Friday, December 18, 2009

Lipe updated


last updated Jan 2015
last visited March 2013

Pattaya Beach - Lipe's most popular from the western headland. Shot from a Pattaya Song (aka Pattaya 2) second row bungalow balcony. Daya and luxury Sita Resort are in the near section up to the first longtail near the beach. Leepae Resort is adjacent the second set of beach longtails. The cross island track "Walking Street" and Varin are just past the distant longtails (you are maybe two-thirds along the beach here). Popular Bundhaya's big reception restaurant roof can be just seen left of the right tree foliage. The eastern most 15% of the beach was undeveloped except for a restaurant up against the far headland when I took this shot in 2009. My latest trip saw new Bundhaya stuff right to the far end. This is a nice shot to click-expand - may be dependent on your browser.

I've redone this page after my latest (5th) visit in March 2013. Before that was late November-early December 09. The first was in March 99, the second in March 07 and the third in late November 08.

Lipe very much more developed since I was first there, (and has seen a lot of new construction since my late 2009 stay) but it remains a pretty nice place to visit with several good white sand beaches, some fairly nice snorkeling, good diving and a variety of accommodation, restaurants and bars. Some of the latter can get a bit lively, so people seeking some night-life won't go without. There are only a few narrow roads and not too many motorcycles. Hey, and there are few dogs! It is fairly compact - I did a circumnavigation of the settled eastern two thirds of the island in around 3 hours.
It is still easy to find a quiet, laid back beach area away from busy Pattaya.
In recent years it has got a fair bit of criticism about overbuilding, rubbish problems, high prices and overcrowding at peak. I have a section on each problem down page.

Map from Pooh Bungalow

I modified this Google Earth image to show most of the beaches mentioned below. The yellow line which goes thru the ch of Pattaya Bch is Walking Street, the main cross island route and shopping/eats zone.

Area map from Sea Canoe


BEACHES

Which is the best beach on Lipe? Depends on personal preferences.
Maybe the most pristine bit of sand is at the far northern end of Andaman (Sunrise) beach just before it curves around to the spit in front of Mountain Resort. Lovely white sand, very clear water with some okay snorkelling and there are plenty of trees in back of beach for shade. Doesn't get very crowded. One downside is a fair few passing longtail boats, but few land on this beach.
You like a neat little self-contained not busy beach? Viewpoin'ts/Serendipity's beach, Sanom Beach, Bila Beach and Pitisusas's beach do this. So do a few other small patches of sand along the northern coast although most tend to be a bit scratchy in quality (lotsa rocks, sand disappears at high tide). An exception is Sunset (Porn's/Fisheries Dept's beach) which may be a bit big for some, although it is small compared to Pattaya and particularly Andaman.
All-rounders - nice sand, water, okay snorkelling, lots of accommodation, restaurants, bars etc. Both Pattaya beach and the rest of loooong Andaman beach fit the bill. Pattaya probably wins just about all these categories but may be too busy for some.
Most sheltered beach in wet season? Andaman and Viewpoint/Serendipity are sheltered from the monsoon winds on blustery days (Andaman can be a bit windy in early high season. When the wind changes out of the western quadrant around to the eastern it can often get pretty strong several days a month - we are usually talking November/December). This wind is offshore at Pattaya and gives no problems - in wet season  mid and western sections of Pattaya are sheltered by the high headland. I think I would avoid the north coast beaches in wet season - they can often be pretty exposed.
A beach for hard partying campers? La Luna on the north coast would do it well.

Thing is I wouldn't stress about trying to find accommodation on what you consider the best beach for you. Lipe is so small that all beaches are within 20 minutes walk wherever you are staying - most closer. My March 2013 accommodation at Gipsy 2 Rivendell was off the beach near Walking Street 5 minutes from both Pattaya and Andaman. I picked it on a value/design/good reviews basis, not on being at the beach.



South Coast beaches

PATTAYA BEACH


Nice swimming enclosure in front of Varin Resort near where the cross island track WALKING STREET hits Pattaya Beach. Some pretty reasonable coral and fish 70m out from the sand. Young Lady in centre has the big holiday book - click to enlarge.

Pattaya on the south side of the island is the main beach and has gone from one-third built on when I first visited to pretty fully built out now. Nevertheless it is still quite attractive** with white sand, pretty clean water which is deep at all tides except at the far western end, some trees for shade at some parts of the beach and interesting patches of coral at both ends which are okay for snorkeling.
Pattaya gets even nicer at night when several outfits set up restaurants and bars with candle-lit tables etc on the sand.

Dining tables appearing on the sand soon after sunset - Pattaya has a nice vibe at night.

** I'm a bit conflicted here - after my 08 trip I put in a section here saying Pattaya had jumped the shark - ie got past the point of no return, being too crowded with longtails for peace and quiet. But in 2009 I made a point of actually staying on Pattaya for the first time in years - at Varin, and although I have mixed feelings about that joint, I had to revise my opinion - Pattaya in late 2009 was the nicest beach on the island unless you were looking for somewhere completely out of the way - Pattaya's sand was cleanest, its water clearest and there's a very good range of restaurants and shops on the beach or nearby which keeps prices lower. They have several sections partitioned off for swimming and the beach is sheltered from those over-brisk north-easterlies which sometimes cut in during dry season. The central and western sections tend to be largely protected from the wet season westerlies unless there is more than usual south in them, although Andaman and Viewpoint beaches are better in this respect. Most of my 2009 visit was in shoulder season and the beach was uncrowded and the longtails somehow seemed more orderly - however 2 days coincided with the King's Birthday holiday and heaps of Thais hit the island. The beach itself was still not Bondi busy but the boat congestion was pretty high - around dusk I counted 13 big speedboats backed into the beach, a heap of those bigger old style ferries the Thai packagers love and 5 cruising yachts - normally there are one or two.
Lady Tezza on her first visit to Lipe, declared Pattaya one of her favourite beaches to stay on anywhere. Lady Tezza as an ex surfer-babe has seen a few beaches.
UPDATE 2013 - unfortunately Pattaya wasn't as pristine as 2009. The main problem was longtail congestion - there was so little room left in their designated beach parking areas that they were crowding into the swimming enclosures, particularly the central one in front of Walking St-Varin. More longtails mean more bilge water etc - the sea water close to the sand just didn't seem as sparkling clear as in late '99. However I still rate Pattaya as a pretty nice beach.

Pattaya Beach Ko Lipe March 2013 - those longtail boats are actually within the central swimming area. I  noticed the swim area further east outside Bundhaya Resort seemed largely free of this problem. Maybe Budhaya has more muscle. The third swimming area in the central-western part of the beach maybe 200m behind camera was not too bad either.

There are lots of places to stay along here - in my low budget range, the ones I like the looks of most are the headland bungalows of PATTAYA SONG aka Pattaya 2 - high up overlooking the beach at the western end - see opening pic.
Pattaya Song also has some substantial looking concrete bungalows in a little valley behind their beach-level restaurant which tend to be some of the cheapest at this beach.
I stayed in one of the headland front rowers for a few nights on my first island visit when they were new, and the view was great.
Note that Pattaya Song has a reputation for good Italian food - and the Italian owner has a reputation for eccentricity when he gets tanked.

Pattaya Beach - real nice at night when the restaurants on the sand set up - not too shabby by day either (image Poh Bungalows)
Nov 08 shot. The headland concrete bungalows of Pattaya Song on the western end of Pattaya Beach. This angle from the corner of the beach is deceptive because the bungalows actually look directly down the beach. There is a bunch of cheaper more trad style ones with similar views behind and higher. 
Departing Lipe, my boat went past the seaward side of this headland (well duh!) and there were similar nice looking trad style bungalows high up looking directly out to sea. UPDATE 2013 - these seem to now be run by a separate outfit, Brother Seaview Resort which has expanded west across the hillside to above adjacent Sanom Beach.
Pattaya Song's rather good restaurant is at beach level tucked in against the headland to the right of the far beach umbrella.


DAYA RESORT has some nice trad looking beach level front and second row bungalows to the right of camera with the popular restaurant to their east - but hell, 1000 and 800 no brekka for what was still really 2008 shoulder season? Daya has some cheaper bungalows inland behind the restaurant but dummy forgot to ask the price. 

Pleasingly both Daya and Pattaya Song were still going stong in March 2013. Most of the other cheapies have been replaced by high end joints. But how long will the above 2 last? Pattaya Song probably has the best position on the island - the land must be worth a fortune.
The above end of Pattaya used to be busiest, but now is a quieter section - so if you want to stay on Pattaya, this could be the region. The SITA luxury resort and its new high-end neighbours would be just the thing for all you big-mover bond traders. Umm - on reflection, after the Global Financial Crisis and the Euro implosion maybe you Masters of the Universe will be staying at a 500b Walking Street cheapie with tezza.


Cheapest beachfront bungalows in 2009 on Pattaya were the funky HANDICRAFT to the east of the Walking Street cross island path at 500 early Dec 09 - and the guy told me they would not go up in peak. I didn't ask in 2013 - as a matter of fact I think the place may be re-named. Shot shows their great bar area - has an upstairs deck. They also set up mats and chairs on the beach after dark and play funky music, but the adjacent REGGAE BAR does the same, and has a bigger sound system. May not be the best location for those wishing to hit the sack early, but great for ragers on a budget.

The next best deal in early Dec 2009 seemed to be GREENVIEW which had a sign up asking 500 for their rather large, attractive and newish trad bungalows back from the beach. In 2013 I noticed the booking websites had this place at relatively bargain prices.

2013 also showed a lot of new development from my 2009 visit. Luxury SITA has expanded further up the hill. There are several new midrange or better places mainly in the western section of the beach - BU-NA, Z -TOUCH, SEALON AND MALI. Sure look nice - I just checked them on Agoda: sure are expensive. BUNDHAYA in the eastern section has expanded eastward to just about beach-end.


Far eastern end of Pattaya. The last Bundhaya chalet can be seen just past that tree (may be clearer if you click-expand). In March 2013 there was a large development under construction off beach 100m to right of camera - more Bundhaya accommodation?
Back at my first visit the shaded area in shot was serene. There was a neat little beach bar called Sunset Bar behind camera and the staff kept the sand here pristine. There was/is some coral and rocks to the left of frame for snorkelling. There was also a funky looking guest house type place a short distance right of frame where the islands cool travellers seemed to hand out. Long gone.
Note there is now a Navy Bar below the headland 100m behind/left of camera - the road going up the hill to the armed forces base starts there. The bar sells to tourists.
Note too my on my first visit, the whole back of beach zone this side of Walking Street consisted of sand dunes. The southern half of Walking Street itself was a sandy track.


I've shown you pix of the eastern and western ends of Pattaya. This one is taken from the central part of the beach. Pretty sweet and not overcrowded in early March 2013 which for an island like Lipe is towards the end of high season.

VARIN ON PATTAYA
Beach at Varin is real nice - some good trees for shade out of frame to left.

Lady Tezza aint a bum like me, prefers aircon and hot water if she can get it, so for our 2009 trip I did some research on lower priced aircon rooms on Pattaya. LEEPAE's cheapest was too expensive although this old place keeps getting updated and did look real nice latest visit. BUNDHAYA has a grand beach frontage reception/restaurant area and is in a nice section towards the eastern end of the beach, but user reviews were quite savage about the cheaper bungalows. Reviews of VARIN were a bit better so we went for that, although The Lady can forget about the hot water in our price range. This place has a huge number of bungalows and rooms closely packed behind the big reception-restaurant area.
Good points - Great position fairly central to the beach and adjacent to the cross island track with its abundance of restaurants and shops. The beach in front is real nice with free beach lounges for guest (and no shortage), some nice trees for shade and beach umbrellas for hire plus a boueyed-off section for swimming with crystal clear water and some quite good coral and fishies relatively close to the beach for snorkellers. Use room towel as beach towel and then swap at reception for fresh one.
Good buffet breakfasts - Varin gets a lot of package Thai tourists and runs a very efficient brekka with a big range of tasty stuff which tends to be pretty hot because new trays are constantly arriving from the kitchen. But make sure you arrive early before the Thais are loaded onto longtails and boats for the day's excursion - late-comers may find the trays have cooled. Other meals seeemed to be about 10-20% dearer than outside restaurants - we gave them a miss, there is a huge range of good alternatives nearby. Drink prices out of the fridge seemed pretty reasonable - there is a shop 3 minutes walk away at the start of Walking Street keeps them honest.
VARIN has a rep for rude service, but we found Aom2 and the other people at reception charming and efficient.
Bad points - our aircon/cold water bungalow was crap. It was really an old backpackers' fan bungalow which had been tarted plus having an aircon added. Okay, it was in fine condition and clean and had flashpacker inclusions like towels, soap, shampoo etc, a pretty comfy king size bed and was situated in a sparsely planted but still nice garden setting. But it was tiny, with just enough room for 2 and their gear, was packed close together with other bungalows and worst feature - the bathroom was not a separate room out back but part of the main room, partitioned off by a concrete barrier which didn't go to the ceiling - and a shower curtain. Better be on good olfactory and auditory terms with your travelling partner. This seemed to be a feature of all the cheaper standard aircon and fan rooms. Once you go higher you get a separate bathroom. And a bigger room. Spacing still fairly tight though.

At least Varin gives some warning. This shot was on their brochure (but not website) - that's the bathroom behind the white concrete wall. Note good mirror - but not in bathroom which makes shaving a hassle. Big king sized matress on right fills complete area to front wall - these are not big bungalows.

Our squeezy standard aircon bungalow at Varin. Fan cottages seem identical apart from no compressor cranking thru the night.

So value - at 1300 shoulder season and 1500 high season 2009 including brekka they have to be kidding . Our great room at COOKIES on Phangan with fabulous beach views, hot water, TV, heaps of space and a lovely pool was cheaper at 1200 the previous August, high season on that side of the peninsula. But this is a feature of Lipe - like Phi Phi, you pay considerably more than at most islands for accommodation.

Newest rooms at Varin were what they call their garden rooms in a big U shaped block - 64 units in total. Looked similar inside to nice western motel rooms. Asking 2100 high season.

SANOM BEACH
New to me in 2008, Sanom Beach Resort, which looks trad budget in style, has been built on a small cove behind the western headland of Pattaya Beach, accessed by a bamboo and timber walkway along the rocks from the corner of the beach below Pattaya Song. You have to rock-hop the first 15m before reaching the walkway. This is a really nice little beach. Prices are in keeping with Lipe - 800 for a fan with bathroom early Dec09.


Brother Seaview Resort on the hillside behind Sanom beach (and with access to Pattay beach via Pattaya Song). I reckon budget travellers who find Pattaya booked out in peak season should check this relatively hidden place - there are a fair few bungalows although only a few have actual sea views.



North Coast Beaches

This area seems to have undergone a flurry of development since my last visit. In 2009 the only north coast bungalow places were Mountain View, an old rundown joint immediately to its west, Porn and Fisheries Dept on Sunset Beach and Bila Beach Bungalows further west again. 
There are several other strips of sand along here, most small/rocky/disappearing at high tide - and in 2013 it seemed nearly all of them had a new accommodation joint usually perched on the hillside above the beach - sometimes more than one. 
Plus the road that goes east west slightly inland from the coast, now paved, had a few new places.
Note pricing given their position seemed a bit steep to me maybe accounting for few guests in early March 2013 when most of the island was pretty busy. (although wonderingstar found recent shoulder season pricing at some of these much more agreeable). So do people wander across here in peak hoping to find a vacancy? Maybe, but I did see a few of these joints advertised at travel agents on Walking St and I'm sure a some will go online to find guests.

The north coast from the east....

MOUNTAIN RESORT BEACH
Best view on Lipe? Outlook from Mountain Resort's restaurant overlooking the nice northern end of Andaman (Sunrise) Beach where it wraps around the NE corner of the island, and Ko Adang. Actually I regard  Mountain as an Andaman Beach resort and have a lot more info in that beach's section down page.

BETWEEN MOUNTAIN AND SUNSET BEACH

Next to Mountain Resort is an area which used to have an old run-down no-name place. This has been cleared and there seems to be 2 new places....
Closest to the water, Susanna Bungalow with nice new places on the hill overlooking the beach which tends to disappear at high tide (but a relatively short walk to the beach at Mountain Resort). Sign pinned up at deserted reception in March 2013 - "beachfront" bungalows 400/500. A bargain for Lipe.
Up-slope, closer the road, Cozy Cove Resort. Prices seemed no bargain here but surely they will have to come down to attract guests.


Further west is another strip of similar sand which similar new joints perched on the hill above. Interestingly these places are claiming the name SUNSET BEACH for their patch - the place popularly know as Sunset Beach at Porn Resort/Fishery Dept Bungalow just over the headland to the west is really called HAT PRAMONG....seems visitors started calling it Sunset Beach on account of the..um..sunsets.
Anyway the new places are called Morgan Sunset Beach Resort and Lipe Sunset Beach Resort.
I'd be googling these places if I was trying to find a not too flash vacancy at peak season.



SUNSET BEACH - um well the one we all know as Sunset Beach.

- is pretty central to the settled part of the north coast, reached by taking the track to the left side (facing inland) of Daya Restaurant near Pattaya Song and walking moderate slopes past a few locals' houses then after 5 minutes turning right at the top of the small hill and following the PORN signs for another 5 minutes. You can also access this beach from a track inland from Brother Seaview Resort above Sanom beach and turning right when you hit the north coast road. Sunset is a smaller, much quieter beach than Pattaya with 2 accomm places, PORN and FISHERIES DEPT BUNGALOWS. Update - well there's another 2 in March 2013, NO-NAME (see below) on the hillside to the north and KAFAIR HUT inland alongside the road leading across past the temple to the main fishing village area.

Sunset Beach and Porn have a good rep in the guide books and I had a great stay there in the first part of my initial visit to the island (in one of Porn's overflow tents!), but in early Dec 2009 things had deteriorated from that visit and from my pass-by in 2008. For a start they must have had a hard 2009 wet season because the beach was heavily eroded. Plus it was not all that clean - it had obviously been cleared up at the start of dry season but maybe only once because there was a lot of flotsam and jetsam at back of the beach. And for some reason the water was not as clear as previous visits. I was also disappointed to see some broken bottles exposed by erosion on one of the entry paths and a heap of paint tins and an old toilet bowl piled up behind some bungalows. Maybe Porn is relaxing behind its good publicity - and maybe things will be a lot better by high season. By the way, beaches which have lost bulk sand by storm erosion can recover in a matter of weeks given fine weather, so I wouldn't worry about this factor if I had already booked for Christmas/New Year.

Wet season storm wave erosion on Sunset Beach in early Dec 09 - if you look carefully you can see the wave swash in the background in this high tide shot - the beach is pretty narrow. But the shot above this was taken a few days later at full low tide, so early Dec visitors still had a fair stretch of sand a lot of the time. See my comments about glass on the beach in the RUBBISH section down page.


March 2013 - beach in much better condition - an extra 3/4 months since the end of the wet season saw any erosion at the top of the beach filled and very little glass. Sand looks less white partly because much is wet, more due to the poor colour resolution of my latest elcheapo Olympus point and snap. Excuse - it was cheap.

Porn's front row fan with bathroom bungalows were going for 1200 in March 2013 with second rowers 1000 - expensive but cheaper than many similar places on other beaches. The nice lady in charge told me they no longer do tents - "...have many new bungalows" - and they do. The restaurant has okay food at slightly higher than average Lipe prices. Service was a bit dour when I had a meal in 2009 but really friendly in 2013.

Nice outlook from Porn's restaurant - that is Adang nearest and Rawi behind - both National Park islands.

Late extra! Alas, Porn is no more. In a late Jan 2015 article about changes at Lipe, Travelfish shows a shot of demolished Porn - apparently a flash resort is planned.

FISHERIES DEPT is only abt 100m further north-east, with a similar restaurant and a reputation for the cheapest non-inland accommodation on the island in high season in what seems to be rooms in concrete blocks rather than bungalows. However in 2009 they were not yet open in early December. The restaurant looked to have been refurbished since 08. They were open in March 2013 - but prices quoted me were no longer bargain basement - a bit higher than nearby Porn.

Just inland from PORN/FISHERIES (take the walkway in from SUBAYE SPORTS (diving) is FLOUR POWER BAKERY with some yummy pastries, good normal meals and great shakes etc. Prices are not budget-bungalow cheap, but the stuff is real nice.
Follow the walkway less than 5 minutes inland to reach JACK'S JUNGLE - which has nice bungalows and gets good reports for food and for lively times at the Jungle Bar. KAFAIR HUT is a bit closer in the same general direction.

A tezza shot Nov 08 - Porn's bungalows and restaurant are behind the trees to the right, but have good sea-views. There was major constuction work** going on at Fisheries Dept at the far end which made the beach less pristine than I remember it - but it still doesn't look too bad at all. I had a real nice swim and some sun-time.
**actually I found out this latest visit that the Thai Princess had a big beach house built on the headland ridge north-west of Fisheries with great views of Adang and Rawi - there's also a line of nice looking chalets presumably for her buddies built on a small cove the other side of the headland.

Thai Princess's place on headland south end of Sunset Beach. Bigger than it looks here but still pretty modest compared to some of her holiday joints. Sign says NO ENTRANCE.

NEW TO SUNSET BEACH 2013
The happy dude from Kafair Hut some distance inland east of the beach had set up a neat little snack stand at the far northern end of Sunset Beach. 

For now I'll call these NO NAME bungalows (like a dummy I didn't ask) - new places on the hill north of the beach with tree-interrupted views of the sand. Prices seemed a bit high.


Continuing westward of Sunset Beach, the next km or so has at least 5 small patches of sand, many of which had some sort of place to stay most new to me on this latest trip. I noticed 2 bungalow outfits similar to NO NAME over the first 400m. Not much further is La Luna Beach aka Mia Luna/Mid Luna. The Mid Luna Bar there has been an on/off proposition for years, but latest trip I also noticed they had a camping area.

LA LUNA BEACH
La Luna beach typical of small north coast jobs.
La Luna looks the place for you camping enthusiasts. Apparently some are permanent tents for rent.


Speaking of camping, check the tent under the trees just right of center. This is adjacent the spit near Mountain Resort. The nicest section of beach on Lipe IMHO is along that far shore. Note nearest bungalows are just out of frame to right, belonging to Andaman Resort - but I doubt they own the land under the trees. All Thai beaches are owned by the king and he doesn't mind his subjects and visitors camping on them. btw quite a few bungalow joints don't mind you camping on their land as long as you use the restaurant.


In close succession heading west again from La Luna are two or 3 similar small beaches. One is Bila Beach...

 BILA BEACH
This nice little beach is about 500m west of Sunset Beach. There has been a beach bar here for years but I was delighted in 2008 to find the owners had refurbished it and built a handful of nice traditional bungalows plus A DORM. .

New fan/bathroom bungalows at Bila Bar and Resort built on the slope above the beach. That's ex-New Yorker co-owner Emily cleaning on the verandah. Those 4 doors open to a bigger than normal bungalow with similarly big bathroom behind. The dorm is similar - has 2 double bunks with thick king sized single matresses Emily told me she had to order specially.
Dorms 300, normal bungalows around 700.
UPDATE 2013 - Bila Beach Bungalows seems to have headed upmarket. The dorm has gone although the bungalows above the beach looked much the same (note wonderingstar in his excellent update on Lipe places done in Dec 2012 says they have some newer, flasher bungalows a bit further west, but I didn't see them). Prices in the restaurant were decidedly midrange* check them below. Emily had gone too although her ex-boyfriend was still running the joint.

300 baht for mains! Same in 2013 would be 100 at Porn, 80 on Walking Street.
* most midrange places I have stayed at on the islands would not go over 150 for most of these dishes. The above are more 5 star hotel prices.


Heading west again, within a very short distance there is another small beach with some concrete bungalows high on the cliffs - wonderingstar says they are now owned by the the resort on the next beach (Pitiusas) and were unfinished 4 months before my visit. I was too lazy to hike up and check them out. A short rock hop further west (also accessible from the road) is an attractive newish more midrange-looking resort on a slightly bigger less rocky beach than most along here.

PITISUSAS BEACH
Pitiusus resort looked pretty sweet. The beach was more expansive than all the others west of Sunset too.
Pricing at time of writing (April 2013) aint cheap - 2500 peak, 200 high, 1200 low from the website) but if user reviews on Trip Adviser etc are positive this could be the place for you flashpacker dudes wanting somewhere away from the madding crowds. I notice Agoda is listing this joint too.


Continuing on there is a series of tiny scrappy beaches (with no accommodation at the time of writing) right along the coast to the western tip of  the island. These are best accessed by boat - the road turns into a dirt track and soon peters out.




East Coast Beaches

ANDAMAN BEACH - aka SUNRISE BEACH

Andaman Beach (Sunrise Beach) south - part of fishing village right, hillside bungalows of Viewpoint/ Serendipity, far left (image Castaway Resort) - the northern third is out of frame to the right but can be seen 2 shots below.

Andaman is the long beach which takes up most of the eastern side of the island. The section in the middle used to be dominated by the fishing village and crowded with long tails, fishing traps etc making it the least attractive section, but over the years the village section, at least fronting the beach, has progressively shrunk as resorts take over the area. Now it takes up only 150m or the beach, the island immediately north a similar distance.

2013 - the beach in front of the village still messy. Disappointingly the section in front of the school was not much better.

As you head north from the school things gets progressively nicer. There are about 3 resorts in this direction. ANDAMAN RESORT is the northern most one (discounting Mountain Resort around the corner) and has a huge range of bungalows.
The nicest section of beach on the island IMHO is right at the northern tip of the east coast just before and where Andaman beach wraps around the north east corner of the island, turning west to form a lovely white sand spit which extends outwards a short distance towards Ko Adang.

The northern end of Andaman is nicest - Andaman Resort's restaurant is to the left as are the more expensive bungalows. The traditional fan jobs are under those casuarina trees further from camera. The beach turns hard left towards Mountain Resort at the end - that is mountainous Ko Adang you can see background right.

Best of the best. The far north end Andaman just before it turns around to the left towards the spit and Mountain Resort.

MOUNTAIN RESORT is situated at the top of a low cliff overlooking this wrap-around section at the north end of Andaman beach, and has a rep for being one the most attractive accommodation paces on the island.
I've always wanted to stay here and with The Lady seeking comfort, we went for this in the first half of the early December 2009 visit.

Approaching Mountain Resort in our longtail. Guys run down and pick up your luggage. Great clifftop restaurant to right. Clifftop and beachlevel bungalows were most expensive, other bungalows are ranged up hillside in the trees behind. Beach-level building closest the stairway is the famous Karma Bar - no longer called that and under new management. 2013 - there is a bungalow there now.
There is another stairway up from the beach out of frame to left.
The restaurant serves up pretty good food at prices maybe 20% up on budget bungalow average.
Inclusive buffet breakfasts were pretty good, but tended to cool pretty quickly if the heating flames below the dishes blew out in the wind.
Wind was a problem on 2 of our 4 early December days - the infamous early dry season north-easterlies kicked in strongly, so much so that conditions actually became unpleasant in the restaurant. I have spent a fair time in the Andaman but mostly on sheltered beaches - exposed beaches are fewer but of the 30 odd days I've spent on exposed beaches only these 2 were windy enough to be unpleasant. (I have noticed since that quite a few days in November and December can get blustery. Not such a good time to be taking a long speedboat trip - can get real bumpy and wet. As dry season progresses this becomes less of a problem).
The nearest alternative restaurant to Mountain is Andaman Resort's, maybe 10 minutes away on the beach. You can keep walking the beach past Andaman Resort and reach the start of the cross island WALKING STREET in about another 10 behind Varin 2 aka Varin Village - plenty of good value restaurants here.
You can walk out the back of Andaman and take a more direct inland route to WALKING STREET and maybe save 5 minutes - you'll need a torch at night. And by turning right when walking out the back you can reach Sunrise Beach further west on the north coast in around 10-15 minutes (you can also beach/rock hop up to Sunrise below about one quarter tide).

This is Chez Tezza at Mountain, the cheapest aircon bungalow at 1400 shoulder - 1600 high including brekka. Note cold water - but some of Mountain's fan bungalows have hot water - go figure. Pay more and you can get a much nicer newer bigger aircon bungalow with hot water, TV etc.
The cheapest aircon bungalows were situated in the 3rd and higher rows away from the cliffside - most were staggered to give some glimpses of the sea and neighbouring Ko Adang.
The bungalows were not too bad - in good condition, normal flashpacker inclusions like towels, soap etc, big enough for two plus gear - a third guest would be a bit squeezy but possible.
I thought the biggest letdown was the lack of paths - the heavily erosion from wet season had left lots of exposed roots, gulleys, even a few water pipes and even though lighting of the grounds at night is not too bad, the shadows of the holes and gullies make visibility difficult and at one stage Lady Tezza tripped and fell. Not good enough for 1400-1600 in 2009. UPDATE - I checked these bungalows in 2013. The area looked identical.
Note the newer area on the western side of the restaurant had good paths in 2009.
Quite a few of the fan bungalows have prime position in the second row where island sea views are less interrupted.

Panoramic shot from Mountain Resort's restaurant - Ko Adang in background. That's the northern most section of Andaman beach forming a spit on the right - Andaman Resort has bungalows very close to the beach there (images Mountain Resort )

Same section of beach from the restaurant in earlier years.



Below is a late November 09 shot of Mountain's beach - spot the difference.

2009. Indications of a tough wet season - the recurved end of the spit has been washed away. It's hard to see in this shot but the water closest to the restaurant had a plume. This is not unusual on resort beaches, waste water is often not fully filtered by the holding tanks and sand - Bila had a small one, parts of Sunset seemed particularly bad that year, parts of the main part of Andaman were a bit suss. Interestingly busiest Pattaya was pristine.
Anyway, I did all my swimming at Mountain towards the end of the spit were the water was very nice. There are some interesting lumps of coral off-shore.

UPDATE - LATER SHOT
Steve Manklow sent me this pic taken in February 2010 - 2 months after my shot above this one. Note how the recurved end of the spit has regrown. Doesn't take long.
Steve also gave this info on Mountain Resort: Just got back from Lipe and can report that the sand bar is back on Mountain resort beach.
We had a front row hut @ mountain view, very nice view but resort was lacking in many areas (service, food, breakfast, house keeping, staff mood) however i knew this to be the case before booking and the view more than made up for it.
The island has certainly changed since our last visit in 2003 but it remains a nice place to visit.

UPDATE - LATEST SHOT
March 2013. I just had to get back to Mountain Resort's restaurant for a meal. That dead water section this side of the spit still doesn't look pristine. Water excellent far side.

UPDATE - NEW ACCOMMODATION
Starting immediately behind Mountain's restaurant and also ranging across its top border were these rather flash modern accommodation blocks, new to me in 2013


ANDAMAN RESORT
If you check the far right of the the shot 4 up from this (above Steve's) you can see what looks to be two people standing near the grass and trees (if you click-expand the shot you will see it is actually a sign - for Andaman resort). In the trees just to the right of the sign are the the most northerly of Andaman Resort's bungalows which stretch through the trees and around the corner of the beach for maybe 400m to the restaurant area. I've always reckoned the most northerly bungalows have a fabulous postion actually fronting Mountain's beach - and always seem largely vacant in shoulder season, but when I came back from Adang in Nov08 heavy rain had created a small lake in front of them, so I took a similar bungalow much closer to the restaurant. The adjacent beach around the corner there is as said the best stretch of sand on the island.

I always try to stay in a new place when I revisit and was determined that trip to try Andaman Resort with its great position, despite bad reviews in the various forums. Um 500 for a not-too-flash trad fan bungalow in the back (3rd) row in shoulder season 08. And world-champ haggler tezza can’t reduce this a baht. This is immediately on crossing from Adang where I had a gorgeous, huge almost brand new tile-floor and concrete fan bungalow with skylight, dormer windows, tinted sliding doors and fabulous views for 600.
BTW - apart from the exxy bungalows, Andaman Resort wasn’t too bad at all. Maybe I’m easily pleased.

This is a front-rower at Andaman Resort, identical in all other ways to my back-rower. Basically just a traditional bamboo thatch walled fan job with a bathroom and verandah - 600b in late Nov shoulder - 700 come Dec. Nice position - the beach out front is great and there are nice views across to Adang which you can see in the background - and to Tarutao and Langkawi if you are a bit further south around the curve of the beach. A fair few longtails during the day (but nowhere near as painful as on Pattaya Beach) but I noticed it was pretty peaceful at night.
It aint as dark under the trees as this shot appears - my elcheapo point-and-shoot Olympus of the time couldn't handle contrast variations.
Andaman also has some attractive concrete beachfront bungalows close to the restaurant which look to be aircon.
I can't remember the restaurant being anything special food and price wise and this was confirmed on my following 09 trip when we walked around from Mountain for dinner.


Between the Andaman Resort and the fishing village is the smaller LIPE BEACH RESORT (traditional style budget bungalows) and the school. The beach outside the fishing village is pretty messy with lots of rubbish, broken glass, boat mooring ropes etc - at least they have cleared away the old broken boat motors etc.


MID ANDAMAN BEACH
The section of Andaman Beach south of the fishing village improves, although it can get a bit shallow along here at lowest tide. There are about another half dozen bungalow places, inluding the huge TARUTAO CABANA, VARIN VILLAGE aka Varin 2, GIPSY RESORT, FORRA DIVE SUNSET.
Beach in front of Varin Village. Nice section of beach in a good position - the cross-island path which becomes Walking Street is in back of the resort. About 6 rows x 12 trad style bungalows here. Popular.

SOUTH ANDAMAN BEACH
This is taken from the big rock which separates Andaman beach from Viewpoint's 2 little beaches further south. For my first few visits nothing much was happening here - in 2009 several new places were under construction and in this 2013 shot it is just about fullly built out. Some of the new places include the attractive upmarket CASTAWAY, ZANON SUNRISE, and the very upmarket IDYLLLIC. If you click-expand you may notice the beach way up the top in this near high-tide pic gets REAL skinny.


Castaways Resort. I've never seen a place attract so many conflicting reports on travel forums*, and a look at its website shows it aint exactly budget. But those 2 storey bungalows look pretty cool to me. The beach here aint great or bad, but Viewpoint's/Serendipity's good beach is less than 5 minutes further south and the nice end of Andaman near Andaman Resort/Mountain Resort is 10 minutes north.
* that was when I checked in 2009 - may have lifted its game.


VIEWPOINT BUNGALOWS’ TWO LITTLE BEACHES
Websites often refer to these as part of Andaman (Sunrise) beach but these are just south in small twin bays (take the path behind the rock I was standing on 2 shots up page) and are very nice, particularly the further, most southerly one which Viewpoint Bungalow now shares with Serendipity Resort.
Back when I first visited the island there was no resort here or nearby, yet the further beach was still popular with travelers.
Note at low tide the twin bays can get real shallow, particularly in the northern bay where the coral was exposed right across to the small forested islet about 150m offshore (in a month’s lowest [no moon] tide). The same tide in the southern bay saw okay swimming in the sandy sections between coral outcrops and wading possible right out to the reef drop-off. Snorkeling was good along the drop-off at all tides and fairly interesting closer to the beach at higher tide levels.
Note there was a slight tidal current moving thru this area at higher tide levels - I found it easy to swim against but parents should keep an eye on kids. The same current moves along the reef drop-off at low tide and is stronger. Note tidal currents tend to be strongest mid-tide.

Viewpont's southern beach.

My favourite Lipe location is VIEWPOINT BUNGALOW where I stayed in March 07. This place reads up real nice in the travel guides and on travelfish.
I wasn’t disappointed. As late as 2009 it was an old style beach-hut type place, with rustic bungalows built up the steep hillside overlooking twin compact bays just south of a small headland at the end of the big eastern beach, Andaman. When I returned in 2013 there were some nice new aircon beachfront bungalows plus a lot of rebuilding of the hillside area.
Most of the hilside bungalows have very nice views from their verandas. Mine was the second highest, cut into the rainforest up a pretty awesome set of stairs, and was panoramic - Koh Usen, a small islet just offshore, Tarutao in the far distance, mountainous Ko Adang close to the north with the sweep of Andaman Bay between.

View from my bungalow directly east.
....and north.

2013 - the new bungalows immediately behind Viewpoint's more northern beach. Aircon at 1500baht  in high season (well I consider early March start of shoulder season) is a reasonable deal for Lipe where anything fronting a beach is becoming seriously expensive.

Also new to me in 2013, a flash joint called SERENDIPITY built up the hillside just south of Viewpoint. I had a wander around, very nice bungalows and atmospheric high set restaurant with viewing platforms nearby. I think it was opened in 2011 or 12.
The nicer more southern beach viewed from Serendipity's wooden walkway/stairs.

ANOTHER NEW JOINT IN THE AREA
The free island map available everywhere on arrival showed another joint POOH'S GARDEN RESORT even further south than Serendipity. So I went and had a look, accessing via the jungle track which leads from the road behind the resorts on south Sunrise beach. In March 2013 this new joint looked a work in progress. A steep area down the hillside to the sea had been largely cleared but there was only a few rough bungalows at the top and these looked to be staff/builder occupied.
There was no beach access here - just a rocky mini-cove. I tried to rock-hop north to Viewpoint/Serendipi'tys best beach but it was too difficult. I think building a walkway along there may encroach on Serendipity land. Nevertheless this one bears rechecking - several lovely places on Ko Tao get by with just rocky coves and this new joint is being developed by the famous Pooh's back on Walking Street, an island institution which has always been a class act.


WALKING AROUND THE SOUTH EAST CORNER OF THE ISLAND TO PATTAYA BEACH:
DON’T!
I saw a few people walking on past VIEWPOINT’S bays at low tide in an attempt to get around to Pattaya Beach. I saw them walking back. It is very difficult and dangerous. I did it on my first visit - it took me about 90 minutes (I had figured 10), there are several cliffs which you must climb up or down, and on one my hand-hold broke off (weathered rock - d'oh, what a surprise with all that salt air about!) and I nearly fell and broke my neck.
The best way is to go back to Andaman/Sunrise beach central and use Walking Street.
You can also climb the steep stairs thru VIEWPOINT/SERENDIPITY/POOH'S GARDEN - at the top the track drops thu the jungle, goes past a few local residential areas, joins the road behind the south Sunset Beach resorts and comes out near Poh’s on Walking Street - but this aint really any shorter. Nice walk though.
Avert your eyes if the long term French girl resident of the highest Viewpoint bungalow is walking around her veranda naked. I was shocked at this affront to Thai cultural standards - but I didn’t say anything, partly to not embarrass her. But mainly because she had a totally hot body.



EXCURSIONS
On my first visit and again  in March 2013 I took one of the snorkeling trips offered all around the island to the surrounding area. This took a half day and we first snorkeled a reef mid way between Lipe and Ko Rawi, and then did fringing reefs on islets near Rawi and Ko Adang. The coral and fish life were pretty good by Thai standards. There are also full day trips which offer an extra snorkelling stop and lunch on one of the beaches.
First stop was a mid-ocean reef between Ko Lipe and Ko Rawi. Frankly this is a bit disappointing - the water is deep and not all that clear. When I dived down to the bottom the coral and fishies didn't whelm me. People in shot are domestic tourists. Most Thais can't swim - hence the life-jackets.

Much better were the next 2 stops in the lee of small Ko Hing Nam - the water was pretty shallow here and visibility good. So too were the coral and fish.

Our beach stop was on one of the long strips of sand which line the western coast of big mountainous Ko Adang. Adang is a national park island so these beaches tend to have few people although our cruise down the coast showed sea gypsies had set up small camps in a few places.

Our trip was labelled a HALF DAY SUNSET SNORKELLING CRUISE.

Lipe has a number of dive operators and there are many dive sites in the surrounding area.

It's dead easy to grab a longtail at 50b per person and spend time on Adang's lovely beach. There is a great scenic lookout which only takes 30 minutes to access and a less than whelming waterfall after an hour or so's nice rainforest walk which turns into a circus river rock hop the last 300m. See my Adang page.



FOOD
I'm not a gourmet. Being a budget traveller, if it's cheap, fills me and tastes okay, I'm happy. But for food lovers Sbruny provided this in February 09- "Koh Lipe is limited for excellent food. The best thai is at the Jungle Bar in the middle of the island. For seafood try the sea gypsy place on Pattaya beach. For nice view with meal the Mountain Resort can't be beat. For tasty fried chicken try the muslim ladies behind the local school early in the morning. Overall, I would say the food on Koh Lipe very average compared to the rest of Thailand. However, the island and surrounding are spectacular."

I'll add that several users have reported Pattaya Song's restaurant does great Italian food - The Lady and I shared a pizza when we stayed at Varin on Pattaya and it seemed pretty good to me.
UPDATE - Lipe has expanded so much since 2009 particularly in the mid-range and better that I'm sure there is now a bunch of quality places to eat.



RUBBISH PROBLEMS ON LIPE
Lipe gets bad press from some visitors for high amounts of trash on beaches, around building sites and dumped beside hinterland tracks and the fishing village outskirts.


Early dry season beach junk on north end of Andaman (Sunrise) Beach (image WEBME - click the link for other similar shots)


Bigger image from THEMANZOMANDISTARSQUADRON - still Andaman Beach.

Beach rubbish is largely a seasonal thing.
Most of it is Thai domestic rubbish + rainforest debris carried to the ocean by flooding wet-season streams + an amazing amount of fishing boat detritus. A lot of this stuff gets moved considerable distances by currents and wind and dumped on Lipe.
In dry season much less rubbish gets washed and blown onshore - and a greater proportion is fishing junk. In this season most bungalows are pretty conscientious in cleaning beaches each morning. Few places are open in wet season, so things are let go. If you happen to arrive very early in dry season before locals get around to clearing the build-up, then WEBME's pix is the result. My Andaman beach shot up page (the one with the speedboat in midground) was taken only 2 weeks after WEBME's - a pretty big contrast.

Beach dump of cement bags early dry season (image WEBME)
Many people get upset about unsightly building activity. ISLANDBOI has some good building shots here.

Wet season and early dry season sees frantic building activity to finish projects for high season - so unsightly dumps of building materials and building sites are not uncommon at these times. CHANCHAO has pointed out that you can't get somewhere to sleep and have a meal if no building takes place. Hardliners say there is already too much development and the answer is to avoid the island.
Note I saw much less than normal building activity this latest trip - virtually nothing on the beaches and the new shop-fronts had been completed on the cross island track (and don't they look so much better than the messy old collection of ramshackle joints that used to be there). Most new building was taking place on the side roads away from the main track - the business area is expanding laterally.

Environmentally aware travellers can get depressed by the amount of domestic and bungalow/restaurant trash dumped alongside tracks in the hinterland, on the outskirts of the village and even behind certain bungalows. This is not a seasonal problem - it's 365/12, but seemed less evident in the lates trip. Maybe that 20baht trash tax on entry is having some impact.

Like many islands, Lipe for a long time had no organised rubbish collection and disposal - it was left to resorts and households to cart their stuff to the dump. And unfortunately some Thais are pretty lazy when disposing of household and tourist generated trash.
Possible answers are environmental education (directed at the fishing industry too), less laxity, more money and resources (Lipe is part of Satun local government area) and an effort by tourists themselves to cut down on trash generating activities. Suggestions include a national park type visitor quota system - difficult to implement for an island which is not administered by the National Park.

Hardline environmentalists urge travellers to avoid the island. Your call. Note that dumped rubbish is common throughout SE Asia - maybe sensitive travellers should avoid the area as a whole. I'm so used to it I didn't find Lipe anything out of the ordinary - but certainly if you have just arrived from Lanta, Phuket, Langkawi or other islands where trash collection in most areas is better organised, you could think Lipe looks messy in comparison.

PROGRESS 09
The promised rubbish removal service by the Satun provincial government has started. This large barge was beached in the centre of Pattaya near Leepae Resort and a shuttle of trucks was transferring both domestic rubbish and building material cast-offs from the central island tip. The same "Lipe is a rubbish dump" moaners will probably now complain about visual and olfactory pollution to the beach.
The barge was loading for a good 5 hours. Later in our trip a smaller boat was receiving the same type of cargo.

Rubbish bins like these on the cross island WALKING STREET were set up in several parts of the island - if you click to enlarge you can see they cater for the usual general, organic and recycle waste.

The village itself seems a lot neater. I think this is largely the result of concrete paving of a few of the cross streets leading off the cross island track - formerly these were dusty wayfares which turned to mud (or pools where the drainage was poor).

REGRESSION
The beach at the village had gone downhill since 08. A storm surge coupled with a king tide (as occured in October 09) would wash most of this junk into the sea, including the bottles - and thus we get future broken glass.

BROKEN GLASS
Lady Tezza's underprivileged childhood has made her world champion at finding stuff on the ground - I once saw her scoop up a heap of coins in shin-high grass on a dark night - and the amount of glass she and I managed to collect on our early Dec trip to Lipe was amazing. On Sunset Beach we loaded a washed up 10 litre plastic bag (Malaysian in source) half-way with with the stuff and had several unbroken bottles separate. It was worse on the scaggy low-tide-only beach behind the Thai Princess' hangers-on chalets (I bet the royal dogsbodies do a big clean-up of both this and Sunset before each of her visits). Disappointingly the beach at Mountain yielded quite a supply. But Andaman/Sunrise Beach was worst - we had to make several unloads at bins in resorts as we moved down the beach - with the village area worst of all. The best? Maligned Pattaya - in several full length walks I managed to find only a few pieces of glass and no bottles.
The sources of most of this glass are Thai fishermen who throw their Red Bull and beer bottles overboard and lazy Thai villagers who chuck bottles onto the beach or dump them above the normal tide mark (where a storm surge can still get them) - the bottles smash on seaside rocks (wind + currents + wave swash and the long-shore drift will take them there) and then beach drifting/wave swash will distribute the broken glass onto the beach. BTW if you are picking up, include those sand-rounded bits - we later met a Swedish girl who stepped on one of these which then broke and cut her.
Eradicating these dumping practices is the best solution - in the mean time, resort owners have to RAKE the beach each morning to sift out the glass and other rubbish. Note glass was a small problem on nearby Bulon Lae and Langkawi where resorts and other beach businesses do this conscientiously.
Now I wonder if my visit to Lipe was too early for many of the resorts to start this sifting - I can't believe places like Mountain and Porn resorts will want visitor complaints and injury when things get really busy. They should be doing this right from the start of the season - it was obvious many Pattaya places were. I wonder too, if I'm lucky - I've wandered the beaches/waded in the water for 4 visits bare-footed and never cut myself. I've never noticed much glass - but then I wouldn't notice Paris Hilton sunbathing naked on the sand unless I tripped over her.
Maybe peak season visitors could post in and comment on the glass situation.
UPDATE MARCH 2013 - March is after peak season, giving the island an extra 2 months to clear glass - and yep, things were pretty good.

Broken beer bottle found immediately on hitting the Princess' back beach (this is the one for which new bungalows above the beach have stolen the name SUNSET BEACH from the better beach next west) - interestingly I have it sitting on the supports for the water pipeline which comes onshore here from nearby Ko Adang waterfall. Lipe has few permanent streams - I know of none in the settled eastern half of the island.

Water pipeline from Adang. Some of you cynics might think it is a sewage pipe, but trust me, it is well away from the Princess' joint, there were no other resorts in line at the time of the shot and it is pointing directly at the waterfall area on Adang's southern slopes. I have hiked up to these falls - there are 3 similar pipes to a small pondage area a bit higher than the falls.

 THE RUBBISH-GLASS SITUATION MARCH 2013 - Lipe has done a Phi Phi and now imposes a 20bhat trash avoidance fee on entry. Main impact I saw was a daily run of garbage collection along Walking Street. However I must admit the rest of the island did not seem to have as much trash roadside etc. The glass situation on the beaches was better too - but this could be that my March visit had 5 months of high season for the broken stuff to be picked up by conscientious people like Lady Tezza and of course by resort beach clean-up crews.
I reckon the best time to judge the impact of the new trash fee would be early high season, say mid November - do they spend some of the tax on organised work gangs to clear the beaches of the wet season wind blown stuff pictured up page? Or is this left to individual resorts to eventually get around to as in the past?




OVERBUILDING
People returning to Lipe after some time get a shock at the amount of new places. It seems most obvious that most beach places have been taken - but I reckon we will start to see more joints on sea-side rocks, headlands like Tao, Phangan etc.
The other process we will see is more of the knock down the cheap joint and build a flasher place - like at Sita on western Pattaya - and of course expand and redevelop the joint as Varin has so successfully done on its Pattaya site.  (I wrote that in 2009 - note the new north coast places 2013 I mention up page. And the knockdown and redevelopment of existing beach places I saw same trip. Jeez. I'm psychic! ....Um, not really - both are no-brainers).

Even the most anti-development traveller will welcome some of the newer building activity such as the paving of the cross-island WALKING STREET and the neater shop-fronts along it plus the concreting of some of the formerly dire village streets that intesect it.

The paved track on Walking Street - about time! The biggest negative on Lipe eliminated IMHO. Note this is a late 08 shot when the paving was only a few months old - one year later it was considerably sandier and dustier in parts. Still a huge improvement on the daggy mess before.

UPDATE 2013 - road paving has continued. Now all the village cross-streets seems to be concrete. A lot of the narrow road leading away from the village area towards the north and west of the island ditto.

My 2013 visit reinforced the fact that I really like Walking Street these days. There is a huge array of restaurants, shops, travel agents, supermarkets, bakeries, tattoo joints, bars etc. Competition keeps prices competitive and its closed to motorcycles etc from early afternoon to mid-night. The place has a nice vibe IMHO.
If you want a cheap place to stay close to the central Pattaya beach boat landing point, Walking Street and the lanes leading off it have the pick. Simply walk along and check the signs: there were several places around 500 in late high season 2013.

GIPSY 2 RIVENDELL
I was after a relatively inexpensive place (not botttom budget) for March 2013 I could book online - I was a bit spooked by travel forums talking about how busy the island had become and simply wanted something with quick access off the boat without having to trudge around finding a vacancy. Knowing what a good location the general Walking Street area has become, I had no hesitation in booking G2R after reading good user reports online.
Like a dummy I didn't take any pix of the joint - had to pinch this one of the website.

This tiny boutique resort is in a great position – 50m up a short lane from the highest part of walking street with its big array of restaurants, shops and other businesses - and less than 5 minutes stroll from Lipe’s 2 main beaches, Pattaya and Sunset/Andaman.

The bamboo thatch and whitewashed-stone bungalows go a step or two further than normal in this price range (1300baht 2013). We are looking at lots of small artistic touches plus extras like multiple towels, incense sticks, mozzie coils +  lighters and beach mats/sarongs on demand. Inside are paintings, wall hangings, lots of dark stained wood and whitewash, nicely tiled floors in the bath room which has hot water, not all that common in bungalows of this price level. There is plenty of space for two people and their gear. The firmish double bed was comfy and the net a good one. The large veranda with hammock and chairs looked out on a garden setting although this contains a lot of bare earth. Main complaints were a lack of storage for luggage (the owners told me tables are on order) although there is plenty of small storage space; no wifi in rooms although free at reception; and the bungalows were a bit dark inside during daytlight. Some people will complain about the lack of restauants – but there is a vast array of very good value places nearby on Walking Sreet. The beachfront restaurants and sand bars with candles on mats are not too much further. One reviewer mentioned nearby bar noise but I could hear only distant music which was no means intrusive, and I’m a bit fussy in this respect.
The young Spanish couple running Gipsy are friendly and obliging.


In the past it's been hard to pick the relatively narrow gap where the track starts on Andaman from similar sized Bungalow entrances, but they now have a big overhead banner sign: WALKING STREET - so named because the busiest section is blocked off to motorcycles afternoon and in the evening.
Hard to miss Walking St from the Pattaya Beach end - about 150m right (facing inland) from beach-central. 10 minutes stroll across to Andaman/Sunrise Beach.

Walking St ends where it hits the village about 3 minutes from Andaman/Sunrise. The continuing road
doesn't quite reach the beach - but it's a short distance through the new Varin Village to the beach - nobody seems to mind outsiders strolling thru. There is an access lane to the north side of Varin Village - this looks like part of a resort too (looks like but I don't think it is).



HIGH PRICES
I have already indicated that high bungalow prices are a feature of Lipe. It is doing a Phi Phi in this respect. Prices to me seem 20 to 50% higher than you would pay on many popular islands. 1000 or more for a fan bungalow with bathroom in a budget beach resort is outrageous compared to similar places on say Phangan or big Chang, and particularly to the good value islands like little Chang, Phayam, Jum. But I'm a great believer in the market - if people are prepared to pay these prices they can't be wrong, can they? And I keep going back and paying those prices, don't I?



OVERCROWDING
All my visits have been in November/early December and March, hardly peak season. Except for my last visit when the main beaches seemed to be around two-thirds capacity, things were very uncrowded with popular resorts running around 30% - many others less. In late Nov08 my favourite budget joint VIEWPOINT had no guests! (I was pleased for the owner that a quite a few of his great hillside bungalows were occupied on later trips. Those new aircon beachfront jobs I show up-page were undrstandably all taken in March 2013.)
I did get a taste of more busy periods in 2009 because the King's Birthday Holiday Weekend coincided with 2 of our days on the island and Lipe is real popular with Thai locals. I'd say Varin was running 70%. However Pattaya Beach was uncrowded people wise, but as I said before there was a bunch of extra boats.
Despite this I have seen posts saying Peak-Peak at end of Dec into January has been VERY busy these last few years with unbooked poeple sometimes not finding a bed. Note Christmas is not a big deal with Thai holidayers, but New Year is.



SO SHOULD YOU AVOID LIPE?

No way in my opinion unless you are actively environmentally-sensitive.
For other people who don't like messy beaches, maybe you should avoid really early dry season (say up to the second week of Dec) until the beaches are likely to have been cleared. The trash and glass seems better cleared later in the dry season - but alway keep an eye out for the sharp stuff.

Repeat visitors who remember Pattaya as two thirds unbuilt with a bunch of small dunes backing the beach in the eastern half may prefer to stay somewhere else on the island more laid back - on Viewpoint’s/Serendipity's beach, Sunset Beach, Bila Beach etc or the little beach over the headland from Pattaya Song where Sanom Beach Resort has been built.
However I found latest trip Pattaya not too bad although regressed a bit from 2009, The top end of Andaman around Mountain and Andaman Resorts is nicest. Viewpoint's/Serendipity's beach is a great little spot and the southern section of Andaman/Sunrise beach nearby looked way better than in previous years - due I'd say to careful tending by the new resorts there. Who said development always makes a spot worse?
Or in future disappointed repeat visitors could stay on Adang and cross to Lipe for daytrips. The boaties in 2009 were charging 50baht per person (and they don‘t wait for a full boat, often I was the only passenger, then normally it becomes 100baht) - a rate that was a flat fee per person all around Lipe. Makes those guys at Ao Nang look like the thieves they are.

LIPE IS A LONG WAY FROM BANGKOK - is it worth the distance and cost? 
Often asked. My answer to the above - NOT ON ITS OWN*. But it is well worth it if you combine some of the nearby islands. Adang is a 10 minute longtail ride away. You can do a loop of Tarutao-Lipe-Bulon Lae using the scheduled tourist boats originating out of Pak Bara on the mainland.
Easy island hop makes going all that way to the far south very worthwhile

People visiting Langkawi in Malaysia can speedboat across to Lipe for a taste of staying on a Thai island (and Lipe is a good contrast to Langkawi) - and of course Langkawi-Lipe is a great way for tourists wanting to move from the western side of the  Malaysian peninsula into Thailand. They can go on via the mainland at Pak Bara or continue island hopping all the way to Krabi or Phuket.
* Lipe is not big enough, diverse enough nor has the fantastic landscape of say Phi Phi to be a must see destination in itself unless you are a dead set island tragic like me who has to see them all. You can get much the same as Lipe nearer to Bangkok - I'd say the closest island in style to Lipe I know is Ko Samet. Ko Tao is not a lot different although its landscape is more rugged and attractive, the beaches a bit inferior.



GETTING THERE
The biggest change I saw my latest 2013 visit was the end of the old slow ferries - now either speedboats or new faster ferries. In high season you can get these from a number of operators out of PAK BARA about midway between Trang and Satun. Depending on the operator these also call in at Taruatao or Bulon Lae.
They sure do pack them in - there were another 4 people closer to me in this undercover section. I had to stand on this Nov 08 Taruatao to Lipe trip, but I didn't mind - if the sea is bumpy it can be hard on the bum. The bow section was packed too - I counted 11 passengers out there. I haven't tried the new fast ferries out of Pak Bara but I imagine they are way more comfortable.

The SPD speedboat has run for yearS from KO LANTA, picking up at Kos Muk, Ngai and Bulon Lae - in recent years it has extended to a PHUKET start, calling in at PHI PHI. btw this is a hell of a long way in a speedboat - could be real rough and wet in early high season. I reckon I'd go by Tigerline. I think Bundhaya Speedboat run a similar service Lipe-Bulon-Lanta. Google will find the latest situation.
Tigerline ferries now runs from PHUKET via PHI PHI/LANTA to Lipe and on to Langkawi - stopping at several islands and the mainland pier at Hat Yao south of Trang on the way down. Tigerline also has a minibus service from Surathani, Krabi/Ao Nang and Khao Lak to connect with its ferries at the Hat Yao pier. Note that in early Dec 09 Tigerline was not running to Langkawi.
I have details of how to get to the Hat Yao pier at Ban Chao Mai independently on my Libong page, although Tigerline's minibus will transfer you from Trang railway station and airport.
On Tigerline bound for Lipe out of Ko Muk 2013. Note top deck can get a bit wet on rough or choppy sea days - lower enclosed deck has old-style aircraft seats and partial aircon. Tigerline is expensive but worth it on this route - took me less than 3 hours. The first time I did Lipe-Trang islands took me more than a day - despite catching the first boat out of Lipe to Pak Bara I arrived in the Trang area too late for the last boat to to the island: had to stay in Trang overnight.

For the budget conscious boat transport costs increase significantly out of (in order) Pak Bara, Langkawi and Lanta/further north.


Note that there is no pier at Lipe. Most boats stop offshore and people are ferried to the beach by longtails - 50 baht. There is often a longtail from Ko Adang to meet boats and any longtail meeting the ferry will take you over to Adang for 50 baht per person - and anywhere around Lipe island for the same - this is a really good service. The flat 50 baht per person applies to any trip around Lipe off the beach too.
Some ferries and speedboats pull into a pontoon off Pattaya Beach - or a pontoon not too far off Porn at Sunset Beach (I think this may be weather dependent - the one off Sunset beach was not being used in March 2012).


There is a speedboat directly from LANGKAWI - emigration at the Telaga Harbour office - immigration at the beach office which is next to Bundhaya resort on eastern Pattaya Beach. We used this one on our 2009 trip - it seemed to be a joint effort between Telaga Shuttle and SPB Speedboat using the latter's boats. In early Dec 09 there were 2 services per day and we found if you don't book well ahead they may be booked out.**

There is also at least one slower ferry out of Langkawi, I think from another pier. Travel desks on Lankawi wiill have the latest info.
**If the direct speedboat and slower ferries are booked out and you have to use the 4 a day Langkawi - Thammalang ferries it will take you maybe 90 minutes to reach Pak Bara from Thammalang which is the 
first Thailand pier on the mainland across the border. Cheapest is a motorcycle taxi or songthaew the 10km or so to Satun and then a regular bus or songthaew to La Ngu and then a motorcycle taxi or songthaew across to Pak Bara.


Immigration/emigration office, east Pattaya Beach, Ko Lipe.

FERRY TIMETABLE - very good, tends to have all of the services and is kept pretty well up to date.

WET SEASON TRANSPORT - for some time there was only one wet season ferry per week from Pak Bara to Lipe - Fridays at 1100 and back Sundays at 0930. There was also a cargo boat you could get a ride on - out Wed 1100, back Fri 1000.
However late in wet season 08 a daily ferry service from Pak Bara kicked in, plus a daily speedboat service, weather permitting.
There are no services wet season from Langkawi or on Tigerline's island-hopper out of Phuket. Tigerline tends to start late November/early December - the website has up to date starting dates.

GETTING TO PAK BARA FROM OTHER MAINLAND SPOTS.
From Hat Yai - minibuses run roughly hourly from the new central minibus station to the pier area - abt 2 hours. You can also get a bus from the bus station but this will be slower. UPDATE 2013 - I noticed trip agents on Lipe were advertising minibus connections from Pak Bara to Hat Yai station and airport - so it might be a good idea to inquire at the airport or station about the reverse trips.
From Trang - the travel agents in the street parallel to the railway station run minibuses down to the pier (abt 2 hours) and will provide you with a bus/ferry ticket. They can book bungalows - I find them very efficient. Apparently reps meet flights at the airport and shuttle people down to the agencies to book and pick up a minibus.

If you want to do it independently catch a Satun bound bus, get off at La Ngu (Langu) and then get a motorcyle taxi or songthaew the 10km or so to Pak Bara.
From Bangkok - best bet is to fly. Bucks-down travellers may find Bangkok to Satun buses go thru La-Ngu, but maybe they go via Hat Yai. Trains run Bangkok to Hat Yai - probably at least one is a sleeper train. For sure there are 2 sleeper trains from Bangkok into Trang each day. 
From other Andaman locations and the southern Gulf (Samui etc) - every tourist destination has signs up advertising transfers to Lipe, with many using minibuses to Pak Bara. You can get public buses from most southern mainland towns to Satun - get off in La-Ngue etc.

FLY INTO HAT YAI OR TRANG? - Hat Yai has more flights and I believe the transport across to Pak Bara is more frequent and a bit shorter. But there is not a lot of difference.


LEAVING THE ISLAND
Basically it's just a matter of using the same fast ferry and speedboat providers mentioned up page. Note travel desks at resorts and on Walking Street can book these for you - prices can vary. These places can also book onward transport if you are going across to the mainland at Pak Bara to your next destination.
One travel agent's pricing in March 2013 - details clearer if you click-expand.

ARRIVING BACK AT PAK BARA FROM LIPE
Many people catch one of the travelers’ minivans from Pak Bara north to Trang where you can change minivans for Lanta, Krabi etc on the one ticket Um - my latest 2013 Pak Bara-Ao Nang  (Krabi) minivan blew straight past Trang on the by-pass saving at least a half hour). These vans often wait for later boats to come in, and so if you take early ones you could be sitting around in Pak Bara for a while. I used to think Pak Bara was a real hole but these days the area adjacent the pier is not a bad little (maybe not so little) business area. Plenty of restaurants, cheap internet, travel agents etc and way less dusty and scappy than in years past.

In 2013 there was a big new travel terminal at the pier - if you have bought onward tickets on Lipe, reps from your transport provider will meet you at the pier. If you haven't got a ticket you can cut a deal with these people - they will come down in price for minivan and ferry tickets if you are a good bargainer.
You can also get to Trang by catching a songthaew or motorcycle-taxi the 10km or so to La Ngu, where the Satun-Trang public buses come thru roughly hourly. Last time I caught one of these it terminated in southern Trang about 2km from the center and 4km from the main bus station for buses further north.
If you are going to Hat Yai, public minibuses leave hourly. I believe the travel companies also run independent minibuses to Hat Yai, timed more to boat arrivals from Lipe - and these are more likely to drop you at the airport, bus station and train station.
You can pick up public buses into Hat Yai from La Ngu - but note Hat Yai airport is some distance out of town. 

Speedboats seem to have taken over most of the transport to Lipe. This is our Langkawi speedboat in 2009. Note it reverses into Pattaya beach when the tide allows - all the other speedboat services moor alongside the pontoons where the longtails transfer passengers to the beaches. I think the authorities don' t want people from Langkawi shooting off on longtails before they do immigration.

BE CAREFUL ON SPEEDBOATS!
It's a good idea to waterproof baggage particularly if you are travelling in those often blowy early high season months or of course in wet season (I have a big 50+ liter thin plastic bin liner bag I chuck everything into and then stuff into my travel bag) - our identical boat to the above later going Lipe to Bulon Lae hit such choppy seas that everything including me, crouched behind the elevated driver's chair for cover, got soaking wet. If you are susceptible to seasickness take some motion sickness tablets and look at the horizon.
DO NOT sit out the front if you are susceptible to back injury (a girl on our return journey to Langkawi hurt her back on a vicious bump hit at speed in lighter chop and had to be wheelchaired off to hospital on arrival).

Um - well the above is the travel situation as I know it at March 2013. But this area is fluid - I can't believe how much easier it is to move around the islands even from a couple of years ago. Who knows what will be on offer in the future? Thing is, many accommodation and other island websites tend to keep information up to date - the second one below has been particularly good over the years. 

A GOOD LIPE WEBSITE
ANOTHER GOOD WEBSITE
USER REPORT FROM LATE DEC O7
JimmyK just filed this report about his Dec visit to Lipe:
"I had booked a week at Mountain Resort on the quieter side of the island at Sunrise Beach. It looked idyllic and I’d read some good reviews on here about the place. I wasn’t disappointed initially. The location was amazing with the huts perched on the edge of a small cliff face overlooking a beautiful beach and Koh Adang in the background. I splashed for the Deluxe Cabin, 2200 Baht a night, as I’m on holiday and with the missus and I have to make my life as easy as possible when she’s in tow. Ok, first the positives about Mountain Resort. It has a great location with beautiful views. The rooms are clean and well thought-out with hot water and satellite TV. And Karma bar is great, very chilled place for a drink or two in the evening.
One thing I had heard about this place was that it is owned by a big-shot Thai who is responsible for a lot of the development on Koh Lipe and the exclusion of the local Chao Ley people (please correct me if I’m wrong). However, I was quite impressed by the relative low-impact of the resort. It isn’t an eye-sore and there isn’t rubbish scattered everywhere. The beach is kept clean and there is an active recycling scheme in place, even down to having a water-bottle refilling station to reduce plastic waste. (Not any more - tezza) In contrast when I walked along the beach to the Chao Ley village, the beach in front of the village is strewn with litter left by the local people. Empty diesel canisters, metal battery parts etc.
Anyway, back to Mountain Resort and I’m afraid that’s where the positives end. The restaurant has great views but resembles a canteen with no atmosphere whatsoever. Also, the service is very very slow and not particularly friendly. Food and drink is expensive compared to resorts at Pattaya beach. The Thai food is average and the western food is awful, possibly the worst I’ve had in Thailand. And it doesn’t end there. From early in the morning, around 7am onwards the longtails create a hell of a lot of noise which can be heard from anywhere in the resort and sounds like you are sleeping next to the world’s loudest snorer. So, we only stayed 3 nights of the planned week and after visiting Pattaya beach for the day, decided to relocate there.

But before I go into that I will finish with Sunrise beach first, and particularly a new resort called Castaway.We had a couple of meals at Castaway Resort but didn’t stay there. It’s newly opened and seems to be run by an English guy. The accommodation looks really nice with large huts just set back from the beach. The restaurant area is also nicely designed with a raised area with hammocks and cushions. The food here is very good, both Thai and Western and the service is friendly and attentive. Castaway is only a short walk coming from Pattaya beach past Pooh’s bar, with the path coming out right at Castaways on the beach. Also, it’s worth noting that the snorkelling is excellent off the beach between the two small islands 100m in front of Castaway. Beware though of the current as this side of the island is especially windy and the sea can get choppy. Another cool thing to do is scramble across the rocks on the headland that connects Sunrise beach to Pattaya beach. It took us about 2 hours and it involves a bit of actual climbing with decent climbing shoes but it’s a good way to kill a few hours.

And so to Pattaya beach. I expected this beach to be busy being the main drag, and it seemed to be running at full occupancy when I checked out places but it was still pretty low-key. Kinda like Koh Chang’s White Sand Beach 8 years ago before it got bought up and trashed. Bundhaya Resort seems to be the biggy with most families staying here. Nice place though with good food and service and reasonably priced. We stayed at Varins in a regular AC villa for 1500 Baht. Loved it. One thing you really notice after staying on a quieter beach as part of a captive audience is service is so much better and the prices lower when there’s a bit of competition. The bay here can be busy with boats but go to either end by the rocks for calm safe water and good snorkelling.Walking inland towards the infamous Pooh’s bar you’ll pass small shops selling the usual tourist tack and offering massages, tattoos etc. There’s more being built and I’m sure in a few years it will resemble the alleys of Phi Phi. Pooh’s is apparently an institution and rightly so. The bar is full of atmosphere, with live music, pool table. The restaurant does great food and the service from Pooh himself and his staff is exceptional. Highly recommended.

Anyway, that’s it. Koh Lipe was great, still a quiet island, maybe not for long, and you might argue that reviews like mine will only make it worse, but there you go. It will happen eventually anyway, unless regulations are put in place."

Okay, another person's perpective is always good value - and it looks like Jimmy is a better appreciator of food than me. Longtail noise is the bane of many otherwise great Thai beach locations.


ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE
- Hans Meier has an entertaining account of Lipe HERE - he is very good on personalities, has some nice pix and I kinda got the impression he was less than gruntled about Pattaya Beach.

Taking it easy on Viewpoint's beach - note patches of coral in the water which make this a pretty good spot for snorkelling away from low tide.


Julie has a Lipe Trip Report from Dec 09 in the new Trip Reports Section.
wondersingstar from December 2010
wonderingstar has an even more comprehensive update from Nov 2011
And Ruben has one from Feb '11


If you want to do a trip report on Lipe or any other beach or island pleases send text and/or pix and captions to lajolla22@hotmail.com.
---------------------------------------------

UPDATE OCT 2012 - trip reporter wonderingstar has his own dedicated snorkelling blog which has a very good SNORKELLING LIPE page with lots of info, maps and pretty 
underwater pix

UPDATE JAN 2015 - wow, what a difference a little over a year makes. That great travelers' resource Travelfish has an update on Lipe. Seems development has been very rapid since my latest visit, with the place turning into more of a mid-range destination.

---------------------------------------------
A reliable Trang travel agent for booking and transport into all Trang and Satun area islands - good on transfers/accommodation to/for Lanta and further north too - KK Travel in the parallel street directly opposite the railway station tel 075-211198, 223664, 081-8945955.
----------------------------------
If you visit Lipe you might also be interested in nearby:
Ko Adang
Ko Tarutao
Ko Bulon Lae
Ko Lao Liang
Langkawi (Malaysia)
----------------------------------
If you have extra info or see mistakes please post them below.
If you have any questions, please ask them in THE FORUM rather than below. I don't get a chance to check all threads daily, but unless I'm travelling I'll try to monitor THE FORUM regularly.

BACK TO MAIN INDEX

16 comments:

kyb21 said...

Excellent detailed report and reviews, Tezza!
My sister and I would very much like to stay at Viewpoint Resort bungalows, but we can't find any contact info other than a phone #. Even the http://www.kohlipethailand.com/accommodation.php site has no mention of Viewpoint. How did you book?

My sis and I are looking for two beds as well. We're not too keen on sharing a bed. Any idea if Viewpoint has any two bed bungalows?

Thanks in advance for any feedback, and keep up the wonderful reports. We've used your info and advice throughout are Thailand travel plans.

-K

tezza said...

Answered on the forum, kyb.

Ruesslan said...

Hey Tezza, it's Ruess from Carmel. Thanks for keeping me posted on your travels. Well I made it out to Lipe twice last year, and next time you head out that way, you might want to consider traveling in early November. My sister and I booked the deluxe bungalow (next to the stairs)at Mountain, for only 1100 a night. Air Con, Satellite TV,etc. Didn't really have to haggle much either. The fan bungalows were going for 500. There were maybe 100 tourists on the island and the weather was great. I just got back from Palau Wey in Northern Sumatra and the snorkeling and diving was pretty awesome. Bungalows for 50000 rupiah, and single dives for 15 Euros. When you get some time you should check it out. Lots of other cool things in Sumatra too. Take care and I hope things are going well.

tezza said...

Wow, just noticed ruesslan's comment! Sounds like early Nov is the time to cut a deal at Mountain. Actually it's real early shoulder season and is the time to cut a good deal most islands.
I have been to Sumatra but late 90s so my info isn't fresh enough to do a page here. I didn't get to Palau Wey though - one which is definitely on the wait list.

Lux Blogger said...

I can only agree:

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1996610

phiphi said...

Lipe was our favorite spot while backpacking in Thailand and the most beautiful island. We´ve seen staying in a lovely bungalow directly on the beach for only 500 Baht. We´ve been trying to capture the amazing time we had

RCH2012 said...

Awesome Blog! I am planning a first time trip in April 2013. I am thinking of hitting phi phi, then Mook and Lipe.

Is it best to book lodging before I arrive on the islands?

Thanks again!

R

RCH2012 said...

Awesome Blog! I am planning a first time trip in April 2013. I am thinking of hitting phi phi, then Mook and Lipe.

Is it best to book lodging before I arrive on the islands?

Thanks again!

R

Sbipk said...

Thank you nice article.
your next trip…Phuket is the best choice for you!!
I love here Surin Beach Phuket This hotel is very nice clean and the people are friendly. VERY nice hotel with helpful staff.
And I really love white sand, crystal clear waters at Surin Beach too.
Thank again.

Sierra said...

There is a new website concerning the islands in Andaman Sea where you have updated boat timetables and where you can book transport by boat and taxi/minvan.
http://thaibeachtravellers.com/

Summersummercool said...

Hi hi.. Just read your blog about Koh Lipe.
I plan to go Koh Lipe and already bought the air ticket to Lankawi on July. After that I only know the Jetty is no open in May to Oct. fainted...
Do you have any idea there is any transport to koh lipe fromLangkawi in July? Help... Help.. help......
Tq

Florence

havelokisland said...

Hello, Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
Andaman Resort Booking Online

ZuZu ~:3 said...

Hi Tezza, May I ask if you have any information on Koh Lipe Horse Racing Club?

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