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Koh Lipe is the southernmost Thai island in the Andaman Sea near the Malaysian border. It can be reached either from Thailand or Malaysia’s Langkawi island. It resides within Tarutao National Marine Park as part of the Adang-Rawi Archipelago along with Koh Adang and other nearby islands. This region is similar to regions like Koh Phi Phi where only a few islets are inhabited and the rest is for a day trip visit only.
Pattaya beach is the main docking port for boats coming and going from the island. This flurry of activity all day changes the atmosphere of the beach making it one of the less appealing options when looking for a chilled beach to spend the day or for swimming. The one-kilometre sandy strip is lined with all types of accommodation, restaurants and bars and is the main entry point for Walking Street. After the sun goes down, Pattaya beach is very lively along with Walking Street. It does have a party vibe and you can catch a beach fire-show and enjoy late-night beats.
Sunrise Beach Koh Lipe is the largest beach on the eastern sea border and the most popular. Its 1.2km strip of powdery sand is narrow at the southern end and broadens as you head more north. Most Koh Lipe resorts line the northern end of Sunrise beach along with many restaurants and you can stay right on the beach. There’s good snorkelling all along its coastline to see its abundant marine life. In high season Sunrise beach can become crowded as people enjoy sunbathing by its aqua calm waters. In low season it becomes the departure point for day trips to attractions nearby such as Koh Adang.
As per its name, Sunset Beach is the most popular place nearing dusk as people come to enjoy watching the sun go down. Make sure you do get to witness at least one sunset here as its one of the best things to do on Lipe. This small beach is situated on the west coast and is only 400m in length. It’s less developed than the other main beaches with a handful of beach bars for visitors to grab a drink and a few beachfront bungalow resorts. This place has a very calm laid back atmosphere and its calm waters make it perfect for swimming.
Bulow is a 400 metre stretch of fine pure sand which is an extension of Sunrise Beach with exceptional views of the entire southern coastline of Koh Adang. It is less busy than Sunrise and its calm crystal clear waters are fantastic for swimming and snorkelling. There is only one resort and restaurant here and nothing else, making it a quiet little beach paradise.
Bilia is located between Sunset and Pattaya beaches and is characterized by rocky surrounds which makes it more secluded. This sandbar is much quieter than other beaches around the island and offers very good snorkelling.
Sanom is just a short walk along a wooden sidewalk from Pattaya Beach. It features vivid turquoise waters striking contrast against the powder white sand and excellent diving. It has a secluded feel to it like Bilia.
Situated on the north coast is the tiniest beach on the island called Pitiusas Beach, measuring a mere 20 metres in length. It’s a pleasant 20-minute walk from Walking Street through the centre of the island past Hantalay temple. The beach is serviced by one rustic resort and to use the sun lounges you need to be a guest of the resort.
Koh Lipe Walking Street
Like most islands in Thailand, there is a Walking Street that is the centre of commerce and entertainment. Most businesses, shops, bars and restaurants operate along the street the 480-metre long road. The street comes alive in the evenings and is full of people coming to shop, eat, drink and have fun. It doesn’t have a decadent party atmosphere but rather late dining vibe catering to travelling foodie families and couples.
There is only one temple on the island, known as Wat Hantalay. The temple is located on a hill in the jungle on the road from Sunrise to Sunset Beach and monks live within the temple complex. There are two shrine halls, one with a statue of the Buddha and another with a statue of Brahma, also known as the ‘four faces Buddha’. Visitors are welcome to come and meditate in both these shrine halls.
A popular thing to go island hopping to the other nearby islands in the archipelago. Koh Lipe’s quiet neighbour, Koh Adang is an unspoilt slice of paradise. Years ago, Lipe was once considered to be this unspoilt before mainstream travellers caught on. It is one of the best isles in this archipelago. Most visitors take a day trip and short boat ride to Adang from Lipe but there are one or two places to stay overnight if you wish or camping is another option. The island features tall pines, exquisite empty beaches, no roads or development. Snorkelling is sensational just 20 metres off the shore with coral reefs filled with tropical fish. The best way to discover the many beaches on offer is to charter a long tail boat for the day. Or visitors can hike up to one of three panoramic viewpoints of the beauty Andaman Sea and Koh Lipe. Another hiking option is to see Pirate Waterfall which can be reached by a difficult 3 km trek through the dense and slippery jungle. The falls are about 7 metres tall and a source of freshwater.
Another option is to take a trip to Koh Kai. This tiny islet is located between Koh Tarutao and Adang and can be accessed via boat from Koh Lipe. It can only be visited as a day trip as it doesn’t have any accommodation facilities in which to stay. Koh Kai has a beautiful beach and is best known for its iconic rock arch formation at the end of the shore.
On the west side of the island there are fine white sand beaches. The sea is crystal clear, emerald blue, the sand can be clearly seen underwater. Suitable for swimming and taking in the beautiful scenery of the unspoiled island in the middle of the Andaman Sea. The sea around Khai Island has coral reefs in general, most of which are staghorn coral.
Koh Tarutao is the largest island in the archipelago being 26 km in length and 11 km in width. It is home to the national park headquarters and good for scuba diving. . The only motorised transportation to be found here consists of minitruck taxis and the motorcycles of the park rangers. Bicycles can be hired at some spots. Visitors can stay at basic bungalows located on several bays or rent tents. At Ao Ta Lo Woo Pier there is a historical trail that extends for 2 km. The trail will lead to a few historical buildings related to the political prison that was once built before World War II. Along the trail, there are visitor information signs detailing interesting facts about the dark history of Tarutao.
The main things to do in Koh Lipe are enjoying the island vibe, ocean breeze, turquoise water, white sand beaches, visiting other nearby islands, scuba diving, snorkelling, swimming and relaxing. Lipe is a small islet, so much so that you can walk to most places. How to get to Koh Lipe involves taking a ferry from the Thai mainland town of Satun and departing from Pak Bara pier to make your way to the Tarutao National Marine Park.
Most travellers recommend 3-5 days to see most of the attractions on the island and relax. Beyond that, boredom may set in.
Koh Lipe is so small that you can walk to most of the way to places on the island but if you prefer, there are motorbike taxis on hand to take you around. It is generally a set a price to go anywhere around Lipe.
Peak season in Thailand is January to March which sees droves of tourists hitting the island and the highest prices. The weather is spectacular with blue sunny skies, seas breezes and temperate evenings. High season from November to May to sees a steady stream of tourists visiting and the weather becomes hotter as it heads into April and May. Low season is the end of May to October when the Lipe is the wettest but yet its greenest. Days are still warm but you will see more overcast conditions and rainfall. Some businesses close during low season because there are fewer tourists overall. Any month during this season is the best time to visit Koh Lipe.
Given it is an island, supplies cost more to import so prices will be higher than the Thailand mainland, but comparable with other touristic islands. Koh Lipe hotels seem to be more expensive with fewer facilities than the nearby islands like Koh Lanta. During high season the expect the average rates to be around AUD 110 per night for basic accommodation.
The major differences between the two are that Koh Lanta is a much larger landmass and thus cannot be explored on foot because of its sheer size. In terms of similarities, both a popular with tourists and busy in high season but neither is considered to be a party place. Koh Lipe is probably even quieter at night than Koh Lanta, simply because there are no roads with traffic. Both make for a good island getaway so the choice is yours.
The ferry from Langkawi to Koh Lipe takes approximately 90 minutes and costs 1,400 baht for an adult ticket. Keep in mind that you will have to pass through the onsite immigration checkpoint before departing Malaysia and then again through Thailand immigration upon reaching Lipe.
Monkeys inhabit the nearby islands such as Rawi and Adang.
It is dangerous to swim near the water taxis on some of the beaches and currents can at times be strong so you will need to be careful if snorkelling.
There is no airport on Lipe. The closest is fly to Hat Yai International Airport. From there you will need to go to Pak Bara pier and onward via ferry to Lipe.
The most popular activities to do with kids include exploring the beaches, snorkelling, sea kayaking and swimming, visiting Adang and camping overnight, seeing a fire show in the evening, and exploring walking street
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