Koh Lipe: The Maldives of Thailand

Travel Advisor Isabel Smallman walking through vineyards in an all white outfit with a tan hat.
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Isabel Smallman

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  • Thailand

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • Outdoors

  • Coastal

  • Sightseeing

Advisor - Koh Lipe: The Maldives of Thailand
Curator’s statement

Close your eyes. Picture a snow-white stretch of sand, luminous sea foam water and a life of colorful abundance under the surface. No, you're not in the Maldives. You're not in the Caribbean either. This is the Thai island of Koh Lipe. You're not there yet, the travel time is long, but my friend, the journey is worth every mode of transport taken. So, while you have a minute, read on and create the magnificent mental images in your mind of what is soon to be discovered.

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Where to stay in Koh Lipe, Thailand

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Ananya Lipe Resort

Embrace island paradise and beachfront tranquility at Ananya Lipe Resort, where charming accommodations, turquoise waters, and a serene atmosphere on Koh Lipe, Thailand, create a blissful and unforgettable stay in the Andaman Sea.

Irene Resort

Experience serenity hospitality at Irene Resort, where comfortable accommodations, lush gardens, and a tranquil atmosphere on the beautiful island of Koh Lipe.

Bulow Casa Grand View Resort and Spa

Embrace hillside beauty and luxury at Bulow Casa Grand View Resort and Spa, where elegant accommodations, stunning mountain vistas, and a relaxing spa experience create a peaceful and rejuvenating stay.

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Travel Advisor Isabel Smallman walking through vineyards in an all white outfit with a tan hat.

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Things to do in Koh Lipe, Thailand

woman swims over reef

"Wow, this place is beautiful."

This simple line was all that I could stammer as I stepped off the speedboat and onto the rolling docks. Of course, I've said these words hundreds of times for hundreds of different places. This time, however, it had more weight to it than any of the other islands combined. Here's why:

Order a Thaijito on Sunrise Beach

Arguably, the most breathtaking spot on Koh Lipe. With beachfront hotels, a cozy selection of lounge chairs and happy hour BOGO's, I spent most of my waking hours relaxing on the east side of the island.

Boketto Sunset Restaurant serves up a modern twist of Mediterranean-Thai infusions. I enjoyed watching the bartenders craft up some impressive cocktails at the pool bar while taking in the unparalleled views of the beach landscape behind them. (I recommend the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich...and ask for the truffle sauce for dipping!)

Snorkel or Take a Deep Dive with Adang Sea Divers

If you feel safer close to the surface (like me), that's fine! Or, if you're ready to explore some dive site gems with Koh Lipe's scuba diving experts, that's fine, too! Fortunately, this island offers all experience levels an opportunity to see below the surface of its beauty.

Adang Sea Divers has a variety of options so you can custom design your tour to make it your dream adventure. Since I was traveling in the low season, I booked a group tour that only visited one of the many islands. But let me tell you, that one island did not disappoint! We were given veggie-fried rice with eggs for lunch. After a couple of hours discovering the coral reef's ocean floor, my pruning fingers were ready to get back to Sunrise Beach. The tour was fantastic and on another day, I will be back for the high season's island hopping extravaganza.

Transfer via Longtail Boat over to Koh Adang

If you've had your eyes glued on this bigger brother of Koh Lipe and just have to see what's on the other side, hop on a boat from Sunrise Beach to explore for the afternoon. Offering some scenic viewpoints, a stretch of beach, a small resort and a simple restaurant, this island is a cute escape to pass the time (If you know the people who just have to close their Apple Watch ring like I do, take a kayak over instead...it's quite the paddle).

Buy One Get One Beach Bars

Thailand loves promoting their happy hour specials, and like most vacationers, I take great joy in those sunset bargains. You're on one of the most beautiful remote islands in Thailand. You have to take the edge off all that travel somehow.

My top recommendation is Zodiac Beach Bar. Situated at the corner of North Point Beach (connected to Sunrise), this bar has a great vibe at sunset with DJ music and fire dance shows. Although the cocktails are so-so and a bit overpriced, this is the go-to spot at this time of the night, so you'll likely meet a lot of cool people!

Sea La Vie bar is also a beach bar gem with a relaxed atmosphere and music to wind down the night.

If you don't need an ocean view to relish in all the island beauty, head inland to OMG! Sports Bar & Restaurant for a Western touch of live music and TV streaming the latest sport's games.

Walk down Walking Street

After sunset, this street turns into a pedestrian-only walkway highlighting local Thai cuisine. Also pop into some of the handicraft shops and exchange your baht for authentic souvenirs to bring back home to those unfortunate souls that got left behind.

Traverse Tarutao National Marine Park

With Koh Lipe being an excellent starting point to wilderness explore the surrounding archipelago, I recommend hiring a private boat tour to take you even further remote to dive into the underwater world, jungle trek, or simply lay out with SPF 50.

Kayaking (for sport or leisure)

I am not a big fan of kayaking. The level of arm strength needed to propel forward is unmatched for me. However, with this ocean at such a standstill and very few hurdles to overcome, I found a thrill in cruising between the islands. The rock formations, vibrant coral and 360-degree panoramic views were snapshots in my brain for a future meditation back home.

Practice Your Yoga Flow

Whether you prefer to practice independently on your nearby beach, or join a class, Castaway Resort explores Hatha Yoga classes for all Yogi levels. Offering three classes daily (except Sundays), I joined in on the sunrise meditation and morning flow. My first sunrise on Sunrise beach was as tranquil as you'd expect.

Places to eat & drink in Koh Lipe, Thailand

sea side lunch

So I shared a couple cocktail hot spots...but if you're a foodie like I am...we're not grabbing the first bite we see on the bar menu without exploring our options.

Elephant - This place is a return spot for most tourists, as its extensive and flavorful menu has options for all to enjoy in the group. From classic brunch to an evening dine with live music, the quality is impressive and the staff are some of the friendliest on the island!

The Box - Offering elaborate Western cuisine at affordable prices in an upscale venue. I highly recommend the fish tacos and sampling some of their creative cocktail list!

If you're looking for a casual dine on Sunrise Beach, head to Benny's on the Beach for some generous and healthy portions. This restaurant is right next to Adang Sea Divers, so be sure to grab a bite here after a long day of swallowing salt water.

Like I mentioned, Walking Street has some fantastic options if you're looking for cheap, quick and casual. Many restaurants aren't on Google, so feel free to be adventurous and stumble into somewhere new! You may just find your new favorite on the island.

Side note: You will see the Thai Pancake Lady everywhere...and for good reason! These roti-style pancakes are the perfect sweet or savory treat for a midday snack.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspo? Check out my guide, The Ultimate Guide to Laos.

Travel Advisor Isabel Smallman walking through vineyards in an all white outfit with a tan hat.

Travel Advisor

Isabel Smallman

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Thailand.