Earlier in the year, I had the great fortune to get to Thai island Koh Lipe – and I LOVED it!! I’d go back in a heartbeat. What’s so great about it? And why should you go?
Azure Blue Waters
There is just something about the water here, with the ocean displaying all wondrous shades of blue and green, punctuated here and there with little islands to vary the scene.
We stayed on Sunset Beach, and so had the beautiful view of Ko Adang right across from us, with the aqua blue of our side giving way to the darker water as it neared the bigger island. There was also this lovely little crescent of sand that just set off the blue of the nearby sea. Check out our brekkie view:
One of the best things to do on holidays is simply watch the marvels of nature, noteably the sunsets (or sunrises, if you’re a morning person, which I’m NOT!) Staying on the Sunset side meant we only had to walk a minute from our bungalow to see the sun bid adieu in all its flaming gorgeousness:
Oh, and after the sunset, you only have to turn around to see the lunarscape – it’s a two-fer! We were lucky enough to have a full moon during our stay there.
Laid Back Vibe
Mercifully, the fact that it’s only accessible by boat means that the island has remained relatively undeveloped. (Those who visited back in the 90’s might disagree, but it’s still a FAR cry from other thai islands). There are only a few roads, and the few that are there are mainly serviced by motorcycles and the occasional pickup ferrying people to and from the resorts.
You can still walk along the beach without encountering fenced off areas just for resorts, and without being hassled by touts. There are no touts in fact; while there are massage lanais here and there, no-one will come up and solicit you, or try to sell you trinkets or braid your hair (hello Bali, I’m looking at you). There is lots of space on the beach too, so you aren’t lying cheek-by-jowl with the other holidaymakers.
Range of Accommodation
You can still get a basic hut on the beach here (which sadly is not the case on many Thai islands, hey, Samui and Phi Phi?), or you can get mid-range or high-end resorts, depending on what your thing is. We stayed at Mountain Resort, which was mid to high, being air-conditioned and furnished with bar fridge and TV (not that you want to spend time on that while you’re here!). The bungalows come with a great balcony for enjoying a sundowner, if you’re not down at the beach catching the sunset there!
Here’s the view from the bungalow balcony:
I really liked the Andaman Resort; we only had lunch there, but liked the fact it had bamboo bungalows facing the sea, and still was low-key rather than resort-y, if you know what I mean. I’d probably go for this one next time.
This is the view from the restaurant at Andaman Resort; very close to the ocean!
Each resort of course has their own restaurant, and we dined at our own a few times (but when ordering Thai dishes, ask for mild if you don’t want super fiery!!)
Pad Thai at the Andaman Resort – delicious!
On “Walking Street”, the main street of the island, there are sooo many options for dining that you’re spoiled for choice.
I’m a roti fiend, so for breakfast or actually any time of the day, I highly recommend Roti Mina.
Oh my, the roti was tissuey and light and flaky and delicious, the chicken curry slightly sweet and packed with flavour. The iced Thai tea was also highly addictive. I went back 2 more times for these!
This is the dish I had every time I went, as seen above, the Roti Kank-Ka-Ri-Kai:
They also do other dishes, and the ubiquitous banana pancake – but there are QUITE a few places that do that!
There are so many cuisines, from seafood restaurants, to bistros with french cuisine, to burger joints, to Thai/Italian/Mexican etc places, to bakeries….you just have to walk along and see what takes your fancy. Vegan or gluten intolerant? No problem.
I don’t go on island holidays to buy things, myself, but it’s nice to know that if you want a new bikini, sarong, sunglasses, fridge magnets or whatever, you can get it. This is the end of Walking Street, as it nears the beach.
There are also several atm’s on the island, so you don’t have far to go to get out some more dosh if you do indulge 🙂
Low Key Nightlife
Speaking of Walking Street, while it’s pleasant to go for a stroll and check out the shops during the day, at night it really comes alive with people looking for cafes, restaurants and bars to hang out in.
My fave bar was The Gallery Bar – not only did it have a resident bar dog, but it also played indie hits from the likes of the Killers and Arctic Monkeys.
There are bars on the smaller streets branching off the main drag as well as some on the beach (see beach bars here), so take the time to check them out too. In town the drinking seems to go to the wee small hours, but on the beach things quiten right down by 10pm.
I’m a dog lover, so I was THRILLED that there were loads of friendly dogs around, as well as some kitties! This was one we fed scraps to and played with at the front of the Gallery Bar:
There are loads on the beach, just playing or having a swim:
At night, they just lay down wherever, even on Walking Street itself:
One day we came home to a kitty cat on our balcony – we haz a housecat!
OK they’re not exactly wildlife;)
There are 3 main beaches on Koh Lipe where you can find accommodation: Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach and Pattaya. Pattaya Beach near the ferry port (at the end of Walking Street) gets a LOT of boats, so you might not want to stay here, unless you’re off the beach a ways, or a sound sleeper and don’t mind engine noise and chatter.
How Do You Get There?
In high season the simplest way is to fly to Langkawi (Malaysia) and take the boat to Koh Lipe. In low season the only way is via Pak Bara in Thailand. Boats run from Pak Bara to Koh Lipe all year. You can also get the boat down from Phuket to Phi Phi and Koh Lanta, and island hop your way there.
TIP: If you’re coming from Malaysia, leave time before and after the boatride for immigration, getting visa stamped etc. You hand in your passport and stand around or find somewhere to sit until your name is called (with no rhyme, reason or order, so just relax).
So long Koh Lipe, it’s been wonderful – and I’ll be back for sure!