The Ultimate Koh Lipe Guide (2019 Update)

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The Ultimate Guide to Koh Lipe

This Koh Lipe guide will give you a detailed understanding of the island including beaches, snorkeling spots, hotels, bars, and other fun things to do. I’ll also give you some ideas for great day trips around the region like visiting Koh Adang and the other small islands nearby.

Koh Lipe really is paradise. I’ve stayed on the island for more than one month cumulative over the past five years. In fact, it is probably my most visited Thai island now. This island has always been amazing to me, even when it rains.

Remember that Koh Lipe is not a party island. It is a laid back tropical island in the Andaman Sea where you will find vibrant coral reefs and white sandy beaches. There is more interest in meditation, yoga, and beach clean-ups than in cheap cocktail buckets.

There are also some amazing beach bungalows like Castaway Resort (my personal favorite) but you will need to book early as they get full quite quickly. I’ll also advise, Koh Lipe is a little more pricey than the other islands, but hey, sometimes you pay for paradise.

 

 

Where is Koh Lipe? 


Koh Lipe is a small island located in Satun Province in the far south of Thailand, about 80km off the mainland’s west coast and just 35km from Langkawi, Malaysia. The nearest point on the mainland is Pak Bara where speedboats to the island depart from.

Koh Lipe is one of the 51 islands that make up Tarutao Marine National Park which is scattered across the southern Thai Andaman Sea. This national park also includes islands like Koh Adang, Koh Rawi, and Koh Tarutao, among many other small uninhabited islands.

The Tarutao Marine National Park is protected by Thailand’s marine conservation laws. Fishing and waste disposal are heavily regulated by the federal government which means there are lots of amazing coral reefs to explore by snorkeling and scuba diving.

 

Pattaya Beach - Koh Lipe

 

Beaches on Koh Lipe


There are three main beaches on Koh Lipe; Sunset Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Pattaya beach. The following section of this Koh Lipe guide contains plenty of details on each main beach such as the atmosphere, things to do, and places to stay.

There are also a few small hidden beaches around the island which many visitors don’t know about like; Pitiusas Beach, Secret Beach, and Bulow Beach. Never heard of these? Great, read on.

Koh Lipe is small enough that you can walk to any beach from any point of the island in under one hour. There are some steep hills to climb though, so if you don’t like the exercise then you can just hop on a motorbike tuk-tuk for 100 THB (USD 3).

 

Sunrise Beach

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 favourite 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 on the beach.

 

Sunrise Beach
Sunrise Beach

 

Sunset 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 favourite 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 neighbouring Koh Adang.

 

Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach

 

Pattaya Beach

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 near the Walking Street entrance. One of my favourite 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.

 

Pattaya Beach, Koh Lipe

 

Secret Beaches

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 a tiny secret beach.

This secret beach has an incredible view looking over the water to Koh Adang. As the tide goes out, the beach triples in size, yet there is no one else around.

There is also another tiny secret beach located on the far west of the island. It is located beyond the end of the road that leads to Sanom Beach Resort. You will either need to take a kayak or longtail boat to this small secret beach.

 

Koh Lipe Beaches
Koh Lipe West Coast Beaches

 

Top Snorkeling Locations


You don’t have to go far to find some amazing snorkelling spots. The island is surrounded by colourful 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 favourite snorkelling 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 snorkelling here. There are loads of spiky sea urchins about, one wrong step and you’ll be in pain for the rest of your trip.

 

Check out some of my favorite snorkeling spots and resorts on Koh Lipe in my video!

 

Nightlife 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 chilled out vibe of this small island.

There are a few bars around the island for a laidback nightlife. 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 On 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 favourite 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.

 

Beachfront Bars

  • 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. This is about as laid back as Koh Lipe’s nightlife gets.
  • Castaway Resort – though it’s not your typical bar, this is my favourite 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.

 

Things to do on Koh Lipe 


It may be a small island, but there are actually plenty of things to do in Koh Lipe. Here is a quick list of 10 things we did in Koh Lipe in one week:

  • Watch the epic sunsets at Sunset Beach
  • Get a Thai massage or a foot massage. Most places charge 200 THB for one hour.
  • Kayak from Sunrise Beach to Koh Usen or Koh Khra. Kayaks can be rented for 200 THB per hour.
  • Snorkel the coral reef off Sunset Beach
  • Eat at the seafood BBQ shops on Walking Street
  • Have a 2-for-1 Thaijito at Castaway Resort during happy hour
  • Join a Sunrise meditation session on Sunrise Beach
  • Walk across the island from Sunrise Beach to Sunset Beach in about 45 minutes
  • Clean up ocean trash on the beach solo, or join Trash Hero Koh Lipe for a community clean up
  • Make a day trip to Koh Adang (details below)

 

Suggested Day Trips


Snorkelling Trips

I mentioned there are 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 islands in the area.

The best way to explore the region is with a snorkelling trip departing from Koh Lipe. These trips start at 8am and typically depart from Pattaya Beach. You will typically visit three snorkelling spots and a couple of islands with lunch included. Prices start at 500 THB (USD 15) per person, and each boat is capped at about 8 people.

We visited a snorkelling location out in the middle of the ocean where the coral was about 10 meters deep and the water super clear. We then continued on to Koh Yang, about 30 minutes from Koh Lipe. The coral at Koh Yang is quite shallow, only 3 to 4 meters deep.

 

Koh Lipe Snorkling Trip

 

Finally, we visited Koh Hin-Ngam which is covered in black stones. It is completely different than the beaches on Koh Lipe. The island’s story says that if you steal the stones you’ll be cursed by the guardian spirit. On the flip side, if you can build a tower of 12 stones or higher, then your wishes will come true.  Personally, I don’t believe these stories, but I still don’t recommend stealing the stones either.

 

koh Lipe Snorkling Trip Guides

 

Explore Koh Adang

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 get to!

There are two ways of getting 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.

A longtail boat to Koh Adang is definitely the quicker and easier option. Head over to Sunrise Beach where you will find a stand of local taxi boatmen. 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.

 

Boat to Koh Adang

 

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 snorkelling 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 snorkelling 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!

 

View of Koh Lipe

Swing on Koh Adang

 

What is the Best Time to Visit?


There are two main seasons in the south of Thailand which you should be aware of:

  • Wet Season from May to October. This is the low season. During this period it can rain every day for hours on end. There are much fewer tourists around, many hotels have cheaper low season rates, and many shops and bars are still closed.
  • Dry Season from November to April. This is the high season. Almost every day is sunny with very little to no rain, the ambient temperature is a bit cooler around 25 degrees Celcius. There are more tourists, and hotels will charge peak season rates which can be twice as much as the low season rates.

Most of my trips to Koh Lipe have been in mid-October (shoulder season). The weather forecast showed rain and thunderstorms every day but we’ve had mostly sunny days. There were occasionally thunderstorms at night which bring about a nice cool change when you want to sleep.

I’d say the best time to visit Koh Lipe is mid to late October. The weather can be great, hotels cheaper, and far fewer people. You do run the risk of the wet season kicking on a bit late though.

 

Hotels on Koh Lipe


There are some great beach bungalows and boutique hotels on Koh Lipe. It seems like a new hotel opens on Koh Lipe every time I visit. I’ve written an article here about the top 7 hotels on Koh Lipe, which has some amazing options for your trip.

The two hotels below are where I stay most often on Koh Lipe. They’re both usually fully booked weeks to months in advance, so I highly suggest booking online quite early. I use Agoda for all my accommodation bookings in Thailand as they have the best prices online and commonly offer incredible discounts.

 

Castaway Resort

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 Castaway Resort’s Beachfront Bungalows and loved waking up watching the sunrise. You can opt for the “Breezy” Garden View Bungalows at roughly half the price.

The cocktails at Castaway Resort are amazing, and 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. For the food, I highly recommend the Thai style nachos made from deep-fried wontons, a bit of Thai Fusion on the beach.

Facilities: large double bed, double-story bungalow, cold shower, fan rooms, beachfront bar, and restaurant, dive shop

Book it Now on Agoda: Castaway Resort Koh Lipe

 

Castaway Resort Koh Lipe
Castaway Resort Koh Lipe
Castaway Resort Beachfront Bungalows
Beachfront Breezy Bungalow at Castaway

 

Bayview Sunset Bungalows

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 on Agoda: Bayview Sunset Resort

 

Bayview Sunset Bungalows
Bayview Sunset Bungalows
Bayview Sunset Bungalows
Seaview Bungalow looking across Sunset Beach

Budget Hotels

Budget Hotels on Koh Lipe. There are a few budget hostels and hotels on Koh Lipe around Walking Street. 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 the low season.

In the low season, you will be fine to walk in and make a booking. However, during high season I’d suggest booking all hotels on Koh Lipe in advance. Hotels are more often than not booked out weeks in advance.

 

How to Get to Koh Lipe


Bangkok to Koh Lipe

We travelled directly from Bangkok to Koh Lipe with an AirAsia ticket from Don Muaeng Airport to Sunrise Beach. The fare includes:

  • the flight from Bangkok to Hat Yai Airport (1.5hrs),
  • the minivan from Hat Yai Airport to Pak Bara Pier (2hrs),
  • the speedboat from Pak Bara Pier to Pattaya Beach (1.5hrs)

Flights from Bangkok to Koh Lipe depart from Don Muaeng Airport at about 6.45am. It’s an early start, but necessary to get to reach the island in one day. In the low season, you can get a one-way ticket for 1,500 THB. In the high season and public holidays, a one-way ticket can cost up to than 4,000 THB.

 

Starting in Southern Thailand

There are speedboats and ferries between Koh Lipe and a number of other places around the south of Thailand. Most trips are within 2 hours by speedboat.

If you are coming from elsewhere on the Thai mainland, then you’ll just have to get to Pak Bara Pier in the morning. Speedboat tickets from Pak Bara Pier to Sunrise Beach start from 550 THB per person (Book tickets online here) timetables also available on the ticket booking website. A one-way journey takes about 90 minutes. We normally travel with Bundhaya speedboats.

Looking for another route to Koh Lipe? Ask me in the comments section below and I’ll help you find a solution.

 

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20 thoughts on “The Ultimate Koh Lipe Guide (2019 Update)”

  1. Omg!!! This was a budget holiday that was so well spent. The water was so pristine clear that I felt to sleep in it. The food was good but it was a bit expensive. The Pattaya street was great.

  2. Pingback: How to Easily Clean Up Ocean Trash While Traveling (& Why You Should!)

  3. Carlo and Marina

    Hi Josh, Thanks for your guide. I just come back from Koh Lipe, It’s an amazing Island. We Traveled for one month and Koh Lipe for us, is the best Island in Thailand, without your guide we will not arrive there. Thanks again.
    Our Tips:
    We slept at Gecko Lipe Resort, It was perfect for us, eco-friendly, in the middle of the original Lipe forest, near the walking street and 5 minutes waking to the main beaches.
    Food:
    Thai food, the best for us is: BARRACUDA RESTAURANT, very good fresh BBQ fish. FINO RESTAURANT nice Pad Thai. THE STATION nice soups.
    Wenster food: CAPRICCIO ITALIAN RESTAURANT, romantic, serve also carpaccio and raw fish from Lipe, very good pizza. THE BOX good burgers. CAST AWAY RESTAURANT, good for have lunch near the sea.

    Strongly suggested the boat trip in the national park: It’s a paradise.

    1. Hi Carlo and Marina, it sounds like you had an amazing time on Koh Lipe. Thanks for your comment, I will definitely visit these restaurants on my next trip to Koh Lipe. And Gecko Lipe Resort does look quite nice there in the forest! Hope you are enjoying the rest of your trip in Asia.

  4. Hi there, we have our honeymoon from 1st October to 18th October. We really want to go to Koh lipe and unfortunately can’t change the dates. Do you think it’s worth going In the first part of October or will everything be closed including tours and bars. Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Renee, sure it’s still worth visiting Koh Lipe in early October. Perhaps 30% of the businesses on the island are closed as it’s the “green season” with a higher chance of rain for a few hours each day. With fewer people around and cheaper hotels, it’s actually a great time to visit. Castaway Resort Koh Lipe (links in this article) are open then too, I highly recommend staying there!

  5. Hello! I’m planning my trip to Thailand this summer, and I’m wondering what the best way is to get from Railay Beach/Krabi to Koh Lipe? Is going back to Krabi airport and flying to Hat Yai the best call, or is there a way to get from Ao Nang pier/Krabi to Koh Lipe by boat? Thank you!

  6. Hi, what an amazing guide – thankyou so much for your usefull information. Great inspiration when planning a trip.

    We (famile of Four) Will be going to Koh Lipe in january 2020. Koh Lipe is our last stop on a 3 1/2 weekend trip to Thailand and we are considering returning to Home from Kuala Lumpur. What Will be the best Way to get from Koh Lipe to Kuala Lumpur?

    BR, Tine

    1. Hi Tine, I haven’t personally travelled from Koh Lipe to KL directly. I would suggest getting a speedboat from Koh Lipe to Langkawii, then a flight directly to KL with AirAsia or similar.

  7. Manuel Mendoza

    Josh, first of all, let me tell you that those pictures are amazing! Secondly, let me tell you how well I read your blog, I really want to go and get to know Kohlipe. His beach looks so relaxing and I like the idea of kayaking through the crystal clear waters of the place, just to venture! Thank you really for giving us a blog where you really feel like you’re making the trip without having to!

  8. Knut Øyvind Mikelsen

    I had the pleasure to read your great guide to Koh Lipe. Thank you very much for providing all this information and tips. We plan to travel from Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe in February next year. I read about some of the companies that run speed boats that they are not very reliable. Can you recommend which of the companies that are most reliable?
    We also plan to return to Railey or maybe Ao Nang from Koh Lipe early March. Could you please recommend the most suitable and fastest route/company?

    1. I normally get the Bundhaya speedboat to Koh Lipe, available as one of the options on 12GoAsia: https://bit.ly/2oe0isR Never had an trouble with them. The Tigerline ferry runs between Koh Lipe and Aonang, stopping at Koh Lanta on the way, you can book this one on the island at Koh Lipe.

  9. Great blog on Koh Lipe and very helpful for my trip next week?? Just wondered about the currents – how strong they are and if they’re manageable as I’m going with some youngsters. Thanks

    1. Hi Rani, interesting you ask. We were snorkeling around Koh Usen about 200 meters off Sunrise Beach when my partner (Rass) got caught in a fairly strong current. She had a life jacket on and didn’t realize how far she had drifted until I collected her with a kayak. There are stronger currents further offshore, however, near the beach it is quite calm. If in doubt, get them to wear a life jacket.

  10. Hi.
    I am planning my 3rd trip to Thailand next year for my birthday in June. As far as the islands go, I have only been to Koh Samui. Koh Lipe really draws me but I have read so many negative things about the weather & everything being on shutdown, I am now wondering if this is a wise decision. I would really appreciate some advice
    Regards
    Laurice

    1. Hi Laurice, the wet season on Koh Lipe runs from March to October, so June is bang in the middle. Many shops (around 50%) will be closed and you can expect daily rain. The islands in the Gulf of Thailand (east coast) may have less rain but still affected by the wet season. Personally, I like visiting the islands in the wet season as they are far cheaper, fewer people around, and I’m going to get wet swimming anyway. That’s a personal opinion only.

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