Koh Lipe’s location inside the protected Tarutao National Marine Park makes it one of the most incredible islands in Thailand to visit. But I’ll be honest. It’s a real pain in the butt to get to.
It’s totally worth it though, and the tedious journey to get there makes it even more important to know when the best time to visit Koh Lipe is.
It took years before our little family finally made it to this far-flung island paradise. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. Called the “Maldives of Thailand,” because of its crystal clear turquoise waters, pristine white sands, living coral and ample sea life, it’s as beautiful a beach destination as I’ve ever been to. It’s totally worth a visit, despite the difficulty of getting there.
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Jump to what you want.
- 1 When’s the best time to visit Koh Lipe?
- 2 Koh Lipe Seasons
- 3 The speedboat ride to Koh Lipe could be total hell
- 4 Koh Lipe is not that cheap
When’s the best time to visit Koh Lipe?
I’d love to be able to pinpoint the exact best time to visit Koh Lipe, but the answer to this question is actually pretty subjective. It depends a lot on what your priorities are. Is saving a bit of money important? or do you want perfect weather for your entire vacation? Do you mind crowds? There are many factors to consider, which I’ll cover below.
Koh Lipe is not the easiest island to visit for a couple of reasons. It’s located close to the Malaysian border in a pretty remote location. Getting there necessitates a lengthy combination of flight, car, and speedboat, which is taxing even when the seas are calm. During low season, the seas around Koh Lipe are super rough and maybe even dangerous (more on that scary reality later).
It’s worth it though. These are the things you need to know before deciding on the best time to visit Koh Lipe.
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Koh Lipe Seasons
A few years back, Koh Lipe was that secret undiscovered Thai island that people whispered about, but had not actually visited. Well, no longer.
In high season, locals estimate that 3 to 5,000 people come and go from the island each and every day, with numbers only increasing year over year. That’s a whole lot of people walking around an island that’s just 3.5 by 2.5 kilometres in size.
Is the best time to visit Koh Lipe during High or Peak Season?
Koh Lipe’s high season begins in November and ends in early May. Peak season begins in mid December, and finishes at the end of February. It’s peak season during that time for good reason. You can expect the perfect weather and turquoise seas you’ve always dreamt about, but unfortunately, also crowded beaches and higher prices across the island.
You may consider high / peak season to be the best time to visit Koh Lipe if:
- you want guaranteed cloudless days, zero rain, and incredibly clear water
- don’t mind paying higher prices for food, accommodation and transport
- you’re prepared to reserve your accommodation and transportation far in advance
- aren’t bothered by crowded streets and busy beaches
If you plan on visiting during high or peak season, it’s almost a necessity to book beachfront accommodation and ferry tickets in advance. Koh Lipe is incredibly popular and these days, the best places are fully booked in both high and low season.
Don’t get stuck on the mainland or another island. Make sure you have transport to Koh Lipe, by reserving a ferry or speedboat in advance, especially during high season.
> Reserve a spot on a shared speedboat from Pak Bara Pier to Koh Lipe, with a safe and reputable tour provider. Trips take 1 to 2 hours depending on the weather. Book it here.
> Pre-book transport from Phuket direct to Koh Lipe, and get super-convenient pick up at your hotel as well. Reserve your spot here.
> If you’re staying on Koh Lanta, this high-speed ferry will take you directly to Koh Lipe in just 45 minutes. Book it here.
Is the best time to visit Koh Lipe in Low or Shoulder Season?
Koh Lipe’s low season runs from June to September. During this time, transport to and from the island is greatly reduced, and many businesses are shuttered or undergoing repairs. In the shoulder month of October, weather slowly improves, more hotels open, and tourist numbers steadily increase.
If you visit in Koh Lipe’s low season, the beaches will be practically empty, restaurants uncrowded, and motorcycle taxis abundant.
We visited in Koh Lipe’s shoulder season, at the end of September and during the 1st week of October. I’d say it rained about 40% of the time. It wasn’t enough to ruin our vacation, and the last 4 days were pretty much perfect, but there were a few days when I thought the rain would never stop.
The beaches were still amazing, but parts of Walking Street were flooded pretty much the whole time we were there.
You may consider low / shoulder season to be the best time to visit Koh Lipe if:
- you’re willing to chance some rain
- aren’t afraid of a potentially rough ferry ride out to Koh Lipe
- want to save some money on transport and accommodation
- really want that deserted island feel
As a card-carrying member of the introvert party, my choice for the best time to visit Koh Lipe is definitely in the shoulder season, with one big caveat. Because if you do choose to go to Koh Lipe during low season…
The speedboat ride to Koh Lipe could be total hell
We traveled to Koh Lipe in the last week of September. There were clear skies and calm water at Pak Bara Pier when we left the mainland, but within 15 minutes, we ran into insane rain, wind and super rough seas. The boat was jumping so high off the waves, that Agri basically had to hold Naia’s head in a headlock in order to keep it from bouncing all over the place.
I barely held it together without vomiting, but poor baby threw up about 6 times on the ride over. There were times when I was literally praying to make it to Koh Lipe in 1 piece, (despite not being religious at all). I felt like the worst parent possible for subjecting Naia to that experience. To call it terrifying is not an exaggeration.
If you’re nervous about boat rides, get seasick easily or are traveling with a young child or baby, I would seriously think twice about visiting Koh Lipe during low season. If you have no other choice, visit as close to high season as possible – like in the last 2 weeks of October.
At the very least, make sure you travel on a completely sunny day with no chance of rain. Because our ride back was so pleasant, it was almost boring.
Koh Lipe is not that cheap
Thailand has a reputation for being a budget destination, but I found Koh Lipe to be more expensive than anticipated.
Our bungalow at Ten Moons Resort on Sunrise Beach was $120 per night in LOW season. Granted, it’s one of the higher end accommodation choices on the island, and totally worth it, but there wasn’t much to be found under $40 a night. These options usually offered fans, cold water showers, wifi and not much else. There are definitely no $5/night backpacker bungalows available on Koh Lipe!
Massages were a minimum of 3oo baht per hour, motorcycle taxi around the island 50 baht per person per ride, and a kilogram of prawns, 1500 baht. Meals are still not expensive by North American standards, but I admit, I was surprised by just how much meals did cost on Koh Lipe.
That’s not to say there AREN’T cheaper options on Koh Lipe – there are. But you’ll have to search them out a bit, because they’re not obvious and on every corner, like in other parts of Thailand.
Don’t worry though, there are 3 ATMs on the island, so you can replenish your funds whenever required. 😉
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Do you have a favourite Thai Island? What makes it great? Share your stories in the comments below.