Your Ultimate Guide to Koh Lipe, Thailand
This guide to Koh Lipe will give you a detailed understanding of the beaches, snorkelling spots, hotels, bars, and other fun things to do on the island. I’ll also give you a few ideas for some great day trips around the region.
Koh Lipe really is paradise. I’ve stayed there for more than three weeks over the past five years, and it has always been an amazing experience, even when it rains.
Keep in mind that Koh Lipe is not a party island. It is a chilled out tropical island in the Andaman Sea where you will find vibrant coral reefs and white sandy beaches. You will find there is more interest in meditation or yoga than cocktail buckets.
- Firstly, where is Koh Lipe?
- Beaches on Koh Lipe
- Top Snorkeling Locations
- Nightlife on Koh Lipe
- My Favourite Hotels on Koh Lipe
- Things to do on Koh Lipe
- Suggested Day Trips
- What is the Best Time to Visit?
- How to Get to Koh Lipe
Firstly, where is Koh Lipe?
Koh Lipe is a small island located in Satun Province in the far south of Thailand. It is 1 of 51 islands in the Tarutao Marine National Park. The island itself is located about 80km from the west coast of Thailand, and just 35km from Langkawi, Malaysia.
The Koh Tarutao Marine National Park, including Koh Lipe, is protected by Thailand’s marine conservation laws. This means fishing is heavily regulated by the government, so there are lots of amazing coral reefs to explore.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 favourite snorkelling 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.
- 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.
My Favourite Hotels on Koh Lipe
There are plenty of boutique resorts and small hotels on Koh Lipe. It seems like there is a new hotel on Koh Lipe popping up all the time. I’ve written an article here about the top 7 hotels on Koh Lipe, which includes some amazing options for your trip.
I’ve also included some further details below on the hotels on Koh Lipe where I stay most often.
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
Stay Here: Castaway Resort Koh Lipe
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 chilli.
Facilities: beachfront restaurant and bar, aircon rooms, free snorkel hire for guests
Stay Here: Bayview Sunset Resort
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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 reach!
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 boat men. 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 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!
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.
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.
Coming from the other islands
There are speedboats and ferries between Koh Lipe and a number of other islands in the Andaman Sea. Most trips are within 2 hours by speedboat.
- Phuket to Koh Lipe – speedboat tickets from 2,400 THB (USD 80) per person. See tickets and timetable.
- Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe – speedboat tickets from 1,900 THB (USD 65) per person. See tickets and timetable.
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 (tickets and timetable). A one-way journey takes about 90 minutes.
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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