Koh Lipe and Kuala Lumpur

by - April 21, 2017

I can't believe it's already mid April! This year is special to us because it marks our 10 year wedding anniversary and us moving to Seoul as a couple. Wow, I can't believe 10 years have gone by... when we got married in Maui, Alex promised that we will be back in Hawaii for our 10 year anniversary. Little did he know, 10 years went by a lot faster than he thought. 😆 We couldn't travel back to Maui with three kids from Seoul. It would cost too much for us, but we still wanted to do something special. Just in time, our expat friends from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia invited us because this year would be their last year there. I've never been to Malaysia and I am always open to visiting new places, but we didn't want to go to another "city" for our anniversary trip. But when my husband found flight tickets for $250 per person and suggested that we stop by a nearby island before visiting our friends, I couldn't resist! I immediately started doing some research and found Koh Lipe, a small southern island in Thailand which is a lot more closer to Malaysia. It is actually easiest to reach Koh Lipe by taking a ferry from Langkawi, Malaysia. After reading up and seeing pictures and videos that people posted on Koh Lipe, I was settled on going there for our anniversary trip!

So to get there, we took a 6.5 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur from Seoul, then we had to go through immigration, get our luggage, recheck into a domestic flight and flew 1 more hour to Langkawi. By the time we arrived to Langkawi, it was past 7pm so we checked into a hotel for the night and went to the ferry station early in the morning to catch a 9am ferry to Koh Lipe. We had to go through another immigration since we are going to Thailand from Malaysia. I thought everything was well organized, but we had a lot of waiting time in between...and when you are traveling with three kids, waiting time could be disastrous. We had to bribe them with candy and hand over our phones to them. From there, the ferry ride was another hour and 45 minutes to Koh Lipe. The ferry ride was pleasant, but after traveling for so many hours, we couldn't wait to finally reach our destination. And when crystal clear waters, blue skies, and soft white sand welcomed us, 27 hours of traveling taking every mode of transportation with three toddlers, it was all well worth it.

Koh Lipe is a small island, so there are no resorts or brand name hotels here yet. However, they do have a wide range of accommodations from family run bungalows to expensive boutique hotels. Since this was our first time visiting and didn't know what to expect, we booked a little bit higher quality accommodation for safety and convenience with the kids. After reading many reviews, we booked a room at iDYLLIC Concept Hotel and we couldn't be happier with our decision. We loved the location! There were a few things that we didn't appreciate, like terrible WiFi connection, no hot water in our huge bathtub, no sound on kids' channel on TV, sound of toads at night, and overpriced fees (it was the most expensive on our side of the Island like food, excursions, extra amenities), but the place was beautiful, staff was friendly, and breakfast was pretty good and like I said, the location was so perfect that we overlooked the little stuff. But we did book all our excursions and ate mostly elsewhere. Getting there is the hardest part. Once you are there, it's pretty easy to figure things out since it's such a small island. And there is no reason to book any excursions in advance.

Koh Lipe has three main beaches, Pattaya, Sunrise, and Sunset. The ferry will drop you off at Pattaya Beach since this is where the port and immigration office is located. It's by far the best beach in Koh Lipe with the softest white sand and clear waters, however it's the busiest and most crowded with the ferry boats, regular long tail boats, and people going in and out of the island. Walking Street, which is a shopping and food district is also near by. If you want a more lively place and you don't mind the boat traffic near you, I recommend Pattaya Beach, but for us with kids, we wanted a quiet place where we could relax, and the tail end of Sunrise Beach was perfect for us. The sand wasn't as soft, but still beautiful and definitely less crowded and quiet.

Where iDYLLIC is located in red. 👆

And this was the beach in front of iDYLLIC. As soon as we arrived, we checked into our room and jumped into the beach! 😍

And during low tide, it turns like this! 👇

You can see corrals and small sea creatures everywhere! And the water gets so low, you can walk to that small island.

We also picked iDYLLIC because of the pool. Honestly, now that we've been there, accommodation with a pool will not be a high priority since the beach is so nice, but it was still nice to have.

Kids napping by the pool side, which means it's relaxing time for mommy. The pool is not that big as you can see, but it also has a bar that you can order drinks from. 

The first night, we went to eat at Serendipity which is only a few minutes walk from our hotel and we were glad we went there the first night because the beach there was amazing. It was more secluded by rocks and trees and the sand was so fine and soft, almost as soft as Pattaya Beach.

Our first dinner at Koh Lipe and we couldn't get over this view! Serendipity was my husband's favorite restaurant at Koh Lipe. The food was okay for me, but it was definitely my favorite restaurant with a view.

Right between iDYLLIC and Serendipity, there is another resort called Ten Moons Lipe Resort and this place was our favorite spot to hang out. The food was my favorite here, the beach is secluded, naturally shaded by the trees with soft white sand. We went there in the morning after breakfast to play in the beach, have lunch, hang out some more before heading back to our hotel. We also booked a private longtail boat from here instead of our hotel because it was about $10 cheaper (1500B vs 1900B). 1500B was a normal price around the island.

This tree saved us from getting fried under the sun!

Trying coconut juice...two of them liked it and one of them didn't. Guess who?!?!

My chicken satay lover! 😍 He would finish one plate of chicken satay all by himself!

Jacob learned to snorkel! We didn't realize we had to teach him at first. 😆

Look at this sand and water!!! AMAZING! Do you see why this place was our favorite spot?!?!

We did go out of our area to see the other parts of the island and snorkel as well.

First, we went to Walking Street one night to shop, went to Madame Yoohoo for her pancakes and shakes, tried getting a Thai massage (but not very relaxing with three kids), and had dinner at a seafood buffet. I was not impressed with Walking Street, everything was little cheaper but the quality was not as good especially Madame Yoohoo. But I definitely recommend for you to check it out at least once.

A tuk tuk~ Thai taxi service that took us to Walking Street.

Walking Street in the evening full of shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants.

Another place we ate that we really liked was at Sunrise Resort, located little bit north of our hotel. The food was good and it was the cheapest place out of all the places we ate, but the portions were small. I highly recommend their pad thai and curries.

They loved 100% mango and watermelon smoothies! 😄 Ahhh...I miss it so much!

We just let them play after eating from Sunrise Resort.

We also booked a private longtail boat for snorkeling near Sunrise Resort. You can go for all day or half day. We picked half day and only stopped by 3 places out of 5 (I think).

They did pretty good, but it was hard on my husband! Also, we didn't realize that we never taught Jacob how to breath through the snorkeling tube. Water kept going up his nose because he didn't know how to breath through his mouth.

So here when we landed at another island, Alex is teaching Jacob how to snorkel.

I took this picture as we were leaving this island.

We rented a longtail boat again, this time in the evening to see the sunset. But before we stopped by the top of Sunrise Beach in front of the Mountain Resort. This place was another place that I was interested in staying, but I am so glad we didn't and here are some of the reasons why. It was the only Resort around the area, so you have to walk far or take a tuk tuk every time you want to do anything outside of this resort. It is also on the top of a cliff, so I couldn't imagine going up and down the stairs every time we wanted to hang out at the beach. And lastly, the beach area was big, but it was bare and no beach umbrella was available so you couldn't hang out on the beach for too long before you get burned. I would give 4 stars for the view, but we liked the food the least at Mountain Resort.

No place to sit and get rest from the sun.

But look at this view!

And the highlight of our trip from Koh Lipe was swimming at this island looking over the sunset. Kids were running around without any worries with giggles and laughter and my heart was full just watching them having fun over the beautiful sunset. I didn't want that moment to end.

On our way to see the sunset in our longtail boat.

Katherine who's favorite color is yellow, getting her "yellow mango smoothie" on our last night at Koh Lipe. She was so good during this trip!

Koh Lipe was a dream...maybe it was just this period in my life, maybe it was because I was with my family and everyone was having a good time, maybe because it was somewhat restful, maybe because it was unexpected, but this was my fourth time visiting Thailand (including Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Phi Phi, and Railay) and Koh Lipe was my favorite so far. You know what people say, fifth time's the charm! 😉

Time to go visit our friends at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

We were so thankful for our friends because they had everything planned from the moment we landed to the moment we were leaving. We did silk painting, went to central market, daddies played golf twice, mommies got pampered at a spa, visited one of the world's largest bird park, hung out at Petronas Twin Towers, went swimming and of course ate yummy food!

They are showing off their silk painting art work! ☝ My kids loved this activity so much that I bought some sample kits to bring home. This is something that we wouldn't have done if we were here on our own.

Amazing swimming pool at their apartment! 👇 To top off the stunning swimming pool, there was an airshow over us as we were swimming!!

So cool! 😎

Shopping at Central Market!

One of the world's largest bird park! You literally bump into birds everywhere and I was glad my kids were not scared by them because I was freaking out inside!! Although I have zoo-phobia and I especially don't like birds, I still thought this place was pretty amazing and educational for kids!

Do you see the red bird??

These kids were trooppers!!

Ice cream break because it was so hot and humid! 

Hanging out at Petronas Twin Towers!

 We stayed at Mandarin Oriental Hotel on our last night and we played at the pool most of the day!

Over all, I was blown away by tall skylines, cleanliness, amazing food and friendly people of Kuala Lumpur! My family of 5 went on this trip for 10 days. The amazing part was that we did everything within our budget but didn't sacrifice on quality. I can't thank our friends enough for making this trip possible! I definitely want to go visit Malaysia again!

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