Thailand’s Best Kept Secret: Ko Lipe

Going to Ko Lipe was not in my travel plans. I never heard of this island nor met any traveler who has been here. Lonely planet guidebook didn’t say much about it either. I flew in from Singapore to get some more beach time in Langkawi, which a lot of people say it’s beautiful.  I gave Malaysia a third chance. The first time was Kota Kinabalu, then Kuala Lumpur and Penang then Langkawi.  I had a week to spend in Langkawi before my next flight to another part of Malaysia. After seeing the magnificent beaches of Bali, Gillis and Lombok, I find Langkawi sleepy and boring. I decided to skip my flight and just head back to Thailand. The closest place to go to Thailand from Langkawi was Ko Lipe. So I booked a ferry for RM 120 ($40) and learned that it’s an hour speed boat ride. Great! Lo and Behold, I found myself… In paradise.

Sunrise Beach Ko Lipe

After a snoozing Langkawi, now we’re talking. Sunrise beach, Ko Lipe

Getting In and Out of Ko Lipe

Ko Lipe is an island  located in Satun province on the southernmost part of the Andaman coast, It is also a part of Tarutao National park group of islands. The best way to reach Ko Lipe is via a speed boat ride from Langkawi, Malaysia and drops you right off Pattaya beach. It is also accessible through the main land of Thailand via ferries from Pakbara terminal. But you’ll have to take a bus from the major points of the mainland in Hat Yai and Trang to go to the terminal. After Ko Lipe, I headed to Ko Lanta, and it took me almost a day of travel with the ferry and mini bus combo stopping at Pakbara and Trang. It’s not the easiest transit but this island is certainly worth the visit. This place is the most idyllic island I have ever been to.

Ko Lipe Sunset Beach

The water at Sunset Beach

Ko Lipe is a great island with amazing beaches, crystal clear and calm waters, and is an excellent spot for snorkeling and diving. Since it’s a part of a group of islands, the best way to get to the other islands is via long tail boats. Ko Lipe is a The three major beaches are: Pattaya beach on the south- where the boat from Langkawi drops you off; Sunrise beach on the east; and Sunset beach on the west. We stayed at Sunset beach but always hung out in Sunrise beach. Sunrise beach is the most beautiful and best beach that I’ve been to. The western side of the beach is where most of the long tail boats are parked but it’s a long stretch of white sand and clear blue water. It’s the clearest water I’ve seen and is my favorite beach among all the beaches I’ve been to.

Me and Monna at Sunrise Beach

See how clear the water is? Me and Monna enjoying the most beautiful beach on earth

Since the island is small and far off the main land, everything here tends to be expensive. The accommodations and food here were very expensive compared to other Thai islands. Langkawi was sleepy for me but what made my trip there a lot more fun was the people I met at the hostel and whom I traveled with in Ko Lipe. I went to Ko Lipe first and when I told them it’s paradise, they set off to meet me in the island the next day. I’m very picky when it comes to accommodation and have a certain standard. After about walking for 30 mins with my pack, I found a great place to stay in Sunset beach called Fisheries Department which has bungalows over looking the Adang island.

Fisheries Department Ko Lipe

Our bungalow at the Fisheries Department overlooking the beach and another island

Miss Annzventures in Ko Lipe

Since accommodations were more expensive here, I split a room with two German girls I met in the ferry. After haggling with the guesthouse keeper, I got the bungalow for B500 ($16) and so the 3 of us paid B167  each. Not bad for a very nice bungalow by the beach. The next day, I moved to a 2 Bedroom house, also at the Fisheries Department for me and the two friends I met in Langkawi and haggled it for B600 ($20) a night. The house was huge with 4 beds and was a two minute walk to Sunset beach. However, what I didn’t check was that the beds were hard. Rock hard. It’s like there’s no foam in the bed. My friend and I laughed our way to sleep the first two nights. Not only that, one night I was surprised to find out that, there was another traveler in our house, watching me wash my hands in the toilet.

My Bff in Ko Lipe

My BFF  (whose relative I was so lucky to meet in my guesthouse bathroom in Ko Lanta)

Yes, there was a frog. A frog watching me wash my hands and jumped into the sink! I screamed so loud that shocked my housemates. When they found out what it was, all the German guy  could ask me was: “Wait, don’t move. Can I take your picture?” The three of us just started laughing! Priceless.

Few Things You Need to Know about Ko Lipe:

1. The whole island is small and can be toured by foot in an hour. There are a few motorcycles in the island but there are no cars in Ko Lipe and everywhere can be reached by foot. There are small taxi trucks that charge a flat B50.

Ko Lipe Taxi

Me and my gang in a Ko Lipe taxi

2. There are no ATMs so bring plenty of cash, or USD’s to change. There are small stores at the walking street that exchange currency but the exchange rate is horrible.

3. Internet is terrible and expensive. However, there are restaurants that offer free Wifi to it’s customers. For the most part, I was disconnected when I was in Ko Lipe. But when I needed to get online, I went to Pooh’s bar for a drink and free wifi.

4. Food is quite expensive. A Pad Thai normally cost B35- B50 in major areas in Thailand. Here it’s around B80. I was walking one sunny afternoon and asked a local where I can get cheap Thai food. I was suggested to go to Nee Papaya restaurant. It’s a very local place and almost everybody knows where it is. My friends and I ended up eating here every single day. Not only was the food cheaper and tastier here, it also has a really cozy atmosphere.

Nee Papaya

Waiting for our food at Nee Papaya

5. There are no street lights on walkways going back to the guesthouses close to the beach at night. I recommend carrying a torch or flashlight. It’s a pretty safe place but I advice walking in pairs or groups at night. And yes, there’s a LOT of frogs in the streets and they just jump on your legs at night. (Or maybe it’s just that they love me too much)

Furthermore, not only is this island one of the best places for diving and snorkeling, it’s also a great island for couples, honeymooners, people who just want to relax and get away from the crowds, sun worshippers and like my friend, travelers ending their long backpacking trip. Not convinced still? It’s also the place to watch the most beautiful sunset. I was also here during the Loy Krathong festival in Thailand. Though it’s not the best place to be during the Loy Krathong, I still find myself lucky to be in Thailand for a very special occasion.

Loy Krathong

The local kids lighting the lantern for the Loy Krathong festival in Ko Lipe

Overall, Ko Lipe is wonderful. I cannot stress it enough how beautiful this island is and this is coming from a traveler who accidentally went here after adventuring in the beaches in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. I may not enjoyed Langkawi but I don’t have regrets. I met incredibly fun travelers there and it sure was worth it. If it wasn’t for Langkawi, I would have not gone to Ko Lipe.  Ko Lipe is definitely #1 in my Most Beautiful Beaches List.

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Author:Anna

Globetrotter

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2 Responses to “Thailand’s Best Kept Secret: Ko Lipe”

  1. May 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Anna,

    Looks like you had a rough time at that bungalow and crystal clear water. ;)

    Thanks for the ideas.

    Will

    • May 18, 2012 at 11:44 am #

      Hahaha!! Sure did! Ko Lipe is my fave island in Thailand despite the many frogs! :)