When you picture a Thai island, you’re probably thinking of somewhere like Koh Lipe. In fact, ask any of the in-the-know locals where are the most beautiful island they’ve ever been to and the name Koh Lipe would come up almost every time. Don’t be surprised when they talk about the island like how you’d describe the Maldives; white sandy beach, crystal clear turquoise waters, colourful coral reefs — Koh Lipe may sound like a dream, but it’s as real as a paradisiacal island can get for those willing to make the effort to get there.
Where is Koh Lipe?
Located in the Andaman Sea, Koh Lipe is the southernmost island in Thailand, 60km from the Thai mainland and only 30km from Langkawi, Malaysia. As one of the 51 islands that make up Tarutao National Marine Park and part of the Adang Archipelago, the island offers fantastic marine and reef life for underwater enthusiasts. While you can tie in Koh Lipe in your island hopping itinerary, we’d recommend spending a few days on this untouched tropical paradise to discover its charm before it becomes overcrowded with tourists.
The Scenic beaches of Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe’s beaches provide the ideal setting for relaxing at one of the many beachside cabins or hotels, discovering the diverse marine life, or just enjoying the breathtaking sunrise and sunsets. Here are a few of Thailand’s most alluring Koh Lipe beaches that are definitely worth visiting the next time you plan a trip to this exotic location.
1. Sunrise beach
Sunrise Beach in Koh Lipe, which is located on the island’s eastern side, is a short distance from Chao Ley, the sea gypsy village. As you float across the azure waters, the incredible marine life and schools of fish just off the coast will stun you. It also goes by the name Hat Chao
2. Pattaya beach
The largest and busiest beach on Koh Lipe is Pattaya Beach, which is found in the southernmost region of the island. In the peak tourist season, ferry boats dock at picturesque Pattaya Beach, where arriving travellers from Langkawi must go through immigration. There are some excellent snorkelling locations close to the headlands at either end of the beach’s 1.1 km-long, gently curving, fine-white sand beach. In addition, there are numerous hotels, restaurants, and pubs.
3. Sunset beach
On a secluded lagoon in western Koh Lipe, you may find Sunset Beach, also known as Hat Pramong in the local language. It’s perfect for taking in breathtaking views, unwinding on the soft, fine sand, and swimming in the water. This Koh Lipe beach has all you need for a relaxing day by the sea, including a few eateries that serve food and beverages and kayaks that can be rented.
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Top snorkelling locations in Koh Lipe
1. Sunrise beach
Nearby Koh Kra and Koh Usen are two little islands where snorkelling is at its best. You will be able to witness a wide diversity of marine life because of the deeper water surrounding the two little islands. Since the corals can be quite shallow, high tide is the ideal time to visit. You may hire a mask and fins for about 50 THB per component at a number of locations along Sunrise Beach.
2. Sunset beach
The snorkelling locations remain excellent all around Sunset Beach. When looking at Sunset Beach from the water’s edge, you will notice that the beach abruptly transforms into a sheer cliff. This is where you can enjoy some fantastic snorkelling. High tide is the ideal time to visit because the coral is very shallow and begins just off the beach. Wearing fins is also advised because there may be considerable current in this location.
3. Pattaya beach
The landscape is more stony here, which provides the coral with a better living environment. Zanom Beach is a small beach that can be reached by leaving from Pattaya Beach’s northernmost point (in front of Site Resort) and following the rocky shore on your right. Additionally, there is fantastic snorkelling nearby, just on the beach.
Here are the best bars in Koh Lipe to experience the nightlife
1. Reggae bar
It’s a favourite beachside bar on Pattaya Beach. Bob Marley’s soothing music is playing in the background, and it is tastefully decorated with all types of lovely ornaments. All guests can unwind and take in the flickering fire show while sitting on comfortable beach mats and cushions that have been put out on the sand. For a refreshing treat, try a piña colada.
2. Elephant coffee house and bar
The Elephant, a restaurant and bar with live music on Koh Lipe’s Walking Street, is arguably the greatest and most distinctive bars’ there. They feature the broadest selection of food on their menu, which includes Thai food, vegetarian dishes, and even a kids’ menu. One of the main highlights is that they also prepare unique drinks created with local rum or whisky and flavoured with Thai flavours.
3. OMG! Sports Bar & Restaurant
One of Koh Lipe’s most distinctive & well-liked hangouts, OMG is a sports bar. Since it primarily shows Western films and live sporting events in the evening, this bar is frequented with western tourists. Along with a wide range of beers, cocktails, and delectable finger food, it also features a pool table, table soccer, board games, and amazing live music.
What to do in Koh Lipe
Koh Adang excursion
From Koh Lipe’s Sunrise and Sunset Beach, you’ll most likely find yourself looking over at Koh Adang, the second-largest island in the Tarutao National Marine Park. Best known for its hiking trail leading up to the Chado Cliff, a viewpoint offering breathtaking views of Koh Lipe, Koh Adang is an island paradise perfect for light to moderate hikes. To get to Koh Adang from Koh Lipe, you can either hire a taxi boat (15 minutes) or a kayak (less than an hour), which can be arranged on Sunrise Beach. No matter which option you take, you’ll end up hopping off on the sand of Laem Son on Koh Adang, where you’ll find basic bungalows, a restaurant and a visitor centre.
The hiking trail to Chado Cliff begins a few hundred metres east of the visitor centre past the restaurant. There are three viewpoints on Koh Adang, with the third one affording the best view of Koh Lipe. The 45-minute hike to the third viewpoint is so challenging but involves some ropes, and uneven surfaces, and can be slippery and muddy after the rain, so be sure to wear shoes (no flip-flops) and bring enough water with you. Viewpoint 1 is only about 10 minutes uphill but you only get to see half of Koh Lipe as the mountain is in the way. As you go further up for another 15 minutes, you’ll see Viewpoint 2 clearly marked on a sign. The view is decent from here, but if you can continue for another 10 minutes, you’ll be rewarded by an unobstructed, picture-postcard vista to Koh Lipe and the smooth blue waters.
Explore the Tarutao National Marine Park
Alternatively, you can also hire a private longtail boat for the day to take you around the islands. Private boat tours usually offer two main routes: Jabang, Koh Hin Ngam, Koh Yang, Koh Rawi, and Koh Adang; and Koh Hin Saun, Koh Lok Goi, Koh Dong, and Koh Pung. Both programmes include a lot of beach, snorkelling and hiking time, but we’d recommend the latter as it goes to the farthest islands in the Adang archipelago, which provides better snorkelling opportunities. The corals in the national marine park are well-protected and in superb condition, with Koh Pung offering the best underwater adventure, where you’ll get to spot giant pufferfish, porcupine fish, clownfish, yellow cornetfish, moray eels swimming nearby the pristine soft coral reefs.
Another island worth mentioning is Koh Hin Ngam, a mysterious island made out of beautifully polished grey stones of various sizes and shapes, which are formed by the waves hitting the shores year after year. The stones are so smooth that you can enjoy a pleasant walk with bare feet. Whichever route you choose, the prime location of Koh Lipe makes a great starting point to explore the surrounding archipelago.
Image credit: Unsplash/ Milos Prelevic
Whether you’re a first-timer or a certified diver, Ko Lipe is one of the best scuba diving destinations in Thailand for all experience levels, with several dive companies on the island offering everything from fun, discovery dives to PADI certification. 8 Mile Rock, Talang and Stonehenge are popular dive sites in Koh Lipe, with the latter being the most popular due to its unique topography of soft coral garden and massive granite pinnacles. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get to spot an impressive school of yellow snappers, mackerel, tuna, devil fish, seahorse and ghost pipefish. Adang Sea Divers located on Sunrise Beach is highly recommended for its knowledgeable dive masters and speciality diving courses, such as underwater digital photography, underwater naturalist and night diving.
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Day trips for the perfect Island experience
1. Island tour
Tarutao National Marine Park includes Koh Lipe, which is located precisely on the Andaman Sea. One of the nicest things to do when on vacation is to stroll around the island and take in its beauty and scenery. It takes around 30 minutes to stroll down this lively street and check out the cafes, stores, eateries, and massage places that are there.
2. Hiking to Koh Adang Mountain
It is a difficult hike to the Koh Adang Viewpoint. While the hike is thrilling and difficult, the reward is the breathtaking vista that awaits you at the summit. You can reach Koh Adong mountain by ferry from Pattaya Beach to Koh Lipe in less than 30 minutes, and from there, you may climb a gradual incline for about 45 minutes to get the best and most beautiful scenery.
Koh Lipe is one of the coral islands that make up Marine Park. Kayaking is unquestionably among the most thrilling activities in Koh Lipe. As you cruise between islands, get ready to be mesmerised by the karst rock formations, fauna, corals, and bioluminescent planktons among the many things that make Koh Lipe a tourist favourite destination.
What is the best time to visit Koh Lipe?
From November to April, when temperatures are at a pleasant 25 degrees and there is little rain, is the perfect time to explore Koh Lipe. May through October is considered the off-season. The weather during this time will probably be a combination of rain and sun. Although hotels are substantially more reasonable, certain stores and restaurants might be shut.
How to get to Koh Lipe?
Image Credit: Instagram/@adangislandresort
Getting to Koh Lipe is not difficult, but requires extra time and effort compared to mainstream islands that can be accessed via direct flights from international airports — the main reason why it still remains one of the most unspoiled islands in Thailand. To reach the island in one day, you will need to catch a morning flight from Bangkok to Hat Yai International Airport. From there, take a taxi or minibus to Pak Bara pier.
The journey takes two hours and this ground transport can be easily arranged from the airport. During the low reason from May to October, there is only one ferry to Koh Lipe which departs daily at 11:30am, and arrives on the island at 1pm. The whole journey takes around 5-6 hours, and to save you from the hassles of finding the right transfers between cities and haggling, Nok Air and AirAsia offer an all-inclusive ticket package, which costs just about the same if you were to book everything separately. During the high season from November to April, speed boats and ferries connecting Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta, Krabi, Phi Phi and Phuket are also available.
The best hotels in Koh Lipe
There are three main beaches on Koh Lipe: Pattaya Beach, the busiest of the beaches where Koh Lipe ferries arrive and home to most of the island’s nightlife; Sunrise Beach, a quiet, secluded beach where most luxury resorts are located; and Sunset Beach, a small, aptly named patch of sand perfect for romantic sunsets. While there is no five-star property on Koh Lipe (yet), the island has no lack of high-end accommodation options that can rival top hotels.
Idyllic Concept Resort
Image credit: Idyllic Concept Resort
Nestled on Koh Lipe’s pristine Sunrise Beach overlooking the azure waters, Idyllic Concept Resort is set amidst a lush tropical backdrop in 16 villas reflecting a sophisticated, contemporary design. Offering a wealth of world-class facilities, the resort’s beachside pool is luxuriously designed with a swanky teak pool bar and a built-in jacuzzi. The Cove bistro is an all-day dining venue where the delicious breakfast buffet is served daily, and fresh local catch-of-the-day is readily available throughout the day. The property has 62 rooms to choose from, and we’d recommend staying at i-Beach Front, i-Breeze or i-Sky, as these room types have direct access to the powdery white sand beach, with panoramic views of the Andaman Sea from this Island.
Book your stay at Idyllic Concept Resort
Idyllic Concept Resort, Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe, Thailand +6688 227 5389
(Hero image: Pinterest; Featured image: Idyllic Concept Resort)
Related: Bangkok Travel Guide: How To Plan The Perfect Holiday?
(This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Idyllic Concept Resort, Bulow Casa Grand View Resort & Spa, Andaman Beach Resort, Mountain Resort
Answer: Thai cuisine, Seafood soup and salad, Crepes, Noodles
Answer: In the very South of Thailand, there is a tiny island called Koh Lipe. Koh Lipe is a well-liked destination for divers and snorkelers alike, especially because of the vibrant underwater environment and the nearby coral reefs. The island itself is gorgeous, too. This oasis has gained the nickname "the Maldives of Thailand" mostly because to the turquoise blue sea colours and the powder sugar soft snow-white sand. The Koh Lipe Walking Street is a small street lined with hip bars, mouthwatering eateries, cafés, shops, travel agencies, diving schools, street food, massage parlours, hostels, and a tonne of other things.
Answer: Koh Lipe is well-known for its adventure sports, and scuba diving and snorkelling are two of the most popular water activities there. The Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach have become popular snorkelling locations due to the abundance of corals and marine life there.
Answer: Reaching the Island requires a process. Normally requires a half-day when travelling by airline, shuttle, and/or ferry. Therefore, it is strongly advised to stay at least 3 days in Koh Lipe if you intend to visit.
Answer: Koh Lipe has the finest beaches and exudes a sense of seclusion. Koh Lanta is more developed, has better family resorts, and has a considerably lively nightlife. Although Koh Lipe is more difficult to get to, it offers some of the best snorkelling locations in the country. The latter offers a wider selection of resort options and is very simple to reach. If you want to experience the pristine underwater world, Koh Lipe is your go to place and Koh Lanta should be in your plans if you wish for an active nightlife on an island.