Planning a visit to Koh Lipe, Thailand? Wondering the best places to stay and activities to do there? This is my guide to Koh Lipe, written during and post the covid 19 pandemic.
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Koh Lipe Guide
Not only is Koh Lipe among the top 10 islands in Thailand but it may actually be the best island in Thailand. I have visited here several times before, both as a solo female traveller in Thailand and with friends, so I feel this Koh Lipe review is very valid and I’ve been both pre-covid and post covid while living in Bangkok. It is a tiny island and everything is within walking distance including the 3 most popular beaches. There are very few vehicles on the island which is one of my favourite things about it.
During Koh Lipe covid times, the island was closed with no ferries and tourism started picking up again from late 2021. It felt wonderful to have an amazing Thailand island trip while also supporting the local economy and small businesses on the island. Restaurants, shops and bars are starting to open up again but still some are closed – updated August 2022.
Is Koh Lipe the most beautiful island in Thailand?
Koh Lipe is definitely one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand, in my humble opinion. It has stunning, white sand beaches, turquoise crystal clear water. It is home to the best snorkelling sites in Thailand and, for most divers, the best scuba diving in Thailand.
Where is Koh Lipe Thailand?
Koh Lipe is one of the southern most islands in Thailand, near the Malaysian border and not far from Langkawi in Malaysia. This makes getting to Koh Lipe a longer journey than most islands in Thailand but you will be rewarded once you get there! Pre-covid, you could travel from Langkawi to Koh Lipe but, at the time of writing in 2022, this ferry is not available.
The Best Things to Do on Koh Lipe
Most of the best Koh Lipe activities involve the water:
The coral reefs are healthy and stunning and you can snorkel straight off the beach to see a variety of marine life. If you are interested in Koh Lipe diving then I strongly recommend checking out Koh Lipe dive sites which are among the top dive sites in Thailand. It is possible to see whale sharks and devil rays if you’re lucky. In 10 days of diving Koh Lipe, I saw frogfish, razorfish, octopuses, seahorses, nudibranchs, moray eels, cuttlefish, squid and the healthiest looking coral I’ve seen in Thailand.
Kayaking – another great way to explore the island. Please note this is not possible during low tide times to protect the reef
Stand Up Paddleboarding- I did this and also took my snorkel mask for a spot of SUP and snorkelling at the same time. The sea can be very calm which makes for great Koh Lipe paddleboarding. It is very cheap to rent a board (we rented from our Castaway accommodation) and, as with kayaking, this is not possible at low tides.
Koh Lipe Yoga – I really enjoyed yoga classes with Keira and would definitely recommend her. She was great at adapting her yoga classes to different abilities. For example, for me who has very low flexibility and for my friend who was much better than me!
When is the best time to visit Koh Lipe?
Like most islands in Thailand, Koh Lipe has rainy season and dry season.
Rainy season in Koh Lipe usually starts from May – October and this is often known as the green or low season in Koh Lipe.
However, I have visited Koh Lipe in October and in August and while there were some cloudy days we also had bright, blue sky days. As always the weather is very temperamental in Thailand. Although it may not feel like the best time to visit Koh Lipe, low season has its advantages of quiet beaches and no other divers around on some of the best dive sites in Thailand.
Is Koh Lipe crowded?
Koh Lipe is one of the best less touristy islands in Thailand. Since the covid pandemic, Koh Lipe has started to recover its tourist numbers but it is not like it was before meaning there are beautiful quiet Thailand beaches here.
How to Travel to Koh Lipe:
How to get to Koh Lipe from Bangkok?
There is no Koh Lipe airport so the fastest way to get to from Bangkok to Koh Lipe is to fly to Hat Yai airport. From Hat Yai to Koh Lipe, you can get a minivan to Pakbara pier (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes) and then a speedboat from Pakbara pier to Koh Lipe (approx. 1h30 or 2 hours). There are some alternative routes although many are not up and running again after the covid 19 pandemic. This facebook group is incredibly helpful for visitors.
How to get to Koh Lipe from Krabi?
At the time of writing (August 2022) there was no ferry from Krabi to Koh Lipe. To travel from Krabi to Koh Lipe you can travel in a minivan to Pakbara pier (approx 4hours) and then a speedboat (approx 1hr30). You can book this with any tour operator along the road in Krabi or Ao Nang.
Where to stay on Koh Lipe?
Koh Lipe accommodation covers budget and mid-range options, although there are few high end luxury resorts. If you are interested in staying in Koh Lipe bungalows then I definitely can recommend Castaway Koh Lipe (Agoda) or (Castaway Koh Lipe Booking.com) where I stayed previously. They are cute, wooden, fairly basic bungalows with a fan and cold showers right on Sunrise Beach with gorgeous beach views from the Castaway restaurant. It was a great location for me as it was a short walk up Sunrise Beach to get to my dive centre.
For luxury Koh Lipe accommodation, you can read about my experience staying at Idyllic Concept Hotel – one of the best hotels in Koh Lipe here.
Koh Lipe beaches
The main beautiful beaches are Sunrise, Sunset and Pattaya beach. At different times of year these beaches can look very different and some are prone to a lot of trash washing up on them. The locals on Koh Lipe work hard to constantly clear the beaches of the litter and I found them very clean in October. This can change with the currents and tides that bring in ocean garbage. Koh Lipe is where you can find less touristy beaches in Thailand depending on the time of year. Since the pandemic, Koh Lipe still has some of the best quiet beaches in Thailand.
Koh Lipe Restaurants and Koh Lipe Nightlife
Things to do in Koh Lipe also include eating delicious Koh Lipe food. My favourite restaurants quickly became the Italian, La Luna, Bombay Indian restaurant and local Thai restaurant Madam Yoohoo. (Who does actually shout yoohoo to encourage potential customers to walk in!). Through my diving package I also got food at Bennys on the Beach included for lunch which was vegetarian and delicious!
Koh Lipe Nightlife was very limited as the island was just opening up but we enjoyed drinks at Castaway, Zodiac at the end of the beach, Akira’s cocktail happy hour, OMG sports bar and Toey’s random corner bar at the corner by the sushi restaurant (I don’t believe it has a name but Toey is an island character and has many games and puzzles to surprise his customers with!).
Diving Koh Lipe: best dive sites in Thailand
If you are a scuba diver then Koh Lipe is probably already on your bucket list as it is home to some of the best dive sites in Thailand where you can see the healthiest, most colourful coral in Thailand, alongside Thai marine life like whale sharks and devil rays along with macro life. If you aren’t a scuva diver but are interested then Koh Lipe is a fantastic place to learn how to scuba dive in Thailand. You can learn with PADI or SSI. at various dive centres on Koh Lipe. The dive centre I did a Koh Lipe diving package with was Adang Sea Divers and they exceeded all my expectations. All the staff were fantastic from Keira and Lauren to Sunny, Aris and Joe. I spent most of my time diving with Sunny and Joe who have the BEST divemaster eyes and found so much marine life to show me! I can’t wait to dive with Adang Sea Divers again. Pear was incredibly helpful before I arrived and she helped to book my transfer and boat from Hat Yai airport and answered many of my questions before arriving on the island.
If diving please note that the national park will close some dive sites during low season to give them a chance to recover. This includes the top dive site in Thailand called Stonehenge. However, there is still a lot of diving available.
Is it better to dive in langkawi or koh lipe?
Thinking of diving in Langkawi or Koh Lipe? The dive sites in Koh Lipe make it one of the best diving islands in Thailand and I strongly recommend diving there, for the beautiful coral reefs, for the diversity of marine life and for a chance of whale sharks and devil rays.
Koh Lipe Island Hopping
It is a great Koh Lipe day trip to visit the nearby island of Adang for a viewpoint and waterfalls.
Further reading about travel in Thailand
If you are looking for more beautiful islands in Thailand to visit then check out more of my Thailand travel blog