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Ko Lipe

Eat and meet

Ko Lipe

For a tiny island so far from the mainland, Ko Lipe has an outstanding and eclectic array of food.

Located on the street that cuts to the right at the end of Walking Street near Sunrise beach, Nee Papaya is arguably Lipe's best all-round Thai restaurant. Nee started a few years back with a small stand selling only som tam, and she's still known for producing the island's best papaya salad. In addition, her rad na talay (noodles in Thai style gravy) are authentic and very flavourful, and the restaurant has a positive vibe and reasonable prices.

Thai-style seafood barbecue is ubiquitous on Ko Lipe, with dozens of restaurants on Walking Street and Pattaya Beach vying for business. They all seem to offer similar seafood selections, including jumbo prawns, squid and whole fishes such as seabass, red snapper and barracuda. Remember to never eat a shark or other exotic looking fish -- it's almost certainly been caught illegally.

On Sunrise beach, Castaway Resort has a subdued, oceanside deck that's a perfect spot for a French press coffee or creative cocktail. They have good Thai food too, including some very unique selections -- the fried som tam for 75 baht is an absolute must-try while on Lipe. All dishes can be prepared vegetarian.

On Pattaya beach, Lavoy offers authentic and tasty Thai dishes in the 80-200 baht range. The spicy cashew salad is a standout that makes a good mid-afternoon snack, but be prepared if you ask for something spicy -- they don't mess around at Lavoy.

For cheap, quality Thai food head to Daya Resort at Pattaya beach's northern end. Simple dishes like pad Thai start at 70 baht and portions are large. Rounding out the best of Lipe's Thai food, Rak Lay Restaurant on Walking Street, the Lipe Beach Resort restaurant on Sunrise beach, and Jack's Jungle near Sunset each get honourable mentions.

Rice overload? Well get ready for some high quality Western and international eats on Lipe. Located down a side alley off Walking Street, La Luna Italian Restaurant is pricey but worth it. They make their own pasta from scratch, and their gnocchi, fettucine carbonara or spaghetti bolognese are all delicious. The beef lasagne, along with garlic bread and a Greek salad perhaps, makes the perfect shared meal for a romantic dinner for two.

Italian-owned Blue Tribes on Pattaya beach is also a great place for authentic Italian pasta dishes, and several Walking Street establishments serve quality pizza in both Italian and New York styles. For what we feel is the best pizza on Lipe, walk out towards the Ricci Resort at the end of Walking Street near Sunrise beach and look for Italian-owned La Italia wood-fired pizza down the sidestreet behind Ricci. It's tucked in there and is easy to miss, but the perfectly crispy thin-crust pies with tasty homemade sauce and real mozzarella cheese wouldn't be out of place in the heart of Rome.

The Box on Walking Street has good Spanish tapas for under 100 baht, and Paella offers a Spanish-style seafood barbecue on Sunrise beach. Pooh's on Walking Street is the place to dig into a big, juicy T-bone steak with fries, and Lipe's only Indian restaurant, Charie Papa near Sunrise beach, offers tasty chicken tikka masala, aloo gobi and garlic nan, although portions could be larger. Other international cuisine worth mentioning include French-style crepes at Crepes &More, a nameless Turkish-owned kebab stand and Tex-Mex at Aroy Restaurant, all of which are found on Walking Street.

Moving on to bread and sweets, Swiss-managed Cafe Lipe on Pattaya beach serves big, yummy deli-style sandwiches on their own fresh-baked bread. The chicken on the sandwich we tried was marinated with a hint of teriyaki and grilled to juicy perfection. They also have some very good salads, and the chocolate or banana cake are a nice treat to go with their excellent coffee and tea.

Elephant Coffee and Books on Walking Street feels like it's right out of a hip San Francisco neighbourhood. Pick up a book or guitar and enjoy some outstanding coffee and delectable brownies, coffee cakes and oatmeal raisin cookies. Elephant also has a small menu of salads and sandwiches, including a crusty grilled cheese with potato salad for just 80 baht. Nearby, the Pee Pee Bakery has good bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on wholewheat bread or bagel from their own bakery, which also sells indulgent strawberry- and apple-filled donuts, croissants and brownies. Noteworthy bakeries may also be found at Flour Power on Sunrise beach and Harmony near Sunrise, which is also Lipe's only air-con place to eat.

Traditional sweet roti are everywhere on Lipe, but Thai Pancake Lady at the beginning of Walking Street on the Pattaya beach side gets the nod for the best on the island. She also serves decent burgers and sandwiches along with refreshing fruit shakes in a bright and colourful atmosphere. If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth and cool off at the same time, stop by Lekka Lipe on Walking Street for an excellent gelato.

On to nightlife: Ko Lipe is not the party spot that Ko Phi Phi or Ko Pha Ngan are, but there are a wide array of relaxing cocktail bars throughout the Island. On Sunset, Boom Boom Bar is a great place to kick back and enjoy the good vibes. Further out past Sunset beach, Bila Bar occupies its own little beach and is one of the most chilled out spots on the Island. Along with the mellow, reggae-inspired atmosphere, Bila offers a well stocked bar and some delicious Thai food and sandwiches.

Other good bars for relaxing include the Mellow Mango and Peace and Love Bar on Pattaya, both of which are popular with expats living on Lipe. Tattoo Bar on Walking Street is another good spot for a drink and conversation, and for a slightly more upbeat vibe head to Chamelion (aka "Sassy Bar") on Pattaya beach.

Finally, Pooh's has live bands most nights during high season, as does Longtail Bar on Walking Street, and OMG! Sports Bar out near Sunrise beach has a pool table, free WiFi that actually works, and it's the place to go for shooters and buckets.

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