We are currently taking a year off (yeah, lucky i know!) which may stretch into two depending on work, will, and where we are. Currently we have parked ourselves in Penang, a state off the West coast of Malaysia enveloped in the Andaman sea, and as i like to remind anyone within ear shot with a direct view, if those flat earthers were to be believed, of the Maldives.
We are oh so fortunate to be within boating, driving, flying distance of some of the most beautiful places in the world and for some reason it took us nine months of being here to jump on a plane and a boat and go visit Koh Lipe, the southern most Thai Island and about 80 miles from where i am typing this at the moment.
Getting to Koh Lipe from Penang takes longer than it should without access to your own speedboat (one day i tell you one day!) but its still easy enough to do in a day if time is short, though that means skipping through Langkawi and just looking out the window of a taxi at what that has to offer.
We had been to Langkawi before about 10 years ago so thought at the very least it deserved more than that so we elected to stay for a couple of day to get over the Jetlag of the 20 minute flight from Penang to Langkawi. We were lucky with the cost and those 20 minutes worked out to about 20 USD or a dollar a minute.
If you are in this part of the world and travelling about without a car ( like us) they have a mobile app called grab, its basically uber and works the same way. It will save a considerable amount on taxis and a considerable amount of time if you skip the buses. I will link it here when i get a moment, it cost us 11 Ringget from the airport to the Paretto hotel ( more later) which is about 3 USD . If you are in this part of the word i cant reccommend this enough.
We did spend a very lovely evening watching the sunset and enjoying a sundowner and meal at Thirstday bar on the beach, there are quite a few to chose from we just fancied some live music.
We stayed at Cenang beach in Langkawi, mainly because we wanted a bit of life around us and to look at the duty free ( langkawi is duty free) area. Also we wanted to visit a seafood restaurant we had been to a few years before as it was pretty good! The hotel was fine, not five star by anyones stretch of the imagination, but is was clean, big and central and suited us perfectly. we had booked through Phuket ferries for a ferry / speedboat to Koh lipe on the next morning and had to be there fairly early to go through the immigration check in procedures ( IT IS UPSTAIRS IN JETTY!) <— this is important to save the 20 mins i walked around trying to find it.
The Ferry pier, once checked in is fairly straigtforward as is the ferry, it will take you accross the 25 or so miles to Koh Lipe in about 90 mins, unfortunately the windows are covered so the view is minimal which is really missing a trick going past islands like these, then you come to a floating platform where you and your luggage are placed to wait, for a short time, for a long tailed boat to whisk you to the main beach of Koh lipe – Pattaya Beach. It has little in common with its mainland name sake, which for us at least is a blessing.
Here the ferry company officials will take over, they took your passports at check in ( i forgot to mention that) and will now take them to the immigration officials where you wait to line up and get your stamp to the island and with that you are in! With a freiddly reminder to be back at the same spot 90 mins before your return trip if you are going onwards by boat – which you are unless you are a very very able swimmer.
Because i always have a mostly unjustified fear of being ripped off I , not for the first time, stupidly decided we could walk to the hotel we were staying at which was on Sunrise Beach but for those more rational than I there are motorbike taxis that will shuttle you to the other sides of the island or where ever you are staying.
I did jusify shoulder carrying a suitcase accross a beach to the beginning of Walking Street to get a chance to see the island a little more, but really get a taxi its hot over there.
We stayed at Gypsy resort on Sunrise beach and would do so again, we were in their suite rooms with the roof terrace and air con which for Most of Thailand and Malaysia prices were expensive but the island is basically shut for half the year due to monsoon and we all gotta eat right? The location is fantastic, simply fantastic. we have been to some of the best beaches, islands, seas in the world and Koh Lipe can hold its head up high in company with Perhentian, Tioman, Bali, Maldives, Whitsundays et al. For info the best beach we have ever seen was on Redang Island on the east Coast of Malaysia, it was simply breathtaking.
The resort offers breakfast and a couple of friendly dogs to watch you eat it and is located next to a bar that plays reggae music at a welcoming volume as you sunbathe. It is also 2 minute walk to the other end of walking street so you have all of your party/food/drink options close but not too close.
We were there to chill out for the most part so a lot of our time is not worth writing about as we all know what sitting on a beach is like, but we did jump on to a snorkelling trip that was really good value for money. It included visiting some of the islands in the national park. It is well worth doing, and all the trips seem fairly similar in nature although not in price 😉 . I will be uploading a probably poorly edited video of the snorkelling around there at some point soon, which although not Planet Earth or anything it will give you an idea of whats out there.
Food wise Koh Lipe wont win any rewards, although there are some gems on the island, but the food there is good, good quality and for a western wallet reasonable but not as much of a bargain as places like Penang or other places in Thailand or surrounding countries. Still its not the main reason you visit a place like this.
We spent 5 days on the island and left wishing we had been over in December when we originally planned instead of March so we could have visited again this year. The island starts slowing down in April / May due to the Monsoon, however it also means the East coast starts to open up and we have to decide on whether to return to Perhentian or Redang ( or both!)
Of course if I am not working come September then that island 80 miles away will start to call out again.