Turns out I was about 15-20 years too late to see the Thailand untouched by tourism. With a lot of beaches being overcrowded, dirty and developed to within an inch of their lives, I didn’t know if I would be able to find the beach paradise I was searching for.
Luckily beach paradises do still exist in Thailand and I found mine on a small island in the South Andaman Sea: Koh Lipe.
I first heard about Koh Lipe by reading about it on a travel blog and once I saw the gorgeous photos of calm turquoise waters and incredible white sand beaches, I knew that I was definitely going to be adding it to my Thailand itinerary.
My friend Kerry and I spent five days there and apart from a day trip snorkelling and island hopping, we really didn’t do a lot. It was perfection.
We visited in mid-November before the full brunt of tourist season began in December which meant there weren’t a lot of people around. There were still a few short storms coming in for about an hour a day but they quickly passed over. It really was the best time to be there.
Koh Lipe is a tiny L-shaped island that is only 3.5 km by 2.5km in size making it very walkable. The island is made up of three beaches: Sunset beach, Sunrise beach and Pattaya beach with Walking Street, a blue paved road lined with restaurants, tour operators and bars, linking Sunrise and Pattaya beaches.
Another dirt road led the short distance to Sunset beach. There isn’t a lot to see on Koh Lipe which makes it the perfect place to just kick back and relax.
Located way down in southern Thailand, within spitting distance of Malaysia, Koh Lipe isn’t the easiest place to reach and coming from Chiang Mai it took us two flights, a bus and two boat trips to get there. A full day of travel.
We arrived just as the sky was turning pink and I could see why Koh Lipe is known as the Maldives of Thailand. It was the dream island I had been hoping for.
We stayed at Lipe Beach Resort. Our Koh Lipe bungalow near the beach may have been rustic, with a dirt floor bathroom and mattress on the floor, but it was within stumbling distance of the chalky white sands of stunning Sunrise beach. The resort was peaceful with good food and a bar for sundowners. All we needed really.
Every morning we would walk along Walking Street, stopping for coconut and banana pancakes at the Thai Pancake Lady and amazing donuts at the bakery on the way to Pattaya beach for some sun time.
Pattaya Beach was my favourite for swimming as the water was so clear and calm and there was a large, wide crescent of sandy beach to find a spot to lay down our towels.
There was also a small resort with a pool right by the beach where the staff didn’t mind if we swam so we would usually go between the sea and the beach for a couple of hours.
In the afternoons we would head back to Sunrise beach, stopping for lunch along the way.
Sunrise beach was quieter than Pattaya with slightly choppy water and soft, powdery sand. I loved reading in the beach huts or just watching the ocean as storm clouds darkened the afternoon sky. Long tail boats with brightly coloured ribbons lined the shoreline.
Funnily enough, Sunset beach was best for sunsets. Who knew?! We only made it there once but swimming in the warm waters of the protected beach and sipping mojitos at the small popup beach bar was an excellent way to celebrate another perfect day in paradise.
In the evenings we would usually either head back to Walking Street to watch a movie at Pooh Bar or for street food, otherwise we would stick around Sunrise beach. The curries at Sunrise Beach Resort were excellent and Castaway Resort Koh Lipe has a great setup with two for one cocktails during happy hour and a delicious selection of meals.
Our days on Koh Lipe weren’t incredibly exciting but not every travel needs to be. Sometimes having a form of routine for even five days is a welcome change from the constant moving around that is the norm of life on the road.
Just giving into relaxation was so good for me, although hard to do for a girl who finds it near impossible to sit still for more than a couple of hours at a time.
Koh Lipe was exactly what I needed at a time that I needed to slow down.
Sometimes you just need to stop for a while, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect place to do it than Koh Lipe.