Koh Lipe updates

Koh Lipe is a beautiful small island, close to the Tarutao National Park in South West Thailand.

It has gorgeous, fine white sand; clear azure blue seas and good reefs with all kinds of pretty fish to look at.

Bet you wanna go there, don’t you? Yes, well, so does everybody else. That’s the thing…

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This is an update I wrote in November 2011 for the venerable Tezza and his excellent blog Tezzas Beaches and Islands. This is mostly just updates of what has changed on the island from 2009-11, so you should probably also read Tezzas original report to get the background. I have since updated this to include updates from other visits in May 2012 and December 2012. There is an extensive update on accommodation at Dec 2014 here.

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I like my desert-island paradises to be tranquil, undeveloped and naturalistic with a local ‘culture’ that is the same as the host country’s. Ten years ago, Ko Lipe was one of those places. But, like many islands on the West of Thailand, Ko Lipe is slowly undergoing an ‘evolution’ into Las Vegas.

2012/13 sees a run of new mid/high-end resorts on the North coast, inception of a tourist police outfit and the consumption of the last remaining space on Pattaya beachfront. 2011/12 was the year of the new International-Airport style ferry-terminal at the port in Pak Bara; the 60 inch widescreen TV in the cloisters of most restaurants; a stream of new 5000B per night resorts and the island’s first Sports Bar With Pool Table.


Does paradise really need one of these ?

If you think that such things are great and want to go on a holiday where you can eat burgers and pizzas before going back to your aircon room to watch the big match, you will love the way Ko Lipe is going. Personally, I don’t and you will find me bleating about the fact at various points through this report.

However, don’t let me put you off Koh Lipe too much. If you are looking for a beach holiday, Lipe is a beautiful island and compared with some holiday islands, the beaches are pretty empty, even in high season. There’s a lot of mid-range, tasteful accommodation within a minute’s walk of the beach (and 15 minutes walk of all the other beaches); there are plenty of good restaurants serving up the catch of the day at candle-lit wicker tables on the beach. There are no 7-11s*; no pumpin’ all-night hotspots; no flashing neon signs; no KSR-scammers or sex-tourism. Yet. But you should understand that Ko Lipe is now a holiday island. A few years ago, environmentalists were suggesting that you should boycott the island to cut-off the market demand that would lead to over-development. Well, we’re past that tipping-point now. The secret’s out of the bag, there’s money to be made and the developers know it. Ko Lipe is a holiday island, not a backpackers/explorer’s island.

(* – a 7-11 arrived in 2013)

Having said that, it isn’t a complete non-starter for backpackers. You can put on your walking shoes and find some pretty remote spots if you want to. About 70% of the island is raw rainforest. I even found some wild monkeys this trip. Just don’t expect to find a 200B hut on the beach, coz you won’t.

I’ve put a few tips at the end for cheapskates like me. Midrangers can find plenty of info at those websites that get paid to advertise hotels.

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Alrighty, enough opinion, on with the facts….

Pak Bara (the main departure point for ferries to Lipe) has just got a new, massive, National Park Headquarters building.

The park office for the Tarutao National Marine Park is something of a poor cousin to the main headquarters building and is off to the left. In here, you book accommodation if you want to stay on the National Park Islands of Koh Tarutao or Koh Adang (edit: actually, a year later in 2012, this building still wasn’t being used, but I would guess that it will soon commence use, as the old booking area was the last remaining part of old jetty that was being demolished).

Out the back from the National Park headquarters is the new big pier with the new Tourist Departures Hall, along with spots for various other maritime users.


(All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions)

There is a new big fast ferry service from Pak Bara to Tarutao/Lipe. Run by ‘Lipe Ferry Line’, they have a few big, enclosed 90 seater fast ferries.

They take about the same amount of time as the traditional 50-seater speedboats. The old speedboats are still in operation, I saw plenty at the Lipe end, but I didn’t see where in Pak Bara they were departing from.

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There are now a few ATMs at the restaurants directly around the pier area of Pak Bara (there are no ATMs on any of the islands). There is also a 7-11 store at the pier in Pak Bara if you want to top-up your prepaid phone before you go.

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OK, to Lipe itself. Here’s a photo of the latest (Nov 2012) map..

Lipe
Clickable for bigger version

The official site for the map is here.

Starting in the South East corner (Sunrise Beach)…..

Serendipity is a new luxury boutique resort stretching up the hillside at the very southern end of Sunrise Beach.Very fancy, the sort of place you’d see in Sunday glossy magazines. I meant to take some intrusive photos of the rooms in Dec 2010, but by the time I got to it, all the places were filled up with Richard Bransons sipping their chilled French chardonnays on the verahdah. 2012/13 is Serendipity’s third year of operation and they have a web-site now, so you can see the pics and prices there.

Serendipity is good for people with money coming out of their ears. Christmas/New Years week was fully-booked up four months in advance.

The next point heading North-East along Sunrise beach is Viewpoint Resort, run by a local chao leh fella. This is/was my favourite affordable spot on Ko Lipe, but it’s being upgraded and price-realigned even as we speak. I wrote quite a bit about it in my December 2010 update for Tezza (also see Tezzas earlier reports on it dating from 1999). Since my last report, they have started redeveloping some of the old bamboos into concretes and adding another row of thatched woodens in the row behind them.

The current config, heading row-by-row up the hill, is :

1) Beach level – 4 midrange concretes squeezed in to overlook the two beachlets:

2) What used to be the front rows – concrete/woodens repainted in the beachside livery. There is one bamboo holding-on at the southern end of the row.

3) What used to be the row of cheapy bamboos. The bamboos on each end of the row are holding-on (edit at Dec 2012 – apparently, the bamboos are now officially a thing of the past – the roofs have fallen in and the doors have fallen off). and the two huts in the middle of the row are currently just suspended concrete floors, soon to become more midrangers:

4) Is a brand new row of mid-range woodens with thatched roofs. Offseason (Mar 2012) asking price was 500B :

5) Is a couple more of the new mid-ranged woodens dotted around some empty spaces further up the hill:

6) A single, bigger apartment-style cabana that’s been hidden up near the top of the hill for a couple of years.

Just North-East of Viewpoint, is a reggae bar (Dracular Bar, according to the map). In 2010/11 he was renting out tents at 150B. He wasn’t open yet in Oct 2011, but the tents had been left outside and had been decimated in the monsoon season. Not sure whether he will replace them, he never seemed to do much business before. (Edit: March 2012 – the tents are history, the family’s house has been partitioned into two – half of it was up for tourist rental, asking price 600B including food).

New in 2011/12, tucked in between the few chao leh huts and the long-established Idyllic resort is a single row of concrete huts, “Glory Shone Bungalows” (089 464 9293 [Neng]) (not marked on the map). If you want a delightful tropical ambulance in your accommodation, this isn’t where you’ll find it, but maybe the prices will reflect the basicness; and the first one is only 3m from the beach. Not yet open in late October 2011. (Edit: TT user DShan reported that the 2011/12 peak season asking price for Glory Shone Bungalows was 800B).

The little track that led from the ‘main road’ to Sunrise Beach, just North of Idyllic has been sold and for at least a year has been getting a massive, swanky new resort put on it. We now know this to be named ‘Anda Resort’.

More 7000B a night stuff. They have a website, where you can see photos and prices : http://www.andaresort.com

A troubling sign is that they have a jet-ski and a one-man speedboat parked out the front. Fortunately, I have never seen them being used.

A new development in Dec 2012 is that someone at/near Anda resort is renting out those hand-held propellor buggy things that you hold infront of you while snorkelling. They drag you around so you can avoid all that troublesome “swimming” business. (?what are they called, ‘Sea-scooters’?)

North of Anda Resort is a small strip of Chao Leh village (which will give you a route through to Walking Street if Anda Resort ends up blocking off the old access), then further still North is a newish restaurant and resort, Zanom. Zanom is one of a few places on Sunrise beach that now do the tables-on-the-beach dinner thing. Their accommodation has been quite low-end so far with two (fan) wooden huts right on the beach plus a few more set back behind the restaurant. Out of season (October) prices were 400-500B. I asked about December prices and they said they’d be 1200B for fan, 1800B for AC. Apparently, they are going to be working on higher-end developments in the future. E: zanom_sunrise@hotmail.com; 074-750494; Mobile – Palm 087 3813494 ; Maew 080 5408594

No changes further North on the long established and popular Castaway, Forra, etc. Forra Dive shop has started doing free-diving courses, if that’s your thing (that’s not diving-courses which don’t cost anything, but courses that qualify you to hold your breath and swim down to 10, 20, 30 metres deep). Quite why you would pay someone for a course and a qualification in this is beyond me, but there you go.

Gypsy Restaurant and resort has had good write ups in the past and I can attest to it being a good spot, I stayed there for a few days. The Balinese outdoor bathrooms are a blast. The Spanish management aren’t especially friendly (but not to the point where it’s a problem) but the Thai guy, Grom, is a superstar.

No changes further North until you get to a new resort between Tarutao Cabana and the main Chao Ley settlement – “Lipe Power Resort” (on the map as “Powerbeat Resort” – dead macho, either way). Mid-high end. 200B for breakfast. Swimming pool; bigscreen TV in the restaurant; all rooms are aircon. That sort of thing.

There are four front row-ers and about 30 more crammed in behind. In October (out of season), front rows were 1500B and the others were 1200B.

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666 – the guesthouse of the Beast…

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I’ve never properly explored the North coast before. It doesn’t really feature on the tourist maps – it’s mostly inaccessible and doesn’t have the long beaches of Pattaya and Sunrise. There are a couple of tracks leading down to the more ‘well-known’ beaches – Sunset Beach and Bila Beach, but, in fact, that whole coast is made up of lots of little beaches. There aren’t many tracks down from the road, but adventurers wanting to find totally isolated beaches can rock-hop most of the way down the coast from Mountain View, past Sunset Beach and on past Bila Beach. I snorkelled round from Mountain View to Pattaya one day, stopping off at these little beaches on the way. It took 6 hours, so is probably not advisable!Note that nobody cleans these beaches, so you will have to share them with 5 years worth of washed-up plastic debris.

As of December 2012, development has opened-up on this North coast with (at least) five new mid/high-end resorts springing up on the coast & on the track that surrounds Jack’s Jungle Resort.

Worthy of mention is a ? noname resort on the hillside immediately West of Mountain View. It looks like it has been here for a few years but there are no signposts for it and it doesn’t show up on any maps, so I’m guessing that it might be disproportionately cheaper than other places, just through lack of advertising. Want a “Mountain View Resort” view without the “Mountain View Resort” prices? This has got to be worth a look. You can get to it from a rough track that runs up between cheapy South Sea Resort (086-1986686) and Jungle Jacks, or you can walk East along what Tezza called “the Princess’ back beach” (this beach seems to be called Laem Hin beach). To do this, start at the chalets on the East side of the Sunset Government-Fisheries resort; head East along the beach, stepping over the Adang water pipe; past the reggae bar at the East end of that beach and up the rough steps. I’m sure I have seen a trip report somewhere mentioning this place (one of the huts has a verandah at a 20 degree incline, which would happily pitch you off the cliff if you stumble out of the hut half-asleep). The resort wasn’t yet open for the season when I was there in late October. It may not even be a going concern, but it’s probably worth investigating if you are there. (Edit: March 2012 – the resort is called Laem Jao/ Lam Jaw Resort (แหลมเจ้า). It’s written on each hut, but there is no signage for the resort itself. The resort is a going concern, they were asking 700B for front rows and 500B for back rowers).

Update at Dec 2012: Laem Jao is the start point for the new string of resorts along the North coast in 2012/13. In addition to the ten existing flashpacker bamboos, they are in the process of building another 10-ish concretes about 40m back from the top of the cliff.

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About another 50 metres back from that, the hillside has been cut into three flat terraces, each one housing a few sizable bamboos.

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I couldn’t see any signs of bathrooms or toilet-waste tanks for these, so I’m not sure what the deal with bathrooms will be. It would seem weird if they are going to have shared bathrooms for such big huts.

I’m a bit confused by the resort nomenclature here. The builder I spoke to seemed to be saying that the new blue roofs and the new bamboos are all part of the existing resort, Laem Jao. However, the latest Lipe map shows a new resort here called Cosy Cove resort, and no mention of Laem Jao. Maybe there’s a rebranding being planned.

You can access this resort from the beach. Access from the land is via the ragged track next to Seven Seas resort.

Westward from here are two new ‘clifftop’ resorts perched atop the deserted beach which runs between Laem Jao Resort and the Princess’s Summer Palace. This beach (mostly) doesn’t have a name – this is the one that Tezza called “the Princess’ back beach” and there is a name painted on the side of an old reggae bar there that says “Laem Hin Beach” (Rocky Point Beach).

The two new clifftop resorts here seem to have (tacitly) renamed this beach as “Sunset Beach”. That would be fine except that there is already a Sunset Beach around the headland to the West (where the old Porn Resort is). So, now, there are two beaches called Sunset Beach! Who will win the battle for the name? Who knows? To confuse things further, the one that has always been widely known as “Sunset Beach” is actually named Pra Mong Beach (หาดประมง) (Fishery Beach -the Government Fisheries Dept/resort is there).

The two new resorts (on “Leam Hin/new-Sunset” Beach) are called “Morgan Sunset Beach Resort” and “Lipe Sunset Beach Resort”.

Morgan Sunset Beach Resort currently (Dec 2012) has six luxurious clifftop wooden cabanas. These have fantastic views across to Adang and are decorated in a modern ‘boutique hotel’ style. Each one has AC & fan; flatscreen TV, hammocks in a ‘designer’ style and carpets. Carpets!

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The asking price in early December 2012 was 2000B. If you’re in this price-bracket and looking for quiet and good views, these are definitely worth checking-out. I imagine they could fetch much more than 2000B. The only downside is that the sleeping rooms are a bit on the small side. There is about 50cm at each side of the bed and a metre at the foot of it.

The resort has a communal sitting-out (?bar) area with fantastic views across to Adang.

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There is plenty of room for the addition of back-rowers further up the hill and this work was in the early stages when I visited.

The guy there was super-friendly and charming, but the lady was a bit cool.

There is access to/from the beach via a steep set of wooden stairs; and from the land via the track next to Seven Seas resort.

These cabanas were being marketed at the dive-equipment store on Walking Street, if you wanted to find out more without hiking out to the resort.

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The next newie to the West is “Lipe Sunset Beach Resort”. They have are just finished building ten spacious fan bamboos with modern fittings and hot water showers.

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Asking price 2000B. This might be a little over-optimistic, given the more luxurious competition next door, but I guess that market-forces will decide the right price-points.

There is a concrete staircase down from the top of the ‘cliff’ to the beach, past a single beachside luxury wooden ‘house’, which is partitioned into two family units.

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I had a chat to the owner “Keng” – a friendly Thai guy who speaks good English and has high-hopes for his new venture. It’s worth checking out. The official Lipe Map shows a resort here called “LeLavadee Resort”. Perhaps that was a working-name for “Lipe Sunset Beach Resort”, I’m not sure.

Westward from here, is the aforementioned chalets on the Eastern face of Government Fisheries. I think they were originally built for the Princess’s staff. They are up for rent. In low season, they were asking 500B. I’d guess ~800B in shoulder season. Ask at the Government Fisheries Resort.

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There is a dirt road behind the two new resorts, running parallel to the coast. Set back inland from this road, behind Morgan Sunset Resort, is another new resort. When I passed, there were only two huts there, still under-construction, but with flash-packer/midrange looks.

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The owner said that he was planning on building ten of them on the spacious patch of land. It’s going to be called Smile Resort and is owned by the same people as Smile Restaurant on Walking Street. The huts are about 100m back from the cliffs and probably won’t have a sea-view, unless Morgan Sunset Beach Resort is planning to chop down a whole load of trees.

You can continue walking along the dirt road towards the West. You pass the land-entrance to Lipe Sunset Beach Resort on your right and a string of fancy wooden cabanas set back on the left. This is another new midrange resort – Blue Sky Resort.

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The dirt road makes a T-junction with a wider dirt road. This bigger road is the one of the existing ‘main’ roads out here. If you turn right from the T-junction, it leads to the Government Fisheries Resort. If you turn left, it goes past the front entrance to Blue Sky Resort then around the front of Jungle Jack’s, then continues back to South Seas Resort.

Does that make sense? Here’s a picture:

TSKL_084_KohLipeNorthMap_2012_13_

Blue Sky Resort seemed to be up and running already, but the people there were engrossed in conversation, so I didn’t stop. I guess you’d be taking 2000B+ for their fancy cabanas. Here’s a snap of the reception area, it’s opposite the little path that leads past the bakery and Sabaay Divers down to (old) Sunset beach.

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On (old) Sunset Beach (actually called Pra Mong beach). Porn Resort rents out tents at 200B. In my last report, I passed on a rumour that Porn Resort was being targetted for upscale development. No signs of that happening yet. (Edit at 2015 – it has now been knocked down).

(Update at Dec 2012: there are still no signs of that happening yet, although there is another new resort being built on the cliff-top at the West-end of Porn Resort).

That’s the end of new developments for a while. Back down at beach level on Porn Resort’s beach, it’s a tricky -rock hop around to the next little beachlet, where the staff from the newly expanded Sita resort hang out of an evening. You can delight in the sound of Sita’s generators throbbing away in the background.

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You can continue on rock hopping round to the next beach where lives Mia-Luna, a little driftwood bar

I don’t know much about this place, there is a sign there for camping and someone was living in a (western style) tent just back from the beach. It may be an option for cheapskates. They also have a sign up advertising full moon and half-moon parties. They have a German Facebook page and a German hosted website. Update at Dec 2012: There were a few people staying at this makeshift tent-based resort. They were offering tents from 150B-250B, depending on how long you stayed and how many people per tent. There is a little bar there with a somewhat ‘cool clubber’ vibe going on. I guess you might need to be the right kinda person to fit-in here.

Another rock-hop leads to Bila Beach and its small reggae bar. There’s a sorta backpacky vibe at the bar, well, there are a few travel books dotted around the place. Catch the sunset on their fancy deckchairs while you drink your 80B SMALL Chang and listen to the soundsystem playing Marley from the barman’s Macbook Pro.

Update at Dec 2012: Bila Beach have gone upmarket. They have built six flashpacker bamboo huts at the top of the cliff, asking price 1500B. The menu at the beachside shack restaurant shows meals recently price-hiked to 300B.

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Up the hill and to the West is the remote Bila Bungalows resort. I don’t know if they are connected to the beachside place, but the folk there had no knowledge of any dorms in the area.

Bila Bungalows have about 8 mid-rangy looking places up on the cliffside. I’m guessing about 700B in shoulder/high season.


Update at Dec 2012: There is a new Thai/Burmese restaurant here called “Forever” and the old Bila Bungalows bungalows are now owned by the restaurant. Asking price, 500B in first week December 2012.

At the western end of Bila Bungalows, a possible option for cheapskates is some never-finished high enders that look like they have been sitting there as derelict shells for about 3 years. I don’t know what the story is, but maybe the staff would be interested in offers if you were happy to do your ablutions elsewhere (no sanitation or running water) and sleep on the bare floor. There are locks on the doors, but security might still be an issue if you’re worried about thieves who could parkour it between balconies of adjacent huts. Fantastic views across to Adang and Rawi…
Update at Dec 2012: These have had a coat of paint, ceramic floor-tiles laid and the bathroom fixtures installed (but not connected), but they are are still otherwise derelict.

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They are actually part of a new midrange resort called Pitiusas Beach Resort. It has a fancy modern restaurant in operation; about 6 luxury wooden cabanas set-back up on the hillside and two wooden sunbed-decks near the beach. There is lots of artwork from Ibiza in the restaurant, so maybe there is a Spanish connection here.

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There was nobody at home when I passed by, but it looked like the wooden cabanas were open for business – I’m guessing somewhere around the 2000B mark. There is a lovely little beach here and Pitiusas is (currently) the last bit of development along the North coast, so it is as secluded a resort as you will find on Lipe. There is quite a bit of land-erosion from rainwater runoff at the back of the resort, but this neednt affect the beachside experience.

If you want to go further West from here, it’s rock hopping or swimming (the last 5 places I mentioned [Bila, Mia Luna, Sita Staffroom, Sunset; and Leam Hin Beach/Princess’s back beach] are all accessible from the road, as well as via sea-level rock-hopping). There are about another 5 little beachlets further West before you get to the cape at the North West. Because the beaches are inaccessible, they don’t get cleaned and, to be honest, unless you like exploring for the sake of it (I do), the difficulty of getting there and living with all the plastic flotsam probably outweigh the benefits of going. If you have a tent and want to try independent camping on the beach, this would be the place to do it.

The road that runs West from the back of Sunset Beach and past Sita, Mia Luna and Bila, continues on West and eventually turns into a dirt track. It has some nice-looking raw jungle on each side and good views of Adang and Rawi to the right.

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Off to the left, there is a steep track down to the northwest coast of Lipe where there’s a nice little secluded beachlet. Eventually the main westbound track just runs into a barbed wire fence and stops dead.

If you went as far as the barbed wire fence, now do a 180 degree turn and head back until you are level with Bila Bungalows again. You can then take a turn off to the right, which will lead you down to the back of Pattaya Song resort at the northwestern end of Pattaya beach.

Sanom beach along the bamboo walkway is still a lovely retreat. I notice that there was a sign up at the eastern end of Sanom beach offering a lease on the beach bar if anyone wants to join in on the goldrush.

No changes at Pattaya Song


(the view is still awesome)
(edit Dec 2012 – the Lipe map shows the cabanas on the side of the hill as being named “5 Brother Resort”. I think that they are still administrated out of Pattaya Song Resort).

..or Daya resort, but after that, Pattaya beach becomes a festival of high-end developments.

The lovely Bamboo Paradise Resort is no more – it has been knocked down and is being replaced with mid to high-end wooden bungalows. They are huge inside and look pretty tasteful, but it’s a shame to say goodbye to one of the last vestiges of low-end sleeps on Pattaya beach. The pizza restaurant’s bought-it as well – you’ll have to get your pizzas somewhere else. (Edit March 2012: the resort is now opened and called Sealon (ซีโลน) Beach Bungalows, asking 1200B-2000B in low season. The Pizza restarant has moved over to the Sunrise side, sharing a space with Mata Aree restaurant (below).

The luxury Sita Resort has ploughed-on up the mountainside to build a new set of high-end apartments at the top of the hill. This is the swathe of concrete and teracotta that you see when you arrive on the boat in Pattaya bay.


Camp Sita

I bet somone at Sita Inc. gave a great James Bond villan laugh on the day they got that “Swimming Pool 2” sign printed up !

Decisions, decisions………………Pool 1…………………………………or Pool 2 ?

They have also concreted the steep track that runs up the West side of Sita resort. Mostly used by Sita Resort’s golf carts ferrying their guests around the place, it joins up with the concreted road from Sunset Beach to Bila beach. It is quite a handy shortcut from Pattaya to Sunset.

Those pillars on the concrete wall protecting the Sita perimeter look very capable of holding a big set of gates to block the road off. Let’s hope they don’t get used that way.

Back on Pattaya Beach – heading southeast from Sita, past (one of the many) Forra diveshops, a new vast expanse of neatly mown lawn was being watered and tended within an inch of its life. Its function was a great mystery until I bumped into the owner, an American guy. It’s soon to be another high-end resort. 6000B cabanas, swimming pools, that sort of thing. The rooms are being built from luxury flatpacks, designed-in and shipped-from Bali and planned to be erected in Dec 2011/Jan 2012. If the lawn is anything to go by, it will be very beautiful. But 6000B a night.

(Update: March 2012 the bungalows are coming along, the resort didn’t have a name yet.

Update at December 2012: According to the map, this is called “Mali Resort”, although I didn’t see any signage up. The bungalows are open and look classy, a few at the rear were still under development. There is a lovely beach-side bar front-and-centre where the American owner charms the customers over a cocktail of an evening.

No change to the little strip of Pink Resort (two rows of concretes facing each other and running perpendicular to the beach). It’s labelled Pink Restaurant on the map, but I couldn’t see any signs of a restaurant. (Update at Dec 2012: I didn’t notice these, I think that they have been upgraded and subsumed into Mali Resort).

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In October, Lipe Resort’s JCB was scooping sand off the beach like it’s going out of fashion. Two new rows of concretes and a new row of, err, these…. All that concrete doesn’t grow on trees you know.


Second prize (after Sita) for biggest amount of upscale development on Pattaya beach goes to what used to be Hammam Resort, now Z-Touch resort (ซีทัช). Lots of new concrete aircons – some nice, some not so nice (check out that 1970s aluminium glazing chic on the second row centre piccy); a swimming pool with deck. Asking 3000B for a front rower in October!

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I wrote in my update last year that development continues on Lipe wherever there is a road with a space by it. But what do you do when you run out of roads? Why, you bulldoze a new one, of course!


Paving of paradise coming along nicely

Just to the East of Z-touch resort is a newly bulldozed track running back from Pattaya beach. They were just prepping it for concreting as I was leaving (ed: still tamped down gravel in Mar 2012). It runs up to a T-junction with another road running parallel to Pattaya Beach (behind the resorts) and ending near the power station and island ‘recycling’ area. The spur off Pattaya Beach is already known locally as ‘Walking Street 2’, although it is not expected to become like Walking St 1 (lots of small shops and restaurants) because the land on the empty northwestern side is being sold in a single block, so it will likely attract a big resort there. Update Dec 2012: There are huge concrete cabanas newly under construction on this plot.

TSKLi_166_WalkingSt2NewBuilds_PB280219

Longtail boats were delivering sods of grass, so it looks like Mali’s ‘suburban garden’ chic has caught on. Yay for reforestation!

TSKLi_166_WalkingSt2NewBuildsGrass_PC011022

For now, the southeastern side of Walking Street 2 is mostly taken up with Greenview Resort and, further back, some more huts owned by the far-away Ricci Resort. But there’s dollars to be made, so wait and see what happens next.

When I passed, Greenview Resort were replacing their bamboo roofs with slate tiles and installing the obligatory big-screen TV, but was otherwise unchanged. Update Dec 2012: They were building a few new huts in the space out the back, but Greenview was generally unchanged.

The rock-bottom out-of-season price for anything except a tent on Lipe is 300B. Seaside Resort, next door, was advertising this rate in October 2011. Don’t expect to get this price in high season, but note that Seaside is probably going to be one of the cheapest places on Pattaya beach, so is worth checking out if you are on a budget.

I can’t remember how long it has been there, but Bu Nga resort is notable for its huge expanse of empty space out the front. Prices in October were 1800B, so it’s out of my budget, but the empty spaces out front meant that next door’s budget resort, Moonlight Resort, gets to look out over some open spaces, rather than into the front window of the hut across the way. You can see the Moonlight bungalows on the right hand side of the picture. I stayed at Moonlight for a few days and liked it. 300B for a spacious wooden bungalow with verandah seating and hammock wasn’t a bad deal for Lipe. Expect it to be about 600B in shoulder/peak season I’d guess. (Edit: March 2012 asking price 700B per night, discounted to 500B if you stay a week). Note that they have the three-quarter height bathroom walls that Lady T dislikes .

Further on southeast from this, nothing has changed much. Bundhaya Resort is putting four new faces, three new rows of concretes at the southeasternmost end, past the immigration office, but otherwise nothing much has changed.
Update Dec 2012: Bundhaya have now built-out all the remaining beach, right down to the Army base at the end. There is thatched-space-shippy looking beach-bar at the far eastern end.

TSKLi_183_BundhayaNewies3andBar_PB280267

Meanwhile, inland, the main part of Walking Street hasn’t changed that much – there are some new retail lockups and an Italian restaurant on the spur opposite the Pharmacy. There are some inland resorts at the top of the hill (Bonus; Gypsy 2 and Serene) but they aren’t quite as cheap as they should be for the location. (Edit Jan 2012: TT user DShan reports NT Hut (opposite Bonus) as the cheapest spot on the island at 300B at Christmas 2011). Update Dec 2012: In the first week of December these small, simple bamboo huts with attached bathrooms were going for 450B. Given the location next to Walking Street and the lack of a cooling breeze, this ain’t much of a bargain, but they are amongst the cheapest on the island. They were all gone a week later.

Nearby Serene Resort were offering similar (slightly smaller) huts also for 450B in first week Dec 2012. They also had lockers in the reception area for safekeeping valuables (this is very rare on Lipe). A week later, the cheapest advertised room there was 600B. I’m not sure whether they price-hiked the cheapies, or they were just all taken by then.

Walking St 2012-13
Map of Walking Street

When you hit the crossroads southeast of the Pooh bar, there are quite a lot of changes – mostly new eateries on all the surrounding tracks. Going left (northeast) goes past the Ricci Resort and Restaurant (rather overpriced, but they have a water vending machine, so you can save on the waste by refilling your plastic bottles).

Then just around the corner up the hill is the recommended Mata Aree restaurant, run by the lovely ใจดี people, formerly of Coconut Resort’s kitchen. Check it out.

Further northeast is the much signposted OMG Sports Restaurant and Bar. Personally, I can’t think of anything worse than eating burgers at a place with wannabe-Hard Rock Café décor and constant sports on the TV, but to be fair to the place, a lot of work has gone into it and it’s going to be really popular. Nice of them to put it right across from the mosque like that.

Parallel to the Ricci-resort spur and closer to Sunrise Beach is a dirt track with lots of new local-style (seafood) restaurants. The hawking is a bit pushy as you walk down the street, but the food is pretty good and a bit cheaper than equivalent places on the main Walking Street.

Back on the concrete road southwest of Pooh’s bar, there are several new restaurants. There’s a very popular seafood place on the left. I forget what it’s called, but it is the one with the bamboo furniture creaking under the weight of the crowds of people packed in there. You’ve also got the Indian restaurant where nobody ever goes; the cornerplace that didn’t have any Thai food when I went in and an organic-y kind of place.

That road is getting a bit too crowded for my liking. It kind of exemplifies the over development that your’re going to see more and more of. How much more in-your-face could this place have got to the lovely old local-style restaurant across the road? Further on down the road, there are a bunch of new lockup retail outlets and new bars and restaurants either side of the road.

My Koh Lipe development award for 2011/12 goes to the new restaurant down this stretch of road that makes this promise.

Thank heavens for that, who would want to eat that Thai crap ?

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On a budget? Here’s my tips for places to save a baht or two.

Sleeps

I was last there in October when (1) lots of places are closed and (2) the places that are still open are charging green season (=wet season) cheapo prices. For that reason, this a ranked (ascending) list of (probable) prices, rather than the actual numbers. You can reckon on the cheapest back-row bamboo hut being about 400B a night from November to April, and more in Christmas/New Years weeks.

  • Tents from Porn resort, Sunset Beach (ed: ~200B, Dec 2012)
  • South Sea resort, middle of the island, between Mountain View Resort and Jacks Jungle, (tel: 086 198 6686[Sow]; 083 193 1042 [Fon]; 081 678 9903 [Pen])
  • Porn resort, Sunset Beach
  • Ossin/U-Sen Resort, set back from the South end of Sunrise Beach Beach (ed: asking 500B Dec 2012, 400B if you stay 3 nights)
  • Tarutao Cabanas, Sunrise Beach ed: 500B in early Dec 2012)
  • Viewpoint resort South Sunrise beach (ed: min 500B shoulder season)
  • Lipe Beach resort, North Sunrise beach
  • Gypsy Resort, Sunrise Beach (1000B at Christmas 2011)
  • Bonus/Gypsy2/Serene resorts (top of the hill on the main Walking Street). (ed: Gypsy 2: 800B early Dec 2012)
  • Moonlight Resort, Pattaya Beach (marked as Moonlight Bar on the map) (ed: 700B Oct 2012, 500B with a 3 night stay)
  • Café Lipe (next to Moonlight Resort)
  • Sea Side resort, Pattaya Beach
  • Handicraft/Reggae Bar/Blue Tribes Resort, South East Pattaya Beach

Eats:

  • Sticky rice from the Issan restaurant or a couple of street vendors on Walking Street 10B
  • Fried noodles or rice from the cheapo local-style restaurants on the short paved road that runs southeast from the junction near Pooh Bar to the back of Varin 2 resort 60B.
  • Fried rice from Tarutao Cabana on Sunrise Beach 70B
  • Rice + meat dishes from Roti Mina on Walking Street 80B
  • Fried rice or noodles everywhere else 80B

..and up and up from there…

Water:

  • 20 litre drum of water from the grocery store on the spur down to the back of Varin2 is 80B (plus 100B refundable deposit on the bottle)
  • Refills from the Reverse Osmosis water machine at Ricci resort. Cheaper for higher volumes. 500ml is 5B; 20l is 80B.
  • 750ml translucent plastic bottles of water 10B or a bag of 6 for 50B

Oh, by the way, I wrote some blah, blah, blah about the snorkelling at Koh Lipe here.

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Written: November 2011 Last updated: December 2012

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2 responses to “Koh Lipe updates

  1. Nice updates. Wow, the place is changing quickly – I gotta get back soon to see them personally. Looks like a Porn tent (again – stayed in one my very first trip) for cheapskate me.

  2. Excellent bit of info and advice. Koh Lipe was recommended by a friend of my son’s as somewhere quiet seems it must be a while since he was there so I will give it a miss. Down in Oz at the mo and getting rather bored the place is like wallpaper, keeps repeating itself. Intend to head for SE Asia somewhere in the next few days so will read the rest of your blog. Thanks.

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