We spent five days on Koh Lipe with our friend, and my branding photographer, Paige Major.
This post is meant to give you an all encompassing review of Koh Lipe and what you can expect during your time there.
Koh Lipe is tiny. And somewhat of a hidden gem. It did not feel overrun by tourists at all, which was great, because that was a deciding factor for us when picking one of the 50+ Thai Islands. You can hike, catch a boat to other islands, go snorkeling, rent kayaks or sit on the beach and drink tropical cold alcoholic beverages for days on end. There is room, and accommodations for all types of travelers here. In our experience, five days was too much. But we weren’t in NEED of a vacation. You could certainly enjoy a week here if you were strictly coming for some relaxation time.
Visit the different beaches
Koh Lipe has three main beaches – Sunset Beach, Sunrise Beach and Pattaya beach.
All arrival and departure boats come in and out of Pattaya Beach. This is also where a large amount of the accommodations are at. Pattaya beach was our favorite. It had the softest sand, the least amount of people and was absolute gorgeous. The main walking street is also off of Pattaya beach.
Sunset Beach as the least accommodations on it and the sand was rough. It is also the smallest of the three main beaches. I don’t know if the sand is always like this, but it’s worth noting.
This is us, at sunset…on sunset beach…
Sunrise Beach is the longest of the three beaches and wraps around the top of Koh Lipe. When the tide is low, you can walk out on a fun little sand bar at the top corner of the island. Sunrise is where the fun happens. This is where you’ll find a bunch of little beach bars and hostels. We spent one day on this side of the island and it was great.
You can also rent kayaks and snorkels on this side which leads me to my next activity. (below are photos from sunrise beach)
We didn’t do this, but you can indeed rent kayaks. I reckon you could kayak around the entire island. There are also other small islands around that you can kayak to. Worth half a day at least I bet. (photo from Sunrise beach dive shop)
We opted to snorkel off of Sunrise Beach but it was a bust. It was our last day to adventure and the water was super choppy. There was so much sand coming up from the bottom, it literally made the water murky. Every other day we’d been there, the water was SO CALM and crystal clear. So it was just bad timing. I do suggest snorkeling here because it is supposed to be great!
You can hike on an adjacent island and get a view of the entire island of Koh Lipe. If it wasn’t five million degrees out, we definitely would have done this. In fact we had planned to. But after experiencing the heat, we said it was a no go for us.
You would need to rent kayaks or set up a boat ride to get there. (you can see the island on which you hike in the background of this photo).
Work at the bar
We took one day to just work at our hotel bar on the beach. The wifi was the best from the bar. So Paige and I ordered up some drinks at 10am and got to work. Not a terrible set up if you ask me.
Literal photo of our drinks, while working at the bar.
Take a boat ride
You can pay for boat rides all around the island. It’s a small island but like I said, it’s HOT. So sometimes a boat ride can be more appealing than walking 15 minutes to the other side of the island. Plus it’s fun to see the island from the water.
They are scattered all over. You just find one with a human in it or find the “boat hire” signs on the beach and there will likely be humans next to it.
The boats are also picturesque AF, so snap a few while you’re at it. But please don’t be an asshole and take pictures with a boat if you haven’t paid the driver. It’s like, two US dollars. Give the man some money.
This is a common activity on Koh Lipe. Drinking on a boat, drinking in a kayak, drinking at the bar, in your room, in the ocean and on the beach.
Hit up my favorite beachside bar Sea La Vie, order a strong Long Island, and kick back.
Your feet. You can walk the entire island. Paige and I made the mistake of walking AROUND the island. This was in a quest for great photoshoot spots. You see, the sand on our side of the island was soft, the softest sand I’d ever felt. But this is not true for the rest of the island. In fact we would come to find that the sand on the other sides of the island was contracted of shattered seashells. Which equates to what felt like walking on shards of glass. I’ll use the moment to suggest water socks if you’re in an adventurous mood…
The main walkway for the island is literally called “The Walking Street.” It will get you most places you’re wanting to go.
You can also hire a boat to take you around the island. We opted for this after we’d been day drinking on Sunset beach and needed to get back to Pattaya beach.
Hands down, go the Elephant. It was the best food we found on the Island (there’s not much). We ate there everyday. Their avocado toast IS LIFE. #basic
If you’re at a resort, they will have food as well. Ours was okay; I wouldn’t rave about it. I mean, I suppose if we were ordering chicken tenders to be delivered to our room at 9pm it couldn’t have been that bad.
We stayed at the Mali Resort Pattaya Beach Koh Lipe. It was spendy but worth it. The AC alone was worth it. Koh Lipe is HOT. Like HAWT HOT. Okay? Which feels amazing during the day. But at night you will want AC. If you’re not half naked in the ocean, you’ll want AC.
Make sure to check “Air Conditioning” when searching for your accommodations.
It seemed to us that the gap between luxury and hostels with no AC was LARGE and there wasn’t much in between. If there were in-between options, they were on the more expensive side, so it was worth it to upgrade and pay a little more.
I suspect this is because Koh Lipe is not a booming tourist island, YET. So I assume accommodation options will expand in the future. But there is plenty to choose from as is.
For budget hostels | hostelworld.com
For Midrange and Luxury | booking.com or agoda.com
We booked ours through agoda.com
Let us not forget you must get to Koh Lipe somehow. That can be a bit of an…adventure, to say the least.
Worry not – if you’re looking for a relaxing island with less tourists than you’ll find near Phuket, Koh Lipe is for you.
This is largely because, as stated, it is the southern most island in Thailand and it takes some work getting to it.
From Bangkok we booked with 12go Asia which got us a shuttle van from the Hat Yai airport to the boat dock, and from the boat dock to the island and back.
We were well taken care of and saved money by booking all the pieces in one go. You could try to do each piece alone but then you run into the chance that the shuttle is late or something doesn’t go as planned and then it’s on you.
The van ride was great – air-conditioned and spacious enough.
The boat ride there was…fine.
The water was calm but there were WAY TOO MANY humans aboard.
That boat just takes you to the ferry dock of Koh Lipe where you board the tiny wooden boats that actually take you to shore. You will likely feel as though this boat is going to sink or tip over, but I assure you, it’s fine.
The boat ride back was…NOT OKAY.
Talk about praying to Jesus himself that you make out of this alive.
Again, way too many people on the boat and the water was CHOPPY. Two of the boat engines complete shut off. Yes, we were hitting bumps so hard that they engines said, “WE’RE DONE.” So there we were, sitting in the middle of the ocean, rocking back and forth with the boat beeping at us.
I could go on. We made it out alive. Nate left a HUGE review and reported the company for negligence but of course nothing happens. They are reported all the time for this.
So, I won’t lie to you. Getting there could be a breeze. It could get a little sketchy. Make your own judgement calls.
Koh Lipe was a great choice for a Thai Island. It can be so hard to choose. If you’re looking for crystal clear teal waters, beaches, some activities and limited tourists, then Koh Lipe is for you.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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