Your Ultimate Guide to Koh Lipe Thailand
This Koh Lipe guide will give you a detailed description of all the beaches, top snorkeling locations, my favorite resorts, the best bars to hang out and a few other local tips. You’ll; to continue reading to see what they are.
In one word, Koh Lipe really is paradise. I’ve stayed there for more than three weeks in total over the past five years, and it has always been an amazing experience, even when it rains.
Koh Lipe is a small island located in the far south of Thailand. It is one of the 51 islands in the archipelago which makes up the Tarutao Marine National Park. Koh Lipe is protected by marine conservation laws, meaning it has lots of amazing coral reefs to explore.
- Beaches on Koh Lipe
- Snorkeling at Koh Lipe
- Bars on Koh Lipe
- Koh Lipe Hotels
- Day Trips from Koh Lipe
- How to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok
Beaches on Koh Lipe
There are three main beaches on Koh Lipe; Sunset Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Pattaya beach. I’ll give plenty of details on each of these in this Koh Lipe guide.
There are also a few other small beaches around the island which many visitors don’t know about like; Pitiusas Beach, and Koh Lipe’s Secret Beach on the western end of the island, and Bulow Beach on the north coast.
The island is small enough that you can walk to any beach in under an hour. If you don’t like walking, then just hop on a motorbike tuk-tuk for 100 THB.
As the name suggests, this is the place to catch the sunrise on Koh Lipe. Sunrise Beach faces east toward the Thai mainland, but you won’t be able to see that far even on a clear day.
In the early morning and late afternoon, the beach is lined with wooden longtail boats. The locals use these for fishing trips and scuba diving trips around the Koh Tarutao Marine National Park. During the day the beach is mostly free of these longtail boats.
One of our favorite things on Sunrise Beach is to chill out at Salisa Resort around lunch. This small beachfront bar puts out some great deep house tunes, tasty cocktails, and really cold beer. It is a great place to spend a lazy day by the beach.
This is the ultimate spot on Koh Lipe to watch the sunset. In my opinion, Sunset Beach has the most beautiful view of Koh Lipe. Even if you don’t stay here, you should definitely visit. There are far fewer boats around and a much nicer coral reef to snorkel along with lots of tropical fish and even turtles!
Sunset Beach is much less developed than Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach. There are only a few small bungalow style resorts along the beach. My favorite bungalow here is the Bayview Sunset Resort. The bungalows have an amazing view looking out over the Andaman Sea.
Sunset Beach is the cheapest location to cross the water to the neighboring Koh Adang.
I was seriously confused when I read about Pattaya Beach on Koh Lipe. It made me think about that dirty, grungy, sex-tourist beach near Bangkok. How wrong I was.
Pattaya Beach on Koh Lipe is actually much nicer than the version near Bangkok. The beach has the main arrival point on the island, so there are a few speedboats departing in the morning and arriving in the afternoon, otherwise, it is fairly relaxed.
Pattaya Beach has a mix of basic bungalows and upscale resorts. You will also find a few seafood restaurants along the beach nearby the Walking Street entrance. One of my favorite places to visit along Pattaya Beach is the Reggae Bar located further east of the Walking Street entrance. It is the most chilled out late afternoon spot on the island.
There are another few small beaches along the north coast and far west coast of Koh Lipe.
On the north coast, you will find a small stretch of sand called Bulow Beach. From Bulow Beach, you can walk around the headland and over the rocks. Continue beyond Mountain Resort for a few hundred meters and you will reach this secret beach.
This secret beach has an incredible view over the water looking towards Koh Adang. As the tide goes out, the beach triples in size, yet there is no one else around.
Snorkeling at Koh Lipe
You don’t have to go far to find some amazing snorkeling spots. The island is surrounded by colorful soft corals and tropical fish. You typically only have to swim 50 to 100 meters offshore and you’ll be floating right over the top of it all.
Here are a few of my favorite snorkeling spots, discovered with thanks to the official Koh Lipe map available at Pak Bara Pier or a handful of stores on the island itself.
- Koh Usen – a small island located a few hundred meters off the coast of Sunrise Beach. Some say you can swim there in 10 minutes, but be careful of the strong currents. I prefer to rent a kayak at Castaway Resort or Mali Resort for about 150 THB per hour and paddle out there. You’ll want to park your kayak in between the rocks on the east of the island.
- Koh Kra – this is another small island off the cost of Sunrise Beach, however a bit further north towards Koh Adang. If you’re good at kayaking you can go straight from Koh Usen, otherwise, I suggest picking up a kayak further along the beach at Salisa Resort.
- Sunset Beach – no kayak needed, just swim 50 meters offshore from Bayview Sunset bungalows and you’ll find a very lively coral reef amongst the rocks. You can even walk halfway out here along the rocks, then jump in right by the coral.
- Pattaya Beach – although some suggest it, I personally do not recommend snorkeling here. There are loads of spiky sea urchins about, one wrong step and you’ll be in pain for the rest of your trip.
Bars on Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe isn’t a party destination, and I hope it stays that way for a long time. Huge parties would really kill the vibe this small island had.
There are however a number of bars around the island I suggest checking out. I’ve listed out all the bars I have been to so far, and I’m sure there are a few more around the island.
Bars along Walking Street
- Maya Bar – one of the most lively nightlife spots on Koh Lipe. The bar is intricately designed with bamboo and thatch roof to look like a big bungalow. There are late night EDM tunes and awesome cocktails, though you will pay a premium here.
- Corner Bar – a lively bar located further down Walking Street at the top of the hill. Corner Bar plays Deep House tunes on some nights, and hosts live music on others. You will need to drop in to see what’s going on each night.
- Elephant Bar – a small live music bar with popular Thai songs. The vintage style fit-out reminds me of Tak Su Ra which I mentioned in my favorite live music bars in Bangkok.
- The Heaven Bar – located on the second level right where walking street meets Pattaya Beach. Expect live music with country style Thai songs and Reggae jams on a daily basis.
- Happy Vibe Bar – a great spot to get lunch and a cold beer or a cocktail during the day. Happy Vibe Bar is located on the beach as part of the Salisa Resort complex. You’ll love the deep house tunes played over sunset.
- Sea La Vie – a relatively new beach bar to hit Koh Lipe. Sea La Vie is owned and operated by the same people behind the popular Maya Bar. This small beachfront bar has a very similar vibe to the successful Happy Vibe Bar with deep house tunes playing from lunch through to late at night.
- Reggae Bar – a small beachfront hippie shack located right on the sand on Pattaya Beach. There are cheap cold beers and the occasional smoke.
- Castaway Resort – though it’s not your typical bar, this is my favorite place to enjoy a strong cheap cocktail right on the beach, made even cheaper by the 2-for-1 deal from 4pm to 6pm. Seriously, where else will you get two Mojitos for $5?!
Drinking Cheap? You will quickly realize that most things on Koh Lipe are considerably more expensive than on the mainland or the other Thai islands. A small beer is typically 100 THB in any bar, and 50 THB in the 7/11. The cheapest place I’ve found to buy beer on Koh Lipe is the Big Sheep Minimart on Walking Street.
Koh Lipe Hotels
There is no shortage of incredible hotels and resorts on Koh Lipe. I have visited three times and managed to stay somewhere different each time. I have however found a couple of favorites.
Castaway Resort Koh Lipe
Castaway Resort Koh Lipe is located at the southern end of Sunrise Beach. The best way to explain this place is rustic meets comfort. Beautiful double-story bungalows line the beach with hammocks out the front. A huge bedroom on the upper floor looks out over the ocean with amazing views. We stayed in the beachfront bungalows and loved waking up watching the sunrise through the huge glass doors. You can opt for the “Breezy” Garden View Bungalows at roughly half the price.
The cocktails at Castaway are amazing, and incredibly cheap, especially during the 2-for-1 happy hour. My personal favorite is the Thaijito made of; Thai Rum, lime, ginger, brown sugar and soda water. I also highly recommend the Thai style nachos made from deep-fried wontons.
Facilities: large double bed, double-story bungalow, cold shower, fan rooms, beachfront bar, and restaurant, dive shop
Book it now: Castaway Resort Koh Lipe
Bayview Sunset Bungalows Koh Lipe
Bayview Sunset Bungalows is located on Sunset Beach, Koh Lipe’s quieter beach. The oceanfront rooms have a huge view of the Andaman Sea from high up on the mountain. There is seriously no better way to enjoy the sunset on Koh Lipe. We stayed in the ocean view bungalow for two nights and loved the views. You can opt for a garden view room with a fan instead of aircon to save some cash and still enjoy this amazing beach.
The restaurant has some amazing fusion dishes available. You must try the Teriducki, a teriyaki roast duck topped with ripe mango. Wash it down with the signature Gin-and-Thainic, an Asian spin on the classic G&T infused with fresh lime, lemongrass, and chili.
Facilities: beachfront restaurant and bar, aircon rooms, free snorkel hire for guests
Book it now: Bayview Sunset Resort
Budget Accommodation on Koh Lipe. There are a couple of budget accommodation options available around the village. Try the Corner Hostel from 600 THB for a fan room, located midway over the island from Sunrise to Sunset Beach. There is also The Street Hostel located about 100 meters from the start of Walking Street where dorms start from 490 THB in low season.
Day Trips from Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe Snorkeling Trip
So I mentioned there are actually 51 islands in the archipelago which make up the Tarutao Marine National Park! That means you really have to get out and explore a few others in the area. The best way to do this is with a snorkeling day trip, starting at 500 THB per person.
Snorkeling trips start between 8am and 9am, depending on which tour you book a with. Typically, you will visit two of three snorkeling spots at a seemingly random spot in the ocean. They know what they’re doing because there are some really incredible snorkeling spots out here.
Note: if you are not a good swimmer, they will give you a life jacket so you can float easily.
The next stop is Koh Yang, which is located about 30 minutes from Koh Lipe. The coral here is quite shallow, only 3m to 4m under water. The bay is quite well protected, so this is the perfect spot if you are not a strong swimmer. I highly recommend snorkeling here for a while.
The third and final stop on the snorkeling day trip is Koh Hin-ngam. Unlike the beaches on Koh Lipe, this beach on Koh Hin Ngam is covered in black stones.
The story suggests that if you take the stones from the island you will be cursed by the islands guardian spirit. However, if you can build a tower of 12 stones or higher, then your wish will come true. This island seems to be a huge hit with the Thai tourists, probably because of the good luck story. Although I don’t believe in it, I still wouldn’t go stealing the stones.
These snorkeling trips from Koh Lipe generally fit 6 to 8 people per wooden longtail boat and include a basic lunch like a fried rice or pad krapow. Unfortunately, the lunch comes packed in styrofoam containers, and too many people leave these discarded on the nice beaches.
Please take your rubbish with you!
Koh Adang is that huge island right across the water from Koh Lipe. What may seem like a difficult to explore, uninhabited island, is actually the castaway paradise you’ve been looking for. And… it is easy to reach!
There are two main options to get from Koh Lipe to Koh Adang; kayak, or longtail boat. We tried kayaking across until we got halfway and realized how big the waves were in the middle. Though it looks close by, kayaking will take you at least half an hour if you are fit, and much longer if you are not.
The longtail boat to Koh Adang is definitely the quicker and easier way. Head down to Sunrise Beach, look for a local with a boat and tell him you want to go to Koh Adang. The standard price is 500 THB one way. The boat driver won’t wait for you there, so be sure to get his phone number or agree a time to be picked up.
On the southern end of the island, you can try hiking up the lookout for an amazing view over the Andaman Sea, or crawl your way through the jungle to a hidden waterfall. The snorkeling is fantastic, the beaches are pristine, and the small kitchen by the National Park makes some great meals for a fraction of the price on Koh Lipe.
Further up the west coast, there are some really secluded beaches with freshwater lagoons in the forest. The snorkeling off the coast here is amazing. A trip up with west coast will costs you 1,200 to 1,500 THB with a taxi longtail boat driver.
Be sure to read my full guide to Koh Adang, which also includes information on how you can camp here, right on the beach!
How to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok
We traveled directly to Koh Lipe from Bangkok. The simplest way is to book a direct ticket to the island with Air Asia. The fare includes the flight from Bangkok to Satun, the minivan from Satun to Pak Bara Pier, and the speedboat from Pak Bara Pier to Pattaya Beach.
Flights from Bangkok to Koh Lipe depart from Don Muaeng airport at about 6.45am. It’s an early wake-up call. In the low season, you will get a one-way ticket all inclusive for a low as 1,500 THB. A one-way ticket during the high season and public holidays can cost more than 4,000 THB.
You can also organize the trip from Bangkok to Koh Lipe solo, however, you won’t save much. Make sure that you don’t book a late flight which could result in you missing the connecting speedboat services.
If you are coming from elsewhere in the south of Thailand, then you just have to get to Pak Bara Pier early in the morning. All the speedboats depart the pier for Koh Lipe early in the morning. The last boat leaves around 10am. If you miss this, you will have to wait until tomorrow.
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