After a grueling and spine-splintering 3 hours of braving the notable swells of the mighty Andaman sea on a 750hp fibreglass rocket, our speedboat slid onto the soft sands of Sunrise Beach, Koh Lipe.
We were wet, battered and surprised that we actually made it through that experience. We grabbed our dripping salt-soaked bags and planted our feet onto solid ground. We let our stomachs and nerves settle before heading towards town.
The first thing we noticed were the hundreds of long-tail boats anchored just off the shore. Koh Lipe is such a small island. What’s with all the longtails? We pulled up our hostel on Google maps and started walking. We got onto the popular and touristy Walking Street and eventually found our hostel, the A Plus Hotel. We booked a double bed in the shared beds dorm. It was surprisingly spacious and comfortable. On our first night we had three other people staying in the dorm. Lucky for us, all of them left the following morning and for the next two nights, the entire dorm room was ours. The dorm comes with A/C and fans so we slept like babies at night. They also provided beach towels so you won’t need to bring your own.
After checking into our hostel, we explored the restaurants of the overpriced ‘Walking Street’. It was then that we realized this; Koh Lipe is for vacationers, not backpackers. Most of the Walking Street restaurant prices were outrageous, by Thai standards of course. To the vacationers, the prices are of course not an issue. Our poor budget didn’t stand a chance on this little rock in the ocean. We surrendered to this defeating fate.
We decided to head over to Sunset Beach to grab a drink over sunset. Only a 10 minute walk away from Walking Street and we found the rickety white paint-slapped sign down to Sunset Beach. We started walking down the muddy path and there it was…
I’m going to stop you right there. You thought I was going to say ‘those beautiful white sand beaches’ or something along those lines right? Trash. Trash trash trash. The trash wasn’t on the beach but it was on the path down to the beach. It is a big problem in many South East Asian countries and especially on the west Thai islands in the Andaman sea. We forgot the mention this in our previous post but Koh Muk is especially bad. I hope there is an effort to clean up these islands. It was also distressing to see the same trash problem on Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe because on Koh Lanta, we had to pay a “keep Lanta clean fee” of 10 Baht each on arrival and on Koh Lipe, we had to pay a 200 Baht National park fee each when we got off the boat. Where this money goes is anyones guess but it’s clear that it is not used to keep anything clean.
During our travels through Northern Sumatra, we also noticed a massive trash problem. We spoke to a few hotel/restaurant owners about the issue and they were very quick to chalk it up to tourists and tourism. I am not saying that tourism is completely innocent in the matter, but our view is that, if a country wants to promote tourism, they need to develop the recycling infrastructure to deal with the trash that inherently comes along with it. Selling a bottle of water to a tourist at a restaurant and then throwing it in a trash pile once its contents has been consumed, does not put the tourist or tourism at fault. The trash problem can be bad in some tourist areas but is EXTREME in the areas where the locals reside. Just saying. We generally found that the beaches in front of, and the grounds around, resorts to be extremely clean and well kept. It is the areas where money doesn’t influence attitudes toward trash that is the problem.
Anyways, I digress. Back to Koh Lipe. We spent all of our days following pretty much the same routine; Wakeup, get breakfast and a Thai iced tea, go to the beach, back to our accommodation to wash off, head out for dinner and then off to bed. The only two factors that changed were the restaurants and the beaches we would go to.
Oh, and we also spent our last 3 nights in a private room at the Bloom Cafe & Hostel. We didn’t leave our previous hostel for any reason besides we actually wanted a private room for our entire stay on Lipe but there wasn’t one available until the halfway point of our stay. Our private room was great. It was a little small for the huge bed it hosted, but the bed was super comfy and it had cool A/C. I would say that we slept well but that would be a lie. Across the road from the hostel thumped a drinking hole for the insomniacs it would seem. The bass was so loud that it rumbled through our walls until the early hours of the morning. It was miserable. We were miserable. If you are a light sleeper, only stay at this hostel from Monday – Wednesday. All other nights are party nights.
Our favorite beach on Koh Lipe was definitely Sunrise Beach. If you walk to the south side of Sunrise Beach, the long-tail boats start to wither in numbers. The water is beautifully clear and cool. Rent a snorkel and explore the plentiful sea life just off the shore.
Pattaya Beach is also great but far more touristy with not as much sea-life. We enjoyed a couple of largers on my birthday on Pattaya Beach.
The best restaurants we ate at were Tasneem (great fried chicken pieces, Thai iced tea and Pad Thai), Nui’s Seafood (for their bbq seafood obviously) and Elephant Coffee House & Bar (everything is good and they have legit strong coffee).
We spent 6 relaxing days on Koh Lipe. It was definitely our favorite Thai island by far. It was a perfect place to spend my birthday and of course Celeste spoilt me to a wonderful dinner and drinks where we also got to experience an amazing moonrise.
But, like all good things, our time on Koh Lipe eventually came to an end.
On our last day, we packed our bags and headed to the speedboat pickup point on Sunrise Beach. Unlike our previous near-death experience, this speedboat transfer was smooth and without any compressed spines. We arrived at Pakbara pier and then transferred to Hat Yai by shared taxi. We stayed at the very comfortable Little Bear Guest House for one night and then flew out of Hat Yai International the next day.
But here’s a fun fact maybe you didn’t know. Hat Yai has been influenced heavily by the Chinese. You can see it in the buildings as well as the food. Apparently because they were brought over to mine tin, farm the rubber plantations and build the railroad. Anyways, we bring this up because you can literally eat your way through this city! Every stall and restaurant you walk by are whipping up magical creations. Let your nose lead the way. There is not much to do in Hat Yai, but man oh man we wish we had just a bit more time there to try everything.
Our Thailand adventure had finally come to and end and we were ready to explore the lush tea plant covered mountains of Sri Lanka.
🚤🚕 Koh Lipe to Hat Yai Tip: We booked speed boat and shared A/C taxi transfer for 600 THB each.
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