Koh Lipe is a small island in the southernmost part of the Andaman Sea, off the coast of Thailand. Because of its proximity to both Thailand and Malaysia, you can visit it as part of your border crossing (by sea) between these two countries.
You can only make the direct border crossing between Langkawi (Malaysia) and Koh Lipe (Thailand) between mid-October and May. Outside of this season you will have to travel indirectly via Satun to get your paperwork stamped. That said – June to September are very quiet months on the island (there will be Monsoon rains in the afternoon) so you’ll have the place to yourself!
Koh Lipe not as well-known as many of the other Thai Islands, so it feels far less developed and touristy. Be aware that there are currently no ATMs on the island, so you need to come prepared with enough cash, or pay your way by credit card.
I visited Koh Lipe in March 2015 after spending 10 days in Langkawi. You can catch a boat from the port in Langkawi which takes around an hour, and is by far the quickest route.
Koh Lipe is accessible year round by boat. During high season (November to early May) boats depart daily from the Thai islands of Koh Phi Phi and Phuket, as well as from Langkawi in Malaysia.
Immigration offices are located at the ferry office in Langkawi and on Pattaya Beach, Koh Lipe where your boat will dock. It’s worth remembering that you’re only allowed to spend 14 days in Thailand if you arrive here via boat rather than by plane. But as Koh Lipe is so small, I found a 5-7 night break here is long enough.
The island has a fantastically relaxed atmosphere and you’ll find there’s a real mix of backpackers, families and locals enjoying a holiday. One side of the island is home to about 500 sea gypsies who live in the villages, and the other side is developing for tourists.
There are two main beaches; Pattaya beach is where the boats arrive, which is lined with beach bungalows, some larger resorts, small cafes, restaurants and beauty salons. The second is Sunrise Beach which is quieter and has smaller bungalow-style accommodation.
The two beaches are connected by 'Walking Street’, a lovely, café-lined street with an abundance of shops, a little post office, and some cafes and bars. You can’t miss a visit to ‘You hoo pancakes’, whose owner sings “You hoo!” to call you in to try her selection of pancakes!
Koh Lipe has exceptional snorkelling and diving. Even standing on the shoreline paddling, fish swim across your feet and the water is crystal clear. The sea is also very calm and flat, so it’s a perfect environment for young children.
I travelled in March and stayed in a beach bungalow which I booked when I arrived, however if you’re travelling in December and January it’s always advisable to book in advance as demand is much higher. You’ll also find the island is very popular at weekends with Thai and Malaysian families visiting the islands, so booking ahead for weekend is recommended.
Unlike some of the larger Thai Islands, Koh Lipe is still incredibly good value. My beach Koh Lipe beach bungalow was £10 per night and that included a fan and hot water.
For something a little more luxurious (although there are no hugely luxurious accommodations here), I recommend you try the beautiful beachfront bungalows at the Castaway Resort in Koh Lipe. Don’t expect air conditioning or hot showers, but instead focus on the amazing views right out over the beach! The resort offers some great local Koh Lipe information which is handy if you’re planning a trip.
If you like the sound of this little island and want some help working it into your itinerary – we can build your perfect itinerary and get the details arranged. We can also plan a tailor-made Thailand holiday to suit your timescale, budget and taste – just call us or request a quote by email to get started on the planning!