Slowly – slowly I move forward with our South-East Asian stories. The next on the agenda is Koh Lipe, a beautiful island, which we have chosen as our haven to celebrate the New Year.
The island is indeed heaven-like: small, with clear water, terrific sunsets and hospitable bungalows. However, the information we read on the blogs about Koh Lipe, calling this island as lonely backpackers paradise without tourist crowds, is obsolete. Koh Lipe is easy to reach from both the continental Thailand and Malaysian island Langkawi, which makes it a desirable destination on the tourist’s (who probably also read the blogs which we read) bucket list.
We came to Koh Lipe from Langkawi with a ferry; the ticket costs about 20 € pro Person and the ride takes about 90 minutes. Before you enter the boat, the staff collects your passports and returns them when you reach Koh Lipe’s border control at the counter. There you have to line up for the first time. The second queue is for the visa stamp. Most probably you will have to wait at the brightly shining sun, as we did, so think about sufficient water resources and pack your hat and sun screen easy-to-reach. Additionally, you have to pay mandatory 200 Thai Baht (5 €) for entrance to the Tarutao national park, to which belongs Koh Lipe. Don’t even think to throw it away – you will have to show it if you go snorkeling or diving. In total, we spent about 1 hour at the border control and we told we were lucky.
Enough with the formalities, let’s move to the pleasant and tasty tips.
What to try from the local food? My heart stayed with green curry, fitting drink – green or Thai ice tea, it will have to neutralize the piquancy. We tried three or four different green curries – each time it was spicy to a different degree. At the streets don’t miss the fried ice-cream, freshly-made Thai pancakes and refreshing cut fruit.
Beaches… Beaches are awesome! And absolutely different at different parts of the island. It’s difficult to name a favorite, but we returned twice to the Sunrise Beach, though we were living on the opposite side of the island. This beach is very easy to reach walking along the seashore, but it’s not so easy to find a direct way back to the central Walking street: we were walking circles and circles until we took the same way back as we came. Most part of the day the waves are quite strong there, but they are of most beautiful emerald color and worth looking at them endlessly and taking thousands of majestic pictures.
The bungalows we lived in, Phurithra, have their own little beach and a nice restaurant with the terraces facing the sea and the sunset.
Sunset Beach was also recommended to us by some people we met on the island, but we have seen it unfortunately only in the dark after the sunset. There is a nice cafe run by a Spanish-Italian couple who serve you cheap drinks and fresh salads.
Talking about cafes, I would recommend two of them. Sea la Vie is a very relaxed cafe for the real chillers: the pillows are everywhere, even on the tree.
In the morning, this cafe is good for a breakfast and at the sunset – for cocktails (if you are able to reserve a spot on the tree consider yourself lucky).
Another insider tip if you like live music is the Islanders Cafe – in the evenings life music is being played there and bands shift and change each other, if you can play any of the instruments, you can even join yourself.
Massage here is a must. Massage with a view is a great option. We were walking along the sunrise beach when it started to rain and we jumped in the first massage tent on the beach and were rewarded with a good massage with a sea view…
On the last day on the island we split and did our own thing: I wend snorkeling, Matze went diving and Cedrik discovered the Sunset beach and enjoyed hard chilling.
The price for snorkeling lies around 550 – 650 Thai Baht (14 – 17 Euro) for a half day trip. I booked a tour in the evening before at a random agency on the Walking street and it was pretty good. We had about seven stops and 3 to 4 swimming spots.
The absolute highlight of the trip was the Monkey Island where hundreds of monkeys live their own life, are not afraid of the tourists and can easily steal your lunch box if you give them this opportunity.
Diving costs around 2800 Thai Baht (70 Euro) + 200 additional marine park fee for two dives if you have a license.
We have chosen Koh Lipe to celebrate the New Year Eve and were hoping for a true Islanders celebration. Unfortunately, besides several week fireworks where was nothing on the beach and the tourist crowds gathered themselves for nothing. Our mistake was to take a nap before we went to the sea shore as we needed more time to get in the party mood afterwards. Nevertheless, slowly but steadily, we succeeded and continued to a party where we were the tallest guests – yes, yes, this was a local party where little Thai guys and girls were friendly welcoming foreigners in their dancing circles.
Coming down to the nitty-gritty – another necessary tip to be prepared for this island adventure. Beware – there are a lot of street (or more precisely, beach) dogs running around – but they are not aggressive at all. The aggressive ones are mosquitoes: make sure to buy a lot of good repellent with you.