5D4N itinerary and guide to Koh Lipe Thailand
Koh Lipe is an island paradise in the South Andaman Sea, and is a part of Thailand. I realised not many people know about Koh Lipe as there were quite a number of people gave me "Huh?!" when I told them I was going to a beautiful island called Koh Lipe. Also known as the 'Maldives of Thailand', Koh Lipe is famous for its white sandy beach and turquoise blue waters. Having been to the Maldives for my honeymoon in January 2016, I thought it would be a great idea to end my 2016 holidays to the 'Maldives of Thailand'. And there I was, spending 5 days on this wonderful island.
Day 1 - Arrival, Check-in to Akira Lipe Resort, Early dinner @ Papaya Mom, walking street
Day 2 - Plankton and Sunset snorkelling trip with Paradise Tours Lipe (Dinner included)
Day 3 - Massage @ Bundhaya Resort, Check-in to Serendipity beach resort, Dinner @ Sunrise Beach Restaurant, Walking street
Day 4 - Chill and relax on the hotel's private beach, Dinner @ On the Rocks restaurant
Day 5 - Early check-out, departure
I will be putting my stay experiences with both hotels into separate posts so I don't sound too long winded in this single post. I will be having a separate post on >> Places to Eat in Koh Lipe as well.
We decided to stay in 2 hotels during this trip because we sorta wanted to get the best of both worlds. Pattaya Beach has the most strategic location as everything is close by whereas the secluded hotel on Sunrise Beach gives us some private time to relax.
>> Check out my Akira Lipe Resort review HERE.
>> Check out my Serendipity Beach Resort review HERE.
First thing first, let's figure out HOW TO GET TO KOH LIPE as there is no airport on the island. For those who are travelling to Koh Lipe from Malaysia, you could either take a flight to Langkawi then a ferry to Koh Lipe (which is what I did) or fly in / take a van to Hatyai then a speedboat or ferry to Koh Lipe. I chose the former because I am from Penang and flight is not available to Hatyai, and I was not ready to dread on long hours journey on the road so flying to Langkawi would be a better option for me.
DO TAKE NOTE THERE IS AN HOUR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MALAYSIAN TIME AND THAILAND TIME. MALAYSIA IS AN HOUR AHEAD OF THAILAND.
PENANG --> LANGKAWI --> KOH LIPE
We caught the earliest flight to Langkawi via Air Asia which was scheduled at 11.10am, arriving Langkawi at 11.45am. Upon arriving in Langkawi airport, we took a taxi to Telaga Harbour Terminal to catch our ferry which was scheduled at 2.30pm. Taxi counter can be found near the exit, outside of the baggage claim area. There are only two availabilities for the ferries departing from Telaga Harbour Langkawi to Koh Lipe, and they are scheduled at 9.30am and 2.30pm. Unless you are staying over in Langkawi, the only best slot you can take if you are taking the earliest flight from Penang is the 2.30pm slot. Do however take note that the ferries only operate during high season. Kindly click here to find out more information about the ferry transfer from Langkawi to Koh Lipe.
***PS*** For those who have seasick, or even if you don't (you may think you don't until you experience a hell of a bumpy ride, which was what happened to me, meh), I highly, highly recommend you to get motion sickness pills and consume them at least half an hour before boarding the ferry. Trust me, you will thank me later. The ferry journey to Koh Lipe is unpredictable. The wave could be smooth and could be rocky, who knows right, so it's best to play on the safe side and take the pill!
A little bonus for you: http://bit.ly/2ivmEBs
We arrived at Koh Lipe at 3pm Thailand time. The very first thing I want to shout out is, wear a pair shorts and slippers, not your pair of expensive Birkenstock or Fitflops (well Havaianas is fine), because you got to get into the water to get to the shore and that is unavoidable. The small boats which transfer you from the ferry pontoon to the beach are unable to berth on the beach so the only way is to get wet.
Upon arrival on Pattaya Beach in Koh Lipe, everyone is required to wait for their passports to be collected and queue for immigration check in. Please take note all passports are to be handed to the captain prior boarding the Langkawi ferry to facilitate the clearance process. Your name will be called one by one and you will queue in a line to go through custom check. Sad to say I noticed Malaysians would be one of the last to be called (I don't know, don't ask me. I guess foreigners get some priority here). After more than an hour hoo-haa, our names were finally called. After custom check, we came to a counter where we had to pay THB200 per person for the national park entry fee (compulsory).
After the procedures, we were escorted to the hotel by Akira Lipe's staff. We were surprised how near the hotel was (I think it was barely 50-70 steps away?). But we were grateful to have their strong staff to help carry our baggages.
Click here to read about my experience with Akira Lipe Hotel.
Koh Lipe and its Beaches
Koh Lipe is small and it is possible to explore the island by foot. However if you don't feel like walking too far or especially when you have luggages with you, you could opt for motorbike taxi (with side car) to bring you around for THB50 per person. But most hotels could arrange a transfer on your arrival and departure so do make prior arrangement with them.
Koh Lipe is surrounded by 3 main beaches: Pattaya beach, Sunrise beach and Sunset beach. They all have powder soft white sand and pristine crystal-clear blue waters.
Pattaya Beach is the main beach and is the busiest and most happening beach among all. Immigration and police offices are located closest to Pattaya Beach as well. You can access to the famous Walking Street from Pattaya Beach where an abundance of cafes, restaurants and pubs await you. Tourists arrive to and leave from this beach by boats. If you are looking for a quiet beach, this is not the beach for you. If you are looking for party places, this would be the perfect beach for you as it is strategically located nearby to everything.
Sunrise Beach is hands down my favourite. It is pretty and quiet yet located close to 'town'. There are less boat activities going on on this beach and as its name suggests, it has beautiful sunrise view. If you walk to the top of the beach, you can catch beautiful sunset view as well. It is the longest beach among the three hence hotels are more spread out compared to Pattaya Beach. There are a few cafes and restaurants along the beach. I would say this beach makes a good, romantic quiet stroll in the evening.
I cannot comment much on Sunset Beach as I didn't manage to visit this beach during my trip this round. However, I have read that it is the smallest beach among the three and boasts a beautiful sunset view. It is said that this beach is absolutely quiet and secluded, and is the furthest from 'town', takes about 15 minutes walk.
You can't miss out walking street with you are in Koh Lipe. It is the only main street on this island which gather all the shops, cafes, restaurants and bars together. It is a colourful street with an abundance of things to explore. From snacks to meals to desserts, souvenir shops to tattoo parlours to pharmacy stores, this street is indeed a happening place to be. Opens till late night, this is also where all the night life scenes come in action.
MEALS IN KOH LIPE
Despite being a small island, Koh Lipe offers a good variety when it comes to food. Most of the cafes and restaurants gather at Walking Street with a few spread out along the beaches. An average meal price for two pax comes down to less than THB1,000 for 3 dishes with rice and drinks. It could be cheaper if you order just a single dish for each person. I have read online that food prices in Koh Lipe is relatively more expensive than other islands in Thailand but I reckon it is still within the affordable range. I just realised we skipped our lunch during the trip and went for early dinner instead. Not because we were trying to save on money, but we had too much for breakfast and didn't feel like eating when it came to lunch time. Well, could be a way to save up if you are on a budget ;)
Check out my food journey in Koh Lipe HERE.
MASSAGE @ BUNDHAYA RESORT
After my snorkelling trip on day 2, I thought I wanted to look for a good massage to ease my body ache. I tried to do some research online and found some good reviews on the massage at Bundhaya Resort, hence I decided to give it a try. I booked my massage a day before and it is recommended to book your massage in advance just in case your preferred slot is full. Unlike my usual massage treatments, my massage was done outdoor, in a shared cabana facing the sea with spinning fans. Initially I was thinking to myself, man, I am gonna sweat like buckets under this hot weather and this may not be comfortable. Turned out I was WRONG! It was very cooling with the sea breeze and the cabana shelter cut away the sun's scorch. Listening to the waves added points to the whole massage experience. Look for a lady called 'Ya'. She speaks fluent Mandarin and did a good job on my stiff shoulder and back. She understood my body well and knew what to do. I felt an instant relief after the massage. Oh and if you want to know what massage I did, I did the head, shoulder and foot massage package (1.5 hrs) recommended by Ya. It was really relaxing and comfortable with a mixture of Thai and Oil massage. This massage was priced at THB500 per person. Not the cheapest you can find in Koh Lipe but for that price, I think it is worth it especially compared to the prices in Malaysia.
Due to the limited flight from Langkawi to Penang, the only choice we had for the ferry departure was at 10.30am, and we had to arrive at the immigration 2 hours before which is at 8.30am. You will be advised on the arrival time at the immigration on your departure date when you arrive at Koh Lipe's immigration on your first day. Similar to the process at arrival, passports are to be handed to the staff on duty and your names will be called afterwards to queue for immigration check out. It was another draggy process and do be prepared to just stand there, do nothing and just wait for the next instruction. After a long wait, we were finally ready to board the boat, and again, feet are expected to go into the water so be prepared to get wet and it would be wise to wear something that is water-proof and shorts instead of long pants.
The ferry journey back to Langkawi was so much better and bearable compared to the previous trip, which gave me very bad seasick. However the sea condition is beyond our control so again, pack your motion sickness pills with you just in case!
We arrived at Langkawi Telaga Harbour Terminal at 1pm Malaysian time which left us plenty of time before our flight at 5.30pm with Air Asia. We took our sweet time chilling around and had lunch at Privilege Restaurant & Bar at Telaga Harbour Langkawi.
Read my dining experience with Privilege Restaurant & Bar HERE.
By the time we were ready to grab a taxi to the airport, we realised the check in counters for the ferry were already closed as they have operated their last ferry for the day, and there was no sign of taxi around. I had a moment of shock thinking we may not be able to get a transportation to the airport. I asked the security guard who was seated at the terminal lobby for help and he told us to wait by the roadside and there should be taxi passing by, and if we were so unlucky he would contact his taxi driver friend. And hooray! We managed to hitch a taxi shortly after and we were on our way to the airport (It was RM30 if I am not mistaken).
So guys, if you are not planning to wander far from Telaga Terminal after coming back from Koh Lipe and have a late afternoon flight like me, remember to spare a bit of time to catch a taxi by the roadside to the airport or ask for the security guard's help, as there will be no taxi waiting around in the late afternoon. Another safer option would be heading to the airport earlier when there are still taxis around.
I hope this post has given you a general idea of travelling to and in Koh Lipe. See also my related posts on fun, food and accommodations in Koh Lipe!
>> Plankton & Sunset Snorkelling trip with Paradise Tour Lipe
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Till next time~