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A Second Look at Lipe

Nearly a decade passed between my first visit to Koh Lipe and my second one. So I was quite literally a different person when I came back than I’d been when I’d first set foot on the island.

Which explains some of the intense change of heart—and of mind—I experienced. As I took in the beauty and exhilaration of Lipe and its neighbor Adang over several days in early 2024, it dawned on me that everything I loved this time had probably “been there” last time; I just hadn’t been able to see it back then.

I have other theories about this, too—and I’ll dive into them over the next few paragraphs. However, the aim of this post is to answer a much simpler question: Is Koh Lipe worth visiting?

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First Impressions Are Not Everything

If you had asked me in 2015, I probably would’ve concluded that Koh Lipe is worth visiting. Based on my own behavior during subsequent years, however, you could conclude that my endorsement was less than ringing. Indeed, while Koh Lipe had boasted amazing beaches and great hotels, it will also expensive, and seemed much too crowded for an island its size (let alone one that was supposed to be off the beaten path).

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that some of this was my perception—I was less well-traveled at that time, and also less attuned to many of the finer details that I now notice as a matter of second nature. But I also think, perhaps as a result of the pandemic, that Koh Lipe balanced itself out. Prices are still high, but those elsewhere in Thailand have raised faster; the island’s beauty remains intact, in spite of much greater development.

Why I Changed My Mind About Lipe

The beaches


I’ve always loved a good beach, and Lipe’s have always been great. However, since I stayed all the way over at Sunset Beach (the worst of Lipe’s three main beaches) back in 2015, I didn’t have enough time to savor the amazingness of Sunrise Beach. In particular, the shallow lagoons around North Point are like swimming pools, right in the ocean.

The hike


Another thing that makes Koh Lipe worth visiting? You can easily (and cheaply) hire one of the dozens of longtails docked along its beaches and head just over the water to Koh Adang. In addition to the fact that the “Pine Beach” near the arrival pier is at least as fantastic as anywhere on Lipe itself, the hike up to the Chado Cliff Viewpoint is exhilarating; the view it offers is nothing short of life-affirming.

The vibe


While the Koh Lipe of nine years ago didn’t seem like it had found its identity, this is no longer the cases—post-pandemic, the island really came into itself. Prices are still high, for example, but they aren’t rising as fast as they are elsewhere in Thailand; they suit its increasingly upscale-yet-laidback. Lipe Walking Street is also fantastic, and offers a high density of excellent restaurants shops compared to the length of the street.

The ease


Koh Lipe is worth visiting if only because of how easy it is. Once you arrive here, it’s almost never more than a 15- or 20-minute walk to where you’re staying; after you check-in and freshen up, you’ll rarely spend any longer than that getting to where you’re going next. Beyond this, there’s no navigation: Pattaya Beach is at one end of the Walking Street; Sunrise Beach is at the other. If you can walk in a straight line (and back), you’ll be golden.

A different phase of life


Koh Lipe has changed in important and real ways—and so have I. It dawned on me, as I was basking in the rays in the shallow waters of North Point (but looking down toward Nomad Bar and lusting for one of its cocktails) than Lipe’s particular blend of leisure, luxury and natural splendor might simply be better suited to someone staring down 40 than someone who’s just turned 30.

Where to Stay in Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe has a number of beach accommodations, though I’d recommend disregarding ones that are not on Sunrise Beach. Pattaya Beach is crowded (and, at low tide, is just not very beautiful); Sunset Beach is too far from the rest of the island to make for a practical base. My favorite properties on Sunrise Beach include Bulow Casa Grande View Resort and Mali Resort.

Of course, you don’t need to stay on the beach at all to find Koh Lipe worth visiting. If you can deal with the crowds coming and going from your hotel, spots like Leelawadee Lipe Resort are great because they connect you directly with the island’s main pedestrian thoroughfare. They’re also way cheaper than anything you find on the beach—which, admittedly, isn’t a concern for some travelers.


Other FAQ About Visiting Koh Lipe

How many days should I spend in Koh Lipe?

Koh Lipe is a small island, but there are two reasons you should spend 3-5 days there (as opposed to 1-2) if you. First of all, there’s a lot to do, both on the main island, as well as neighboring Koh Adang (where you can hike and swim) and the many snorkeling and dive sites nearby. Secondly, Lipe’s beaches are perfect for relaxing. You should aim to give yourself at least a full day dedicated to that.

What is special about Koh Lipe?

Since my last visit to the island, I’ve taken to thinking of Koh Lipe as a “grown-up” version of Railay Beach, which is simultaneously “younger.” What I mean is that the development on the island is better-build and more modern; the crowds tend to be more youthful and less weather than what you find in Railay. These days, when I think of how Railay used to make me feel, it actually evokes Lipe.

Can you swim in Koh Lipe?

Yes! Koh Lipe’s beaches are some of the best in Thailand for swimming. With shallow, clear and calm waters and sugary white sand, Sunrise Beach and North Point in particular are like pools, only in the sea. The “pine beach” at nearby Koh Adang is also a spectacular place to take a swim.

The Bottom Line

Is Koh Lipe worth visiting? Absolutely—if you don’t have plans to go, make them! Looking back on my first visit to the island almost 10 years ago, I feel like I’ve done a disservice to my readers, and also to myself. I couldn’t see Lipe for the jewel it was, and avoided going back to nearly a decade because of that failure. For my money, Koh Lipe probably has the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, and also manages to balance feeling “local” and “off the beaten path” with the creature comforts most of us want and need. Need personalized help planning your Thailand island adventure? Commission a custom Thailand itinerary today!


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