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Going to Ko Lipe

Posted by Dmar on 14/10/2021 at 14:07

Hello!

I'm planning a 3 week vacation to Thailand in November. The last week I plan to go to Southern Thailand.  I have 6 days to get from Chiang Mai - down to the South - and then back to Bangkok (will by flying). Looking to snorkel and relax. 
Right now, I'm looking at Ko Lipe and Khao Lak (with Similan day trip).  Leaning towards Ko Lipe for the snorkeling - but doesn't sound easy to get to(coming from Chiang Mai ). I'm also wondering about staying at the national park - if the tents are an option.

Do the islands around Ko Lipe still have great snorkeling? 
If so - is there a place near Pak Bara that is good to stay at overnight where I could leave extra luggage while on the islands? 
If Ko Lipe is too busy, how easy is it to stay in the national park tents (and curious if they provide anything besides the tent)?

As a backup - looking into Khao Lak because it's easy to get to. But I keep hearing that Similan Islands aren't what they used to be for snorkeling - are there other places in Khao Lak that are reachable for day trips? 

Thank you for your time, 

David

#1 Dmar has been a member since 13/10/2021. Posts: 4

Posted by exacto on 25/10/2021 at 20:08

David,

Sorry, but these questions are a bit too focused for me to be able to help. David Luekens is the resident island expert and may be able to help, but many things have changed with the pandemic and it is difficult to know how things have sorted out. Cheers.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,825

Posted by DLuek on 25/10/2021 at 20:42 TF writer

There is certainly some good snorkeling to be done around Ko Lipe , though the best of it (Hin Chabang for example) is only accessible by a longtail boat trip. The coral directly around Ko Lipe and Ko Adang was nothing special last I checked, though I've not been there during the pandemic and I hear that most of the reefs have rejuvenated to some degree.

Mu Ko Tarutao Marine Park is open; I've not checked but I think the campgrounds are open on Ko Adang and Ko Tarutao. If so, you can rent a tent (400 baht per night I think) plus pillows and sleeping pads, which cost extra. Snorkels and kayaks can also be rented. Camping used to be possible at the NP station near Sunset Beach on Ko Lipe, but I'm not sure of the situation there. If going to Lipe I'd stay in a small resort to support some of the locals after what has been a nightmarish couple of years for them, financially speaking. 

Not sure about leaving luggage in Pakbara. Not many travelers stay there overnight honestly. If possible, you'd be better off leaving excess luggage in Bangkok, for example at the paid "left luggage" areas found in both airports. If you go into the transport section of the Travelfish Bangkok guide, there are articles dedicated to both airports with info on where the left luggage areas are located (or at least where they were before the pandemic; so many things have changed so I'm really not sure at this point). 

Ko Lipe will NOT be busy in November. There are barely any foreign tourists in Thailand right now and that's definitely not going to change by November. The island is now open , but quite a few businesses have permanently closed. The whole island was off limits to tourism until October 15th due to a covid outbreak there back in August-September.

I've not been to the Similans for quite a few years. It got so busy that national park authorities imposed limits on day visitors and banned overnight stays a few years ago. I believe that day trips to Ko Surin can also be booked in Khao Lak (I know that was possible pre-2020 but again, the pandemic has changed a lot of things and I know Khao Lak is super quiet right now). If so, the snorkeling at Ko Surin is excellent. You can camp there but it might be too much of a hassle for you given your timeframe.  

If you're considering Khao Lak + day trip to Similans, you might as well also consider Ko Lanta + day trips to Ko Haa and/or Ko Rok. Ko Lanta would be my preference over Khao Lak. But again, be aware that Thailand's tourist areas look totally different now than they did before the pandemic. Expect 'ghost town' vibes in a lot of places.

#3 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,345

Posted by Dmar on 3/11/2021 at 03:32

Thank you for the insights.  Much appreciated.  I'll be heading to Ko Lipe. 

David

#4 Dmar has been a member since 13/10/2021. Posts: 4

Posted by Dmar on 3/11/2021 at 03:32

Thank you for the insights.  Much appreciated.  I'll be heading to Ko Lipe. 

David

#5 Dmar has been a member since 13/10/2021. Posts: 4


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