Tucked right at the South of Thailand on the border of Malaysia, is what’s known as “The Maldives of Asia”, Koh Lipe. By far the most beautiful island in Thailand, here is my comprehensive Koh Lipe Travel Guide.
If ever there was an island that defined the stereotypical Thai allure, it’s Koh Lipe.
Turquoise blue waters. Golden sands. Rugged mountains. Fecund jungle. It’s everything you ever dreamed of in an island – a real-life Castaway.
The Ultimate Koh Lipe Travel Guide
Koh Lipe is not a party destination. It’s also nowhere near as touristy as Koh Samui & Phuket. It’s much more tailored towards those seeking a tranquil getaway – think couples or beach bums.
And while Koh Lipe certainly is as expensive as Samui & Phuket for food & accommodation, it’s generally harder to spend your money because there are fewer things to do on the island. The activities here range from scuba diving to snorkeling; don’t expect to find much in-between in terms of entertainment.
I spent 4 special days on Koh Lipe at the beginning of this year (2017), with my now ex-girlfriend and best friend. It was a special time, simply due to the stunning scenery and pure bliss that island serenades you with.
Koh Lipe is also incredibly small making it easy to find your way around the island. Here’s a comprehensive guide to all the important things you need to know.
How to Get to Koh Lipe
Airasia does package deals flying from Bangkok with a transfer at Hat Yai airport (closest major city to Phuket). You can also fly with any budget airline to Hat Yai and arrange either a taxi or get a shuttle bus to Pak Bara Pier, where all boats leaving to Koh Lipe go.
The boat costs 650 THB per person. It takes around 2 hours to reach Lipe from the pier; 2 1/2 if it stops off at an island along the way to take pictures (probable).
Where to Stay in Koh Lipe
Hands down, Sunrise Beach is the best place to stay on Koh Lipe. You don’t want to stay on Pattaya Beach; there are way too many boats (they dock there for new visitors/people leaving), and Sunset Beach is too quiet. Sunrise has ample sunlight, fewer crowds, and the best restaurants and relaxing points are within reach.
In terms of accommodation, I’m going to personally recommend the highly regarded Salisa Resort (click here). It’s fantastic value for money (Lipe is generally quite expensive compared to the other Thai islands), has stunning views, and is located right in the center of Sunrise Beach. Walking Street is a 5-minute walk away, and the food is genuinely excellent and great value for money (seriously delicious seafood). Here are some pics to get your appetite up:
Ka-Praow Talay is seriously banging at Salisa!
A word of advice: high season is generally from December to May. If you’re going around this time, be sure to book in advance. I went after my Songkran Trip to Phuket and booking over a month in advance on Agoda, I saw only 10% of reservations left on the island.
Koh Lipe for Digital Nomads
Don’t expect to find any sort of digital nomad scene on Koh Lipe. The internet isn’t fast or stable enough, and most people will tether from their phones when they want to crack on with some work.
I did spot a couple of internet cafes in town on Walking Street. I didn’t try them as I was avoiding work during this holiday, but maybe the internet was reasonable in there. Surprisingly, Salisa (again) has decent internet, during the times when I did connect.
Generally speaking, the island is too small and remote to spend any prolonged periods of time here, so I can’t imagine it ever becoming a hotspot to work from in the future as well.
Koh Lipe for Health & Fitness
You can swim, kayak, and do yoga on the island, but don’t expect to find much in the way of commercial or even old-school gyms. I did read online there was a place called “Lipe Arena Fitness” opposite the power plant on Koh Lipe, but I didn’t venture off to see it.
Koh Lipe for Social & Sex Life
The bars on Walking Street are pretty laid back and playing Reggae music the majority of the time. Likewise, on Pattaya Beach at night, you will see this isn’t really a party island.
They do have some great fire show performers at Lipe (check my video at the top). But apart from sipping a few cocktails and having a smoke, most of the activity is very chilled out and low key.
There are always travellers coming and going, however, just like the rest of Thailand. It’s not hard to meet people to talk to.
Happy Vibes Beach Bar right in front of Salisa is beautiful at night and perfect for dating. Gaze out at the stars and sip on a cocktail; you won’t be disappointed.
View from Happy Vibes Beach Bar in the day
Koh Lipe’s Best Restaurants
Most food on Lipe is distinctly average, especially foreign cuisine. However, the seafood is excellent and fresh at many places.
Rak-Lay Restaurant on Walking Street does seafood by weight, and is genuinely delicious. We had an absolute feast here one night and it was fantastic quality.
We ate most of our meals at Salisa, because we found ourselves disappointed by the quality & price of other food in town. They also do a free breakfast which helped with costs.
I did read and hear good things about Sunrise Beach Restaurant when I was there, but it was closed when we visited as the owners where on holiday (apparently).
Things To Do on Koh Lipe
Since the island is so small, there isn’t a lot of activities beyond the beautiful coral reefs and surrounding islands of Tarutao National Park.
The obvious one. Koh Lipe has some stunning coral reefs and the price of diving here is very reasonable considering the location. My friend did 4 dives during our trip there, and it cost him around 100 euros I believe (very good price). He was very impressed and has considerable diving experience.
Best arranged by booking a tour of the surrounding islands, including Koh Adang. Head into Walking Street and speak to one of the touts. It should cost you around 800-1000 THB for an afternoon or morning of island hopping and snorkelling. A very reasonable deal.
Hiking Koh Adang Island
Koh Adang is the massive, largely unpopulated island you can see off the coast of Koh Lipe from Sunset Beach. You can hike to the top viewpoint for stunning views within around 45 minutes which makes a nice afternoon trip.
To get there, simply arrange a long-tail boat from Sunrise Beach for 100 THB per person.
Rent a Kayak
Rent a kayak from your resort on Sunrise Beach and take it out to the small island adjacent to Salisa Resort. It’s gorgeous and you’ll most likely be the only person there (see my video above).
Koh Lipe is a special place and by far my favourite island in Thailand. When I head back to the Land of Smiles, it will be the first place I visit to relax, soak in some rays.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below on the best places to stay, restaurants, nightlife, and whether I’ve missed any activities off the list I need to update this guide with.