanced hospital on the closest land. These two hospitals are very expensive, and in some cases there are also some simpler clinics that offer basic medical treatments.
In the Walking Street is the tourist police office and today there are also three ATM machines on the island, that accept most of the credit cards. Some internet shops are also available in the Walking Street area, and most of the resorts and hotels offer free Wi-Fi to their guests.