Mathilda Chung shares with travel 3Sixty° what every traveller should know about Koh Lipe.
With its picturesque, white sandy beach and crystal clear blue waters, no wonder Koh Lipe is dubbed the ‘Maldives of Thailand’. This island located near the border of Thailand and Malaysia never fails to attract tourists from around the world every year. Most of the locals on this island take very good care of it because it is part of Tarutao National Park, the second Marine Park of Thailand and Thailand’s largest marine park, established in 1982. Even for most Thai people, this national treasure remains a bit of a hidden gem.
HOW TO GET THERE
Koh Lipe is located 60 km from the Thai mainland, with the closest pier in Pak Bara. As the country’s southernmost island, you can see the Malaysian island of Langkawi, which is just 30 km away, from Koh Lipe. The most common ways to reach Koh Lipe are either from Pak Bara or Kuah Jetty in Langkawi. But, during high season, these are not the only ways to get there. The high season is from November to late April and during this high season, there are speed boats and ferries connecting Koh Lipe like Koh Lanta, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi and Phuket. Meanwhile, during the low season that is from late of April till October, the only way to Koh Lipe is from Pak Bara pier. If you are outside Thailand, the best way is to fly either to Hat Yai or Langkawi.
Whilst there are several small private beaches, there are three main beaches on Koh Lipe: Pattaya Beach in the south, Sunrise Beach in the East, and Sunset Beach in the West. It is easy to reach all three beaches on foot via Koh Lipe’s Walking Street.
Pattaya Beach is the most popular beach in Koh Lipe. During high season, all visitors will reach this beach first because this is where the Immigration Office is located. Upon arrival on the island, you will need to register first at the Immigration Office and buy the Tarutao National Park Ticket at 200 THB per person. Pattaya Beach is the busiest beach because there are dozens of accommodation options from beach bungalows to luxury resorts, as well as restaurants and beach bars. It is also the closest beach to Koh Lipe’s Walking Street. Despite its popularity, it remains beautiful with white sand and turquoise water, especially towards the evening, when you can enjoy the view of long tail boats anchored along the beach.
Sunrise Beach is also known as Hat Chao Ley Beach because it is located near Chao Ley village. This beach has the longest coastline, perfect for long walks. It offers amazing views of the nearby mountain island Koh Adang. This exquisite white sandy beach and its awe-inspiring crystal clear blue waters make it a favourite amongst tourists looking for a peaceful place for relaxation. Tourists also come here to watch the finest sunrises on Koh Lipe and to enjoy a nice cool breeze during hot days. This beach has very little boat traffic, so it is the perfect to snorkel right off the beach.
At about 200m long, Sunset Beach is the smallest beach in Koh Lipe. Tourists love this beach because it gives you the feeling of being at private beach as there are fewer people compared to the other beaches. This peaceful and laid-back small beach is the best spot to watch amazing sunsets as the name suggests. This beach is suitable for those that are looking for a quiet secluded beach. This beach is only 10 minutes away from Koh Lipe’s Walking Street.
THINGS TO DO
Snorkelling & Island Hopping
Snorkelling is a must-do activity when you visit Koh Lipe. The corals here are superb because they are protected; stepping on them, collecting them, and catching fish are not allowed. The boatmen here are also prohibited from putting down their anchor when parking in order to protect the corals. No wonder the corals are very stunning and several varieties of fish thrive here.
There are a lot of shops along Koh Lipe Walking Street that offer snorkelling and island hopping trips. I recommend trying at least two programs during your visit. The most unique island I visited is Koh Hin Ngam (Beautiful Stone Island), which features beautiful stones polished and shaped by the everlasting waves hitting the shores year after year. The smooth and shiny stones of various sizes, shapes, and colours are amazing to behold. Remember to bring your Tarutao National Park ticket because the rangers here will ask for it. If you fail to show the ticket, you will need to buy a new one.
You can also rent a snorkel mask and head to Ten Moons Resort at Sunrise Beach, where you can snorkel inside designated buoyed areas to enjoy the fishes and corals. Be careful with the boat traffic.
Hiking to Koh Adang Viewpoint
Take a long tail boat to Koh Adang and go on a hike for the best view of Koh Lipe. Boat rides cost 100 THB per person and can be arranged at the taxi boat stands on Sunrise Beach. It is also possible to kayak from Sunrise Beach to Koh Adang.
The 45-minute hike to the third (and best) viewpoint is not so challenging but involves some ropes, uneven surfaces, and can be slippery and muddy if it recently rained. There’s no need for hiking shoes (I wore slippers), but wear shoes for safety and comfort. Remember to bring enough water with you for the hike.
Even though Koh Lipe is a bit far from the mainland, the food here will not disappointing you. For breakfast, try their famous pancake with coffee or tea at cafes along Koh Lipe Walking Street. For dinner, there are a lot of shops that you have to try. My favourite is Nee Papaya Restaurant because I love their seafood tom yum and green curry, well-seasoned!
Blessed with natural scenic beauty, Koh Lipe is perfect for a beach getaway. What are you waiting for? Grab your bag and head to ‘Maldives of Thailand’!
GETTING THERE Koh Lipe is accessible from Langkawi and Hat Yai. For flight info and fares, visit airasia.com.
About Mathilda Chung
An ordinary girl from Lundu, Sarawak fascinated by beaches and the sea. Her dream is to write travel stories, especially about islands, and share them with the whole world. Now she works at FR Island Venture, a small travel agency that introduced her to islands and getaways.