Koh Lipe: the Maldives of Thailand

Dreaming about visiting Koh Lipe? In this practical guide, you can find all the information you need to plan your trip, including the best things to do, how to get there, where to stay, eat & drink, travel costs, and many tips 😉

After spending some days in Bangkok I was dying to go to an island.

There’re so many beautiful islands in Thailand that sometimes it’s really hard to decide which one to visit.

From the paradisiacal to the trendy, and the overly touristy to the full moon party island, Thailand certainly has a stunning piece of land surrounded by water for every preference that will make you feel fortunate to be there.

It was while I was doing research to find the most beautiful island in Thailand that a friend told me about Koh Lipe.

I’ve never heard of it before, and I was intrigued to find out that it’s known as the Maldives of Thailand.

An island with crystal-clear water and white soft surrounded by lush vegetation that is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park, Thailand.
Oh yeah baby.

2021 Practical Guide to Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is the southernmost island in Thailand, located in the Andaman Sea, 60Km from the Thai mainland and only 30Km from Langkawi, Malaysia.

It’s part of the Adang Archipelago, a group of more than fifty islands, and on the border of the Tarutao National Marine Park, one of the first parks created in Thailand in 1974.

Once you arrive in Koh Lipe, you will easily understand why it’s called the Maldives of Thailand. The unbelievably turquoise crystalline water that is so characteristic of the Maldives, will welcome and mesmerize you.

The crystal-clear turquoise water of Pattaya Beach in Koh Lipe, backed-up by vegetation, long-tail boats and blue sky
Am I arriving in Thailand or Maldives??

The island is covered with lush vegetation, has three beaches (Pattaya, Sunset and Sunrise), a main street called “Walking Street.” and is relatively small (2Km long and 1 km wide).

To move around it is very easy and it takes no more than 15-25min to walk from one beach to another.

There are hotels for all budgets, plenty of restaurants serving local cuisine, bars, ATM’s, massage places, stores and travel agencies.

The nightlife is quiet and most of the bars on the “Walking Street” close around midnight.

Soft white sand, beach bars, trees and you can see the yellow sign saying Walking Street
Walking Street

Koh Lipe Beaches

Koh Lipe has sandy beaches with crystal clear calm and warm water, which makes the island a perfect place for snorkelling. In fact, 25 percent of the world’s tropical fish species are found in the area.

The three main beaches share similar characteristics but they are slightly different from each other.

Pattaya Beach

This large sheltered bay has powdery sand, really good “pools” to swim in, and is so absolutely stunning, that when you arrive there, you won’t believe it’s true.

This is where the two ports are located and the ferries arrive and depart. So, because of that, the beach can be very busy, and sometimes there are even bars playing loud music.

You can find good options for accommodation and easy access to the bars and restaurants on the “Walking Street.”

The crystal turquoise water of Pattaya Beach, backed up by some trees, hotels and traditional long-tail Thai boats on the water
Pattaya Beach

Sunrise Beach

This beach extends along the Eastern side of the island and has a pleasant breeze during the whole day.

It’s my favorite beach in Koh Lipe and the best one for snorkeling and water sports.

It changes completely during high and low tides, with “rough” water and wind at high tide; and calm, shallow and transparent water at low tide.

As the name suggests, this is where the sun rises and waking up early in the morning to see it is totally worthwhile.

However, towards the end of the afternoon, the atmosphere gets so relaxing and laid-back that lying down on the sand and grabbing a drink will make you feel blessed.

Some of the best hotels, resorts and beach bars are located here, and it is also the best spot for pictures.

Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe yeah 🙂

Sunset Beach

This small bay on the west side of the island has some rocks, calm water, and is relatively undeveloped compared to the other two.

There are tranquil and low-key bars and restaurants, and also a camping area, which gives it a hippie-style atmosphere. This is the perfect place to watch the sunset.

However, I didn’t spend too much time on Sunset Beach because it is the one that I liked least on the island.

Sunset on Sunset Beach with golden-orange sky, boats on the water and a mountain covered with vegetation
A beautiful sunset at Sunset Beach

Tours & Activities

While in Koh Lipe you should not miss the opportunity to do an island hop.

You’ll visit some stunning islands with different formations and characteristics, incredible places for snorkelling, and if you’re lucky enough, you can have your own private beach.

All boat operators provide the same four basic island-hop programs, and A and B are the most popular ones.

Program A

Koh Lipe’s favourite snorkel route, with the first snorkel reef only 15 minutes away by longtail boat.

You’ll visit Jabang, Koh Hin Ngam, Koh Rawi, Koh Adang and Koh Yang.

The tour is from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM, and costs 650 baht (US$ 22) per person.

A quick tip: Don’t forget to take a waterproof camera when you go on those tours. The Good Gears has some really nice ones.

a parrot wrasse on the coral reefs of Jabang, one of the best places to snorkle in the Tarutao National Marine Park where you can see a variety of sea life
Jabang, on e of the best places for snorkeling in the Tarutao National Marine Park

Program B

1 hour away by longtail boat, the far islands consist of a cluster of small islands and often less crowded.

This tour include a visit to Koh Hin Sorn, Koh Lugoi, Koh Dong, Koh Pung, Koh Bulu, Koh Ngam and Jabang.

It’s from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and costs 750 baht (US$ 25) per person.

Sunset Trip

From 2:30 PM to 6:30 PM, visiting Jabang, Koh Hin Ngam, Koh Yang and Koh Dang to see the sunset from the ocean.

Price: 450 baht (US$ 15) per person.

Plankton Trip

From 1:30 PM to 8:00 PM, visiting Jabang, Hin Ngam, Yang and Adang Beach to see the luminescent plankton at night.

Price: 900 baht (US$ 30) per person.

Prices are very similar at all the boat operators but a good tip is to negotiate with one of the longboat operators and do a private hire, with some friends if you can find them.

I did that and we ended up paying half of what it would’ve cost us. It also means you can decide the length and timing of the various parts of the trip.

I only took the program B tour and it was the best thing I did during my stay in Koh Lipe. The islands are spectacular and it’s going to be hard to decide which one you like most.

Koh Rokroy is a stunning island in the Tarutao National Marine Park, with crystalline turquoise water, soft white sand surrounded by mountains covered with exuberant vegetation. You can see also some long-tail boats and people enjoying this magnificent place
Visiting Koh Rokroy is one of the best things to do in Koh Lipe.

10 Best Things to Do in Koh Lipe

Some of the best things to do in Koh Lipe are:

1 – Taking a walk around the island and the “Walking Street.”

2 – Grabbing a drink in one of the beach bars and restaurants.

3 – Eating plenty of delicious and fresh Thai food.

4 – Going to a waterfall in Koh Adang.

5 – Climbing Koh Adang to get a birds-eye view of the Maldives of Thailand.

From Koh Adang's viewpoint you can see the whole island of Koh Lipe, that is only 2Km long and 1Km wide. The island is surrounded by translucent light blue water and has a rich flora.
Koh Adang’s viewpoint

6 – Snorkeling

Whether on Sunrise Beach close to two tiny islands, on Pattaya and Sunset beaches, or on a boat trip to some of the other islands nearby.

7 – Kayaking

Some of the hotels provide free kayaks and snorkel masks for its guests.

8 – Diving: Koh Lipe has some of the best dive sites in Thailand.

9 – Relaxing in one of its beaches.

10 – Taking a boat trip to explore the other islands that are part of the archipelago.

A traditional long-tail Thai boat that work as a taxi boat on the crystal-clear water of Sunrise Beach. You can rent this boat and explore the islands of the Tarutao National Marine Park

What to Do in Koh Lipe: 1-Day Itinerary

If you’re planning to visit Koh Lipe and want to the get the most out of it, here is an itinerary for one day on the island.

It will be a packed day and I hope you will have the energy to keep up with me!

– Wake up at 6:00 AM to see the sunrise.

– Rent a long tail boat and do the program B.

– Beat the crowd by asking your captain to depart before all the other tours.

– Take advantage of having your own boat and stay longer at the islands you like most.

– Come back from the tour around 5:00 PM, grab a drink and relax at Sea la Vie Bar located on Sunrise Beach.

– Around 5:30 PM head to Sunset Beach for the sunset.

– Dine at Papaya Mom or Nee Papaya (the coconut milk soup is outrageous) near the centre of the Walking Street.

– Finish your night in Maya Bar, the coolest bar in Koh Lipe, situated right at the centre of the Walking Street.

– Go to bed and rest because this itinerary is just for one day, and I expect you will want to spend much more time on the island.

After your visit you’ll understand why this in one of my favorite islands in Thailand.

Safe travels and have fun in Koh Lipe!

More posts that might interest you:

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I always use World Nomads Travel Insurance for independent travelers. It’s easy to buy, extend & claim online, even after you’ve left home.

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Tips for Visiting Lipe Island

Where is Koh Lipe?

Koh Lipe is a small island in the Adang-Rawi Archipelago of the Strait of Malacca, in Satun Province of southwest Thailand, close to the Malaysian border (check the map here).

How to get to Koh Lipe?

To get to Koh Lipe isn’t easy, and this is the reason the island is less crowded and popular compared to Phi Phi and Phuket, for example.

There are basically three options:

From Bangkok

Departing from Bangkok, you need to take a 1½h flight to Hat Yai, a 2h minibus drive to Pak Bara, and finally a 1½h ferry trip to Koh Lipe. Check the latest van and ferry prices here.

A journey that can take up to 6-7h, and if you take a bus or a train from Bangkok it will be even longer…

I know it’s exhausting, but totally worth it, though!

You can fly to Hat Yai and book this transfer, that includes a van and a speed boat to Koh Lipe, or book a package (flight, van and ferry) with AirAsia and Nok Air.

You can book your flight with Skyscanner, that’s the website that I use and trust.

From other parts of Thailand

Alternatively, you can fly to Krabi and book a speed boat transfer. This is the perfect option if you’re also visiting Phi Phi Islands, Krabi mainland.

You can also book this speed boat transfer from Railay Beach, perfect for who’s in Aonang, or this one from Koh Lanta.

From Langkawi

You can take a ferry from Langkawi, Malaysia. Currently, there’s just oneferry company, Bundhaya Speed Boat, operating this ferry service.

The ferry operates up to 7 times each week and takes around 2 hours 15 minutes.

Best time to go?

The best time to visit Koh Lipe is from November to February when the sun shines every day. March to April is the hottest time, and from April to October is the rainy season.

How many days should you stay?

It isn’t easy to get to Koh Lipe and the journey can take half of your day.

To make your trip worthwhile, I highly recommend spending at least 3 days on the island.

Where to stay?

I stayed at Kathleen Beach Resort & Spa, and if you’re looking for hotels I can also suggest:

Luxury: Idyllic Concept Resort, Castaway Resort and Bundhaya Villas.

Great Value for Money: Cabana Lipe Beach Resort, Anda Resort and Ricci House.

Budget: The Reef, The Chic Lipe and Bloom Cafe & Hostel.

Where to eat & drink?

  • On The Rocks Restaurant at Serendipity
  • Sunrise Beach Restaurant
  • Elephant Café & Bar
  • Papaya Mom
  • Nee Papaya Thai Food & BBQ
  • The Box
  • Café Tropical
  • Sea La Vie
  • Ten Moons Restaurant
  • Maya Bar

Read the reviews of the restaurants on Trip Advisor.

How much does it cost to travel to Koh Lipe?

* Five-month travel insurance: US$ 256 with World Nomads

* Mandatory National Park Entrance Fee: 200 baht (US$ 7)

∗ AirAsia Package: around 3,800 baht (US$ 90)

* Three nights at Kathalee Resort & Spa: 25,800 bath (US$ 864) with breakfast included

* Private boat: 2,500 baht for 8 people (US$ 9 / person)

* Ferry to Langkawi: 1,000 bath (US$ 33)

* Drink at Maya Bar: 200 baht (US$ 7)

* Average meal: 200 – 300 baht (US$ 7 – 10)

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Travel Planning ResourcesFor every booking made through my site I donate US$ 1 for a charitable organization.Safe travels ☺

7 thoughts on “Koh Lipe: the Maldives of Thailand”

  1. Hello There,

    Great article ! Great ideas !
    Koh Lipe is on my bucket list since 2 years. I went to Thailand in 2016 and I didn’t have time to get there from Koh Phi Phi, I was ssooooo mad. I will be in Singapor in October… AGAIN.. I won’t go because October is the Rainy Season !!! :'( aaaaaa

    My question for you is : How many days should I stay in Koh Lipe (like the minimum stay to enjoy the island)
    Thanks!

    PS. My blog will air soon. Wish me luck ?!

    Reply
    • Hey Rim.
      Thank you so much for your comment !!
      I would say that 4 days is the minimum. Because the island is so far and hard to get there that it’s better to stay at least 4 days. Plus considering the fact that you’ll lose the first and last days because of the ferry’s arrival/departure time.
      I hope you can make it next time you’re in Southeast Asia 😉
      Yes, and I do wish you good luck with your blog. It’s a lot of work my friends.
      Thx so much once again and all the best Rim.

      Reply
  2. Hi
    Great article! We just got back from the island after basically following your article to a T!
    It made live so much easier for us and I’m extremely happy that I came across it!
    Thanks a bunch ??
    Happy travels

    Reply

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