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28 August, 2010

Koh Lipe Thailand


Koh Lipe Thailand - one of the most beautiful islands at the Tarutao Marine Park and currently one of the most sought after places for island lovers. This small island sits at the Southern most part of the marine park and the name Koh Lipe (pronounced Lee Pay) comes from the local sea gypsy name which means Paper Island. Koh Lipe is also known as the Maldives of Thailand as the waters here are amazingly crystal clear while the unspoiled beaches are donned with pure white sand. The paradise is also known by many other spellings such as Koh Lipeh, Ko Lipey, Ko Leepay and Ko Lipe.

Speed boat ferries arriving on the beach

Koh Lipe is also easily accessible as there are various ways from Phuket, Ko Lanta, Pak Barra and also Langkawi Island in Malaysia. I did an article on this and you can find out more information about Getting To Koh Lipe. There are no airports so the only way here is via the modern speed boat ferries. Journeys are estimated at about 1-2 hours depending on which point you choose.As for my experience, I have visited Koh Lipe during the high season via Langkawi and also during the low season via Pak Barra jetty in Satun which is in Southern Thailand. After you arrive at the immigration office for your passport chop and want to take a longtail boat taxi to your resort at the other beaches, they charge a fee of 40-50 Baht per person.

This shot was taken in May 2010, off season on the island

Being around for many years, this paradise island was originally settled by a band of sea gypsies from Malaysia, known as the 'Chao Lei' people and was once a secret little backpacker haven with only budget styled beach chalets while backpackers would bring wares to sell on the walking street and around the island. Some of the back packers would even camp out on the beaches back then.

Only until about 4-5 years ago, some businessmen saw the opportunity and started investing here opening up larger styled resorts and businesses. At the current moment, the island operates on two seasons, Low Season from May till September and High Season from October till April. You will find that during the rainy season, about 60% of the island comes to a standstill where prices are slashed to about 50-60% off peak rates.

 Koh Lipe in January 2010, peak season and almost same angle as above

Depending on the type of island lover you are, you might want to check the seasons carefully before visiting  this beautiful island. During the peak season, Ko Lipe is pretty much filled with all walks of life from all over the world. Resorts and Chalets are mostly fully booked while every business will be in full operation. Families, back packers and even couples are seen during this season. While the off season caters to more budget travelers or those who did not know about the seasons. Expect some rain while most of the businesses here are shut. The bonus is that you have almost the entire island to yourself. 

Koh Lipe is divided into four main beaches - Pattaya Beach, which is the main beach where most of the hotels and resorts are located, Sunrise Beach where more budget accommodations are found and a few upscale lodgings and Sunset Beach where it caters to the backpackers and divers. A fourth stand alone beach called Karma Beach is part of the  Mountain Resort which sits on the North most part of the island facing the beautiful Koh Adang.  

 Mats set up for evening lounging along Pattaya Beach 
Sunrise Beach where cheaper lodging is found

Families are usually booked at Pattaya Beach and Mountain Resort while Couples, Divers and Backpackers tend to favor Sunrise and Sunset Beach. Depending on your likes and taste, I personally found all the beaches exceptionally beautiful with their white sands and turquoise-blue waters. It is just the accommodation that matters to the would be visitor.  Personally, I prefer a middle range resort or chalet. For the luxury travelers, there are only 2 resorts that are 4-5 stars in Koh Lipe, the Sita Beach Resort and Bundhaya Resort.

 View of the Andaman Sea from Pattaya Beach

Island transportation, one of the very few from the resorts

The beauty about Koh Lipe is that it is so small, there are no vehicles there. Only motor bikes with side carriages which are mostly used by the locals or resorts to ferry goods and luggage. At times, some of the resorts will ferry the guests to the boat as it can be a 10 minute walk there. Walking is common here as a walk from Pattaya Beach to Sunset Beach would take you a good 20-30 minutes. 

 View of Pattaya Beach from Bundhaya Resort

Lipe Walking Street, village entrance

The main attraction besides the beautiful views and scenery is the Ko Lipe Walking Street located at Pattaya Beach that stretches inwards the island. It is here that you get all the restaurants, shops, massage centers and so on. The walking street comes alive at night with food, music, shopping and partying. No actual proper bars or clubs but you get the local island style settings. Stretching about one kilometer long, there are countless places for you to spend your evenings.

A concrete path was recently created but took the charm away so the locals decided to fill the entire walkway with sand from the beach. Watch out for the locals with motorbikes that move up and down here.they have a pretty good variety of food available here too. From local Thai seafood, Chinese, Indian and Western cuisines are spread out throughout the street and various parts of the island.

Various signs on a tree

When you walk around the island, you will see lots of signs and advertisements plastered on trees showing you where each and every of the various dive shops, resorts or restaurants are located. With this, it is pretty hard to get lost on Koh Lipe. As mentioned, walking around the island will only take you less than two hours if you want to explore the entire place.

My breakfast view at Bundhaya Resort

When I recently visited in June 2010, I stayed at the Bundhaya Resort with the invitation of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and found Koh Lipe absolutely stunning considering that I had just visited the island in January for a diving trip. There were literally no crowds, empty beaches and stunning scenery every day. It felt almost like paradise and I have sworn to make another visit again next year for more diving here. For the record, there are about 5-6 dive centers where you can take your PADI Diving Certificate at Koh Lipe. There are also about 16 known dive spots around the 4 main islands which are Koh Lipe, Koh Adang, Koh Rawi and Ko Dong.

Apart from this, you have the option to go snorkeling or island hopping to the many beautiful islands around the Tarutao National Park. For camping enthusiast, you can do so at Ko Rawi and Ko Adang but you need to get permission from the ranger station at each island. There is also a trek and a waterfall at Ko Adang Island.

Mountain Resort in Koh Lipe - A private resort and beach

 Some of the thatched hut units from as low as US$12 a night

A sea gypsy village

While I was here, I took the time to explore the various Sea Gypsy Villages around Koh Lipe. There are a total of 6 villages where you can easily walk around and the local Chow Lays are pretty much friendly people. A number of the locals run small grocery shops from the homes and welcome anyone for business. A Buddhist Temple (Hantalay Temple) is also located near the main island power generator and if you want to witness the morning alms giving, you can catch the monks at about 7-8am along the Lipe Walking Street.

 Longtail boats parked outside Sunrise Beach

 Some of the cheaper chalets seen at Varin 2

 Beautiful white sand beach at Sunrise Beach

Castaway Resort in Ko Lipe with Unique double storey chalets

Sunrise taken at Sunrise Beach

 Map of Koh Lipe showing the resorts and places

Things to take note before visiting Koh Lipe Thailand
  • There are no ATMS there
  • The nearest ATM Machines are in Pak Barra jetty or Langkawi jetty
  • Some businesses on Lipe will do Credit Card Advances at 5%-8% commission
  • Foreign Currency can be changed at most resorts but at terrible rates
  • There is only one Immigration Hut located at the end of Pattaya Beach next to Bundhaya Resort
  • A local Police Station is also available behind the Immigration Office
  • The only way in and out of Koh Lipe is via Ferry or Speedboat
  • There are no taxis or cars on the islands
  • Do not participate in Fishing Trips as it is illegal
  • There is only one small clinic at the local Chow Lay village called Topoe
  • A helicopter landing area is there for major emergencies
  • Visa on arrival over land or sea is only 14 days for foreigners
  • Alternatively, you can do a visa run to Langkawi, Malaysia and back within a day
  • There is a small local church available in the Chow Ley village
  • Ko Lipe Walking Street is 80% closed during off season
  • Room/chalet rates start anywhere from US$12 right up till US$250 a night
  • Boat timings are crucial to and from Lipe. Check the low and high season timings
  • From May until November Koh Lipe can only be reached from Pak Barra jetty
  • Read about Getting To Koh Lipe
If you have not visited this magnificent island, I would recommend you do it soon before this place turns into a major tourist attraction. I have a friend who has been visiting this island every year for Christmas and New Year for the last 12 years and he has seen the changes which he feels should not have taken place. From his point of view, the island was a really beautiful hidden gem of the Andaman Sea back in the day. For those who enjoy the islands and beaches along Southern Thailand, do make a stop over at Koh Lipe Thailand
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43 comments:

fufu said... 28 August 2010 06:39

wow beautiful :)

David Jr said... 28 August 2010 13:46

Thank you Fufu, you must visit this place when you have the chance.

JIPP said... 29 August 2010 11:59

I became a 'fan' of Koh Lipe on its facebook but I've never been there. Now I can see how it is worth go pay it a visit someday. Thanks for sharing this David.

David Jr said... 29 August 2010 15:42

Jipp, it well worth it to visit here as it is such a short distance from Langkawi. If you can, do it end of this year or early next year.

David

CathJ said... 29 August 2010 20:44

such in heaven... must go... :)

David Jr said... 29 August 2010 23:19

Let me know when you plan to go Cath. And kids are no hassle here, just the boat ride only.

David

Traveling Ted said... 30 August 2010 03:09

This post is packed with great travel information on Thailand and great pictures. Nice work.

David Jr said... 30 August 2010 13:59

Thank you very much Ted. Glad you think so and hopefully it finds its way to many other travelers heading here.

David

Best Vacation Destination said... 31 August 2010 19:41

Thanks for the post i am heading Thailand on Christmas Eve for my next vacation.

David Jr said... 1 September 2010 00:48

Hello B.V.D, hope you have a fantastic time there! Don't forget to try the Rotee at Walking Street in Koh Lipe.

David

Putra said... 4 September 2010 05:18

Hi David,

Is it easy to get halal food around Lipe?

David Jr said... 6 September 2010 20:27

Putra, there are a few Muslim Thai people selling food there so no worries. I saw an Indian restaurant there too.

David

Anonymous said... 14 September 2010 00:20

i went there once before and i wish to spend my whole live there very beautiful place

haan said... 15 September 2010 10:21

Hi David.. this is a greatest article I found so far when searching online for the info about Koh Lipe.

Not sure if you mind to share which dive center u dived with, and will u go back to them, or you will look for another one :P

I'm looking for a place where the dive center and accommodation is very near to each other. hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience. thanks..

David Jr said... 15 September 2010 14:39

Hello Haan, I used Sabye Divers when I stayed there in January but the lodging next to them is Porn Resort. A bit of the backpacker styled place.

If you're looking for a slightly better place, I would recommend Castaway Divers who have their own lovely double story chalets and resort. All in one. This is also located along Sunrise Beach.
Finally there are the Forra Divers with their own lodging as well. Do check them out and thanks again. I will have to work on my diving article at Ko Lipe one of these days.

David

haan said... 18 September 2010 20:49

Thanks David for your reply. Looking forward to your diving article. My friend recommended me Castaway too.. I'll get in touch with them. Thanks..

Anonymous said... 24 September 2010 16:55

Thanks for a great article and nice pictures but I must correct you in one matter. Visa on arrival is 15 days (14 nights).

Steph said... 3 December 2010 14:11

Hi

I just came back from Koh Lipe on monday. It's really beautiful, a must go place.

Things to do 'a must' list :
1. Diving / Snorkeling
2. Eat the Thai pancake, had mine in 'Nutella' spread flavor.
3. Grilled seafood - they have gigantic cockles, prawns etc.. mMm..
4. Must visit all the beach
5. Must have a ride on the longtail boat n local taxi
6. Must visit Lipe walking street
7. Must drink coconut
8. Must try the 'yogurt shake'
9. Must try ice mocha coffee from the same shop that sells the thai pancake at the Lipe walking street.
10. Must go to the rock island 'Ko Hin-ngam'
Lastly, must fully enjoy the beach :)

Anonymous said... 10 December 2010 10:14

Hi all,
I'm planning to go Koh Lipe but I need more info on:
1. What's the different between peak and off-peak season in Koh Lipe?
2. Can I visit without diving/snorkeling?
3. What's the best way(transportation) to get there from Malaysia?
4. Which resort is recommended?

Thanks in advance.

BackpackerThailand said... 15 December 2010 18:03

Beautiful photos, thank you for sharing.

I had a great time on Lipe and there was a lot to do like snorkeling, shopping and eating in good quality restaurants and bars. I found my resort on Koh Lipe on http://www.welovekohlipe.com, where you can also check out more information about Koh Lipe and the surrounding areas.

David Jr said... 5 January 2011 01:19

In reply to Anon;

1. Peak Season, can get crowded so book ahead. Non rainy season. Lots of people to mingle around with. Prices are normal. NON-Peak Season - Many places are closed. Prices can go up to 50% discount on accommodation. Rainy Days. Diving hazard.
2. Yes, many people go there just to chill out and do nothing but laze around all day.
3. From Langkawi - Ferry. Read my last part of the post (Getting to Koh Lipe)
4. Depends on your holiday style. If you like budget, lots to choose from without air condition from RM25-50. Aircond RM70-200 a night. Personally, I liked Mountain although it is a 20 minute walk to Pattaya Beach.

Hope this helps and have fun!

David
Malaysia Asia

Intan Azreena said... 25 January 2011 13:55

Thanks David for all the info and we will be going here on the 29 Jan - 5th Feb 2011.

David Jr said... 25 January 2011 23:40

Intan, have a great trip to Koh Lipe! Don't forget to try the Rotee on Walking Street.

David

Unknown said... 6 July 2011 16:25

Been in lipe last year.. fascinating.. the best place ever been...

Zaza said... 28 July 2011 10:15

i must say i'm VERY excited to get into the island scene again (after 2-year hiatus, birth of baby et all) and it seems like Lipe is perfect! How would you rate its "baby-friendliness"? My baby would be about 14months old by then. I plan to pay a visit most prolly in october or november.

David Jr said... 18 August 2011 12:04

Zaza - It's actually very baby friendly as I have seen many foreigners bring their babies there. The only set back I can see is the boat ride there. Otherwise, all is good.

Lipe said... 11 October 2011 14:12

I promise with myself to go back to Tarutao Natinal Marin Park again as soon as possible. There are so many more attractions where is didn’t visit yet. We also plan to visit the view point and visit all beaches on Lipe Island

Angel said... 1 March 2012 23:30

i plan to go. May I know when is best period to go koh lipe?

suraya said... 2 March 2012 11:01

I will visit Koh Lipe in 12 March 2012. it is peak season or non peak season. is there always rainy now because Malaysia always rainy now from evening to night..

Anonymous said... 5 March 2012 00:15

Am going 29 Mar - 1Apr. For beach freaks like us, our only concern is the beach and of coz the seafood. TQ David for your write-up, v v informative. We've sort of decided that if Lipe is as good as you say it is, it'll remain on our holiday calendar!

David Jr said... 6 March 2012 17:50

Peak Period is Oct-Feb
Rain - It does rain but not the monsoon type.
Seafood and Beaches - Fresh seafood while the best beaches there are Sunrise, Pattaya and Mountain Resort Beach. I'd give the Sunset beach a pass.

Sara said... 12 May 2012 05:19

Looking to Travel to Lipe in the first week of July -- Do you know the weather patterns then?

David Jr said... 12 May 2012 21:48

Sara, it's off season. Weather should be relatively good with mild showers off and on.

Thailand Hotels said... 16 May 2012 10:44

Koh Lipe is a small island in the Southern part of the Andaman sea. It is located in Satun Province, close to Langkawi island (Malaysia),Thank kohlipehotel com

hcvvorld of Travels and Photography said... 24 May 2012 18:21

good tips and insights..yea Ko Lipe is considered as Maldives of Asia..i must go there asap...and about the history..never knew the name came from a group of Malaysian gypsies..interesting facts indeed

Anonymous said... 5 June 2012 02:01

I undertand your great discribtion about Koh Lipe is from 2010. Is the Island still as quiet during the low season now, or is it getting a bit more lively? I am planning to visit in July, but if most of the places still are shutting down, I am afraid that it will feel to desserted. But I guess that much can happen in two years...

Anonymous said... 9 July 2012 20:38

Hi David we are planning a trip in 3 days but did not know its off season. We will be in Langkawi and need to know how we can get directly to Lipe without taking the Pak Barra ferry. Any info would be most appreciated. Thanks Halimah.

Didi Soche said... 19 February 2013 11:17

Any updated information about this island ? I plan to take my family over there this June 2013,by train from KL-Hattay.

Tots to Travel said... 6 March 2013 23:25

Great to see there are such beautiful, baby-friendly destinations all over the world. There are many here in the UK as well as continental Europe. When your children are safe you can really focus on enjoying sharing your holiday with them, and you can forge some great memories.

Stellar work, great imagery.

David Jr said... 26 March 2013 20:09

Apologies for the late reply, the spam filter blocked all the comments.

Didi - June is off season there but some of the resorts are still opened with discount prices. Train to Hat Yai then van to Pak Barra and Ferry there. Shouldn't be a problem but please check timings.

Thanks Tots to Travel! :)

Yasmine said... 14 May 2013 00:41

My bf & I will be going in the mid june. We will be going from Langkawi to Koh Lipe. we understand that we will have to stop at Satun then to Pak Barra for the speedboat to Koh Lipe. Any advise for us?

Is there any sppedboat tickets for sale in Satun? Will we be able to make it to Pak Barra on time?

David Jr said... 19 May 2013 20:44

Yasmin, mid June is off season so you best double check the ferry times from Pak Barra. Not sure about Satun but at Pak Barra town, there are many ticket counters. Last ferry is at 4 or 5pm I think.

hamidi hamid said... 5 September 2014 22:04

Hi All, can anybody share with me the price of fishing trip at ko lipe

Item Reviewed: Koh Lipe Thailand Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: David Jr
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