Koh Lipe is a very small tropical island located in the Andaman Sea just a ferry ride away from Langkawi, Malaysia. It has inviting clear blue waters along its sandy beaches. Before starting our trip exploring Koh Lipe Island, we flew into Langkawi, Malaysia from Singapore. Once there, you can take a taxi to the Telaga Harbour Marina to catch one of the handful of ferries from the Telaga Terminal that shuttle to and from Koh Lipe multiple times a day.
We flew in on Scoot Airlines on a Friday morning arriving at 10:05 am. Before arrival, we arranged our transport between the airport and the Telaga Terminal. There are plenty of vehicles to choose from other than just 4-seater cars, so larger groups can travel as well. The travel time from the airport to the harbor is about 15-20 minutes. You can book tickets online with the company we used. Or there are a few others you can also book with as well. Tickets start at MYR 128.000 one way. (about $30 USD). We booked the 2:30 pm ferry to Koh Lipe. Returning to Langkawi we booked the 10:30 am ferry and had a flight departure time at 2:30 pm back to Singapore.
At the Telaga Ferry Terminal
We had originally wanted to sightsee around Langkawi but because of the weather we chose not to. Our ferry ended up leaving about 45 minutes early due to storm patterns, so it was a good thing we stayed put. Plus the mountains were covered in clouds, so visibility would have been poor. There is a small wharf area with a food court and a gas station. The gas station has tons of snacks, but we had great Indian food next to the gas station! I highly recommend eating there for lunch before the ferry. Terminal hours are 9:30 am to 7:00 pm. Be sure to check the calendar for normal operation hours and check their FAQ page for any additional queries.
There is a sky bridge and gondola ride on the western edge of Langkawi that looked beautiful. This was what I was hoping we could make a quick trip out to do but opted not to because of weather. There is really no place to leave your luggage either. They might have something at the Oriental Village which is where you would get onto the SkyCab Cable Car, but we didn’t look.
The SkyCab gondola ride links to the Sky Bridge from the Top Station. It can accommodate up to 12 passengers and lasts only a few minutes. It is a good option if you don’t want to walk up the 10-15 minute steep, less secure mountain track. The SkyCab Base Station is at Oriental Village. From here you can take the SkyCab, with gondolas coming every 30 seconds. There are two more stations: the Middle Station (you can get out here and walk to the viewing platform and get back on) and the Top Station, which has 360° views at the top.
You can then walk down to the Sky Bridge but you can take the Sky Glide which is faster. You can get that ticket at the SkyCab Top Station. The SkyCab is for $55 RM for adults and $40 RM for kids 2-12.
Extras To Know
You can change money into Thai Baht at the terminal for use on Koh Lipe. It’s always nice to have money in your pocket when you arrive. There are also ATM machines on Koh Lipe Island. Be sure to have a passport with 6 months validity. You will need to fill out arrival and departure cards for Koh Lipe. Remember in that short ferry ride you are traveling between countries!
Koh Lipe Island
We had to pass through immigration upon boarding the ferry boat, and then once again when we landed on the beach in Thailand. It was a disaster with all the people trying to leave. We had to wait for immigration for at least an hour. There are little cafes and bars right there. Our hotel picked us up in a large open seated truck because the seas were rough. I think usually they boat you into the resort that is around the southern east tip of the island.
Kathalee Beach Resort
You can book the Kathalee Beach Resort through Agoda as well as Booking.com. The proprietors were great. It is a small place, on a terraced type of property. They had some bigger family-style rooms, but I think they were booked when we went. We ended up booking three rooms for our large party. Two of the rooms were close to the office, with easy access to the beach area. I would recommend booking here when you go. The third room was up the road a bit and around the back side of the resort. They were totally fine and had great views, but in and out access was not as convenient. They had glass windows in the bathroom that were covered with shower curtains which we thought was weird. The shower is in the corner with sink close by, and then the toilet on the other end. The bathroom takes up half the room. And the beds were hard (like most places we have stayed in Asia). Breakfast was included as the rooms did not have full kitchens. The breakfast was a buffet of eggs (any style), yummy fish pancakes, fruit, yogurt, salad, some sort of sausage, and rice/noodles.
For playing we would either go next door to 10 Moons Resort or take a walk to the town because when the tide was out the water was really low at Kathalee Resort, and we weren’t able to swim over the reefs. The resort staff were pretty adamant about us staying off the reef during low tides. They have extra goggles, fins, snorkels, floaties, beach towels, chaise lounges, hammocks, etc.
The sand at Kathalee Beach, 10 Moons Resort, and Serendipity Beach were softer than the long strip at Sunrise Beach which has more coral and shells. However during the day there is a lot of shade on Sunrise Beach and at night there is bioluminescent plankton you can see. Be sure to walk on the sand close to the water at night to see them. Castaway Beach is about a 10 minute walk just up the beach, super easy for lunch/dinner. They had the best coconut smoothies, and a variety of foods, both western and Asian.
Main Town and Walking Street
If you want to go into town, the resort truck leaves the hotel at 6 pm and returned for pickup at 8 pm. But you can also just a 15 minute walk from the resort to the main road. In the town there are barber shops to get your hair braided, massage places, lots of bars and restaurants, 7-Eleven; and pharmacies. I got some band-aid spray, and we were really glad I did. It stings like anything, but with swimming around coral, climbing on rocks etc., we got lots of bleeding scrapes.
There are some really nice beach bars and restaurants all over Koh Lipe but, for me, the best ones are located on Sunrise Beach. In my opinion, Sea La Vie Bar is the place to go. We walked by this on our way to Castaway Beach—it is definitely more of a bar. Some in our party loved the food at Sunrise Beach Restaurant & Castaway Resort. Other great places are On the Rocks at Serendipity and 10 Moons Resort which are both right next door to Kathalee Beach Resort, where we stayed. Enjoy good food plus a convenient location.
There are good restaurants scattered throughout the island, with most of them located on Walking Street. Some of the dishes to try while in Koh Lipe are the outrageous Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup) served at Nee Papaya and an authentic Thai grilled fish at Papaya Mom. We heard these were both great but didn’t get a chance to try for ourselves. Next time!
Be sure to try the Thai pancakes. You can get them with anything—sweet or savory with fresh mango, coconut, banana, etc. But my favorite is with Nutella. Another great place to eat is at Madame Yoo Hoo. If you are downtown be sure to find the man selling coconut donuts. He sings on the main street and sells 10 donuts for 10 baht. My kids loved them.
Consider eating at Bombay India Restaurant Koh Lipe—rated top #1 for Indian Food—we didn’t make it here because we just had Indian in Langkawi but we heard it was good. The Mexican food place, Aroy was OK, but not great.
With crystal-clear balmy, blue water which features 25 percent of the world’s tropical fish species, Koh Lipe is undoubtedly one of the best places in Thailand for diving and snorkeling. You snorkel everywhere in Koh Lipe, but close to the two tiny islands on Sunrise Beach are some of the best spots, especially at low tide when the water gets very calm, shallow and transparent. Lots of places have kayaks or SUP’s (stand up paddle board) as well. Ours didn’t, but the kids just wanted to swim and play in the sand anyway.
Be aware that the coral reef is protected, so you have to be careful when snorkeling, especially at low tide. Kayaking is also another perfect activity to do in Koh Lipe, as the water is so calm, and some hotels offer free kayaks and snorkeling masks for their guests. When the red flags are in the water at low tide, you can swim or play in the water but not swim over the reefs. On the weekends, there are marshals that sit on top of the rocks and blow whistles at the swimmers if they are too close to the reef.
I wanted to go on at least two snorkeling trips but everyone else just want to play in the sand and water and snorkel right there. If you want to go on boat trips you can book through your resort or go walking the street to book. There are several snorkeling or dive shops to choose from.
*Global Women Travel has discounting snorkeling tour packages with this affiliate link. Disclaimer: We make a small commission when you book these tickets. Net proceeds will be donated to Days For Girls.
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