Koh Lipe is a small L-shaped island located in the southern Thailand’s Satun Province near the Thailand/Malaysia border. It belongs to the Adang-Rawi Archipelago, situated on the outskirts of the Tarutao National Marine Park. Originally only inhabited by Sea Gypsies, the Chao Ley who gave the island its name – Koh Lipe means Paper Island in Chao Ley, Koh Lipe (a.k.a. Koh Lipeh or Koh Lipey) has been through rapid development to face the increasing tourism demand.
Sunset Beach (west), Sunrise Beach (east), and Pattaya Beach (south) are the three main beaches of Koh Lipe. The island and its surroundings are quite famous for snorkelling and scuba diving; its coral reefs are easy to reach as they start just a few metres away from each of the four main island’s beaches. A large number of accommodation choices are available on Koh Lipe, from bamboo-and-thatch bungalows to four-star resorts.
Koh Lipe Hotels - Where to Stay in Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe features a handful of budget and mid-range resorts, located on Sunset Beach, Sunlight Beach and Pattaya Beach. Most offer individual bungalows with private balconies and basic amenities.
What to Do in Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is a small tropical paradise with all the usual (but welcome) clichés: white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, coconut tree-fringed beaches, luxuriant tropical forest, colourful coral reefs (25% of the world’s tropical fish can be found here), but to make it short, the main attraction here is the natural splendor of the island. Add to this the chilled-out atmosphere and the slow pace of life found in most tropical destinations, and you’ve got a winning holiday destination. Note has to be made about the negative effects of a too-fast development; Koh Lipe needs to fix a few issues such as rubbish treatment and animal conservation if it wants to remain an attractive destination.
The three most famous Koh Lipe beaches are the following:
Pattaya Beach is the longest (1km) and most popular beach features a wide range of hotels, restaurants, boutiques and bars.
Sunrise Beach (Haad Chao Ley) is a long (approximately 800m) strip of white sand bordering a wide shallow bay. It is protected from the monsoon in low season and enjoys refreshing breezes in high-season. Located near the Chao Ley village (hence its Thai name) which hosts a hospital and a school, there are a few restaurants and shops here.
Sunset Beach (Haad Pramong) is a peaceful and laid-back small beach (200m) located in the northern part of the island but facing west. Bamboo-and-thatch and driftwood-built restaurants and bars give a typical hippie feeling to the place.
Koh Lipe Restaurants & Dining
The recent development of the island brought a certain improvement in the types of cuisine at Koh Lipe. Of course, Thai cuisine and seafood are the most represented genres, but visitors can now enjoy a larger choice of dining opportunities. Western, Italian, Indian, vegetarian, and Halal options make Koh Lipe a gourmet destination similar to other tourist destinations in Thailand.
On the Rocks (at Serendipity Resort), Lekka Lipe, Elephant Books & Coffee, La Luna, Sunrise Beach restaurant, Café Lipe, La Cantina, Family Restaurant, Jack’s Jungle, Mama Pappaya, just to name a few, are among the favourite diners at Koh Lipe.
Koh Lipe Nightlife
You can find cool bars at all the beaches in Koh Lipe. The most notable waterng holes are the following:
OMG Sports Bar & Restaurant (Sunrise Beach, great cocktails, comfortable pillows, movies at 19:00), Longtail Bar (Pattaya Beach, shots and cocktails, live music in high season), Boom Boom Bar (Sunset Beach, relaxed atmosphere, lounge music), Cozy Cove (Sunset Beach, great views), Mia Luna (Sunset Beach, DJs from all around the world, electronic music, full moon parties), Mom’s Tattoo Bar (Pattaya Beach, friendly place, good music), Reggae Bar (Pattaya Beach, organize an annual event 6-9 Feb to celebrate the birth of Bob Marley).
The bars and venues mentioned above are just a few examples of what you can find at Koh Lipe in the matter of night entertainment.
Koh Lipe Shopping
By the end of 2012, there still were no ATMs on Koh Lipe; some places accept to charge your Visa or MasterCard in exchange of cash but they do it for a minimum 5% fee, so you’d better take some cash with you. Shopping on Koh Lipe is rather limited, you can find here all the necessary items for a beach holiday – swimsuits, T-shirts, flip flops – but as yet there’s no modern shopping mall.
Convenience stores and mini-marts are available so you can purchase snacks, drinks, suntan cream, batteries and other small things that you may need during your holiday. Handicraft souvenirs and handmade jewellery are also available at Koh Lipe.
Koh Lipe Activities
Snorkelling and scuba diving are the most notable activities to practice at and around Koh Lipe. “8 Mile Rock”, ‘Yong Hua Shipwreck’, ‘Sting Ray City’, ‘Hin Takorn Dukong’, and ‘Stonehenge’ are just a few of the most famous dive points in the area. There are many dive centres on Koh Lipe, so even if you’ve never dived before, you can easily learn and get a PADI Open Water certificate which will allow you to discover most of the underwater marvels displayed all around Koh Lipe.
For snorkelling, it is even easier; you can rent the equipment in shops along the beaches and go straight from the shore: there are superb coral reefs just a few metres away waiting to be explored. Sea Kayaking and sailing are also available on Koh Lipe. On land, you can trek all around the island – it takes roughly one hour – and discover the lush tropical vegetation and its fauna at your pace. Trekking in Koh Lipe also gives you a chance to reach small beaches which will make you feel like Robinson Crusoe. And after all these strenuous activities, why not indulge yourself with a Thai massage?
Getting Around Koh Lipe
Several ferry and speedboat transfers are available in high season (November to May) at the following ports of embarkation: Krabi Town, Phi Phi Islands, Koh Lanta, Pakbara and Trang. In low season, there is only one boat assuring the transfer between Koh Lipe and the continent: the 11:30 ferry from Pakbara.
There are no cars and just a few motorbikes on Koh Lipe, so getting around can only be done by foot. Island-hopping is recommended by long-tail or speedboat. The size of the island makes it easy to walk around.