I got back to Lipe this March for the first time since Dec2009. I have submitted a Review in the travelfish PLACES section which concentrates on outlining the beaches. Here are a few other things I noticed:
THE NORTH COAST IS BOOMING. The north end of Andaman (Sunrise) plus Sunset and Bila beaches have had accommodation for some time but now just about every small patch of sand on the north coast now has one or two bungalow joints. From east to west:
-Immediately west of Mountain Resort are two new budget/flashpackerplaces Sussana and Cozy Cove. Beach here is scrappy but short distance to nicenorthern part of Andaman beach.
-Just east of the beach we all know as Sunset (site of Porn and Fisheries Dept bungalows) above a scrappy bit of sand are Morgan Sunset and Lipe Sunset. Note how they have poached the Sunset name from the adajacent beach which is formally called Hat Pramong. Btw Fisheries no longer has the cheapest rooms around, Porn no longer has tents, there are a new beach bar at the south end of the sand and a new bungalow joint high up on the south slope, the name of which I missed.
-Further west I noticed funky Mid Luna Bar now has some tents. The beach aint bad here.
-West of Bila Beach (where the resort is now asking very high prices for food and bungalows) was a new place to me, flashpacker Pitiusas. Looked nice and the beach not bad.
-Apart from the beaches we have a few new bungalow places along the northernroad.
MOST OF THE FEW ISLAND ROADS ARE NOW PAVED.
ANDAMAN/SUNRISE BEACH is now just about fully built out. The trash littered village beachfront has shrunk as resorts encroach and the southern end of the beach which had most spare land has a lot of new placesmaking it a pretty nice section these days.
VIEWPOINT HAS A NEIGHBOUR. My favourite budget joint on my favourite little beach now has very flash Serendipity built down the adjacent steep hillside. Viewpoint itself has 2 new aircon absolute beachfront bungalows at 1200b the best beachfront value on the island.
PATTAYA BEACH HAS REGRESSED A BIT. Boats are now encroaching on the central swimming enclosure which previously I thought real nice. Water quality seems to have been affected. Nicest area is now around the western swimming enclosure. Quite a few new flash resorts in this area. At the opposite end Bundhaya has new bungalows etc almost to the end of the beach. Pattaya is still a pretty nice place to stay btw.
CHEAPEST ACCOMMODATION. Walk along..um..Walking Street and check the signs. Quite a few places along here and on side streets around 500-600 March2013. Walking Street is a real good area to stay at with heaps of restaurants, shops and other businesses and a few minutes to both Andaman and Pattaya. I stayed in the area at Gipsy 2 Rivendale a very good budget joint withartistic touches run by a friendly young Spanish couple.
BEST VALUE AT THE BEACH: I did not check a lot of prices but I reckon those two new 1200 aircons at Viewpoint might do it. Porn fan front rowers were the same price. Btw on Pattaya Greenview had online prices under 1000 when I visited. Of course you could always tent it out at Mid Luna, but I think those dudes party hard which may not suit everyone.
ONLY FAST BOATS FROM PAK BARA. Slow boats been replaced b ynew ferries not too much slower than the many speedboat services. There is a new ferry terminal at Pak Bara and the adjacent service area is pretty good these days, no longer Thailand's version of Lombok's Bangsal.
THERE IS NOW A 20b TRASH CONTROL FEE ON ARRIVAL AT LIPE; shades of Phi Phi.
Don't mind being charged for rubbish collection so long as it's actually being used for that. I've booked in for a week stay at Lipe Inn at the end of the year. Anyone stayed there?
Also do you know if Tigerline removes the routes they don't operate for low season? I was expecting to use them to go from Phuket to Lipe and then Lipe - Trang coming back. Is it a case of when they announce the route for coming high season they will update the site? When roughly is that?
#4 wellred has been a member since 7/5/2013. Posts: 2
Tezza, it's interesting to hear how much the island changed since 2009. I visited for the first time in late 2011 then returned this past March and, with the exception of some of the small new bungalow joints you mentioned, it hadn't changed much at all. So all that development and the road paving must have taken place from Dec. 2009 to Nov. 2011. Major development seems to have tapered off over the last year or so... Let's hope it stays away from the still lush western peninsula -- there's still old growth jungle out there.
I'm amazed that Viewpoint is offering air-con beachfront bungalows for 1200 baht -- that is extremely good value for Lipe. I'd guess the next cheapest air-con beachfront room to be in the 2,500 range. Personally, I'm partial to Gipsy Resort on Sunrise Beach. Love the two 1,100 baht beachfront fan bungalows, and the Spanish dude who runs the place. I never felt the need for air-con on Lipe, even during the March hot season. As long as the bungalow has some air flow the sea breeze does the trick.
Any feeling on whether or not the development is sustainable? My sense is that environmentally sustainable practices have been implemented far better than on other popular Thai islands. The waste management center seems to be on track and they're definitely hauling huge loads of non-organic trash and recyclables off the island via Pattaya Beach. But I've been told that some of the biggest resorts are still operating archaic generators, using dodgy septic systems and burning garbage, which I saw a little of in March. When I arrived the first time in November there were hundreds of Thai volunteers cleaning up trash... I wonder if the presence of a Thai royal family cottage between Sunrise and Sunset is a blessing for Lipe. But it is a tiny island and it won't take much to tip the scales towards detrimental effects.
wellred, it's been a while but I checked out Lipe Inn in '11. Pretty straightforward characterless hotel on Walking Street as I recall, but should be comfortable enough. Not sure what the deal is with Tigerline... Back in '11 they didn't get rolling until the beginning of December. No idea if/when they'll update their site. But getting from Phuket to Lipe and Lipe to Trang isn't difficult in high season, one way or another.
^^ thanks for the reply. After booking my hotel I went into trip advisor to read up more on the place and read one guys report on how the whole island was a trash can and best avoided. Your comments about the waste management have put me somewhat at ease. Would be a shame to see a nice place like that get ruined.
Regarding my tigerline query I hope they do get their website sorted come high season. I will be in Phuket for a week prior to going lipe so could always head down to their office in rawai but have read a few people's suggestions that the ferries are usually full in high season so I thought if I can I may as well book online in advance. The only other company that seems to offer a route to lipe is bundhya and it looks like they don't even go from Phuket. Lanta to lipe.
#7 wellred has been a member since 7/5/2013. Posts: 2
I've read some similarly negative reviews of Lipe. Personally I don't feel that way. The island is definitely developed but I still feel it has a great vibe. Day trips to the surrounding national park islands -- Ko Adang, Ko Rawi, Ko Hin Ngam etc. -- are an added bonus.
Yes, Bundhaya and a couple of other companies run from Lanta to Lipe in high season. I've never actually done it, but I'm fairly certain it's easy to catch a boat from Phuket to Lanta (perhaps via Phi Phi) then switch to the one for Lipe. I would imagine travel agents in Phuket could organize that for you too. Book ahead with Tigerline if you want but I certainly wouldn't stress it if you don't. You could also do an all-in transfer by minibus from Phuket to Pakbara, which would include the speedboat ticket from there to Lipe.
Crikey Leonard; like I said - horses for courses: stick with the crooning.
wellred - Tigerline tends to post a notice well in advance on its website about when it is restarting operations. In previous years that has tended to be late Nove-early Dec. SPB speedboat have had a service from Phuket via PP, Lanta and I think Muk for some time, but I don't think they call in at Had Yao for Trang.
I reckon Lipe has become less of a trash-heap in recent trips. The paving of the roads around the village has done lots to tidy up this area, ditto the shrinking of the village's beachfront. And I think the 20baht levvy is having an impact - I saw a morning rubbish collection truck moving along Walking Street emptying western style wheelie bins. The beaches latest trip mostly seemed better but maybe this was because it was March instead of 2009's late November/early Dec. Very early in the season a lot of the wet season flotsam and jetsam has still to be cleared (and a lot is still floating around offshore to be blown onto the beaches each night). Also a fair bit of building detritus is still laying around waiting collection (late wet season and early dry have a peak of panic building). I've seen student volunteers clearing trash on neighbouring Adang early in November- if Lipe is getting them over that's a smart move. I think National Parks offers them free tents etc as an inducement - I wonder what Lipe can offer?
DL - as I said, things seem to be improving environmentally on Lipe. The thing I worry about is the water situation - with so many midrange and better hotels going in there must be a tremendous demand what with all those new pools and Euros taking their 20 minute hot showers. As far as I know there is still only one water supply pipeline coming across from Adang's waterfall - the folk at Gipsy 2 told me their water is from a well, but all this increased demand must be having some impact on the water table.
btw Gipsy 2 Rivendale is a sister resort to Gipsy over on Sunrise. I'll have to try the lattter next trip.
Not sure if that 1200 for Viewpoint's beachfront aircons apply in peak season - shoulda asked.
btw there is a new joint going in south of both Viewpoint and adjacent Serendipity - Pooh Garden sloping steeply down the hill to a rocky cove. Guy over at famous Pooh's on Walking St confirmed it is their development.