December 30, 2013

Our Favorite Place in Southeast Asia So Far: Koh Lipe, Thailand

Sawatdee Kah and Happy New Year from picture perfect Koh Lipe, Thailand!

A few weeks ago we flew from Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai to minibus bound for Pakbara, had an overnight at the crappiest guesthouse ever, then hitched a ride to the pier in the back of a pickup truck, hopped on a speedboat, switched to a longtail boat straight to Sunrise Beach...put our toes in the sand...and we made it: KOH LIPE!

I was looking forward to the Thai island portion of the trip for far too long. The first time we heard of Koh Lipe was when our friend Denis said 'Koh Lipe...they say it's the Seychelles of Thailand!" in in! 

This island is small, yet not too small. It's a perfect mix of touristy, yet not too touristy (enough tours and eateries but nothing is in-your-face). Koh Lipe is surrounded by other, less developed islands too so day trips and snorkeling-island-hopping are easy and common. The sand is soft, the water is so clear and the people are smiley and warm (but I've heard all Thai people are this way). There are open-air bars and chilled out bars such as Boom Boom Bar on Sunset Beach and Longtail Bar on Lipe's Walking Street. And we've come to enjoy plenty of movie nights at Pooh's Bar. There are delicious Thai pancake cafes one after another serving up cheap, piping hot Thai pancakes and fresh plates of chicken with Thai basil and chilis. We even have our favorite cafe which we have frequented for breakfast and dinner on most days! 

To sum up, we absolutely love Koh Lipe. So much so that after we island hopped our way to remote Koh Kradan and to big Koh Lanta, we decided to come right back to Koh Lipe for another week to celebrate New Year's Eve!

We've heard that Koh Lipe is just a smidge more expensive than other islands (and it's true, Koh Lanta was cheaper). Backpackers can still easily make this place fit within their budgets. But it's absolutely worth the trip to southern Thailand to visit this beautiful little island.

*To reach Koh Lipe, fly to Hat Yai with Air Asia, get a taxi to the bus station and get a minivan for the 1.5 hour drive to Pakbara pier (about $10/ticket). Then buy a speedboat ticket direct to Koh Lipe. Or you can take the speedboat or Tigerline Ferry from Koh Lanta (costs about $50/ticket and takes anywhere between 3-6 hours).

*Koh Lipe is small but has several beach bungalows, a few fancy hotels and some guesthouses right off Lipe's Walking Street.

*Snorkeling off Sunrise Beach was incredible! We saw tons of sea urchins, colorful fish and curious clownfish eager to come out for a photo.

*We have been eating the most amazing Thai pancakes and Thai curries at Coffee House, which is at a split in the road at the end of the Walking Street en route to OMG Sports Bar.

{Our highly recommended beach bungalow at Gipsy Resort, $40/night for this beachfront bamboo hut, hammock included}


Jane {In The Pink & Green} said...

Wow, this looks incredible! We just got home from Thailand yesterday and unfortunately Phuket is the only island-y part of the country we had time to visit...and don't get me wrong, it was beautiful! I just wish we would have had more time to see other islands, Thailand is awesome :)

Unknown said...

We also offer snorkeling tours on dive boats. These are slower boats that allow snorkelers to snorkel while the divers dive. Although slower that a speedboat they offer more comfort on boat and are often cheaper.