In a nutshell
Koh Lipe is a small island in the Andaman Sea, close to the border with Malaysia. It is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, and it was once considered – and is still considered by some – one of the best islands in Thailand.
Why go to Koh Lipe
Nowadays things have changed quite a bit and for those who visited Koh Lipe more than 10 years ago it might be a little disappointing to see how much tourism has developed and how much the island has changed since then.
For everybody else anyway it will still look like a paradise with a combination of white beaches, clear water, good snorkeling and diving, accompanied by fresh seafood – you will hardly find anything like this anywhere else in South East Asia.
Koh Lipe is not a party island; some of the bars on the beach will stay open late at night and people will have the chance to enjoy a few drinks in a chilled atmosphere, but luckily the craziness of Koh Phangan or Pukhet is miles away. On the East side of the island there’s a community of roughly 500 Chao Lae (sea nomads) that are the original inhabitants of Koh Lipe.
When to go to Koh Lipe
The best season to go to Koh Lipe is the dry season from November till mid-May with the peak season being from December till February. During these three months the island can be really busy but you’ll still be able to find quiet spots on some of the beaches.
Koh Lipe is a favourite destination for quick weekend trips for the Thais and Malaysians as well – so keep it in mind if planning to arrive on the island during Friday–Sunday period or holidays, especially in February during the Chinese New Year or in mid-April for Songkran.
Note From June to October many of the hotels and restaurants will be closed due to the heavy storms that will hit the islands. A few businesses will still be open for the few tourists that will get there.
Where to stay on Koh Lipe
With over 120 guesthouses, hotels and resorts Koh Lipe has definitely a huge variety when it comes to accommodation for such a small island. Booking in advance is highly recommended – especially during the peak season or if you’re travelling during weekends in the high season. Expect to pay a little bit more than anywhere else in Thailand for a similar type of accommodation.
There are no super cheap options making Koh Lipe not a primary destination for backpackers on a really low budget. Expect to pay at least THB800 for a bungalow on the beach.
Where to eat on Koh Lipe
If you’re craving for fresh and delicious seafood, Koh Lipe will not disappoint you. Every evening a lot of restaurants are putting on display what the fishermen brought back in the morning and you’ll be able to choose what you want and decide how you want it cooked.
Few options of street food are available, but it’s mainly limited to chicken or pork skewers. Many restaurants serve western food as well if you’re missing a burger or a slice of pizza. And for breakfast it’s easy to find a good cup of coffee with a fresh croissant.
How to get around Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is really small and walking around is the best option that you have.
There are three main beaches on the island and to get from one to another will not take more than 20 minutes.
The main street that connects the north and south of the island is named (without much of imagination) Walking Street. Here you will find motorbike taxies that will take you to your hotel when you get off the ferry for a fixed price of THB50 per person. The same price will be charged to move around the island by a longtail boat.
How to get to and from Koh Lipe
From and to Bangkok
The easier way is to buy an all-in-one ticket with AirAsia or Nok Air that will take you from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport to Hat Yai Airport where a shuttle will pick you up for a 2-hour drive to Pak Bara pier where the ferry to Koh Lipe will be waiting for you.
The total trip takes about 6 hours and tickets starts at about THB2000 (again make sure to book well in advance in peak season or during weekends or you’ll end up spending a lot more).
You can also check with Lion Air that usually have pretty cheap tickets but without fly-and-ferry option.
If you decide to book only your flight, once you get to Hat Yai you can take a shared minivan to the pier for THB300 or a private taxi for THB1800. The ferry from Pak Bara will be THB600 one way, no matter which company you will book from. Sometimes you’ll be able to get a discount buying a return ticket for only THB1000, but it’s usually available in low season only.
In high season the first ferry leaves Pak Bara at 9.30am and the last one at 3pm. In the low season there’s only one ferry at 11.30am.
You can reach Hat Yai also by bus from Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok (13 hours/THB750) or by train from Hua Lamphong Railway Station (15 hours/THB1050).
Combination tickets are also available and include a long bus ride to Pak Bara with further transfer onto a ferry boat. This journey will take you around 18 hours and costs under THB1,500.
The other option to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok is to fly to Langkawi first and then take a 1.5-hour ferry to Koh Lipe from there.
Note Please note that Langkawi is in Malaysia so depending on your passport you might need a visa to get there. Langkawi has two piers from which ferries to Koh Lipe leave, Telaga and Jetty Kuah. Both of them have three departures a day (only in high season) and the ticket is THB1000 one way.
From and to other destinations
Heading back from Koh Lipe to the mainland, you arrive to Pak Bara from where Hat Yai is easily reached by van. There are combination tickets from Koh Lipe to Hat Yai (4½ hours, THB600-700) or you can connect yourself.
The only other direct flight from Hat Yai apart from Bangkok is Chiang Mai. Nok Air and Air Asia have the same fly-and-ferry tickets to help you get from Chiang Mai to Koh Lipe; (price start from THB2000); and Lion Air usually offers the cheapest fly-only deals (under THB1000).
During high season you can reach Koh Lipe by boat from several other islands. Direct speedboats head daily to Koh Lipe departing from Phuket (THB2400), Koh Phi Phi (THB2000), Krabi (THB1100) and Koh Lanta (THB1900).
Is Koh Lipe safe?
Koh Lipe is generally a safe place to be. Be careful if you decide to walk around at night and always carry a flashlight with you. Even in Walking Street there’s no lights after the bars close and a few stray dogs might be quite intimidating.
Due to the high number of boats, always snorkel only in the designated areas.
For any medical issues there are two clinics on the island with English speaking doctors.