Turquoise sea, white sand, massage on the beach and Thai food. What more there is to want from a holiday? We have recently been on two small islands just like that: where there is hardy anything to do but read a book and catch crabs – just the way we like it on a quick beach getaway.
Have a look at the map and zoom in on those little islands just above Langkawi. You will find Koh Lipe – still relatively unspoiled by mass tourism. Luckily for us in Malaysia, it is only an hour’s boat ride from Langkawi, served by many low-cost airlines from KL.
Having said that, it is a long and sweaty journey. The fast ferries run from Langkawi’s Telaga harbour (during the season between October and May), about 15 minutes taxi drive from the airport. It is a good idea to buy tickets to Lipe on-line since it apparently gets busy during peak times. At least when we went, there were no kids’ life vests on board so bring your own if you are a boat safety freak like me.
Passports are collected at the harbour and are returned to the passengers in the other end after immigration procedures. This is what makes the trip sweaty – there is a lot of waiting around in both ends. Pack the kids’ sand toys handy since the wait at the Lipe end is on a stretch of beach. Most hotels organise transport from Pattaya Beach where the boat arrives – the other beaches are a short boat or motorbike ride away.
We chose to stay at the Idyllic Concept Resort mostly because of their swimming pool – not a very ecological criteria but dictated by the large number of children of different ages and tastes in our party. The hotel fared well in location, sundowner cocktails and comfort. The food wasn’t up to the usual Thai standard but then again, there are many places along the beach to eat – our favourite was the Seredipty nearby with stunning views.
The Walking Street (not that there are cars anywhere, really) offers the usual tourist barbecues and what little night life there is. It’s about 20 minutes walk from the Sunrise Beach along the beach and dirt tracks.
The expected activities are available: snorkeling, jungle hikes, kayaking and diving. For those looking for adventure, you can stay overnight on some of the neighbouring “deserted” islands in tents or basic huts. Castaway resort on the Sunrise Beach offers early morning yoga – I cannot say I managed to get up for that. I did, however, try their pancakes and can highly recommend those. Like everywhere in Thailand, massage on the beach costs you a third of what you would have to pay in KL.
Note that there are no ATMs on the islands and credit cards are not accepted everywhere, so bring cash.
Another point to take note of is that the tax-free shopping in Langkawi is only available for those staying on the island for 48 hours or more. This rule may or may not be implemented at the airport, so don’t count on buying cigars for your friend who just had a baby, ahem.
In the second part of this post we’ll go to another tiny island within reasonably easy reach of KL, Koh Yum!