Planning a holiday to Koh Lipe raises one important question – what is the best time to visit Koh Lipe. There are two choices – low season with rain but cheaper prices and quieter, or high season with better weather and more nightlife and daytime activities open, but much busier and higher prices.
Everybody prefers good weather when they’re on holiday. If you want to be 100% guaranteed hot weather, go in the high season between January and early May. If you don’t mind the chance of rain, or can deal with a short downpour in the morning or in the evening, then take a trip to Koh Lipe at the beginning of the low season from June – September. Avoid October, November and December as this is when rainfall is highest and it makes most daytime activities hard to do.
And it’s hard to generalise and say young people will prefer high season, when backpackers and travelers from around the world flock to the island. Or to suggest that couples will prefer low season, for peaceful, romantic walks along the deserted beach under the moonlight. The choice is personal. This detailed guide to the pros and cons should provide a lot of help in choosing the time of the year to book a vacation to Koh Lip. (See the annual climate, temperature and rainfall chart for Satun Province, in Thailand – the region where Koh Lipe is.)
Pros: The low season in Koh Lipe is from the end of May and beginning of June until early December, when the rain starts to decrease. During this period the island is quiet. It’s peaceful and relaxed. This is a great time to visit if you like deserted beaches, quiet nightlife, and quick service at bars and restaurants. And perhaps most important of all, hotels are cheaper during the low. It’s possible to get a great sea front bunglaow for as low as 3,000THB in the low season – a price that would be unheard of during high season.
If you’re able to get a nice resort at a low price, early in the low season, then it’s possible to avoid most of the rain in the months of June, July, August and September, and enjoy the island when it is at its most tranquil – perfect for lazing on the beach or by the pool.
If you want relaxation, privacy, a quiet time and you’re not bothered about mixing and socializing with tons of other travelers from around the world, low season is the best time to visit Koh Lipe.
Personally I believe that early June is an ideal time for those not too bothered about vibrant nightlife. Early June is only the beginning of the rainy season, so it may be dry every day (it was on my trip). I read somewhere that the first three weeks after the start of the rainy season (typically mid May) have heavy monsoons, but after these pass, it is dry and only becomes gradually more rain. Plus, June is cheaper as it is low season.
Cons: Visiting in the low season is great, however, there are downsides. The biggest turn-off is the rain. During the rainy season it is highly likely to have rain every day. This will get progressively worse from the middle of May with the heaviest rain in October, November and December when there may be rain all day.
Between 50% and 70% of the bars, restaurants, shops and our companies on the island are closed in low season from June until November. The owners shut up shop and go home to the mainland. Many of the hotels undergo repair work and construction during the low season, so you’ll see plenty of building work going on. It’s also pretty annoying when the choice of places to eat and drink at night is limited, especially if you’re there for more than a few days. During the low season there are also no bars playing live music. That’s usually expected when visiting Thailand, but not during the low season on Koh Lipe – it’s just too quiet for the musicians to be paid. Plus, almost all of the bars close between 10pm and 11pm during low season.
Another downside is that many of the smaller surrounding islands are closed for snorkeling trips, so day trips are running a reduced service. If you love snorkeling, diving or speedboat rides to the tiny, uninhabited surroundings islands then the options are reduced. Snorkeling and diving is still possible, but in a much reduced zone.
Pros: The weather in Koh Lipe during the high season from late December – April is at its best. The sun is bright, strong and hot. While there is very little rain and wind. This also means that the sea is calmer, crystal clear and clean – which is perfect for snorkeling as you’ll be able to see the fish and marine life better. All of the idyllic surrounding islands are open, so the tour companies based on Koh Lipe will run daily trips to these, which provides more activities for visitors to do during the day.
Koh Lipe has a vibrant mix of bars and restaurants and ALL of these are open during the high season as it’s when they make their money. Thai food, Italian, Indian, Mexican and more is all available. More restaurants mean you won’t have to eat at the same place every day.
Bars stay open much later during high season, and there’s also plenty more live music to stay entertained with. If you like guaranteed heat and sun, vibrant nightlife or meeting travellers from around the world, then high season is the best time to visit Koh Lipe.
Cons: Most resorts and hotels will double the prices during the high season, so the same room would be 6,000thb a night or more. At one of the upmarket resorts, 8,000thb – 10,000thb for a beach front bungalow is most likely. Cheaper rooms are available, especially at resorts like Castaway, but these are pretty basic, some only have fans, and there’s the added risk of mosquitoes and bugs finding their way into the room. Don’t expect a quality room, with modern fittings, and near the beach for anything less than 5,000thb during high season.
The other downside to high season – though it can be a positive in terms of nightlife – is that the island is very, very busy. Hotels and resorts are full, bars and restaurants are busy, and beaches are packed with boats and tourists. Getting served food at restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner takes much longer in high season. Bars are busier, and a lot of places will roll out a different menu with higher prices as they cash in over the hot season.
As can be seen from the graph below, rainfall is lowest between January and May. It increases from July onwards, peaks in November and slowly reduces again in December. During October, Novemeber and December there could be days when it rains all day without stopping.
- Avoid the months of October, November and December. There will be too much rain and most activities will be unpleasant.
- High season is from January – April. This is the hottest time of the year on Koh Lipe with clear skies, sun and very little rain. All the restaurants, bars and shops are open but it is very busy. Accommodation is most expensive in high season.
- Low season from June – September will have rain, but some days may be drive and downpours might pass quicky. 70% of bars, restaurants and shops will be closed in low season, but prices for resorts and hotels will be cheaper.
Remember to read our guide on how to get to Koh Lipe, to ensure that you choose the best journey for your needs.