Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is one of my favorite ‘touristy’ islands in Thailand. While it’s extremely developed, the island still feels small and the developers have done a good job of keeping the buildings low and the bungalows natural. There are no huge hotels here to blot out your view of the nearby islands and prices have stayed somewhat reasonable given the influx of visitors over the last few years (emphasis on the somewhat). This is a great island for relaxation and beach-chilling.

A gorgeous sunset on Sunset Beach.
A gorgeous sunset on Sunset Beach.

In this post, I’ll be showing you the things I love best about Koh Lipe. I hope you enjoy it!

The beaches are AMAZING.

Me, on the beach!
Me, on the beach!

Let’s be honest. Whenever you see pictures of Thai beaches they are breath-taking, but not very realistic. Having visited over a dozen islands, I’ve rarely seen the powdery white sand and crystal blue water. That is, until I went to Koh Lipe. The beaches were well-kept, the sand so white it hurt to look at, and clear, clean water through which you cold see your shadow on the ocean floor. The colors looked like a watercolor blend, transitioning between ice blue, jade green, and creamy white. It was really spectacular to see. Also, whoever is responsible for keeping the beaches clean is doing a great job, as I have been to many islands where the water is littered with trash and muck from a total lack of environmental or beach protection. Good on you, beach combers!

The Snorkeling was exciting again

lipe1
Watercolor wading

Snorkeling is another one of those things that gets less exciting the more you do it. When I first snorkeled in the Andaman Sea, my mind was blown by the crystal blue water and the crazy colorful fish and coral. However, having done a few specialty snorkeling trips to really vibrant and thriving reefs, the off-beach snorkeling just doesn’t do it for me anymore. But on Lipe, the boyfriend and I went on a snorkeling adventure. We swam out to the two small, deserted islands right off of Sunset Beach. Initially we just wanted to check out the beach but found on the way out there, we found that the reef was worth the trip itself. It was not teeming with life, but with diversity. I saw my first cuttle fish, right underneath my feet, my first flatworm as it undulated through the water; barracudas swam right up to my face without darting away and trumpet fish sliced through the water on the hunt. It was an unspoiled reef, something rare to see in Thailand where longtail boats rip through the water with their motors and drops anchors wherever they please. It was easy to get to and very rewarding. I highly recommend staying on Sunset beach just for the small island snorkeling if that’s your thing.

Our bungalows were idyllic

The first bungalow of my stay
The first bungalow of my stay

I am really not picky when it comes to accommodation. I don’t mind squat toilets or big spaces between the floorboards or a mattress on the floor. As long as it has a mosquito net and a door, I’m a happy camper. But that’s not to say that I don’t love it when I get to stay in a cozy, funky bungalow. And that’s exactly what I did on Koh Lipe. We decided to stay at a dive ‘resort’ since we got a discount on Reid’s diving, which was a cluster of about 16 bungalows. They were nestled back in the sand amongst these beautiful, huge bushes of flowers. The bungalows themselves were really well constructed (not always a given in Thailand) with an awesome outdoor shower, stairs built from driftwood, and a hammock on the porch.

 

Reid in the hammock there were very few times that he wasnt in the hammock...)
Reid in the hammock (there were very few times that he wasn’t in the hammock…)

The best part? Our bungalow during our second stint (after spending 3 days on nearby Koh Adang) had a loft! Perhaps it was luck or just what was available. There was a second level that had cushions, its own mosquito net and a day window where you could hang out. It became my morning meditation spot and Reid’s late night reading cove. I absolutely loved it. If you want to know the name of the bungalows, send me an email here and I’ll give you the information!

Proximity

Off to Koh Adang!
Off to Koh Adang!

If you’ve ever tried to get around Thailand, especially out to most islands, you know it is a long and arduous journey (and quite frankly, a pain in the ass). It usually involves any combination of plane, train, minibus, ferry and speedboat and can take hours upon hours upon hours to get there. Needless to say, at this point in my travels, I really appreciate palces that are easy to get to. That’s what I loved about Koh Lipe. After getting off the train in Hat Yai, it was just an hour long minibus to the pier and then an hour and a half speed boat ride out to the island. Also, once we were on Koh Lipe, we had quick and easy access to other islands like Koh Adang and Koh Tarutao. Even better and a bit more adventurous, you can take a longer ferry to the next archipelago up which includes Koh Libang, Koh Mook, Koh Kradan, Koh Ngai, etc. It’s really a great starting point for Southern Thailand exploration in which you can slowly work your way back up to Krabi without wasting so much time on travel. If I was going to recommend a Southern island trip to someone visiting Thailand, I would definitely recommend a flight/train to Hat Yai and then a week or two exploring Koh Lipe, Koh Adang, and Koh Tarutao.

 

Have you been to Lipe? What did you think? Was it too touristy for you? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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8 thoughts on “Koh Lipe”

    1. Seriously! I still can’t get over the beaches. Have you been to Koh Taruato or Koh Adang yet? I’m just writing up a blog on those two islands but I absolutely loved it there.

  1. I head to Koh Lipe next month. AirAsia and Nok Air now have flight/van/boat packages from Bangkok’s Don Mueang (DMK) airport for about 5,500 baht round trip all in. Counting the days until I get there.

  2. I was in Koh lipe in march 2014 and i love koh lipe too. For next winter, i hesitate beetween Koh lipe or Koh Ngai or both but i don’t want to spend lot of time on ferry: which is the best island for beach/ swimming (at low tide), snorkeling and scenery on the beach?
    I travel with kids (7/10 years old).
    Thank you

    1. Hi Esquirol. Koh Ngai is one of the few Thai islands I’ve never been to, so I really couldn’t say. I loved snorkeling off of the Sunrise Beach side of Koh Lipe though. There were two little atoll type islands just off the beach that had great snorkeling too, and at low tide you can actually stand in the water the whole way out there (though a 7 or 10 year old might not be able to). If you stayed on Koh Lipe, I’d highly recommend that side because you can kayak or snorkel out there, and the sand is kept very clean in front of most of the bungalows. The further South you go, the better the beaches are. If you go too far north, there is a bit more of a current up there and the beach sands are a bit dodgier. Also, swimming at low tide is quite excellent because the water never really gets any deeper than 4 feet. Good luck, and enjoy your vacation! I’m sure whichever island you choose will be lovely.

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