Although less known than the other islands in the south of Thailand, Koh Lipe (Ko Lipe) makes a good alternative destination if you want to avoid the crowd constantly drawn to popular places like Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi. Low key Koh Lipe belongs to the Butang Island group, which is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park.
It is easy to go around Koh Lipe on foot. And even if you don’t want to – you have no choice but to walk as there very few motorized vehicles on the island. Because Koh Lipe is part of a national marine park, diving around its waters is a popular visitor activity. If you do not have your diving license yet, this is one of the best places in Southeast Asia to get it. Other enjoyable aqua activities you can experience here are snorkeling and fishing. Koh Lipe is close to a number of uninhabited and rarely explored islands like Koh Rawi and Koh Adang. It is very possible to hire a longtail boat and discover the wonders of these secluded islands.
Like other southern islands, Koh Lipe also has its fair share of beaches. When it comes to beauty and quality, these white sandy beaches can actually compete with the ones in more touristy Thai destinations. There are about three major beaches on the island and the most populated one is called Pattaya Beach. Here, you can find a wide range of accommodations and more opportunities to socialize with fellow travelers. Pattaya is not just a busy beach. It has gained prominence for a couple of reasons, which include having soft powdery sand, clear waters and nice snorkeling spots.
If you are an early riser, then Sunset Beach or Hat Chao Ley is a good early morning destination for obvious reasons. Standing between Sunset and Pattaya is the famous Koh Lipe Walking Street, which is lined with shops, bars, cafes and different types of accommodation. If there is a fascinating sunrise view, there is almost always a dramatic sunset view somewhere, and Hat Pramong or Sunset Beach will give you just that. This smaller bay faces west, and boasts a more laid-back and serene atmosphere. Compared to Pattaya and Sunrise Beach, Hat Chao Ley does not have a much huge modern infrastructure.
The island, which is in the southernmost region of the country, is about 60km from the mainland. From Pak Barra, there are regular boat services connecting to Koh Lipe throughout the year. There are also ferries that link Koh Lipe to its neighbor islands like Koh Tao, Samui, Phi Phi, and Langkawi in Malaysia. However, these ferries do not operate between the months of November and May. Koh Lipe has no proper pier so the ferry stops at a platform in the sea on Pattaya Beach.
The months of December through February are usually the peak visiting season for the island. If you plan to visit during this period, especially around Christmas and New Year’s, make your reservation well ahead of time. There are no ATMs on the island, so remember to carry enough cash on your visit. Big resorts allow tourists to do cash advances on their credit card but not without a charging fees.