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Ko Lipe (or Koh Lipe) is one of Thailand’s smaller islands, known for its beautiful beaches and great snorkeling. It’s a popular destination for island-hoppers or for vacationers looking for a quiet getaway.
Although Ko Lipe is less developed than other Thai islands, it has recently been attracting more tourists, resorts, and nightlife destinations. While you’ll still find it to be a relatively tranquil spot, there is some tension between the relaxed island vibe and increasing development.
Beaches in Ko Lipe
There are three main beaches on the island, all of which are easy to get to. Pattaya Beach is the largest beach on the island, sheltered within a bay. The beach serves as one of the central points on the island, with ferry boats coming and going. There is plenty of accommodation, alongside bars and restaurants.
So if you’re looking for a bite to eat or to find some nightlife, Pattaya Beach will be your go-to spot. The two other beaches, Sunrise and Sunset, are on the quieter side. Sunset is the smallest of the three, but Sunrise is great for walks along the ocean in addition to relaxing on the sand.
As the names imply, make sure you make time to watch a sunrise and sunset at the respective beaches.
Snorkeling and Diving in Ko Lipe
Snorkeling is one of the most popular activities on Ko Lipe, where clear waters make it easy to see a wide variety of salt water fish. From Pattaya Beach, you can easily find a number of organized snorkeling trips.
These trips typically include masks, snorkels, fins, and lunch, and they will take you to a few different stops. If you’d like to be more flexible, you can also hire a private boat to take you wherever you’d like to go. If you buy or rent your own mask, you can easily snorkel right from shore as well.
If you are dive certified, you can also rent equipment to dive around the island’s coral reefs. There are a number of dive shops around the island, one of the most popular of which is Adang Sea Divers. If you don’t know how to dive, you can book a lesson that will teach you the basics before taking you out to explore.
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Ko Lipe’s Walking Street
Ko Lipe is a small island, and you’ll find most of its businesses along a single road: Walking Street. This narrow road connects Pattaya Beach and Sunrise Beach, and it’s full of bars, shops, restaurants, accommodations, and tour companies.
If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or to enjoy some nightlife, Walking Street is the place to go.
National Park Entry Fee
Ko Lipe is located right on the edge of the Tarutao National Marine Park. Visitors should know that upon arriving to Ko Lipe by boat, you’ll need to pay a 200 baht park entry fee.
Once you’ve paid, make sure to keep your ticket with you any time you go on a boating trip. Park rangers can check wither you have a ticket and fine you again if you do not.
The good news is that you’ll probably want to visit Tarutao National Marine Park anyway – it’s an archipelago of 51 islands full of diverse wildlife. Look for boat trips from Ko Lipe.
Ko Lipe is a small island, but recently it has been developing at a fast pace. Unfortunately, the island infrastructure is not quite equipped to handle the production of waste, which has become an issue for the island.
If you venture away from the main beach areas, you may come across unsightly piles of garbage. As you might expect, this issue is causing environmental concerns about pollution of the ocean, particularly from officials running the Tarutao National Marine Park.
How to Go From Bangkok to Ko Lipe
Bus or Train
- The trains from Bangkok to Hat Yai takes 14-16 hours.
- There are several bus companies that leave Bangkok for the 12-14 hour trip.
- In Hat Yai take the shuttle to Pak Bara pier. Your train or bus should get to Hat Yai on time, definitely before 9.30 am, otherwise you'll probably have to wait a day there.
- The nearest airport to Koh Lipe is Hat Yai.
- Easiest way to get from Bangkok to Koh Lipe is to fly to the Hat Yai.
- Get to Pak Bara pier by bus or taxi.
- At Pak Bara take the ferry to Koh Lipe.
Some ferries stop at a other islands in the Tarutao National Park. You can of course decide yourself if you want a direct ferry or not.
Pak Bara is open for Ko Lipe travel all year. Other routes are monsoon dependent.
© 2019 Sam Shepards