Last Christmas, a lot of my friends flew back to the Philippines to celebrate the most important holiday of the year. The festive atmosphere there was more joyful than the commercialized “season sale” or ornamental Christmas trees you’d see when you walk along the Orchard road in Singapore.  It was also the period when the price of the plane tickets soared higher than an eagle. With less money on hand, the left-behinds decided to find a cheaper out-of-town place to celebrate.

Destination: Koh Lipe!

Where Is Koh Lipe?

Koh Lipe is a small island in the southwest of Thailand and northwest of Malaysia. It’s closer to Langkawi than Hat Yai. It is surrounded by pristine beaches and clear turquoise water. It’s so small that you can walk from one side to the other side of the island in an hour.

Koh Lipe offers a lot of sports activity. It is very family-oriented. You will see parents with their kiddos.  For couples or solo travellers, fret not, there’s a place for you as well. There are bars, booze, and cigarettes. There are late night parties but not as wild as those in Koh Pangan.

How To Go From Singapore To Koh Lipe?

The route that my friends and I took was the cheapest during the Christmas period (considered as high-peak season). It might not be suitable for some because you’d have to transfer a number of times.

  1. Bus to Larkin Bus Terminal (Bus 170) – Depending on the traffic, it should take only 40mins (or less) from Woodlands to Larkin bus terminal.
  2. Bus from Larkin to TBS – It’s best to take the evening schedule. You can sleep in the bus for 4 hours.
  3. Bus from TBS to KLIA 2 – There’s an hourly Jetbus trip from TBS to KLIA2
  4. Plane from KLIA 2 to Langkawi
  5. Ferry from Langkawi (Telaga) to Koh Lipe – There are two timings: 9:30AM and 2:30PM

For more details, refer to the table below.

Koh Lipe Route
Origin Destination Mode Link Cost
Woodlands(SG) Larkin(JB) Bus 950 & 170 2 SGD
Larkin(JB) TBS(KL) Bus Easibook 34 MYR (~11 SGD)
TBS(KL) KLIA2 Bus Jetbus 10 MYR (~3.50 SGD)
KLIA2(Round-trip) Langkawi Plane Airasia 121 SGD
Langkawi Airport Telaga Ferry Terminal (Langkawi) Taxi 30 MYR (~10 SGD)
Telaga(Round-trip) Koh Lipe Ferry (9:30AM & 2:30PM) Telaga-terminal 80 SGD
KLIA2 Changi(SG) Plane Airasia 40 SGD
TOTAL 267.50 SGD

If you don’t have the patience and the energy to do multi-modal trips, I’d suggest that you take a plane from Singapore to Langkawi and a ferry to Koh Lipe.

The ferry from Koh Lipe to Langkawi often gets delayed by an hour or so. If you are taking the 10:00AM schedule, I suggest that you take the 4PM flight in Langkawi. We had an Amazing Race drama from Telaga ferry terminal to Langkawi International airport because of the delay.

Immigration Concerns

Malaysian Immigration Office in Telaga Terminal

Malaysian Immigration Office in Telaga Terminal

When you reach the Telaga Ferry Terminal (Langkawi), proceed to a small check-in counter. The staff there will confirm your booking and give you a ferry ticket. Then, wait for their instruction.

Before the ferry departs, you will be asked to go to the Malaysian Immigration office. You just need to follow the yellow line that points to the yellow building.

At the gate of the port, the crew will ask for your passport. They will keep it until you reach Koh Lipe. They will segregate the passports according to nationality.

When you’re near the island, you’ll transfer to a long tail boat. Be sure not to wear long pants nor shoes unless you want them to get wet. The crew will help you carry your luggages so don’t worry if you have feeble arms.

Once you reach the shore, you’ll have to wait for an hour or so for your passport. The staff will bring the passports to the Thailand Immigration office. Once they are stamped, the staff will distribute them based on your nationality. Try not to be annoyed of the blatant discrimination where the farangs get to take their passports first. You’re there to have fun! I remember one Chinese Malaysian lady quipping, “So the brown people gets called last?”

Accommodation

Serene Lipe Resort

Our room in Serene Lipe Resort

Whether you prefer a luxurious stay, a mid-budget hotel, a backpacker’s hostel or a camping experience, this island can cater to your liking.

There are high-end resort hotels which cost $400 per night. Most of them are at the beach front or at the mountain facing the sea: Castaway Resort, Andaman Resort, to name a few.

We stayed in Serene Resort Lipe, located at the center of the island, near the bars, restaurants and commercial shops– where the hustle and bustle was. It was not noisy during night time because our room was a few walks away from the main street. We rented one Wooden Cottage with two single beds and requested for an additional mattress. It had an AC and the shower had a heater. We paid around $480 for 4 nights. Breakfast was excluded. Besides, there were so many food stalls around that you’d rather have different meals on each day. It was Thailand, so the food was nothing but delicious!

Serene Resort Lipe
Wooden Cottage Room (plus extra bed) $120 SGD per night or $24 per person (5 pax)
15 mins walk from Thai Immigration Office
Amenities ✔ Wifi | ✔ Heater | ✔ Aircondition

We booked this place from Agoda.

There were nice wooden cottages along Sunset beach which were cheaper. If I were in a backpacking mood, I would probably stay there. The cottages had no AC though. I am not sure if they had electric fans. There was a toilet, a veranda and a hammock!

The price of the cottages depends on the distance from the shore. The cheapest was around 700Baht per night and the more expensive one was 1200Baht. Refer to the table below for more info.

Daily Rate (Baht)
Zone Amount
Zone A 1200
Zone B 1000
Zone C,D 800
Zone E,F,G 700
Monthly Rate (Baht)
Zone A 30,000
Zone B 25,000
Zone C 21,000
Zone D,E 15,000
Zone F,G 15,000

I’m not sure if they have an online booking but you can always walk in. The office is at the main entrance, 3-5 mins from the beach.

If you still think that this is too expensive and you’re feeling more adventurous, head to the camping sites. I saw two in the island: one at the Sunset beach and the other at Pattaya Beach.

The camping site at Pattaya beach is offered by Lipe Camping. It is fronted by a cool reggae mini-bar called The Cocktail Bar. Look for a bar with a mushroom drawing in front (No! they don’t sell that kind of shake 😉 ). It is only 350Baht per night inclusive of the tent. If you decide to stay there, send my regards to Bond. He’s the only bartender there. The bar is open 25 hours a day, 8 days a week so don’t be surprised if he appeals to you as a zombie.

Food

Papaya Salad at Koh Lipe

Papaya Salad at Koh Lipe

Since it’s Thailand, you’re assured of sumptuous delicious dishes. It’s not difficult to choose what to eat, but please make sure you try the following:

  1. Coconut Ice Cream (70 Baht) – infront of Serene Resort Lipe
  2. Mango Shake of Madam Yoohoo (50 Baht)
  3. Muesli of The Elephant bar (150 Baht)
  4. Freshly-made Mojito at the Sunset Beach (100 Baht)
  5. Blue Mountain Coffee at the Coffee House Lipe (on the way to the Sunrise Beach) (80 Baht)
  6. Banana Chocolate Pancake
  7. Butterscotch Coffee at Bloom Cafe (90 Baht). They serve the best coffee that takes 10 years to prepare.
  8. Taro Ice Cream at The Espresso Bamboo Coffee

 Bar and Drinks

Moonlit sea at Sunrise Beach

Moonlit sea at Sunrise Beach

If you’re looking for a cheaper way to enjoy the beer, I’d suggest that you buy from the shopping marts and bring it to the beach. It only costs 40Baht (~$2 SGD) for a Chang beer.

My preferred place to chill at night is the Sunrise beach where the moon is shining over the sea. The breeze and the waves are like orchestra that produces the most relaxing symphony to your ear.

If you’re a lover of sunset, head to the Sunset beach (20 mins walk from Walking Street). Buy the 100-Baht Mojito and lie down on a tatami while waiting for the sun to set. The purple and blue hues are cooling to the senses.

If you really want to chill at the bar, try The Cocktail Bar, Reggae Bar and Peace & Love Bar.

The Cocktail Bar

The Cocktail Bar

The Gang

Tania, Katkat, Bren, Carlo, Aldrin

Tania, Katkat, Bren, Carlo, Aldrin

This trip was hassle-free because we didn’t have an itinerary. All we knew was that we were going to stay in the island for 5 days. Eat, drink and be merry. We had no plans to do scuba dive and yet there we were, carrying the heavy oxygen tanks on our back. By the way, I initially planned to do my first diving when I go to Timor Leste in 2016. I guess it is not going to happen now.

It was the best moment to spend Christmas (next to being with the family of course!). The place was a mini paradise. The bright sun, the fine sand, the turquoise water and the mouth-watering food added up to one great experience. But it wouldn’t be memorable if I were not accompanied by the goofiest and craziest friends. No negative vibes. Everyone was just akin to make the trip as insane as possible. Who would want to spoil the fun? Not us, because we know this is the best way to start an exciting year ahead!!

Friends.

Friends.

Thanks to Carlo for suggesting this place, to Tania for actively surfing the internet on the best things to do, to Katkat for coining the words Manga-lena and fuelling our daily laughter, to Bren for being the male version of … and joining me in the scuba dive!

By the way, Google Photos has done an amazing job in creating our Koh Lipe story. Please follow the link.