Gay Koh Lipe: the ultimate travel guide for the LGBTQ traveler

Stefan Arestis

Koh Lipe is by far the best island in Thailand!

There, we officially declared it. The secret's out…

We've been visiting Thailand for over a decade, trying out many islands along the way, but each time we keep circling back to Koh Lipe.

Why?

Koh Lipe still has those crystal clear tropical waters you associate with Thailand – surrounded by healthy coral. So you can literally wake up, go to the beach, put your head in the water and see Nemo swimming about around you! It was like this when we first visited many years ago and has remained this way on our recent visit.

We used to think the same about Phuket, Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi, but over time they quickly became built up, super touristy and overcrowded. Not Koh Lipe! We put this down to the fact that it's quite remote and rather complicated to reach: first, you need to fly to Hat Yai airport in South Thailand, then drive over to Pak Bara port (around 2 hours) to then take a 2-hour speedboat to Koh Lipe...Let's just say this is enough to put off the large crowds of packaged tourists.

Don't get us wrong. Koh Lipe is developed enough to have plenty of restaurants, hotels, bars and shops, but it's a controlled growth, helped by the fact that it is part of the group of Tarutao National Marine Park islands. We've put together our love for Lipe in this detailed gay guide to include the best gay friendly resorts, bars, practical tips and more.

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How gay friendly is Koh Lipe?

Koh Lipe is very gay friendly! We met many more other gay travellers here than we did on most of the other Thai islands, plus the Thai locals are super friendly and accepting. Even if they don't approve, unlike other places in the world, they would never outwardly express this in front of you.

In terms of a gay scene, remember that Lipe is teeny tiny compared to Phuket or Bangkok, so don't come here expecting wild drag bars and GoGo dancer shows! Despite this, there are a handful of gay friendly bars, gay-owned hotels and resorts that welcome us with open arms, which we've set out below.

Let's also be clear: this isn't the place to come for partying. Get that out of your system in good ‘ole gay Silom in Bangkok! Whilst Koh Lipe does have a more subtle (albeit buzzy) nightlife, this is more the place to come for that idyllic (and super romantic!) beach getaway.

Koh Lipe is a wonderful spot for snorkelling, with so many pretty fish and coral to see

Must do in Koh Lipe: find Nemo!

With its sheltered beaches and crystal-clear waters, Koh Lipe and the surrounding islands are ideal for snorkelling. We recommend joining this snorkelling trip which will take you to the best coral reefs around and the most beautiful deserted island around Koh Lipe

Find out more

Thailand's island of Koh Lipe is a romantic paradise and very gay friendly to boot!
Underwater kisses from our Lipe haven

How to get to Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is a small island (just 2 by 2.5km – 1.3 by 1.5 miles!) located in Southwest Thailand in the Andaman Sea, close to the Malaysian border. As Thailand's most southerly island, you can reach it from both Thailand as well as Malaysia. While it may seem daunting to visit Koh Lipe since it's more remote than other popular parts of the country, we promise it's totally worth it! Remember, the harder it is to reach, the less touristy and crowded it will be!

This is a practical summary of how to reach Koh Lipe:

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  • Fly to Hat Yai: you can fly to Hat Yai from Bangkok (as well as from Phuket, Chiang Mai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur) with an inexpensive budget airline like Air Asia. If you're on a really tight budget you can also take the bus/train from Bangkok to Hat Yai, although this takes around 12-17 hours.
  • Hat Yai to Pak Bara: from Hat Yai, you need to get a minibus transfer (around 2 hours) to Pak Bara, where speedboats depart for Koh Lipe. We usually stay overnight in Pak Bara and get our hotel to arrange our transfer to Koh Lipe, but you can also do this online and book your transfer to Koh Lipe via Pak Bara online.
  • Krabi Airport to Koh Lipe: it's also possible to get to Koh Lipe from Krabi Airport via minibus to Pak Bara then a speedboat to Lipe. However, we do not recommend this as Krabi is further away than Hat Yai, so the minibus journey takes around 4.5 hours.
  • Langkawi to Koh Lipe: Malaysia's popular island of Langkawi is also very close to Koh Lipe, so you can actually catch a ferry directly from one island to the other. It only takes an hour and a half on the high-speed ferry and will cost you around $35 USD.
You can get to Koh Lipe in Thailand from multiple destinations but your last leg will always be on a boat!
Get ready to check into paradise once you arrive on Koh Lipe!

Gay hotels on Koh Lipe

Koh Lipe is home to lots of stunning beachside resorts for all budgets. Whilst there are not outright gay hotels here, we found a handful of gay owned and gay friendly hotels which we tried and loved. We list these here, along with others recommend to us by fellow LGBTQ travellers we met when holidaying in Koh Lipe:

01

Gipsy Resort

Sunrise Beach

The gay owned Gispy Resort on Koh Lipe has options for all budgets

Why we love it


  • Gay owned and very gay friendly resort
  • Variety of affordable rooms, suites and bungalows
  • Right on beautiful Sunrise Beach
  • Nice restaurant with Thai and western food

Our hidden gem in Koh Lipe!

Gipsy Resort is a gay owned guesthouse located right on Sunrise Beach (our favourite of all of Koh Lipe's beaches). They have a mix of both bamboo huts (with fan) or more luxurious bungalows (with air-con) just spitting distance from the beach!

The owners are super cute gay couple Krom (local Thai guy) and Robert (from Spain) who we adore.

Gipsy Resort also receives its fair share of gay and lesbian couples: each time we've stayed here we've always made a whole new bunch of travel buddies!

Gipsy Resort's location is fantastic. Not only is it directly on (our favourite!) beach, you're also close to the bustling “Walking Street” where the majority of the island's bars, shops and restaurants are located. For us, a typical Koh Lipe day at Gipsy Resort involved lounging and chilling on Sunrise Beach during the day, then heading to Walking Street in the evening to find a restaurant for fresh fish. Near Gipsy Resort, there are places where you can rent snorkelling gear and kayaks. Also note, the tail boat taxi “station” for drivers to take you over to Koh Adang is located a few minutes walking distance from Gipsy Resort along Sunrise Beach.

Gipsy resort offers an excellent variety of rooms, suites and bungalows, all for very affordable prices. Budget travellers can opt for a private hut with a fan and a hammock strung on the little balcony. If you're like Seby and cannot live without air con, then you can book one of their more expensive suites, which have all the mod-cons. There's an outdoor restaurant by the beach serving yummy Thai or western style dishes and drinks. The bonus is that all their staff are super gay friendly, smiley and just really delightful to be around!

02

Serendipity Beach Resort Koh Lipe

Sunrise Beach

The Serendipity Resort on Thailand's Koh Lipe is super romantic with some villas having private infinite pools on the balcony

Why we love it


  • Very romantic with stunning private villas
  • Some villas with private infinity pools
  • Delicious restaurant and bar
  • In-room breakfast and wellness services

Serendipity Beach Resort is an upscale gay friendly place to base yourself in Koh Lipe. It's simply gorgeous and super romantic! It's one of our favourite spots to come for a romantic evening cocktail even if not staying here.

Serendipity is located on Sunrise Beach. All the villas are perched among the jungle looking out over the ocean, with private balconies to enjoy the views. Given the name of the beach, you want to be waking up early to catch the sunrise view from your balcony which is nothing more than spectacular! We recommend splurging out for the more expensive villas that have their own private infinity pool.

Serendipity Beach Resort is located at the end of Sunrise Beach so it feels more remote than other resorts further down. This is what we like about it. It also has its own small private beach area just for guests just in front of the property. With breakfast served each morning in your room, this is the perfect spot for an anniversary or even honeymoon getaway. We love the little details as well, like towels made of swans and rose petals strewn on the bed when you arrive.

The On the Rocks restaurant and bar is perched on the rocks, six metres above the waves, making it quite a unique setting for drinks and dinner. Given that you're only around 10-15 minutes walk away from Walking Street, staying here feels like you're in your own private paradise.

03

The Cliff Lipe Resort

Cliff Beach

The Cliff Lipe resort on Koh Lipe is more secluded than other resorts and super romantic

Why we love it


  • Secluded and romantic cliff-top resort
  • Some villas with pools or jacuzzis on the deck
  • Beautiful restaurant and bar
  • Free to use snorkelling and kayaking gear

If you really want to get away from everything and have an entire chunk of beach section all to yourself come here! The Cliff Lipe Resort is located on the north-west side of Koh Lipe, around 15 minutes tuk-tuk taxi drive from Walking Street.

The beach is officially a public beach, but because it's quite far out, hardly anyone comes here except hotel guests, so it feels like your own private slice of paradise. For us, this is the big highlight of the Cliff Lipe Resort – as well as the dramatic location: perched on a clifftop overlooking the sea!

In terms of rooms, you can choose from a mix of bungalows with garden views or cliff-side villas with spectacular views of the ocean. While there are family villas available, this isn't a spot that gets too many families with young children. If you're looking to spend time snorkelling or kayaking off the beach, the resort provides gear free of charge. Whilst it may feel quite cut off from the rest of the island, they can easily arrange tuk-tuk taxis to take you into Walking Street and elsewhere in Koh Lipe.

The Cliff Lipe's restaurant, Season Bistro, is an incredible spot for a meal or sunset cocktail with views over the open-air terrace. They serve a mouth-watering mix of local Thai and western-style dishes, plus you can enjoy your complimentary breakfast on the restaurant deck or in your room each morning. The staff are amazing and friendly, especially the owner Charlie who really goes out of his way to ensure all guests have a wonderful time.

04

Idyllic Concept Resort

Sunrise Beach

The Idyllic Concept Resort on Koh Lipe is so modern, romantic and luxurious

Why we love it


  • Stunning beach-front resort
  • Two swimming pools, one with swim-up bar!
  • Very romantic restaurant
  • Gorgeous modern rooms and bungalows

Another fabulous gay friendly spot spot on the pretty Sunrise Beach is the Idyllic Concept Resort. As well as being minutes from Sunrise Beach, they have two swimming pools with swim-up bar and lush tropical gardens.

This is the most modern-looking of the resorts we've mentioned, with very chic rooms, suites and cabanas to choose from. They provide all the amenities you might need, from air-conditioning to big bathtubs, mini-fridge and super-comfy beds.

Whilst we love Sunrise Beach a lot, if you want a break from the saltwater and something more private, we recommend hanging out at their pool with swim-up bar! The second pool is more of a swimming pool to get your laps in, which has a built-in Jacuzzi.

Romance is elevated to another level at the Idyllic Concept Resort! It's a famous venue on Koh Lipe for weddings and honeymoons. For example, they organise special candlelit romantic dining on the beach – you can't beat that if you're trying to impress your other half! In terms of food, they have delicious fresh fish, seafood and local Thai dishes. They also provide equipment for kayaking and snorkelling which is super handy.

Gay friendly bars on Koh Lipe

Walking Street on Koh Lipe is the beating heart of the island with many restaurants and bars. These are our other favourite gay friendly bars on the island:

Passion Gastrobar

Passion Gastrobar is a noisy and cool spot that is known for being gay friendly. The music is excellent, the food is delicious and the staff are super nice. You're sure to meet lots of other friendly travellers. We loved their cocktails, especially the ones made from fresh local fruit. Every Friday they organise a fun themed party night, which are a total blast! You can also order some yummy Spanish or Japanese-style dishes if you fancy something to eat.

Passion is located on Walking Street and is open daily from 11.30am until midnight.

Corner Bar

The Corner Bar is another very popular spot with a cool vibe, with the mix of dark wood, leafy green plants and neon lights. We loved the cocktails here, especially the Long Island Ts and their Coconut Mojitos. In terms of snacks, we recommend their hamburgers washed down with tasty smoothies. This is a lovely place to chill out, perhaps over a game of Jenga while making new friends.

Located on Walking Street, the Corner Bar is open from 5pm until 1am Sunday-Thursday and from 3pm to 2am on Friday and Saturday.

Koh Lipe has some fantastic gay friendly bars for drinks and meeting new people
Cheers everyone!

Best beaches for gay travellers

There are three main beaches on this tiny island: Pattaya Beach in the south where the majority of the long tail boats are based, Sunset Beach in the west and the beautiful paradise-like Sunrise Beach on the east side (our favourite). There are also some smaller, less-busy beaches worth visiting.

Sunrise Beach

Sunrise Beach is where most of the island's best resorts are located. It is also popular for snorkelling, swimming and general Vitamin Sea beach-time relaxation! As the longest beach on the island, it stretches all the way to the northern tip. It's also the gayest part – ie we noticed a large number of gay couples or groups of friends hanging out along here, usually around Gipsy Resort. Another cool place to hangout on Sunrise Beach is at the chill-out lounge at the Salisa Resort.

Sunset Beach

While Sunset Beach is a lot smaller than Sunrise Beach, it's just as stunning especially if you head there in the afternoon/evening to watch the sunset. As the sun sinks below the horizon it paints the waves red and orange in quite a spectacular fashion! It's much quieter here than on Sunrise or Pattaya beach, so you may only be sharing the views with a few other couples also having a romantic sunset moment here. The only downside is it's quite dirty, at least it was when we went, and the sea isn't as nice here compared to Sunrise Beach.

Cliff Beach

Cliff Beach is officially a public beach, but the Cliff Lipe Resort has pretty much made it its own private beach. And why not? It's quite far out, requiring a 15 minutes tuk-tuk taxi ride that very few come here. This is what makes it so special. It's secluded, private, perfect for snorkelling or just relaxing without lots of other people. The Cliff Resort let you use their toilet and shower facilities which is handy, and they also have a beach bar if you want to order any drinks or food. If you're really lucky you may even spot some bioluminescent plankton here at night (more on that later)!

Koh Lipe has some incredible beaches for gay travellers to enjoy
Posing in the water at the beautiful Sunrise Beach

Gay friendly restaurants we loved

There are lots of excellent options for food on Koh Lipe, whether you want something fancy, Indian, Thai, pizza, Mexican or super fresh fish cooked right in front of you. Walking Street is where most of the best restaurants are, along with small street food stands that sell Seby's favourite – mango sticky rice! We've set out some of our favourite restaurants in Koh Lipe from our first-hand experience:

Nee Papaya Thaifood & BBQ

Nee Papaya was one of our favourite restaurants on Koh Lipe for seafood and traditional Thai cuisine

One of our favourite spots for a feast of grilled fresh fish was the unassuming but delicious Nee Papaya Thaifood and BBQ. It is located just off Walking Street. Warning – it gets super busy here so at peak times you may have to wait for a table. Like most restaurants serving fresh fish, you can pick your fish from the selection on display. However, what we love about Nee Papaya is that they seemed to have the freshest fish (look at the eyes of the fish to check they are shiny and clear not cloudy). Whether you order a fresh fish or seafood (try their barbecued squid!), we guarantee it's cooked to perfection here. We love their sides – we always ordered local dishes like spicy mango and papaya salads. We ate here a few different nights so we could sample everything and never had a bad meal! The staff are also super friendly despite being so busy all the time.


Ranee Seafood Restaurant

At Ranee Seafood Restaurant you can choose from the freshest fish that's been caught that day and watch it cooked right in front of you!

Another place that's great for fresh fish is Ranee Seafood Restaurant. It has a very simple layout of wooden tables, a fresh fish display and the grill directly next to it. You may be tempted to walk on by but don't! The staff are really friendly (especially Ranee herself) and we loved that you could see the fresh catch laid out before you and they would grill it up right then in front of you. As well as the yummy fresh seafood they serve very inexpensive Thai dishes that are bursting with flavour. If you really want to experience a Thai family restaurant, you need to come here!


La Luna Italian Restaurant

If you're craving some good Italian food on Koh Lipe then you can't go past the amazing La Luna restaurant - their pizzas and homemade pasta are delicious!

Our overall favourite non-Thai restaurant on Koh Lipe is the Italian La Luna, located just off the Walking Street. They do the best pizzas on the island from just 300 bahts (£6/$9). We know what you're thinking, Italian food in Thailand? This is the ideal place when you want a break from Thai food – and everything here is absolutely scrumptious and homemade. It would be pretty hard to pick a favourite dish but if we were forced then we'd say either the prosciutto pizza, Ravioli a formaggi or the pasta with salmon and asparagus.


Bombay Restaurant

For the best Indian food on Koh Lipe (and possibly the whole of Thailand) you can't miss Bombay Restaurant!

Like Nee Papaya and Ranee Seafood, Bombay Restaurant doesn't look all that flashy but they serve the absolute best Indian food on Koh Lipe (in our humble opinion)! The naan breads are cooked right out the front of the restaurant and they're gooooood! As are the lassis. They also serve all the delicious curries you can imagine. The restaurant is very popular so expect to queue for a table but we promise it's worth the wait. We loved their onion bhajis, samosas, chicken tikka masala and, of course, the naan bread. The staff were always ready with a smile, no matter how busy.


The Cove Bistro

For a truly romantic dinner on a special occasion while you're visiting Koh Lipe head to the Cove Bistro, part of the Idyllic Concept Resort

We spent Valentines Day on Koh Lipe and had our special meal at the Idyllic Concept Resort's restaurant, The Cove Bistro, located right on Sunrise Beach. As you can probably tell, this is one of our favourite places to stay on Koh Lipe – the restaurant is a big part of this. It's so romantic in the evening, with the tables set up right on the sand with lanterns around you and the evening waves behind. It's as unique as it is romantic! The Cove is well-known for its delicious take on Pad Thai as well as the fresh fish and seafood they have on display which you can choose from. To add to the atmosphere they usually have entertainment every evening, like live singing or fire shows on the beach.


The Box

The Box is a really cool resort with a restaurant serving yummy Spanish and Mediterranean dishes like Paella, tapas, burgers, steak or pasta.

The Box is a really cool resort made from old shipping containers, with a fabulous restaurant to boot. This is the place to come if you're craving some Spanish and Mediterranean dishes like Paella, tapas, burgers, steak or pasta. The Box is also very stylish to look at, with lots of wood panelling and even a tree growing right up through the middle of the restaurant floor out the front! They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a variety of beers, champagne and cocktails, so you can pop in at any time of day for something tasty. Also note: if you're craving a Full English breakfast, this is the place to come.


AROY Restaurant

AROY Restaurant on Koh Lipe serves delicious Mexican cuisine in a cute little building that looks like a jungle hut

We think it's pretty amazing that on such a tiny island like Koh Lipe you can sample a wide array of cuisines from all around the world. Another example of this is AROY restaurant, which serves mouth-watering Mexican dishes. If you feel like some nachos, fajitas or tacos you will be amply satisfied here. The cold mango shakes are a real highlight on those hot days, together with some homemade guacamole. Our favourite dish was the chicken with mole and a margarita on the side, of course! You can also have many of the menu items as vegetarian dishes as well, so veggie diners don't need to miss out.


Cafe Tropical

For delicious smoothie bowls and other breakfast meals, we loved Koh Lipes Cafe Tropical and it's gay friendly too!

We adore the decor at Cafe Tropical, as well as their delicious healthy dishes that are perfect for breakfast and brunch. With beautiful smoothie bowls, home-made bread, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, nobody will be disappointed here. We loved the Mexican chocolate and peach strawberry smoothies bowl for breakfast, as well as their excellent coffee. But you definitely need to visit more than once to sample everything on offer. The slippery noodle bowl we had for lunch one day was another standout – a scrumptious mix of noodles, grilled shrimp, and veggies, tossed together in a ginger-sesame sauce…divine!



Daya Resort Restaurant

For a romantic meal right on the beach on Koh Lipe, head to Daya Resort's Restaurant

Daya Resort has a lovely little restaurant located on Pattaya Beach, the first beach you'll come to when arriving on the island. They serve yummy fresh fish and other seafood dishes right on the sand. Like The Cove, it's very romantic. The only downside is that the service can be a little slow here, but that just gives you the chance to sit back, relax and get on island time! The seafood here is as fresh as it gets with incredible tuna, prawns and squid straight off the fishing boats cooked before you so you can enjoy eating them beachside.


Best things to do

For such a tiny island Koh Lipe sure packs in a lot of things to do for gay travellers! There are plenty of water-based activities to enjoy, of course, but that's not everything on offer. Here are our top picks for the best things to do on and around Koh Lipe:

Visit nearby Koh Adang

For the best views of Koh Lipe you must head to nearby Koh Adang and hike up to the viewpoint

Koh Adang is a large uninhabited island right opposite teeny Koh Lipe famous for being an adventure paradise! Part of the Tarutao National Park, it’s completely reserved, with no development, other than a government ranger station, a camping area and a few bungalows you can rent to stay overnight. We love coming to Koh Adang by longtail boat from Koh Lipe – it’s only around 10 minutes and cost 100 Bahts. Koh Adang is less busy than Lipe, offering almost naked beaches, awesome snorkelling (tides permitting of course) and a trek up to Chado Cliff to get the best views of Koh Lipe and the surrounding area.


Snorkel with the fishies

Koh Lipe is a wonderful spot for snorkelling, with so many pretty fish and coral to see

Koh Lipe is surrounded by crystal clear, calm turquoise waters that are perfect for snorkelling to marvel at the coral and sea life. Sunrise Beach was our favourite place to snorkel as it's so sheltered, plus there are two tiny islands just offshore teeming with clownfish (hello Nemo!), colourful parrotfish and pufferfish. There are shops all along the beach where you can rent snorkelling equipment while some of the beachside resorts offer it to guests for free. One of the best things to do is to join a snorkelling day trip to explore some of the nearby islands as well, perfect for living out those deserted island fantasies.


Sail in the Longtail Boats

The Thai Longtail Boats are synonymous with the country, and an excellent way to get around when exploring the islands such as Koh Lipe

The longtail boat for us is synonymous with Thailand. These cute boats are the main way of getting around the waters of Koh Lipe to nearby islands and to the main diving sites. No trip to the Thai islands is complete without a ride in a longtail boat! While the boats may vary a bit in design the one common aspect is a secondhand car or truck engine to power them. With logging of natural forests in Thailand being banned, it's getting harder and harder for local Thais to be able to afford longtail boats. Paying to ride on one (rather than say, a speedboat), is a great way to support this traditional craft and local residents.


Go SCUBA Diving

Koh Lipe is a wonderful spot for scuba diving, with lots of coral, beautiful fish and other sights to enjoy

Scuba diving around Koh Lipe island is a massive highlight. The area is surrounded by super healthy coral in the 30 degrees water of the Andaman Sea. We went diving around the famous “Stonehenge” site, so called because the rock formations here resemble the Stonehenge site in the UK. As well as the huge variety of sea life, this site has really pretty unique soft coral which looks like one massive underwater garden. We recommend using a highly rated scuba diving school like Pura Vida Diving – the same diving school who we got our Open Water and Advanced qualifications with many many years ago in Koh Tao.


Do a sunrise beach yoga class

If you feel like getting centred while on Koh Lipe you can join one of a few different yoga classes, including sunrise sessions on the beach!

To make your island getaway even more relaxing, you could join a beach sunrise yoga class. Is there any better way to start your day than warrior pose while standing in the sand watching the rising sun paint the waves orange? There are three different places where you can just drop in on a yoga class: Keirita's Yoga & Diving, Castaway Resort and at the Idyllic Concept Resort. These classes are suitable for both beginners and those with yoga experience, plus you can choose between just a one-off class or a package of classes if you're staying on the island for a while.


Help keep the islands beautiful

If you want to make a difference while visiting Koh Lipe you can join one of the weekly beach and island cleanups organised by Trash Hero

Plastic and other rubbish getting into the ocean is a huge problem so we were delighted to find a group on Koh Lipe which is dedicated to clearing up this waste. Trash Hero is a worldwide organisation, and the Koh Lipe chapter meets every Monday at 10am to clean up one of the nearby islands. If you want to be involved you can just head down to Pattaya Beach before 10am and look for the people in the yellow Trash Hero shirts. You'll sail by longtail boat to a nearby island and spend an hour or two clearing up rubbish, with some time left over for swimming and snorkelling. As a bonus, all volunteers are treated to lunch on return.


Kayak to a deserted island

Renting a kayak is a lovely way to explore the waters and small islands surround Koh Lipe

Along with snorkelling gear you can also rent kayaks on Sunrise Beach, or use them for free if you're staying at a resort that provides them. You can then paddle out to one of the two tiny islands just off the beach, or perhaps further to other small and uninhabited islands around Koh Lipe. Paddling across the turquoise waters and then finding a secluded beach to sunbathe and swim made us feel like the last two men left on earth! It's a lovely way to get away from other tourists, relax, do some snorkelling, maybe read and reconnect with your partner, or just with nature.


Make a wish on Koh Hin-Ngam

The tiny island of Ko Hin-Ngam is very close to Koh Lipe and covered in stunning black rocks

One of the islands near Koh Lipe that's definitely worth visiting is the magical Koh Hin-Ngam. This tiny island sits north-west of Koh Lipe, right next to Koh Adang. You can hire a longtail boat to take you there or join a local tour. What makes it so special are the black shiny rocks stretching out endlessly along the shoreline. However, don't be tempted to take a rock home with you as a souvenir as legend says the island is guarded by a spirit named Chao Pho Tarutao who will curse anyone who takes a rock from the island. But if you are able to make a tower out of 12 rocks, then all your wishes will come true!


See bioluminescent plankton at night

If you are really really lucky, then you might spot some luminous blue lights in the waters surrounding Koh Lipe at night. This phenomenon is caused by bioluminescent plankton floating in the ocean, and it can make the sea look like it's filled with tiny glittering stars. You can book night-time snorkelling tours on the island to experience swimming in the bioluminescent plankton, which is a truly surreal and incredible experience! Alternatively, the Cliff Beach (which we mentioned earlier) sometimes gets the plankton washing up on shore so you can see it without having to swim in pitch-black waters.


Create some art at the Lipe Art Garden

For something a bit different, you can join art workshops at the Lipe Art Garden on Koh Lipe

We stumbled across the Lipe Art Garden and found a wonderful little place that's totally different from the rest of the island. It's located up in the jungle-y part of the island so there's a completely different vibe. The Lipe Art Garden is part accommodation and part art workshop, as you can come along to learn how to do Batik painting under the supervision of a Thai artist. They have regular workshops for Batik painting or painting on t-shirts which is a fun way to get your creative juices flowing! On the way, you can also pop into the next-door Buddhist Temple for some quiet reflection.


Plan your trip

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Koh Lipe. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.

How to get there: See our how to get there section above for more details, but the easiest way to visit Koh Lipe is by flying to Hat Yai from within Thailand, getting a bus from Hat Yai to Pak Bara and from there a speedboat to the island. You can also book the entire journey directly through 12Go Asia.


Visa requirements: Residents of quite a few countries can visit Thailand for periods of 90, 30 or 14 days without needing a visa, although there are caveats to go with this. Some nationalities will need to apply for a visa so we definitely recommend checking your personal visa requirements well before booking your travel to Koh Lipe.


Getting around: It's very easy to get around Koh Lipe since it's such a small island! You can easily explore the entirety on foot, or hail a tuk-tuk if you don't feel like walking or have luggage to haul along. You can also head down to Pattaya Beach to hire longtail boats to help you explore the islands nearby.


Power Plugs: There are quite a few different power plug types used in Thailand (and therefore on Koh Lipe), specifically types A, B, C, F and O. Since some of these only work with specific sockets, your best bet is to bring a universal travel adaptor with you so you won't ever be caught unable to charge your phone or other essential devices!


Travel insurance: We definitely recommend you organise travel insurance before your trip to Koh Lipe, as you just never know when something could go wrong and leave you stranded or out of pocket. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using them for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user-friendly.


Safety and Security: Even on a beautiful and safe island like Koh Lipe, all travellers (gay or not) can sometimes encounter danger when travelling. We use Close Circle's “virtual bodyguard” app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or terrorist attacks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst travelling.


Vaccinations: Before travelling to Koh Lipe you should make sure you're up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps and chickenpox. Most travellers should also be vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. Some travellers may also need vaccinations for hepatitis B, cholera, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, yellow fever and rabies, depending on what you'll be doing. Check the CDC website for the most up to date info before you head to Thailand and talk to your doctor.


Currency: The currency used in Koh Lipe (and the rest of Thailand, of course) is called the Thai Baht. The currency code is THB and the symbol is written as ฿. Currently, $1 USD is worth about ฿31.87, €1 converts to around ฿34.66 and £1 is worth about ฿41.18.


Tipping culture: Thailand is not a country with a strong tipping culture so you won't ever be expected to tip on Koh Lipe or other places. If you feel like you received really good service you can always round up to the nearest note as a tip. Check out this guide for more detailed information on when you should or shouldn't tip in Thailand.


Internet access: You can access free WiFi at some of the resorts, cafes and restaurants on Koh Lipe. If you want to make sure you have reliable internet access then you can also purchase a local SIM card from the 7-11 on the island, or by renting a portable WiFi device while you're in the country.


Online privacy: While you won't have any problems accessing gay dating apps like Grindr or Scruff on Koh Lipe, you may just prefer to keep your internet activities private and secure. We like to use Express VPN when we're travelling as their service is an affordable and reliable way to browse the internet with complete privacy.


Accommodation: For more accommodation options on Koh Lipe we love to use Booking.com as they offer the best prices. Their online booking system is very easy to use, plus they have excellent customer support available 24/7.


Sightseeing and adventure: We also like to use GetYourGuide when searching for fun things to see and do on Koh Lipe. They also have an easy to use online booking system and customer support available to help you 24/7.


When to visit: Depending on what you want from your holiday, you can time your visit to Koh Lipe for the hot and sunny high season or the cooler, but cheaper, low season. Between January and early May, the weather is lovely and hot which means the island is also much busier. From June – September there is more rainfall (but not constantly) so you can take advantage of fewer people and lower prices. October – November is probably the only time to really avoid travelling to Koh Lipe as it rains a lot!


Gay map of Koh Lipe

Here is our gay map of Koh Lipe to show you where all the places we've mentioned in this article are located. Use it to find out where all the best gay friendly accommodation, bars and activities are for your next vacation to Koh Lipe!

This is our gay map of Thailand's Koh Lipe showing all the best gay friendly accommodation, bars, restaurants and things to do

For more inspiration:

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This is our complete gay guide to the gay friendly island of Koh Lipe in Thailand
Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

10 thoughts on “Gay Koh Lipe: the ultimate travel guide for the LGBTQ traveler”

  1. Thanks for your fantastic review. I stayed at the Pattaya Beach Hotel in 2016. Accommodations were good I have more ideas about another trip to Thailand. Have a nice time in France 🇫🇷
    Bob Kajdan

    Reply
  2. Good work lads, very helpful post, we’ll be there in a few days so will definitely be checking out your recommendations! Dom

    Reply
  3. It might be a little bit inconvenient to visit from China, since there are no direct flights to there. But I’m interested in details to run a gay resort by a beach.

    Reply

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