Thailand’s southernmost island is the epitome of the term ‘island paradise.’ The local sea gypsies, the Chao Lay, living in the area call it ‘Paper Island’ because of its small size, white sandy beaches and sea level flatness, however, the isolated island at the end of the Andaman archipelago is better known to the rest of the world as Koh Lipe.
For the intrepid traveler looking for some off the grid down time, the scuba enthusiast seeking beautiful underwater ecosystems or the 9 to 5 professional looking for a little slice of tranquility; the beaches, water and weather of Koh Lipe are your invitation to a seventh heaven.
The island has a sort of a morphed triangle shape to it, with beaches on 3 sides and a large hill in the center. Each beach has a slightly different landscape and vibe to it, but the commonalities they share are world class scenery and a relaxing environment.
The main beach, Pattaya Beach, is where most of the action takes place. Arrivals and departures on the island happen here and the shoreline is lined with bungalows and small resorts. This is also the place to be if you’re looking to set up a snorkel, scuba, fishing or day trip to the neighboring islands.
Koh Lipe’s Pattaya Beach also has plenty of beach bars which are perfect places to escape the sun while sipping a cold drink and having a bite to eat. The beach livens up in the evening with just about every resort placing tables and chairs in the sand, firing up their BBQ’s and offering water front dining right on the beach. The food is delicious and diners have their choice from an assortment of freshly caught seafood as well as traditional Thai dishes. For those seeking a little more night life, the Koh Lipe Walking Street has a few restaurants and bars where you can hang out and burn the midnight oil.
The northwest side of Koh Lipe is home to ‘Sunset Beach,’ which is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon while waiting to catch a truly amazing sunset. Sunset beach has a few bungalows, nice swimming areas and kayaks to rent for paddling out into the sea and exploring the neighboring coves.
If you are not much a swimmer and want to just chill on the beach; the beach bars play good music, have tasty food, cold beer and offer a spectacular front row seat to watch the sun go down. A trip to Koh Lipe wouldn’t be complete without spending an evening on Sunset Beach.
The third beach on the island is the eastern facing ‘Sunrise Beach.’ Early risers can take in a nice sunrise, then claim a spot on the beach for a day of sun bathing, reading and swimming.
After doing quite a bit of island hoping in Thailand, I can say that the water on Koh Lipe is certainly the clearest, warmest and most inviting I’ve experienced. I thought I’d found island paradise when I made it to Koh Kradan, however, Koh Lipe went above and beyond. One recommendation for those who would like to visit is, since there are no ATM’s on the island it is advisable to be sure to bring plenty of cash. A few resorts take credit and ATM cards, but the majority operate on cash and there is only one shop giving cash advances with a pretty steep fee included. While the travel time to get to Koh Lipe can be quite long, don’t let the long trek put off a visit. The journey out into the sea is certainly worth it and who knows…you may never leave!
How To Get There
– Take and Air Asia flight south to Hat Yai. Flight time is roughly 1.5 hours.
– Take a van or private car from the Hat Yai airport to the Pak Bara Pier in Satun. The 1 hour and 40 min ride to the pier at Pak Bara can cost around 2,000 Baht depending on negotiations ($60.50). Another option is to head to the train station in Hat Yai and from there take a van to the Pak Bara pier for around 200 Baht ($6.05).
– Take a speed boat or ferry ride from the Pak Bara pier to a floating barge off the shore of Pattaya Beach at Koh Lipe. The boat ride is 1 hour and costs 650 Baht ($19.66).
– Take a local Chao Ley longtail boat ride from the floating barge where the ferry drops off to Pattaya Beach on Koh Lipe. The ride is roughly 5 minutes and the cost is 70 Baht ($2.12).
Where To Stay
Finding a place to stay on Pattaya Beach isn’t too difficult. Peppered with resorts, the eastern side of the beach can get a bit crowded with people and boats dropping off and picking up visitors. I found the west side of the beach, to the left of the entrance to the Koh Lipe Walking Street, to be less crowded and much quieter.
A great bungalow to stay at on that side of the beach is the Daya Resort.
– Steps to the white sand beach and clear warm water.
– Bungalow rooms for rent right on the beach; as well as larger family style rooms a bit off the sand and elevated sea view rooms.
– Room price is 1,500 Baht ($45.37) in the high season and 800 Baht ($24.20) in the low season for a bungalow on the beach. A sea view bungalow perched on the hill overlooking the beach is 1,000 Baht ($30.24) in the high season and 600 Baht ($18.15) in the low season.
– They have a family run kitchen that cooks up some of the tastiest Thai food I’ve had, their cashew nut chicken and morning glory are delicious!
– In the evenings they set up a BBQ and tables and chairs in the sand where you can choose your fish or shrimp dinner from their catch of the day spread.
– Contact Khun Anee to help you arrange room reservations, snorkeling/scuba tours, trips to neighboring islands and tickets back to the mainland or your next island destination. You can reach her at either +66(0) 81-542-9866 or +66(0) 89-466-7318.