Ultimate Koh Lipe, Thailand Travel Guide
There may not be a lot of secluded paradises left in Thailand, but Koh Lipe is definitely one of them.
Koh Lipe offers some of the clearest water you will see in South East Asia, powdery beaches that are the whitest of the white, and a laid-back vibe that could very well see you staying on this paradise island a lot longer than originally planned.
Koh Lipe is addictive.
Where is Koh Lipe Located?
Located in the very south of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, Koh Lipe is one of 51 islands within Tarutao National Marine Park, and one of the only inhabited islands in the park.
At only 3.5km by 2.5km, Koh Lipe is positively tiny, but what it lacks in size it definitely makes up in beauty. Koh Lipe is known as the Maldives of Thailand, and with its chalky white sand and light turquoise water, you can certainly see why.
There are three beaches on Koh Lipe: Sunset Beach (pramong beach), Sunrise Beach, and Pattaya beach. Sunset beach is the quietest and most remote, Sunrise Beach is arguably the most beautiful and has a peaceful vibe, and Pattaya is generally quiet by day but really comes alive at night. All of them are drop-dead gorgeous.
Walking Street, a blue paved road that links Sunrise beach and Pattaya beach, is where all the action lies. Lined with restaurants, bars, shops, and tour operators, Walking Street is the heart of the island, and where most visitors head to when they aren’t on the beach or out on an aquatic adventure.
There is a lot of life on this small island. But it is also easy to find somewhere quiet to relax when you are looking for some uninterrupted downtime.
Koh Lipe is your perfect island paradise, whatever your mood.
Things to Do in Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is the perfect island paradise to just kick back and relax, but there are also plenty of things to do in Koh Lipe to keep busy if lazing around all day in a bungalow or drinking at a beach bar isn’t your style.
Hang Out at One of the Beaches
Of course, I had to put this one on the list. With three perfect beaches that are all within easy walking distance of each other, Koh Lipe is the perfect island for bumming around on the soft sand.
The beaches of Koh Lipe are some of the most beautiful in Thailand, and with calm waters that are super clear, it is the ideal island for swimming, or just floating, with no big waves or undertow to worry about.
And with bars and restaurants along each beach, you could stay there all day, alternating between the cool waters and the soft sand. Take a good book and you’re Koh Lipe itinerary is all set!
Snorkeling With Colorful Fish
You can snorkel straight off any one of the beaches in Koh Lipe, but the best snorkeling in the area is found further out in the National Park.
Pristine Tarutao National Marine Park is one of the best places to snorkel in Thailand, and is home to a ridiculous amount of colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and even bio-luminescent plankton!
You can take one of the Koh Lipe snorkeling and island-hopping tours from Koh Lipe, to visit a couple of places in the Marine Park. You can also hire a taxi boat from Sunrise Beach to take you on a private snorkeling tour.
Koh Lipe Diving Fun
As with snorkelling Koh Lipe diving is pretty damn amazing, with great visibility, colorful coral reef calm waters and so much marine life in each dive site. There’s even a chance of seeing a Whale Shark.
If you want to give diving a try for the first time, if you want to do your diving certification or if you are an experienced diver who wants to get out and do some fun dives – Koh Lipe diving won’t disappoint.
There are a handful of Dive Shops on the island, including the highly-rated Adang Sea Divers, Satun Scuba Diving, and DJL Diving Koh Lipe. Shop around the different dive center to get the best deal.
Watch the Sunset on Sunset Beach
You can’t visit Koh Lipe without catching at least one sunset at aptly named Sunset beach.
Koh Lipe’s quietest beach is the perfect spot to watch the golden orb disappear beneath the horizon whether you are floating in the calm waters, sipping a freshly made cocktail at the pop-up sunset bar on the sand, or on a beachside restaurant balcony, enjoying a delicious Thai meal.
There is a great vibe here for the sunset making it the perfect place to end a day in paradise.
Swim With Glowing Plankton
Something that I am sure has been high on many a traveler’s wish list since the movie ‘The Beach’ came out is swimming with bio-luminescent plankton. Koh Lipe is the perfect place to tick this one off your bucket list, with snorkelling tours on a longtail boat that end in an evening dip with these bright little guys.
It’s a pretty cool experience to wave your hands in the dark water and have all these little lights suddenly surround you. The plankton has also been seen along Sunrise beach close to shore but seeing them there isn’t guaranteed.
Take a Stroll Along Walking Street
As I mentioned earlier, Walking Street is the heart of Koh Lipe and is where all the action is. There are numerous restaurants, bars, and retail stores to check out on this thai island, as well as tour agencies that can book day trips and transport to your next destination.
You can grab delicious Thai pancakes from the Thai Pancake Lady, pick up a creamy fruit smoothie from one of the many vendors lining the street, grab a freshly made donut from Pee Pee Bakery, pop into one of the bars with happy hour for some two for one cocktails or Thai beer, and wander the stalls selling street food, and trinkets at the nightly market.
Relax With a Beachfront Massage
To add to the relaxation you will be feeling by lounging around on Koh Lipe’s stunning beaches, why not get a massage? There are lots of places to choose from on Pattaya and Sunrise beach whether you want the traditional Thai massage, a foot massage, oil massage, or an aloe massage if you are hurting after too much sun.
Getting a massage is relaxing anyway, but getting a massage outside, feeling the cool sea breeze, and listening to tiny waves lapping the shore, definitely adds to the experience.
Visit One of the Surrounding Islands
Many of the islands surrounding Koh Lipe in Tarutao National Marine Park are small, remote, and uninhabited, making them the perfect destination if you are looking for a deserted island experience.
The best way to affordably see a few of these stunning islands is to jump on a day trip of snorkeling and island-hopping from Koh Lipe, but if you want a more private experience then you can hire a taxi boat from Sunrise beach to take you to one of the nearby islands.
Koh Adang is a popular choice. It is the second largest in the park and is uninhabited. You can chill at the beach bungalow or climb to the viewpoint at the top of the mountain if you are feeling like a workout. There is also a hike to a waterfall. Make sure to ask the ranger for directions to hiking trails as they aren’t the easiest to find.
Hin Ngam is also worth visiting for the fantastic snorkeling and the polished black stones that cover the island.
How to Travel to Koh Lipe
There are a number of ways to travel to Koh Lipe Island from the Thai mainland, depending on which part of the country you are coming from. Here’s some instructions from the most popular starting points.
From Hat Yai Airport to Koh Lipe (Flights from Bangkok/Chiang Mai)
The fastest way to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or anywhere else in Thailand with an airport, is to first fly to Hat Yai Airport, the closest airport to Koh Lipe.
From Hat Yai, you can purchase a combined shuttle/boat ticket to Koh Lipe with one of the travel agents at the airport. The shuttle to Pak Bara pier takes two hours and you then jump on the ferry for 90 minutes.
The Koh Lipe ferry will take you to a floating dock off Koh Lipe. You will need to buy a pass to Tarutao National Marine Park, which Koh Lipe is part of, then catch a long tail to Pattaya Beach, or Sunrise beach if the tide isn’t too low.
Once on the tiny island, you can easily catch a motorbike taxi if you don’t want to walk to your accommodation with your bags.
Train/Bus from Bangkok to Hat Yai
Along with flying, you can also catch a sleeper train from Bangkok to Hat Yai that takes 15 hours, or a night bus that takes 13 hours. On arrival you would catch the shuttle to Pak Bara pier, then the ferry over to Koh Lipe from there.
From Krabi to Koh Lipe
From Krabi, you can purchase a shuttle/ferry combo to take you to Koh Lipe. You will catch a shuttle to Trang and from there it is a two-hour ferry ride.
From Koh Lanta/Koh Phi Phi/Phuket to Koh Lipe
You can catch direct ferries from Koh Lanta (6 hours), Koh Phi Phi (6 hours), and Phuket (8 hours) direct to Koh Lipe during the high season. To cut costs, speak to a Travel Agent about a boat/ferry combo. This will take longer but is about half the cost. From Koh Lanta there’s also a speedboat.
From Langkawi to Koh Lipe
You can catch a direct ferry from Langkawi to Koh Lipe from either Telaga or Jeti Kuah piers. The ferry from Langkawi to Koh Lipe takes approximately 90 minutes, and you will need to register for your ferry one hour before boarding.
There are two ferries a day from Langkawi to Koh Lipe that leave at 9.30 am and 2.30 pm.
IMPORTANT NOTE: To get to Koh Lipe during the low season, the only boat that runs there is from Pak Bara.
Where to Stay on Koh Lipe
As Koh Lipe becomes more popular, there are more and more options for accommodation – ranging from top-of-the-line luxury Koh Lipe hotels to camping and dorm rooms. You won’t have a problem finding accommodation in Koh Lipe that suits your needs.
A gorgeous property right on quiet Sunrise beach, Idyllic Concept Resort offers air-conditioned villas with private balconies. The resort has an outdoor pool, bar and restaurant on-site, free wifi, and tour and transport services for guests. This one is a bit of a splurge, but well worth it.
If you are looking for a luxury hotel at an affordable price, then A Plus Deluxe will tick all the boxes. Located in a prime location just off Walking Street and minutes away from Pattaya Beach, the A Plus Deluxe Hotel offers modern rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, and free wifi.
There are also 20 bed and eight-bed dormitories at the A Plus Hotel, with shared cold water showers, and private lockers.
A beautiful resort right on Sunrise Beach that is excellent value for money, Salisa Resort offers a range of private rooms with a fan or air conditioning. Breakfast is included and is made to order. Free wifi. This beachfront accommodation is worth checking out.
Castaway Resort is a rustic village of bungalows on Sunrise beach. Bungalows have private bathrooms, mosquito nets, and ceiling fans. The awesome restaurant and bar onsite offers delicious meals at great prices, especially during happy hour. A fun vibe prevails.
The Chic Lipe is the most highly rated hostel on Koh Lipe and offers dorms and private rooms in a luxury boutique hostel setting. There is a restaurant onsite offering Thai and International dishes, and the beds in the dorms have privacy curtains.
For a more local experience, why not stay in a local’s home? There are a bunch of listings on Airbnb for Koh Lipe, from basic bungalows through to a luxury yacht!
Travel Tips for Koh Lipe
- On arrival at the floating dock off Koh Lipe, you will be required to pay for the Tarutao National Marine Park Pass which lasts for seven days. The cost is 200 baht (approx. $6.50 USD)
- Whenever you are visiting any of the other islands in Tarutao National Marine Park, make sure to take your National Marine Park pass. This won’t always be checked but if it is checked and you don’t have it on you, you will likely be made to pay for it again
- Book accommodation in advance if you are traveling to Koh Lipe during the high season (November – early May) as accommodation books out quickly
- Travel in low or shoulder season for the best accommodation deals. Lodgings can cost less than half of what the price is during the high season
- There are several ATMs on Koh Lipe, most of them located on Walking Street.
- Prices on Koh Lipe are generally more expensive than mainland Thailand but great deals can still be found.
Katie is a crazy cat lady and world traveler. Originally from New Zealand, she has been living abroad and traveling the world for over 17 years. Currently based in Colorado with her American husband, she can usually be found either roadtripping the U.S. or exploring the world.