I'm 100% sure that there is a place in heaven that looks just like Koh Lipe. Its clean, its a little private and really UNSPOILED. It’s been 6 months since we came back from our Thai Honeymoon and I still day dream about the beach, the food, the juices, all of it!
On that trip we visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Lipe and let me tell you… my FAVORITE part was the days we spent in Lipe. My only regret - not having stayed there longer.
I'm a little torn as I write this post because I want to go back to Lipe at some point and I want it to stay as unspoiled as it currently is, but its also TOO beautiful and cool NOT to share with you. The white sands and greenish-blue water, its colorful fishes and corals will keep you dreaming about this place long after you've left.
There is not much info out there about Koh Lipe. My friends that had been to Thailand had never heard about Lipe, but, after I first read about it on CN Traveler I knew that THAT was the place I wanted to go to.
For those of you who are interested in heading there in your next trip to Thailand, read on to find out how to get there, where to stay, and what to eat.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Chiang Mai or Bangkok
If you’re in either Chiang Mai, Bangkok or any other city in mainland Thailand (or surrounding countries), the best way to get to Koh Lipe is to fly to Hat Yai airport.
We flew Air Asia, which is one of the cheapest airlines and paid ~$80 USD one way per person - mainly because we were carrying 2 suitcases + carry-on, but it can be as little as half that amount if you only have carry-ons only.
From Hat Yai, you’ll need to get to Pak Bara Pier, which is about two hours away from Hat Yai. Depending on your budget you can take a shuttle (~$BHT 400 / $12 USD per person) or a taxi (~$BHT 2,000 / $60 USD up to 4 people). As far as whether you need to book ahead or time or not, I read mixed comments online, but given we were traveling on a budget airline (and didn’t know if delays are common or not) and that our trip was during peak season, we decided to just wing it and book when we got there. On arrival, we had NO issues getting a taxi in 3 minutes. However, If you’re traveling during the off season, make sure to look into it so there are no negative surprises.
Once you get to Pak Bara, your taxi or Shuttle will show you where to purchase the tickets for the speedboat that will take you to Koh Lipe. That will be another $BHT 600 / $20 USD per person and be ready to be packed on a boat that is supposed to seat about 15-20 people LOADED with ~40 people. It gets pretty tight and uncomfortable but, believe me, its worth it.
Once you get to Koh Lipe, you’ll pay $BHT 200 per person for the national park entrance and you will change boats to the smaller long-tail boats that'll take you closer to the shore (price included in the speedboat ticket) and from there, you’ll either find someone from your hotel looking for you or you can take a moto-taxi to your hotel.
From Other Islands / Piers
I know you can get to Koh Lipe from many other islands / piers but given I didn’t experience it - my suggestion is to look at these two websites that I found super helpful to both look at ferry/boat schedules and book transportation:
WHERE TO STAY AND HOW LONG
Given that no one I knew had been there or had even heard about it, I wanted to be on the safe-side for our honeymoon. Thanks to that CN traveler article, I found the Idyllic Resort which is a modern 38 room hotel that has an amazing location in Sunrise beach.
Don’t let the name fool you - the resorts you’ll find in this small island are nothing like what you’ve seen in Mexico or the US. It is still a small and cozy hotel, it just has more amenities that most bungalow style hotels in the area.
One of the reasons I chose Lipe was because I wanted a place that felt more private and relaxing, and staying at this place was definitely a good choice.
The service at Idyllic was amazing (as it is in most places in Thailand), they served breakfast starting at 6am (which is appreciated when jet lag is real and you wake up at 4:30 in the morning), and the food in general for breakfast, lunch and dinner is pretty good. A plus is that they offer pretty good western food options if you’re not really into thai food or your stomach isn’t handling it very well.
Additionally, the hotel had kayaks for free and snorkel equipment to rent for a cheap price. We definitely took advantage it! If your hotel doesn’t have them, make sure to rent them out and explore the area. From sunrise beach, you can go half a kilometer out and the water will still be shallow AND full of incredible colorful fishes and corals.
Another place I would’ve loved to stay was Castaway Beach Resort, also on Sunrise beach. The crew there seemed pretty cool and they have Yoga Classes everyday!! Although I can’t comment about service, food, etc… it would definitely be a place I’d like to check out when/if I go back.
Now the question is, how long do you need to stay in Koh Lipe. The true answer is FOREVER. I really wanted to stay and live there for the rest of my life, but then I remembered I have friends and family and that they live far away SOOOO its not really possible. The island is pretty small so you’ll be able to see all of it in one day but if you really want to relax I’d say you need at least 4 full days. One to really chill from that LONG trip, one to explore all the beaches, stop at restaurants, bars and cafes, one to go diving (you HAVE to) and one more to relax, get couple massages and read half a book. Could you stay longer? Absolutely!! There is not much to do asides from the previously mentioned activities, but its a place where you will be able to really unplug from the everyday craziness so stay as long as you need.
WHAT TO DO
There are 3 main beaches in Koh Lipe: Pattaya Beach, Sunrise Beach and Sunset Beach.
You most definitely need to see the sun rise and set at their namesake beaches because they’re AMAZING. I never thought I’d see so many sunrises in a row but thanks to a combination of jet lag and our pretty amazing room, I was up everyday before sunrise and they were truly a show. We also walked all the way to sunset beach one day and were not disappointed. The water is a bit deeper than it is at sunrise beach so it was nice to go in the water. Its also worth mentioning that the beach is pretty much a huge pool… the waves are really soft, which I love for staying in the water for long periods of time. Lastly, Pattaya beach is where most nightlife happens, and I even surprise myself when I say we never made it there... there is enough stuff to do in sunrise beach (bars and restaurants) that we never felt like making it across the island just to explore the night life (my 20 year old self cannot believe I'm writing this!).
There are a few things you can’t miss in Koh Lipe:
Sunrise Beach Restaurant - the place is pretty simple, wooden tables with simple plastics chairs in the sand but the food and the view are hard to beat. My favorite Thai dish is green curry and this place knows how to make a mean one. The perfect combination of spicy and coconut-y, more on the spicy side so make sure to ask for mild if you can’t take too much heat. After one try you’ll want to eat here every day, and the best part? Its super cheap!!!
As a side note, I'll always remember this place as the place my husband dropped his brand new wedding band into the SAND... yup! Luckly, after what felt like an hour (most likely one or two minutes) of searching, I found it!!
Smoothies and Pancakes: Do not miss the opportunity to try both of these street cart foods at any of the stands you see on Walking Street (the main road with all the shops and restaurants). The smoothies are super refreshing and the thai pancakes are a perfect dessert after that spicy green curry.
^ View from Sunrise Beach Restaurant ^
As my last recommendation, I strongly suggest you go diving. I had done a discovery dive in Brasil to prepare a little bit ahead of time but you can do that here in Koh Lipe. After shopping around for prices / experience of the people in the shops we settled for Forra Diving. The route changes every day depending on the current but I guarantee it will be a blast.
The experience takes almost a full day, they take you on a boat around 1 hour and 30 minutes out to some other islands that are within the same national park and the group does 2 dives (3 if you’re more experienced and want to go with the experts on an extra stop). We had two instructors in a group of 4, one staying in the front to guide us and the other one in the back. Because we’re not certified (Yet!) we had to do a round of exercises when we got to the bottom and then we were ready to go. You’ll eat lunch in the boat (Forra Diving provides it - it was really yummy) and you’ll be back in Koh Lipe at around 4:30 PM but believe me, you’ll be ready to go to bed after a day carrying heavy gear in the sun.
Make sure you bring a GoPro or some sort of camera that can go in the water because you’ll be able to take some pretty cool shots.
If you are planning on going to Koh Lipe please let us know if you have any questions and if you have already been, what did you think?
Lili Carlos | Co-Founder