There are two questions people ask me when they’ve heard that I spent over a year living in Thailand. The first is “OMG why did you leave?” and the second “Where was your favourite place?”
The first is because lol visas. And the latter isn’t actually all that easy to answer. There are SO many places in Thailand that I adore, each for a different reason.
I loved Bangkok because of the friends I made, both local and expat, the incredible food scene and how each day was like a treasure hunt because there were always little gems hidden down unassuming alleyways.
I loved Koh Lanta because despite how many tourists frequent Thailand each year, it still felt local and I absolutely adored Koh Kred, because even though it was only a short distance from Bangkok, it felt worlds apart.
And those places that I just mentioned?
They’re not even the half of it.
But it’s impossible to explain everything and more in a sentence, and if I have to go on pure visuals and experience, then it has to be Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe.
Koh Lipe is a small island in the southern part of Thailand’s Andaman Sea that, along with nine other (uninhabited) islands, makes up the Adang Archipelago.
The islands sit upon the Tarutao National Marine Park, a nature reserve that was established in 1974 and covers a large stretch of sea which includes a few other islands. But the reason I love it is because it was everything I imagined Thailand would be before having ever set foot in the country.
I went to Koh Lipe after leaving Koh Lanta, and after five hours of travelling on the Tigerline ferry, I arrived at the “taxi” station. Koh Lipe doesn’t have a pier, instead what it has is a floating jetty a few metres off the shore, housing an array of long tail boats waiting to transport you to your accommodation. It costs 50B (£1) to get to shore and is the most beautifully scenic taxi route I have ever taken.
White sands and clear seas mean that Koh Lipe is no secret, however, it still hasn’t reached the popularity levels of Koh Phi Phi, meaning that’s what’s left is an eclectic bunch of people. But instead of tourism changing the personality of the island, the expats, tourists and locals that frequent the island, have all pulled together to enhance and protect it, and the result is a relaxed, easy-to-navigate island with an amazing food scene.
There’s accommodation for all budget types, but as with tourism everywhere in the world, popularity attracts development opportunities, and there’s a fair bit of construction on the island as hotels set about building their latest.
However, whilst developments are on the rise, many businesses on Koh Lipe have pulled together to create a sustainable future. Eco-conscious resorts such as Jack’s Jungle (where I stayed) are preserving Koh Lipe’s beauty by encouraging recycling, and not overusing water (which also saves energy by being freezing cold. Which sounds terrible, but trust me, after a day in the sun you’ll love it!) composting and saving on electric consumption by encouraging you to sleep on your sheets and use your towel more than once!
Everybody is willing to help preserve Lipe’s beauty, even with something as simple as picking up rubbish that they see on their daily journey. During an evening spent at a local bar’s film night, I learnt about “Trash Heros”, a group of people that meet every week, hop aboard a long tail boat, and cruise over to the nearby islands to collect trash that has washed up upon its shores.
The people of Koh Lipe are passionate about their environment, and it shows. So much so that during my first ever scuba dive (more on that in a different post!) my instructor Kristen, was picking up any drop of rubbish that she saw along the ocean floor.
It really is an incredible island—and easily one of the most beautiful I have ever had the privilege of visiting.