Once a serene tropical paradise, Ko Lipe is now a poster child for untamed development on Thailand's islands. Blessed with two beautiful wide white-sand beaches separated by jungle-covered hills and close to protected coral reefs, the centre of Ko Lipe has been transformed into an ever-expanding maze of hotels, restaurants, cafes, travel agencies and shops.
Lying in a steamy jungle valley surrounded by limestone cliffs and a murky river, isolated Satun is a surprisingly bustling little city: the focal point of a province that's home to over 300,000 people. Few foreign visitors pass through, and most of them are heading to and from Malaysia, or are yachties dropping in for cheap repairs in Satun’s acclaimed boat yard.
Most of Ko Tarutao’s whopping 152 sq km is covered in jungle, rising sharply to the park’s 713m peak, making this one of Thailand’s wildest islands. Mangrove swamps and limestone cliffs circle much of it, while steep trails and rough roads lead through the interior, making this a great place for fit hikers and mountain bikers.
Ko Adang and Ko Rawi
Ko Adang, the 30-sq-km island immediately north of Ko Lipe, is a former pirate haunt and has brooding, densely forested hills, white-sand beaches and healthy coral reefs. There's a chow lair (sea gypsies, also spelt chao leh) village on the east coast, as well as an illegally built resort that has yet to open. It's possible to stay in national park accommodation, and to camp.