Our first stop was Ko Lanta.
Our second stop was Koh Mook:
… our final stop is Ko Lipe …
The currency in Thailand is the Baht (or the ‘THB’). I will refer to them as THBs. At the time of writing, the exchange rates for the major currencies were:
|Published Wholesale Rate||34.24||36.66||41.40|
|Actual Exchange Rate (Wise Debit Card)||34.00||36.40||41.11|
|Actual Exchange Rate (Typical Credit Card)||33.21||35.56||40.16|
|Actual Exchange Rate (ATM)||33.04||35.38||39.95|
You will NOT get this Wholesale Rate … you will get the Actual Exchange Rate:
- Expect to lose about 0.70% if you use a Wise Debit Card.
- Expect to lose about 3.00% if you use a typical Credit Card.
- Expect to lose about 3.50% if you take (the maximum allowed) cash out of an ATM.
For simplicity, think of a THB100 note as being US$3.
PLEASE NOTE: Over time, these exchange rates will change. It is also early 2023 … so inflation will need to be taken into account. Please check the current rates.
It was originally settled by a group of Malayic-speaking people and sea gypsies.
Ko Lipe is a ‘tourist island’ BUT it is not a ‘party island’.
Popular activities include natural features, water sports (e.g. SCUBA diving), snorkeling, kayaking, boat trips to nearby islands & reefs (e.g. Ko Usen and Ko Kra), drinking, and dining (particularly fresh seafood on Walking Street).
Visitors take in sunrise views on Sunrise Beach and partake in nightlife on Pattaya Beach.
Ko Lipe is ideal for snorkeling, with 25 percent of the world’s tropical fish species found in the area.
You don’t have to go far to find the best snorkeling spots on Ko Lipe. The island is surrounded by colourful coral and tropical fish. You only have to swim 50 to 100 meters from the beach and you’ll be floating right over the top of it.
It is advised that you check out iVisa before you travel to get the latest entry requirements.
PLEASE NOTE: Requirements may change from time to time without prior notice. Please continue checking with iVisa for the complete current list of entry requirements.
At the time of writing Thailand had no COVID-19, Travel Insurance, nor Exit Ticket requirements … and, their standard Tourist Visa On Arrival (VOA) was 45 days for major country passport holders. Thailand is open to both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists.
I was already in Koh Mook, Thailand. I walked to the port and booked a speedboat to Ko Lipe. The price was THB1,100. The boat comes from Ko Phi Phi and stops at Koh Mook at 11:20am. It arrived 50 minutes late.
The trip takes 2 hours. We were dropped off on a pontoon on Pattaya Beach. On arrival you need to pay a National Park Fee of THB200 per person. This ticket lasts for 5 days and you must carry it with you at all times if you do any activities in the National Park.
Immigration is located on Pattaya Beach.
Check out 12Go to have a look at your ‘getting there’ options:
WHEN TO GO
The weather for the ‘shoulder’ months (April and November) is ‘unpredictable’. The island practically shuts down during ‘Off Season’ … but, you may be lucky with the weather during May.
A constant breeze will keep you cool as long as you remain close to the sea.
During Dry Season (December to April), there are several locations from which travelers can take a ferry or speedboat to Ko Lipe including: Ko Lanta, Pak Bara, Phi Phi, Trang, Satun, and Langkawi (Malaysia). During Off Season (May to November), the only way to get to Ko Lipe is by speedboat from Pak Bara.
In Ko Lipe, travelers can depart & arrive at Bundhaya Resort or Pattaya Beach.
Many places close down in Off Season. Hotel prices (for those still open) can be halved.
Let’s have a look at the Island and the Beaches … what can you expect?
Pattaya Beach is Koh Lipe’s main beach.
If you are looking for beach bars at night with fire-throwing, etc., you come to Pattaya Beach.
ON THE ROCK / SUNRISE BEACH / NORTH POINT
Sunrise Beach stretches the entire eastern side of Koh Lipe. It gets an all-day breeze. Hotels are much more spread out compared to Pattaya Beach. There are several restaurants and a few beach bars that mainly operate during the day.
Most of the high-end hotels and Ko Lipe resorts are located on Sunrise Beach.
Sunset Beach runs down the west coast.
… it is really just a string of small beaches / bays.
LESSER KNOWN BEACHES
There are some other small, ‘secret’ beaches around Ko Lipe’s coasts if you want to go looking for them.
Here you will get a great view looking across to Ko Adang. The beach will triple in size at low tide!
There is also another tiny secret beach located on the far west of the island. It is located beyond the end of the road that leads to Sanom Beach Resort. You will either need to take a kayak or long-tail boat to get there.
… small farms:
… It is nice to have a ‘wander’.
Thailand is 220-240V / 60Hz. Power plugs are 2-pin accepting either flat or circular 2-pin plugs. Sometimes, you get the USA-style 3-pin plug.
I always travel with a Universal Power strip that also has USB charging ports. I just swap-out 1 plug (or use a travel adapter) to get all of the power and USB ports that I need for all of my devices.
Power on Ko Lipe (during ‘High Season’) is reliable.
MONEY / ATMs
ATM Fees in Thailand are ‘high’ compared to other countries. Foreigners are charged THB220 / US$6.40 to use an ATM. This is in addition to your normal inter-bank transaction and conversion fees.
On a (typical) maximum single ATM withdrawal of THB20,000 expect to lose 3.50%.
PLEASE NOTE: To keep costs down, use an ATM in a bank. ATMs in ‘convenient locations’ can charge higher fees.
Many places accept payment by Credit or Debit Card.
In general, you should not have a problem changing a THB1,000 (US$30) note.
WISE DEBIT CARD
I keep my costs down by using a Wise Debit Card.
RECOMMENDATION: I highly recommend the Wise Debit Card to all travelers.
I used Wise to pay for my travel and accommodation whenever possible … and, pay only 0.70% fees.
WHERE TO STAY
You can stay anywhere. Even if you are in the middle of the island, you can walk to a nice beach within 15 minutes.
You won’t be able to afford one of these on a GRANDPAcking budget 🙂
PLEASE NOTE: Booking your hotel & transportation in advance during Peak Season is recommended as most boats to Ko Lipe and Ko Lipe resorts will be fully booked months in advance. It isn’t as bad during the rest of the High Season, but you will still be taking a bit of a risk if you just ‘turn up’ without a reservation.
You will find it ‘challenging’ to find GRANDPAcking quality accommodation at GRANDPAcking prices. It is best to avoid Peak Season (Peak Season rates can be double the price of Low Season rates). You may be able to get a good discount well in advance but I doubt it … the hotels here know that they are likely to be fully booked anyway.
If you cannot find somewhere at the right price, don’t panic … do what I did (see, below).
BOOKING.COM / HOTELS.COM / AGODA
This is what you can expect to find for up to US$30 per night at short notice on the main search sites:
Some sites do not provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter, so check you room details carefully.
Even in ‘Shoulder Season’ (April and November) GRANDPAckers have few choices under US$30 per night … you will need to monitor the search engines and ‘pounce’ when a good discount raises its head.
AIRBnB / HOLIDAY RENTALS
AirBnB had no properties listed for Ko Lipe.
I find AGODA to be better than BOOKING and HOTELS in this area of Thailand.
RECOMMENDATION: If you are staying in a bungalow, bring a can of mosquito spray … even though you should have a mosquito net over the bed, you’ll need it.
I nearly did not come to Ko Lipe … I really struggled to find GRANDPAcking quality accommodation at a GRANDPAcking price. I did my normal ‘thing’ … I had a Plan B (to go to a different island) just in case … then, waited and watched the online sites.
I booked my Fan Cottage for US$18 per night including a free Buffet Breakfast for 2 people.
The Varin was a 20 metre walk along the beach from where the speedboat dropped us off. At check-in you are required to leave a THB500 security deposit.
I was happy with my Fan Cottage … I do not need aircon … at this time of year, a fan is perfectly adequate.
For ‘Short Term’ accommodation, have a look yourself:
EAT & DRINK
Ko Lipe is very ‘remote’ and everything has a high transport cost to get to the island. Accordingly, prices are higher than in other parts of Thailand … expect prices to be about 25% higher.
There are several grocery stores on the island and a 7-Eleven on Walking Street. The 7-Eleven tends to be reasonably priced for everyday items and ‘goodies’ … but NOT FOR ALCOHOL.
The 7-Eleven charges THB410 for a 750ml bottle of Sangson … you can get the same at Patt Market for THB320.
Most restaurants offer something like a Green Curry (prawn) with Rice for between THB200 and THB275 … with a large local Chang beer between THB110 and THB130.
Ko Lipe is famous for its seafood and in the evenings restaurants will display today’s fresh catch. Walking Street is very popular. You, usually, pay by weight. You are looking at THB400+ each if you want to spoil yourself.
A typical price for a small Chang in a bar is THB60-THB90 (a large is THB110-THB150). Mixed drinks and cocktails range from THB160-THB250. Some bars have 2-for-1 Happy Hours (most end before 8pm).
It is assumed that you will eat in budget, local restaurants.
Expect to pay THB125 for a Breakfast with tea / coffee and the same for Lunch with a fruit drink. Expect to pay THB250 for Dinner with a small beer / fruit juice.
Ko Lipe has no Public Transport.
You can walk between Sunrise Beach and Pattaya Beach in 15 minutes.
INTERNET / WIFI
I advise you to get a local Thai SIM Card and Prepaid Package: choose either TRUE or AIS.
7-Elevens mainly sell TRUE packages.
In Krabi Town Centre, the AIS Telewiz store offered a new 5G SIM (THB50) with a 70GB data plan at full speed (THB300). So, for THB350, I got more than I needed for a month.
RECOMMENDATION: Do not get a ‘traveler SIM’ … they are over-priced. If you are staying in Thailand for more than 1 month, download the AIS Mobile App.
LEAVING KO LIPE
I purchased a 1-way ticket to Kuah, Langkawi for THB1,300.
Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
In summary, costs are broken down into Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL):
- COE: Is the basic costs of just being there;
- COL: Is the additional costs that make being there fun.
ORANGE COLUMNS / LEFT HAND SIDE
The left of the spreadsheet (orange columns) shows the costs for a GRANDPAcking Couple living to GRANDPAcking Standard using a Standard (Home) Bank Credit / Debit Card to pay for large purchases (e.g. accommodation) and withdrawing cash from ATMs for all other “EXISTENCE’ expenses.
For comparative purposes, it is assumed that you stay for 1 month.
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE)
You will, probably, need to book the whole month in advance.
It won’t be easy to find something at GRANDPAcking prices … but, if you go in Shoulder Season and put the effort in, you should be able to find something for THB815 / US$25 per night including Breakfast.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
Your budget is THB750 / US$23 per day eating all meals in local restaurants.
SIM CARD / MOBILE DATA
A 1 month AIS 70GB package for THB350.
VISA EXTENSION / NATIONAL PARK FEES
You will have to spend THB200 each when you first arrive to get your 5-day National Park Fee. Nobody ever checks after that, so you should be OK for the rest of your stay.
A typical Backpacker Level Travel Insurance policy has been apportioned (calculated as 30 days of your annual rate).
TRANSPORTATION (TO/FROM PORT OF ENTRY)
It is assumed that you are coming from and returning to somewhere like Krabi or Langkawi.
Your COE is about THB1,881 / US$57 per day. This is 89% of your daily budget. You have very little left to LIVE on (US$7 per day).
A GRANDPAcking Couple can ‘EXIST’ on Ko Lipe but they cannot afford to ‘LIVE’ to GRANDPAcking Standard.
RIGHT HAND SIDE / PURPLE COLUMNS
The right of the spreadsheet (purple columns) shows how a GRANDPAcking Couple can try and keep costs down. Alas, on Ko Lipe there are very few ways to do that.
By being ‘wise’ with how you spend your money, you may be able to save an extra US$2 per day.
The main problems are:
- The cost of getting to / from Ko Lipe;
- The high cost of accommodation;
- Everything you buy being 25% more expensive than other islands in Thailand.
To keep your accommodation costs down avoid Christmas, New Year, and Easter.
Many GRANDPAckers will love Ko Lipe.
Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? MAYBE. Would you want to? MAYBE … your problem will be ‘Rainy Season’.