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 this 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.
Over the past few years, Koh Lipe has been getting busier as it grows in popularity. If you are undecided whether or not you should go, I’d say GO NOW, before it is too late and it becomes another overdeveloped island like Koh Phi Phi.
There are some amazing beach bungalows like Castaway Resort (my personal favorite) but you will need to book early as they get full quite quickly. At the end of this article, I’ll also suggest some other great hotels in case Castaway Resort is full, or you have a tighter budget.
Where is Koh Lipe?
Koh Lipe is a small island in the far south of Thailand. It is about 80km from the coast of Satun Province, and 35km from Langkawi, Malaysia. The nearest point on the Thai mainland is Pak Bara where speedboats depart to the island all year round.
The island is part of the Tarutao Marine National Park which contains 51 islands in total. Some nearby islands are Koh Adang, Koh Rawi, and Koh Tarutao, which can be easily visited too.
Beaches on Koh Lipe
There are three main beaches on Koh Lipe including Sunset Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Pattaya Beach. The following section details each of these beaches such as the vibe, things to do, and places to stay.
There are also some hidden beaches around the island which many visitors don’t know about such as 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 in under one hour. There are some steep hills though, so you can also hop on a motorbike tuk-tuk for a flat rate of 100 THB (USD 3).
As the name suggests, this is the best place to watch the sunrise on Koh Lipe. Sunrise Beach faces east towards the mainland, but you won’t be able to see that far.
In the early morning and late afternoon, the beach is lined with wooden longtail boats. The locals use them for fishing and scuba diving trips around the Koh Tarutao Marine National Park. During the day the beach is mostly empty of boats.
One of our favorite places on Sunrise Beach is Salisa Resort. Their small beachfront bar plays great deep house music, has good cocktails, and really cold beer. It is a great place for a lazy beach day.
This is the best place on Koh Lipe to watch the sunset, and is my favorite beach on the island. Even if you don’t stay here, you should definitely visit. There are far fewer boats and a much nicer coral reef to snorkel with lots of tropical fish and even turtles.
With only a few small bungalows, Sunset Beach is far less developed than Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach. My favorite hotel is the Bayview Sunset Resort which has an amazing view of the Andaman Sea.
If you were thinking of making a trip across to Koh Adang, Sunset Beach is the cheapest place to do so.
I was quite confused when I heard about Pattaya Beach on Koh Lipe. It made me think of the dirty tourist town near Bangkok. However, Pattaya Beach here is much nicer than the one just south of Bangkok.
Pattaya Beach is the island’s main arrival point. There are some speedboats departing in the morning and arriving in the afternoon, but it is otherwise quite relaxed.
There is a range of basic bungalows and upscale resorts here. You will find good seafood restaurants along the beach near the Walking Street entrance.
We also loved the Reggae Bar located on the far eastern end of the beach. The Reggae Bar is the most chilled out bar on the island, perfect for a late afternoon beer.
There are some small secret beaches around Koh Lipe’s north and west coasts.
On the north coast, you will find a small stretch of sand called Bulow Beach. Continue around the headland, over the rocks, and beyond Mountain Resort for a few hundred meters where you will reach a tiny secret beach. Here you will get a great view looking across to Koh Adang. The beach will triple in size at low tide!
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 the best snorkeling spots on Koh Lipe. The island is surrounded by colorful coral and tropical fish. You only have to swim 50 to 100 meters from the beach and you’ll be floating right over the top of it.
Here are our favorite snorkeling spots. We found these on the Koh Lipe map available at Pak Bara Pier and shops on the island.
- Koh Usen – a small island located a few hundred meters off Sunrise Beach. You can swim there in 10 minutes, but be careful of the strong currents. We suggest renting a kayak at Castaway Resort or Mali Resort for about 150 THB per hour. Park your kayak in between the rocks on the east side of Koh Usen.
- Koh Kra – another small island off Sunrise Beach, but further north towards Koh Adang. You can kayak here directly from Koh Usen, but the trip is shorter from Salisa Resort.
- Sunset Beach – no kayak needed, just swim 50 meters from Bayview Sunset Bungalows and you’ll find a nice coral reef amongst the rocks. You can even walk halfway out here along the rocks, then jump in right by the coral.
- Pattaya Beach – some people say it is good, but we do not recommend snorkeling here. There are lots of sea urchins which I hate!
Check out some of my favorite snorkeling spots and resorts on Koh Lipe in my video!
Koh Lipe has a relaxed nightlife with a few laid back bars. I’ve included all the bars I have been to but I’m sure there are more around.
Remember, Koh Lipe isn’t a party destination, and I hope it stays that way. Big beach parties would kill the small island vibe.
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.
- Sea La Vie – 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 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?!
Where to drink cheap on Koh Lipe? The cheapest place to buy alcohol is the Big Sheep Minimart on Walking Street. Koh Lipe is more expensive than the mainland and other Thai islands. A small beer costs 100 THB in a bar, and 50 THB in a 7/11 store.
Although it’s a small island, there are plenty of things to do in Koh Lipe. Here is a quick list of 10 things we did in one week in Koh Lipe:
- 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 snorkeling trip departing from Koh Lipe. There are four popular snorkeling routes from Koh Lipe. Three of these marked on the map below depart in the morning around 9am. The fourth option is the unique Eco Sunset Tour which departs at around midday.
Paradise Tours also offers a snorkeling trip throughout the wet season, while many other companies are closed. Sure, the water isn’t quite as clear in the wet season, but still way better than I’ve seen on many other islands.
First, we visited a snorkeling location called Jabang in the middle of the ocean where the coral was about 10 meters deep and the water was 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 the 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. It is also quite easy to get to!
There are two ways of getting from Koh Lipe to Koh Adang; kayak, or longtail boat. We kayaked halfway until we realized how big the waves were. Although it looks close, kayaking can take around one hour or more if you are unfit.
A longtail boat to Koh Adang is the quicker and easier option. At Sunrise Beach there is a stand of local taxi boatmen. The standard price is 500 THB one way. The boatman 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!
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 traveled directly from Bangkok to Koh Lipe with a combined ticket which includes:
- a flight from Don Muaeng to Hat Yai Airport (1.5hrs)
- a minivan from Hat Yai Airport to Pak Bara Pier (2hrs)
- a speedboat from Pak Bara Pier to Koh Lipe (1.5hrs)
Flights from Bangkok to Koh Lipe depart at 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.
Southern Thailand Destinations to Koh Lipe
There are boats from many destinations in southern Thailand to Koh Lipe and vice versa. Most trips are within 2 hours by speedboat.
During the high season, boats are often fully booked in advance. Don’t miss a ticket, book in advance. I highly recommend 12GoAsia (ticket links below).
- Phuket to Koh Lipe – speedboat tickets from 2,400 THB (USD 80) per person.
- Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe – speedboat tickets from 1,900 THB (USD 65) per person.
- Koh Kradan to Koh Lipe – speedboat tickets from 1,250 THB (USD 40) per person.
- Trang to Koh Lipe – van + ferry tickets from 1,150 TB (USD 38) per person.
If you are coming from elsewhere on the 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). A one-way journey takes about 90 minutes. We normally travel with Bundhaya speedboats.
Langkawi to Koh Lipe
Langkawi is the closest destination in Malaysia to Koh Lipe. If you wanted to island-hop from Malaysia to Thailand, this is the ideal place to do so.
Speedboats run directly from Langkawi to Koh Lipe multiple times each day. A one-way trip taking just 1.5 hours. Book tickets online here.
There is a Malaysian Immigration Office in Langkawi, and a Thai Immigration Office at Pattaya Beach, Koh Lipe.
Singapore to Koh Lipe
The quickest way to get from Singapore to Koh Lipe is taking the morning flight from Singapore to Langkawi (1.5hrs) with AirAsia. Then take the early afternoon speedboat from Langkawi to Koh Lipe. Book tickets online here.
You will need to pass immigration first in Malaysia, then again when you reach Koh Lipe.
What are the Best Hotels on Koh Lipe?
In my opinion, the best hotels on Koh Lipe are Castaway Resort, Serendipity Resort, and Bayview Sunset Bungalows. The problem is that they are quite often full, so try to book early.
I use Agoda for all my accommodation bookings in Thailand. They have the best prices with great discounts too.
Castaway Resort Koh Lipe is located at the southern end of Sunrise Beach. The best way to explain this place is rustic meets comfort. The double-story bungalows line the beach with hammocks out the front, a comfortable bedroom with balcony upstairs, and the bathroom downstairs.
We stayed in Castaway Resort’s Beachfront Bungalows and loved waking up watching the sunrise. The “Breezy” Garden View Bungalows go for about 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
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
Budget Hotels on Koh Lipe. There are a few budget hostels and hotels on Koh Lipe around Walking Street. Try 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.
Other Top Hotels
There are a few great beach bungalows and boutique hotels on Koh Lipe. I have actually written this guide on the top 7 hotels in Koh Lipe. There are options on the three main beaches; Pattaya Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Sunset Beach, but also a few located further around the island in more secluded places. Be sure to check it out and let me know what your favorite option is.
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