Plenty of choice
Ko Lipe‘s ever-increasing popularity was evidenced by roughly 100 places to stay in 2015 — up from under 50 just five years earlier and a mere five back in the 1990s. The general trend is to build bigger, higher, more expensive, though a select few have preserved the low-key vibe. Not a budget-friendly destination by Southeast Asian standards, Lipe is worth the splurge.
Unlike on larger islands where several kilometres might separate one beach from the next, location is less of an issue on Lipe. The small size makes it easy to walk from one place to another. Keep extremes in mind — like eastern Pattaya Beach for nightlife and the northwestern coves for seclusion — while choosing mainly on the merits of accommodation quality rather than location. Even inland options are no more than a five-minute stroll from one (or more) of the beaches.
Under 500 baht
Options for under 500 baht in high season can be counted on one hand. Our first choice is Art Garden, a laid-back artist-run spot set amid towering trees next to the island’s forest temple. You’ll find rudimentary bamboo huts and tents ranging from 200 to 400 baht and providing little more than a roof and the use of a shared bathroom. Neighbouring Koh Lipe Camping has similarly spartan huts to go with more of a reggae theme. The other option is an air-con dorm at Koh Lipe Backpackers Hostel.
500 to 1,000 baht
An extra 200 to 300 baht opens the possibility of a bungalow just off the sand. Gipsy Resort leads the pack with its bamboo and concrete bungalows equipped with silk blankets and hammocks in addition to tables and chairs on the patios. The Spanish and Urak Lawoi owners are some of the best hosts we’ve come across on any Thai island. For a bit cheaper, Cafe Lipe and Moonlight are the best among a cluster of bungalows on central Pattaya beach. If you don’t mind a hard bed in a bare-bones cottage, the Fisheries Department offers good value on Sunset beach.
1,000 to 2,000 baht
The majority of Lipe accommodation falls into this bracket — and it’s worth shopping around. Wapi Resort is the best-value option for a clean and comfy air-con room that puts you mere steps from Sunrise beach. The French owners added new sea-view villas while sprucing up some older rooms. If you’re after seclusion, Bila Beach and Sanom Beach both have solid fan bungalows on their own private beaches. Many others, including Lipe Beach and Greenview, rent out simple fan rooms for a lot more than you’ll pay on many islands.
2,000 to 3,000 baht
You might expect air-con to dominate the midrange bracket, but our top picks get it done with fans, good service, stylish rooms and environmental outlooks. On Sunrise beach, Castaway Resort sets a high bar with its breezy two-storey wood villas and well-thought-out facilities that include a great restaurant, spa, yoga and scuba diving. Smaller, newer and more easily overlooked, Time to Chill House has five intriguing rooms with vast porches overlooking the quiet forest near Sunset beach.
Over 3,000 baht
Sawan Resort is doing something special on its hillside over Sunset beach. Made entirely of natural materials and with attached decks overlooking Ko Adang, the five rooms strike a balance between luxurious and simple, and the unpretentious staff know how to let their guests relax. If Sawan is out of your price range (rooms start at 7,200 baht in high season), Mali Resort also has a good thing going with its dark-wood villas draped in orchids and palms for around 4,000 baht a night on Pattaya beach.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 27th January, 2015.
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