This rather small island lies in the Andaman Sea and came highly recommended by a friend as an island not overdeveloped yet by tourism. We took the speedboat from Ranong where we crossed into Thailand, to get to Koh Phayam. Once we arrived, we didn't regret this last-minute decision to stay at the island for a few days. Low-key accommodation and development and also just at the start of their season meant beautiful and nearly empty beaches for us. We felt like we were in paradise there.
The waves are gentle but the tide is pretty extreme; perfect for swimming until midday and in the afternoon it looks like the sea disappeared. This gave us the opportunity to walk far out and comb the sea ground for interesting objects. We found 3 types of jellyfish. Huge pink/purple ones, small see-through ones and blue ones. We also came across thousands if not millions of small crabs scuttling around. It looked pretty weird.
Just off our beach is a river heading inland through the mangroves. So we decided to take the kayak out and paddle through it. Once again a very odd place the deeper we went into the mangroves. It got darker and more dense by the minute with water splashes on our left and right. This left us puzzled for a while but found that crabs on the trees jump into the water as soon as we were approaching them. Something we have never seen, but it was a fun spectacle to observe. We also saw up close some Brahminy Kites, and larger birds of prey, plus a kingfisher. Probably the best kayak trip we’ve ever done. No pictures as we didn’t want to take phones and get them wet, and would rather just enjoy the paddling.
As runners we simply don’t take the time to stretch enough or practice yoga regularly but it’s hugely beneficial. So we finally gave yoga a go again with a 1h 45min session by Tanja, a Swiss woman living on this island for 4 years. The class was fully-booked with a mix of expats and tourists like us. Since it was a double session we took the time to not rush the poses and stretches which was excellent for us beginners. After last night’s massage, followed by a morning of Hatha Yoga we felt pretty energised and relaxed. Michèle thought it was the best yoga class she had ever attended.
- Cooking Class
David was super keen on another cooking class, having done one in Northern Thailand 7-8 years ago. A few days before, we selected four Thai dishes which we then prepared and cooked:
- Green Papaya Salad
- Tom Yum Soup with Prawns
- Massaman Curry with Beef
- Chicken Stir-Fry with Cashew Nuts
Like in China, these dishes don’t need cooking for very long. Stir-fries are usually cooked for a couple of minutes only while European dishes seem to be cooked for half an hour or so. The four dishes we cooked were very tasty indeed and hopefully we can incorporate some in our regular recipes. The Green Papaya can be easily replaced with cucumber for a spicy summer salad.
There’s no direct ferry / speedboat connection between Koh Phayam and Koh Lipe as these islands are simply too far apart. We had to take the speedboat back to Ranong where we crossed the border 4 days ago and took an evening bus to Phuket. The following morning we boarded the speedboat out to the islands. The port was pretty chaotic and we are not sure why we ended up on the fast service as we paid for the slow ferry service. The speedboat drops passengers off on islands en route such as Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lanta with Koh Lipe as the final island stop after nearly 6h at sea.
Koh Lipe is also located in the Andaman Sea near the Malaysian border and therefore makes Koh Lipe the most Southern island in Thailand.
- Bundhaya Villas
We were staying at Bundhaya Villas on the western edge of Pattaya beach. We were looking to book elsewhere on a friend's recommendation, but it was already full (or we just left it too late to book in advance). Thankfully plan B (Bundhaya) is pretty lux too! Our private bungalow is right on the beach and comes with sunset views.
The ferry port and bars put people off Pattaya beach, but they are not so intrusive and the beach is emptier with better sand than the more popular Sunrise Beach. Both carry the risk of being sliced and diced by a longtail boat! Either side of the island, the water is clear and calm, so wherever you stay you’ll have a lovely setting to relax in the sea and sun.
- Walking Street
After 4 months of travelling, Michèle finally got a haircut on this tiny island. The result was excellent. Koh Lipe has one main road called 'Walking Street' lined with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, massage and beauty parlours. Everything a tourist needs on one street and where we spent most of our money: haircut, facial scrub and massage, foot massage and Aloe Vera body massage, dresses, sunglasses, laundry.
We have been surprised by the high standard and how international the range of food is on offer on Lipe. Alongside top Thai and seafood restaurants there are cute hipster cafes, italian restaurants, burger joints, and even tapas places.
- Sunrise & Yoga
We awoke early for sunrise meditation and yoga (well David wanted to try meditation, Michèle was not interested). Arriving on Sunrise Beach to a busier than expected scene with many people out to watch the sunrise too. The meditation teacher failed to show up (mercifully) so a 100baht refund was granted. At least we got to see the sunrise. Next was yoga, and after a successful session on Koh Phayam, we were in high spirits for a follow up. But the session was not as enjoyable. It was much faster and the instructor assumed more experience and frankly took less care and time. A bit disheartening, but it shows the importance of a good teacher and finding the right type of yoga for you.
- Trash Hero
We would have liked to participate in the beach clean up by Trash Hero, a project across Thailand. It's a weekly clean up where you just turn up and pick up litter together to keep the beaches clean. Unfortunately, the weekly schedule wasn't aligned with ours, so we missed out as it's a great project for fellow island visitors and of course for the locals too.
Next stop on our travel agenda is Penang in Malaysia, which can be reached by ferry from Koh Lipe via Langkawi. Looks like we are continuing the island hopping theme...