• Melanie Stephens

12 reasons why Koh Lipe is my favourite Thai island!


Each of the 5 islands we explore on our 15 day jungle to island hopping Thailand Adventure tour (for women aged 25 to 59) has their own unique character, and I love them all for different reasons. But, if I really had to choose a favourite, it would be Koh Lipe (pronounced Lee-pay), one of three islands on this tour that no other group tour company visits, which I'm pretty proud of! Lots of the women who join us on our Thailand Adventure agree. Here's why...


1. It ain't called the 'Maldives of Thailand' for nothing!

2. The best of all worlds wrapped into one perfect little package!

3. It's not full of package holiday Brits!

4. You can still find a secluded beach to yourself!

5. Amazing snorkelling and diving!

6. Aimlessly wandering along Walking Street!

7. A cool international community of travellers who never left!

8. Elephant live music bar!

9. You're never more than a few steps away from an incredible massage!

10. Brilliant beach bars!

11. The Thai pancake Mecca of Thai Lady Pancake House!

12. It's still very Thai with rules to keep it that way, yay!



1. It ain't called the 'Maldives of Thailand' for nothing!

It's not hard to find a beautiful island in Thailand. As an island lover, it's one of the reasons Thailand is my favourite place in the world. But Koh Lipe's sand is one of the softest, whitest powders and its sea might just be the brightest turquoise of all the islands I've ever visited, and that's why it's earnt the nickname of the 'Maldives of Thailand'.





2. The best of all worlds wrapped up into one perfect little package!

The beauty of exploring Thailand's islands is how very different you'll find them from each other. Some are really quiet and untouched and perfect for utter relaxation, like Koh Yao Yai, some have traditional little villages where you can see authentic Thai life, like Koh Mook, and some draw those up for a party or seeking famous beaches, like Koh Phi Phi.


I would always recommend exploring a few different islands to get a real feel for Thailand, but if I had to choose just one island to spend some time, Koh Lipe offers the best combo of all these kind of best bits, all wrapped up into one. Pattaya Beach and Walking Street are the busier, more bustling heart of the island, Sunrise Beach and streets off Walking Street are a little more chilled and reveal more traditional life, then Sunset Beach and the surrounding areas, including Hantalay Monastery in the forest, are like a different island altogether. And it's all within easy walking distance of each other as it's such a compact little island. Perfect!



3. It's not full of package holiday Brits! (It's ok I'm a Brit, I'm allowed to say that)

For me, not being surrounded by an army of people from the same country I've travelled over 6000 miles from, to experience another culture, is a good thing! Koh Lipe is a popular island for Thais, Malaysians and other Asian tourists, and European travellers, couples and families who've done their research and are more interested in exploring a more authentic Thailand and actually meeting Thai people.



4. You can still find a secluded beach to yourself!

When people dream of Thailand beaches they often picture themselves in one of these kind of postcard scenes, but unfortunately lots of people choose to just stay in the tourist hotspots of Phuket and Koh Samui and end up somewhere very different, often with hoards of those Brits mentioned above, hemmed together on back to back sun loungers. Ugh, just thinking about it upsets me, why come all this way to recreate scenes you'd find in Benidorm? Anywaaaay....



To experience the real side to Thailand, you can still find lots of places to yourself even on Koh Lipe's busiest beach, Pattaya Beach, but you'll notice Sunrise and Sunset Beaches are more secluded, and if you dream of your very own beach, that's possible too. On our Thailand Adventure tour and one of the three days that we spend in Koh Lipe, we head out on a private boat trip to explore the surrounding area, with snorkelling, swimming and a visit to a private stretch of beach just for us. These are some snaps that I took with our last group in February earlier this year.


5. Amazing snorkelling and diving!

Koh Lipe is one of my favourite places to dive, and there's time to have a go while we're here, but the water here is so clear and there's so much sea life, that you'll see amazing tropical fish and corals when snorkelling on the surface too.


6. Aimlessly wandering along Walking Street!

Walking Street is Koh Lipe's heart, running across the centre of the island from Pattaya Beach to Sunrise Beach. It only takes about half an hour to walk from one end to the other, but it's plethora of cool little shops, massage places, cafes, bars, restaurants and street food stalls along the way will lure you in, so it'll more than likely take you much longer, in a good way! Not that Lipe has much traffic to start with, but after 6pm the island tuk tuks and motorbikes are banned from entering this pedestrianised area so you're free to wander and explore to your heart's content.


7. A cool international community of travellers who never left!

Koh Lipe is still very Thai, but you'll also find a cool hippy vibe and influences from all over the

world, brought by international travellers who obviously came here, fell in love and never left! I bought this Indian silk dress in an Italian woman's very cool little boutique, you can enjoy authentic Serrano ham, tortilla and paella at Spanish owned 'The Box' restaurant, some of the best value sushi I've ever had can be found on Pattaya Beach and my favourite dive school is run by Italians who also provide Italian snacks and wine in a restaurant on the beach.


8. Elephant live music bar!

This is my favourite bar in Thailand and I love going back, especially now the guys working there remember me and are always so happy to see our group! A super chilled vibe, bar made out of a longtail boat, refusal to provide wifi so you'll talk to each other, 'if you're in the bar you're in the band' rule, great food and brilliant live music, all makes this a very special place.




We always have a night in here on our Thailand Adventure and have been up dancing, shaking tambourines, losing voices singing along and have even had a few birthday girls serenaded by the band. Whenever I've been to Lipe on my own, its also somewhere perfect to go and perch at the bar and chat to other travellers doing the same and I've met so many people in here. It is definitely up there as one of my happy places!


9. You're never more than a few steps away from an incredible massage!

For about £7 you can get a traditional Thai massage by incredibly skilled Thai women who've learnt what I now consider a true art with unbelievable healing powers, unrivalled by any other culture in the world. Their knowledge of how the body works and how to solve any aches and pains you have never fails to blow me away.



You can opt for one of the many air conditioned salons on Walking Street, or an open air option on the beach where you can hear the waves. Or, just cram in as many of both kinds during the 3 days we spend here on our Thailand Adventure!


10. Brilliant beach bars!

There are amazing little beach bars all over Thailand but Koh Lipe has some of the best. From places like this hippy shack on Sunrise Beach, perfect for lounging in a hammock with a book, to the Bayview Bar on Sunset Beach that do the best mojitos for happy hour to take into the sea as the sun sets, to Pattaya Beach's livelier but still very laidback Thai style cushions right on the beach, surrounded by sand art and fire shows.


On our Thailand Adventure we stay in a great resort right on Pattaya Beach, and the beach bar right next door has become a meeting point for various points of the night. Some of the group keen to catch the sunset head here while others take a little longer to get ready after longer at the pool, and it's become a difficult place to walk past at the end of the night, when just one last cocktail and a spot of star gazing before bed pulls you in...paradise!



11. The Thai pancake Mecca of Thai Lady Pancake House!

Thai pancakes are a simple, but in my humble opinion, super tasty and cheap street food fave in Thailand. On many of the islands you find mobile little pancake tuk tuks, with built-in hot plates, but understandably the amount of ingredients they can store and keep chilled here is limited, usually to traditional banana, or ham and cheese for a savoury option.

But in Koh Lipe, they've taken their love of the simple pancake to a whole new level, with not one, but two, Thai Lady Pancake Houses, spread out along Walking Street, with full on, 20 page menus completely dedicated to all the different filling combos on offer. If you're ever on a Travel Queen Thailand Adventure and need to find me, this is where I'll be!




12. It's still very Thai with rules to keep it that way, yay!

You can feel a lot of love for Koh Lipe from locals, expats and visitors, and there is concern like anywhere that becomes very popular, that this popularity could bring overdevelopment that might end up spoiling it. But, the locals are determined not to let that happen, and there are rules in place that prevent building over a certain height and ownership of businesses without Thai partnership. Even though it is one of the busier islands, things still shut down by around midnight with only one or two chilled little beach bars keeping going, and the big beach parties that put places like Phi Phi and Koh Phangan on the map, aren't happening here. Let's hope it stays that way.



Well I could go on and on, and on, but those are my main reasons for loving Koh Lipe! We visit here half way through our 15 day jungle to island hopping Thailand Adventure tour (for women aged 25 to 59) and spend three nights here, including a snorkelling boat trip and walking tour to Sunset Beach, and there's also plenty of free time to explore at your leisure.


Koh Lipe is the furthest island from Phuket where we start the tour, but I've carefully designed our itinerary to stop at other great islands on the way to and from here, to break up the journey and make it possible to visit this amazing island without spending too much time travelling in one day. As I mentioned above, no other group tour company visits this island, opting for more obvious tourist traps that are easier and cheaper to get to instead. But if you'd like to experience the best of real Thailand, on an adventure designed by someone in love with this country, then Travel Queen is for you!


You can find out more about our Thailand Adventure tour here.


Thanks for reading,

Mel x

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