Koh Lipe is the finest definition of paradise, the flawless pictures of turquoise waters and golden sands like the ones you see in postcards can be easily taken on this amazing island. On this land, the meaning of isolated goes to a higher level; Koh Lipe is around 60km away from Pak Bara village where you can catch a boat to one of the nearest islands such as Koh Lipe or Koh Tarutao. Actually, it is closer to Langkawi in Malaysia in comparison with any other island in Thailand.
Ko Lipe, which actually means Paper Island in the local language, is one of the hidden gems of Thailand. It is, in fact, the most southern island in the entire country and it is part of the countless islands belonging to the Koh Tarutao National Marine Park.
Only around 500 people live in this breathtaking paradise, most of them belong to Chao Ley culture, also known as Sea Gypsies, that used to travel from island to island looking for the best spots to fish and maintain themselves.
Nowadays, Chao Ley tribe has changed their lifestyle a bit; they are settled in the eastern area of the island and not only practice fishing for a living, now they serve tourists too. In addition, Koh Lipe seems to remain like a well-kept secret that only Sea Gypsies and a little number of tourists have discovered.
Undoubtedly, spending a couple of days in Koh Lipe as a part of your trip in the Andaman Sea will leave you speechless, the entire environment is awe-inspiring, people are kind, beaches are beautiful and the island itself is a place to fall in love with.
Pattaya area is the most developed one in the island; in there, restaurants, souvenir shops, humble accommodations and acceptable resorts are established. Moreover, it is not the only attraction on the island; Koh Lipe has quite everything anyone may need for the dreamy vacation trip.
The unique way to get into this small paradise is by sea. The island is too small for an airport and it is not connected by land with any other island. Nevertheless, by sea is an amazing way to let the adventure begin.
Koh Lipe has an open water pier, located around 100 meters from the shore of Pattaya Beach. Ferries can take you there effortlessly and longtail boats will do the transference from the fast boat or ferry to the bay of Pattaya, the price for this service is very cheap, just 50 baht for each person.
As the island is part of a National Marine Park, every traveler has to pay an entrance fee; it is around 200 baht per person; yet, this payment lasts for 7 days, it means that in case you decide to get out of the park to visit a nearby island or as a part of a day trip tour, there is no need to pay again, at least not for the first seven days.
Phuketferry.com offer the widest range of available trips to Koh Lipe from many different starting points such as Phuket, Satun, Phi Phi, Lanta, Langkawi, Koh Bulon, Koh Kradan, Koh Mook, Koh Ngai, and Koh Tarutao too.
The island is considerably small, just 2 km long and 1 km wide which makes walking the first option for tourists and locals. Even though walking is the first one, there are other available options to move around the dreamy Koh Lipe.
The island is free from cars; actually, they are not needed at all and it truly helps to keep an eco-friendly environment in this idyllic place. Moreover, there are motorbikes in Koh Lipe, not in the same amount you will find in Phuket or Bali yet there are some.
However, you will rarely, not to say never, find a bike rental, bikes are only for locals; nevertheless, they drive their bikes, offering rides just like taxis do, for an amount of money that oscillates among 50-200 baht; it will all depend on the distance you want to cover.
Roads on the island are made of concrete; they are few yet enough to link every beach with the next one and north with south; bikes drive by them and pedestrians walk there too, be careful in both cases.
On the other hand, longtail boats will take you from any point to another for 50 baht. This option is cheaper than bikes, you should consider this one if your destination is a beach or somewhere by the shore, bikes are more useful around the main areas and hotels.
Koh Lipe’s beaches
The natural beauty of this hidden gem is clearly seen on its beaches. The island has four main beaches, all with the same incredibly clear and shallow water, sand is fine and golden. The beaches of Koh Lipe make the island a flawless destination for couples and families, as the sea is serene, they can relax in the sand and get smoothly suntanned.
Pattaya Beach: it is the main one and the most important area of the island. Powdery sand and clear turquoise waters in a 1.5 km long bay make a flawless beach in the southern area of the island.
In here, the major number of bars, restaurants, shops, and accommodations in the high season gets really vivid without getting crowded.
It is really close to the Walking Street which is the island’s center that connects north with south. In case your likes are based on something more calm and isolated, quieter beaches are only a 10-minute walk from Pattaya.
Sunrise Beach: it is also called Hat Chao Ley by locals; as its name explains itself, this majestic beach is the perfect spot to stare at the most beautiful sunrises as a consequence of being located along the west side of the island.
The beach is a long stretch of white sand and clear blue water, sea life in this area is rich and varied, making Sunrise beach an amazing place to swim and dive after the sunrise and until the sun goes down.
This lovely beach is close to Chao Ley village, getting in touch with them is an important part of the trip and do not forget to wake up early to see the sunrise.
Karma Beach: located at the northern area of the island, the history of the beach’s name is both funny and smart. It is said that karma makes you get exactly what you deserve and it is precisely what happens in this beach.
What you deserve is one of the most astonishing views you will see in your entire life; a narrow portion of powdery sand joined with sheer blue water perform the best scenery nature can create.
Sunset Beach: it is a lovely bay of around 0.5 km long, set in the west side of Koh Lipe, right in front of the Butang Islands. It is also known as Hat Pramong, yet we prefer sunset beach because it totally does justice to the breathtaking sunsets that delight locals and tourists every single day.
This area is the most isolated one on the island; you will rarely find some accommodation there, yet a few bars and restaurants are available to have a meal while enjoying of the sun and the warm water.
However, this dreamy place is only 10 minutes away from Walking Street so you have the best of both worlds really close.
Activities on the island
Fun comes inside and outside the water in this dreamy island, there are plenty of activities any traveler can do during the vacation trip in Koh Lipe. From shopping, tasting the traditional flavors from Thailand, diving into the blue sea to swim with the fish to even doing some charity, Koh Lipe has it all!
Visit the Buddhist Temple: it is quite small in comparison with the other temples in neighboring islands, yet the visit will not take too much time from you and it will give you extra happy memories to keep with you forever.
Snorkeling and scuba diving: the island has a rich coral reef around it; it is pretty intact, it was affected by a tsunami in 2004 yet it was not too hard. In there, a wide variety of marine life inhabits; in case you have a waterproof camera, do not forget to bring it with you.
In Koh Lipe, there is an acceptable amount of dive shops wherein any traveler can rent dive equipment. Some of them count with bilingual operators that also offer classes for beginners; also, they may have their own boats to practice snorkeling in deeper waters.
One day tours: as in many other neighboring islands, locals offer services to sail tourist around the island in order to visit nearby islands, beaches or archipelagos. These types of tours are very useful to get to know many places without having to change from one hotel to another.
Paddle around the bay: in some of the dive shops dotted on the island, there are kayaks for rent. Kayaking along the shore is an enjoyable and unique way to discover the beauty of Koh Lanta. Prices are particularly low and locals will teach you how to paddle in case you have never done it before.
Get a massage: it is true that some of the hotels are just bed and breakfast, yet many others have a bit of luxury included. Getting a massage in Koh Lipe is easy and affordable for any budget; keep in mind that this beautiful island is all about relaxing and good massages which just makes everything better.
Be a Trash Hero Koh Adang: given the fact the island is quite small and it has had a lot of changes as a consequence of tourists coming to the island, trash gets easily concentrated, and some of the travelers are very unconscious and irresponsible dropping their trash everywhere.
As a manner to avoid getting a dirty island that may lead to making Koh Lipe lose part of its beauty, every Monday locals and tourists get together in Pattaya Beach to keep the bay free from trash. This initiative has brought tangible results to Koh Lipe and it is an excellent way to spend your day.
If interested, be sure to get to Walking Street before 10 am and then all the participants are divided into groups and sent to different beaches in the area and the process begins; the main goal is to take all the trash as possible, especially plastic bottles, bags, flip-flops, and any other type of trash that should not be in the water or sand.
This Non-profit organization is doing an amazing job, in much time they have helped a lot, and it is actually reverting back the beauty of the island as its original form. Local stores and people who support this lovely initiative also collaborates, giving trash bags, drinks and snacks for volunteers.
Koh Lipe has been inhabited for over 100 years, which means it didn’t have a long time of development and remains to be very humble.
However, when speaking about accommodation, there is an acceptable range of places to sleep.
From little hostels to bed and breakfast styled places and even 4-star resorts, especially located in the area of Pattaya Beach, around 60 establishments in total.
In comparison with neighboring islands, prices in Koh Lipe are higher, keep in mind that the island is small and visitors are few so locals need higher prices to maintain the structures.
Eating and drinking
First of all, there is nothing better than fresh seafood recently caught and served on a well-garnished plate. Thai spices are an important part of the culture and without any doubt, a traveler mustn’t leave the island without having to taste those dishes.
Restaurants and shacks are dotted all over the island, from humble huts in the sand of a beach to fancy restaurants as part of a hotel. The Walking Street is the perfect spot to taste a little bit of everything in with a good balance of price and quality.
Even though Koh Lipe is considered a calm and laid-back island, there are plenty options to grabs a drink and listening to music. Some of them are part of resorts and hotels, some others are open for everyone.
In addition, every traveler must be aware of that, as a part of the free trash programs, bars and shacks offer to refill your bottles of water for free; by doing this, they intend to reduce the selling and wasting of plastic bottles.
Be careful with your budget: Koh Lipe is not a big island, neither a popular one. Even though locals were not used to living based on tourism, it is the main income nowadays; they actually have half of the year as their high season to make their profits, which means prices can be higher in comparison with famous islands such as Phuket and Krabi.
Be respectful, always: be aware that people who inhabit this wonderful island belong to Chao Ley culture; they have a strong relationship with its ancient culture and the last thing a foreigner may do is be rude about different beliefs and traditions.
In addition, there is also an influence of Buddhist culture and religion on the island, be sure you wear appropriate clothing if you decide to visit the temple, always ask before taking a photo and do not do anything you will not do in your own country.
Read about seasons and weather: In Koh Lipe, there are two seasons, dry and rainy. The dry season occurs from November to April, it is also a high season for tourism; while rainy season happens from May to October and in this time, tourism is reduced.
In case you book your trip during the high season, there are some matters every traveler should take into consideration: prices get higher and early reservations may be required, both transportation and accommodation. In low season, ask before booking; some enterprises stop their routes to Koh Lipe in these months due to few numbers of travelers and bad weather.
In April, the biggest celebration on the island takes place. It is called Songkran and represents the celebration of Buddhist New Year. It is celebrated in many countries from Southeast Asia, Thailand included and it lasts 3 days.
In case the period of time you are planning to stay in the island matches with the three days of Songkran, be aware that the island will receive the biggest number of visitors of the entire year.
Although this party is not as wild as in other places such as Bangkok, it does not represent the real vibe of Koh Lipe which is calm and relaxed. Moreover, prices in these days increase a lot more and locals will not accept bargains because it is Songkran!
Bookings will have to be taken seriously and once you get there, go straight to Walking Street and get in the party. Be prepared to get wet as locals are spread on the streets with charged water pistols ready to throw water at every person walking by.
This amazing celebration is full of color powders, they mean blessings for Chao Ley people, and they will work in the same way for travelers too!
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