KOH LIPE ISLAND TRAVEL GUIDE
Koh Lipe is a small, paradise island in the very south of Thailand just north of Malaysia on the Andaman Sea. It's seen as a part of the Tarutao National Park which is a group of undeveloped islands famous for their turquoise waters and rich coral. One of these islands, Koh Adang, is very close to Koh Lipe and offers hiking trails to viewpoints, waterfalls, empty beaches and dream snorkelling.
I've wanted to visit Koh Lipe for a long time. I'd heard travelling tales of a magical island with the whitest of sand and bluest of waters. That's exactly what I found there. I was living out a tropical island fantasy of waking up to the sounds of the sea, eating breakfast with views people would happily pay thousands for, swimming in the warm crystal water and exploring the reef finding fish. What a beautiful place! I had expected it to be quite flashy as I'd heard of people naming it the 'Maldives of Thailand' but it's actually still quite rustic and hipster and reminded me of a mini Koh Pha Ngan.
Here is my Ultimate Koh Lipe Travel Guide so you can plan your trip to be as perfect as mines was.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest airport in Thailand to Koh Lipe is Hat Yai. Here you can easily book your transfer minivan to Pak Bara Pier which is the main hub for boat transfers to the island. During High Season, there are multiple boat times per day and it's also possible to island hop to Koh Lipe from other islands on the Andaman Sea such as Koh Lanta, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket as well as Trang and Krabi on the mainland.
Alternatively, an even quicker way to reach the island is flying to Langkawi in Malaysia and getting a boat from there. Once on land you will be escorted to the immigration office on Pattaya Beach (Koh Lipe) to be stamped into the country.
However, during Low Season, transfer to Koh Lipe only runs from Pak Bara Pier. This time of year, the boats just run in the morning (11.30) so you will have to make it to the pier by then or spend the night in Satun.
We used the company Akira. They got us to the pier very smoothly from the airport and the staff were lovely. On arrival to check in at the pier, we had to pay a fee to enter the Tarutao National Park area and to use the pier itself. Our speedboat stopped at Koh Tarutao and Koh Khai on the way to Koh Lipe which was nice to see but then the journey took a lot longer than expected.
HAT YAI AIRPORT TO PAK BARA: 300 BAHT NATIONAL PARK FEE: 200 BAHT
PIER FEE: 20 BAHT
SPEEDBOAT TO KOH LIPE: 600 BAHT
The only mode of transport on the island are motorbike taxi's which are attached to little side carts making it easier for multiple passengers and luggage. Any ride should cost 50 BAHT per person. The island is honestly that small though we just walked everywhere as anywhere on the island can be reached within 5-20 minutes. I loved walking through the little village areas getting an insight of the locals lives and real living!
You can also get long tail taxi boats if you wish.
LAUNDRY There are multiple laundry service shops on the island all charging 60 BAHT per kilo.
There are several cash machines on the island.
There are two 7/11's on the island situated on the busy Walking Street. There is also a decent mini supermarket as well as plenty of mini-marts and 'Mom & Pop Shops'.
LEAVING THE ISLAND
There are a choice of Direct transfers (Speedboat) and Non-direct transfers (Boat & Van) to numerous islands and locations from Koh Lipe including Koh Ngai, Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, Koh Lanta, Krabi, Trang, Langkawi and Penang.
You will more than likely leave around 9.30am from Pattaya Beach. We were heading to Koh Lanta and chose the non-direct transfer because it was cheaper (plus I'm not the best passenger on speedboats). We travelled with Bundhaya Speedboat group from Koh Lipe and were brought to a travel shop run by a different company in Pak Bara where we were put on a minivan to, what we were told straight to Koh Lanta. Everyone in the minivan were going to different places and it seemed really unorganised. We were made to change vans twice then dropped off at Trang bus station terminal. Our driver paid for our ticket to Koh Lanta from there which wasn't even leaving for another hour. In total, from the point we left Koh Lipe it took us 9 hours to get to our hotel on Koh Lanta. In hindsight, I would rather of put up with the rough speedboat direct!
DIRECT KOH LIPE TO KOH LANTA: 1500 BAHT KOH LIPE TO PAK BARA: 600 BAHT
PAK BARA TO KOH LANTA : 350 BAHT
WHERE TO STAY
ADANG SEA ECO VILLAGE
This beautifully natural hotel is situated in the trees directly behind a secluded beach between Sunset Beach and Sunrise Beach. The staff are lovely and helpful and the space is excellent value for money for Koh Lipe accommodation price standards.
They are a 10 minute walk from busy Walking Street. Close enough to reach everywhere easily but far enough away to feel as though you are secluded from the rest of the island.
They have rustic bamboo huts for 800 BAHT per night which are pretty spacious and the floor mattresses are actually really comfortable. We also stayed in their air-con bungalows which are amazing for 1400 BAHT per night. They are a stone throw away from the sea and are my idea of perfection. Upon arriving and checking into the hotel, you are provided with reusable water bottles and are encouraged to use the fill up points in reception and on the beach. You are also given an environment friendly shopping bag to use throughout your stay. They even have their own vegetable garden.
800 BAHT PER NIGHT HUT
1400 BAHT PER NIGHT BUNGALOW
As soon as you step foot on the beach, there is an on-site restaurant 'Benny's on the Beach' which we visited multiple times. It has lovely food and drinks and insane views! Head there for sunset, you can't beat it.
WHERE TO EAT
This was our favourite place to eat on the island! The pretty cafe served delicious food and drinks with such a large and varied selection it was so hard to choose what to have! They're situated right on Walking Street at the opposite end to Pattaya Beach.
They served so many different choices, all beautifully presented - amazing breakfasts, wraps, pancakes, salads, smoothie bowls, sharing plates and more. They serve meat dishes as well as veggie, vegan and gluten free options so there really is something for every craving! They also have a sister restaurant called Elephant that was always really busy.
BENNY'S ON THE BEACH
Here at Benny's (which is situated on the beach directly in front of Adang Sea Eco Village) they serve lovely plant based breakfasts (8am-11am) lunches and dinners (12pm-8pm) as well as great coffees, smoothies, cocktails and fresh coconuts. The staff are really warm, helpful and welcoming onto this secluded paradise spot.
The beach surrounding Benny's is pretty much deserted compared to the busy Sunrise, Sunset and Pattaya beaches. There are loads of cool chill out spots, inflatables to use for the water and kayaks to rent.
Nothing beats a morning at Benny's when you're still waking up then going into the water for the first swim of the day! Just magical! Or head over for sunset for blissful vibes and a laid back atmosphere.
BLOOM CAFE & HOSTEL
This trendy coffee shop and cafe is situated right in the middle of Walking Street and has outdoor seating area perfect for just watching the world go by or catching up on travel planning. They serve amazing breakfasts including delicious pancakes and HUGE smoothie bowls (see above!) yummy drinks, salads, topped toasts and sandwiches. Mmmmm I can't wait to get back!
On the way from our hotel (Adang Sea Eco Village) to Walking Street lies a local restaurant serving generous plates of tasty Thai food for only 80BAHT per dish.
This place was right outside our hotel and served amazing Thai food! The staff were so lovely and happy to see us and always spoke as we walked past. We loved heading there for dinner.
This BBQ and seafood restaurant is brilliant! Find a seat on one of the long wooden tables (you will most likely be sharing with other people) and choose between their vast menu of traditional Thai and Issan food or head to the front and choose whichever fresh seafood you like. The food is excellent, portions are huge and there is just such a buzz about the place. Live music can be heard from next door.
This chic tapas restaurant on Walking Street was always packed! So packed we actually never got to try it because we always ended up elsewhere while waiting for a table. Hopefully I'll get to test it out next time because it looked amazing!
WHAT TO DO
#1 BEACH BUM Find your perfect, hidden spot and enjoy the soft sand and inviting blue waters.
This large stretch of beach was incredibly clean and perfect for swimming. I would recommend walking to the far left side of the beach where it's less busy and filled with swaying palm trees.
Right in front of the beach are epic bungalows, some have two storeys and hammocks - where you can stay, get up early and catch the sunrise. There are hippie bars as well as tree houses, swings and hammocks to be found right next to the water on Sunrise Beach.
A much smaller stretch of beach on the other side of Koh Lipe. This is the first beach we came across and I remember thinking how rugged and untouched it seemed. There is a restaurant at the far end that sells delicious Pad Thai from smiley staff.
IN BETWEEN SUNRISE AND SUNSET BEACH
If you walk over the rocks at the far left end of Sunrise Beach or far right of Sunset Beach you will come across the small secluded beach in front of Benny's on the Beach.
This was hands down our favourite beach, there was hardly anyone there and always a private spot to find, some even nicely shaded with the rocks. Spending the morning or late afternoon there swimming, snorkelling and chilling was honestly heaven on earth.
This is the main beach on the island where long tail boats and speedboats take up a lot of the waters. Even though there was a lot of coming and going there, it was still a great beach to be on. I preferred it at night though where little tables, cushions and candles would come out and the beach would be beautifully lit by the bars, restaurants and fire dancers. Walking Street opens out directly onto Pattaya Beach.
#2 KAYAK TO KOH ADANG
Rent a kayak for the day and head to Koh Adang, the much less developed and under populated island directly next to Koh Lipe. Here you can hike to different view points, lay on the deserted white sands and explore the coral in the perfect turquoise waters. Take a snorkel with you or rent one from the only restaurant on the island. Remember to take your Tarutao National Park Ticket if you have one to prove you have paid the fee. Long tail boats can also drop you off and pick you up from Koh Adang if you would prefer.
#3 SCUBA DIVE Diving in the Andaman Sea shouldn't be missed. Colourful coral, a large range of tropical marine life and warm blue waters are waiting to be explored. Scuba diving on Koh Lipe is surprisingly cheap with single fun dives at 1500 BAHT and under.
Adang Sea Dive Centre is one of the best on the island and offer discounts if you are staying at Adang Sea Eco Village.
#4 GET A MASSAGE ON THE BEACH There is no better view than the one above while getting a relaxing and cheap massage on the beach. Listen to the gentle waves and take the time out to unwind. What else would you want to do in paradise?
#5 GO SNORKELLING
Either buy or rent a snorkel on your own from town (I bought one for 350 BAHT) and head straight to the calm and crystal clear waters of the beach OR join one of the many boat trips that head to different islands amongst the National Park. Many of these packages include catching the sunset while out at sea.
#6 HAVE A COCKTAIL AT Maya Bar
Maya bar can't be missed on Walking Street. The extremely attractive setting opens in the evening and lights up the whole street with it's beautiful beach-y and exotic decorations.
Comfy cushions, little wooden boats as seating areas, cool music, a stunning bar, sand floors and gentle lighting from candles and fairy lights. This place is a travellers dream.