Koh Lipe is heaven on earth, literally. It is the most beautiful island I have visited so far. It often wins the contest of the most beautiful Thai island on forums.
By the way, the top 3 usually includes these islands: Koh Lipe, Koh Kood and Koh Mook.
Koh Lipe is located in the south of Thailand in the Andaman Sea, near Malaysia. It is part of the archipelago of Koh Tarutao, which is a protected national park. It means that big constructions are forbidden. Moreover, there are no paved roads or cars on the island. Here, one moves around by foot or by boat.
On Koh Lipe, you have the feeling to find yourself in a postcard come to life. The beaches are beautiful, the water is crystal clear, the sand is white, the vegetation is lush. Just walk along the beach to see all kinds of fish and corals. You may even catch a glimpse of Nemo.
Take the time to laze, snorkel, or kayak. In the evening, sip a cocktail by the water’s edge, or at the Reggae Bar.
Koh Lipe, a paradise far from everything
The geographical location of Koh Lipe makes this island difficult to access. To go there, you really have to want it and have the time. This is one of the main reasons why the island is shunned by tourists. But this is one of the reasons why this island is magical: there is hardly anyone around.
On Koh Lipe, you won’t be bothered by the noise of nightclubs that close early in the morning, nor by the roar of taxi horns, and you won’t find tons of young Europeans dying on a beach. Instead, you will meet people happy to be in paradise.
It should be mentioned that over the years, Koh Lipe has become more and more popular with tourists. I went there the first time 7 years ago, and I returned in January 2019. The island has literally grown, but it is still very pleasant. It’s not as deserted as 7 years ago, but it’s still 1000 times more enjoyable than the Koh Phiphi brothel… Nowadays you’ll find 7/11s, ATMs, and all kinds of tourist shops. These things were nonexistent during my first visit… The lost-paradise effect is no more, but it remains an exceptional island.
The beaches of Koh Lipe
The island of Koh Lipe is divided into 3 parts: Sunset Beach, Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach. You can easily walk from one beach to another in 20 minutes (under the sun) while crossing the village.
– Sunset Beach: This is the most beautiful beach on the island. The water is amazing, but the magical part is at the north end at the foot of the Moutain Resort. Indeed, along the beach, the landscape is a little spoiled by boats while in the north there is nothing but water to amaze you.
– Sunrise Beach: This is the wildest beach. The sand is not white, but the water is hot. I wouldn’t recommend picking a hotel on this beach, as it offers nothing exceptional, however, the sunset is superb and should be seen at least once.
– Pattaya beach: This is the main beach, the one where everyone arrives. This is where you will find all the animations, but don’t worry, the animations are pleasing and won’t prevent you from sleeping at night. Cause it’s big enough to find a quiet area. The water is crystalline blue.
How to get to Koh Lipe?
- From Bangkok, the easiest way is to book a package deal with flight, bus and boat. Airlines Nok Air and Air Asia offer these packages. It costs a bit more than if you try to get to Trang or Hat Yai on your own, then find and negotiate a cab to the port, then negotiate a boat ride. I admit, it’s the lazy option, but it’s convenient. It costs between 50 and 80 euros one-way during the high season, and between 30 and 50 euros one-way during the low season. Attention, via Trang, the boat trip lasts 2h30 to 3h, and if you suffer from seasickness, the speedboat can be quite unpleasant, while via the port of Satun, the boat trip takes about 1h30, and then it takes 2 hours to go to the airport from Hat Yai. If you decide not to go for the package deal, you will save around 15 euros.
- By ferry from Trang or Satun
- With a speed boat from Phuket, Koh Phiphi or Koh Lanta
- By boat from Langkawi (Malaysia)
Warning: when you arrive, there is a good chance that you will have to go through customs and pay a fee to enter the national park. It costs 200 baht and is valid for 5 days. Add 50 baht to catch a boat (mandatory) to arrive at the beach.
Where to stay in Koh Lipe?
As for accommodation, choices have multiplied and prices have soared.
Note that prices vary depending on whether it is high or low season, as is the case everywhere in Thailand.
You will find all options here http://kohlipethailand.com/
During my first night in Koh Lipe, I had opted for a small cabin on the beach, pretending I was Robinson Crusoe, but I quickly became disillusioned. The resort was called the Porn Hotel, or something along those lines, which should have made me suspicious. Indeed, with a name like that, I had to expect the worst. Yes, the cabin was on the beach, but it was barely standing. I think the sheets had never been changed, and the room had never been cleaned. I found cockroaches larger than I could have ever imagined. To top it off, during the night I heard screams of animals that I could not identify. Given the sturdiness of the cabin, I did not feel safe.
The very next day I treated myself to a beautiful room at the Mountain Resort, with the 360 ° view, and I could enjoy my nights in paradise.
At the time, the Moutain Resort was the most beautiful hotel on the island, with rooms going for around 50 euros a night. Today, that price has tripled to at least 150 euros.
For small budgets: there are tons of guesthouses in the center of the island. I did not have the opportunity to test them but there are many options. Avoid the Porn Resort, this is the best advice I can give you.
For larger budgets:
– The Mountain Resort, despite its price, the 180 ° view of the crystal clear water is magical. In addition, the hotel is located on the most beautiful part of the island
– Chareena Hill Beach Resort. This hotel is located at the end of Pattaya Beach on the waterfront, so the view is sublime with the beach at your feet. The rooms are beautiful and comfortable. You will only meet couples there.
If your budget isn’t too tight, I recommend these 2 hotels without hesitation, because most of the other hotels in the same price range are in desperate need for some renovations (you get 2 stars for the price of 4) or your room will not be located on the seafront, which is a shame given the beauty of the water.
And if you really want to treat yourself, then head to the Asana Beach Resort or the Serendipity.
Where to eat in Koh Lipe?
To eat, avoid absolutely everything in the Walking Street. It’s a horror. Fishmongers are also overpriced and disappointing.
Nevertheless, in every side street of this horrible street, there are some small local restaurants that are excellent, often run by a modest family. I enjoyed feast after feast. But for that, you have to get away from anything that looks like a tourist trap. There is even a superb Burmese restaurant, the Forever, in the heights of the island.
The other islands of southern Thailand
Koh Bulone, Koh Ngai, Koh Mook, Koh Tarutao, Koh Kradan, Koh Sukhon … you have the choice. All these islands in the region do not suffer from mass tourism. They are all amazingly beautiful.
Koh Mook has the most beautiful white sand beaches but Koh Sukhon is the most authentic. It’s up to you to choose where to relax.
I hope you will leave this island with memories as magical as mine.