You’ve explored the laidback charm of Koh Lanta, one of the quieter islands within the azure waters of the Andaman sea and are now keen to head to Koh Lipe, one of the last outposts of authentic Thai island life? Great choice. If you’re island-hopping and want the lowdown on the best way to get there, we’ve put together this comprehensive transport and travel guide, focused on the Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe ferry.
Getting from Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe
There are 3 main operators that you can use between Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe, with three morning and one afternoon options each day. The distance from Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta is about 130 km and the journey should take around 3 hours. The Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe ferry price is approximately 50 USD per person (38.50 GBP).
The good news is that we have used all 3 ferry operators, so can provide you with exactly what to expect from each. Although each service provider offers very similar products, technically this is a speed boat transfer rather than a ferry transfer (as is sometimes advertised), and we believe that one of the options just pips the others. We also go into a little more detail on each of the 3 main ferry operators below, outlining our personal experiences, so you can judge which option is right for you.
One thing to consider when booking is that if the ferry company is advertising the journey can be done in less than 3 hours, it definitely won’t – bear this in mind should you have any onwards connections or plans. Also, if you are travelling in high season the ferries can get quite booked up, so best to book in advance!
Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe Ferry Operators
As mentioned above, all 3 ferry companies offer a very similar service: a speed boat crossing that will take roughly 3 hours, all departing from or arriving into Pattaya Beach in Koh Lipe and the Saladan Pier (or very close to it) in Koh Lanta.
Our number one recommendation would be to use Bundhaya Speed Boat, they operate a 50 (or so) seater speed boat, with one morning departure going both ways. The main reason why we would suggest them is that they seem to be the less crowded out of the 3 operators – which is strange given that it’s also the cheapest!
The captain also seemed to be a little more conscious when navigating over the waves than we’ve experienced with other providers, so it just felt like a more comfortable journey. And trust us, 3 hours of bouncing around can get a little tiresome.
We would say the only downside of Bundhaya is that they don’t offer a free cancellation policy, which can be useful if you’re not fixed on dates. To book your ferry click here.
However, if you’re wanting a bit more flexibility, then our next suggestion would be to look at the Satun Pakbara Speed Boat company. Once again, they offer a 50 (or so) seater speed boat service from Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe (and vice versa).
Overall, they are very slightly more expensive than Bundhaya, but also a bit more organised with the whole boarding/disembarking process. But then again this is Thailand, so expect a little bit of disorganised chaos from all providers!
Lastly, and maybe in its rightful place is Tigerline, which is actually a company that doesn’t do the transfer – they outsource this to their sister company Siri Lanta Speed Boats (see the smaller speedboat in the photo below). Now, overall they have the worst reviews on TripAdvisor, and in our experience, had the older boats. Having said that, when we did book a high speed ferry (read speed boat) with them, the journey went off without a hitch.
We have read reviews that the Siri Lanta ferry boats can be overcrowded, and the captains are more keen on getting to the destination as fast as possible, rather than passenger comfort, but we didn’t have this experience with them.
Overall, the one thing to bear in mind is that all of these operators are very used to making this journey, and depending on sea conditions, you’re either in for a smooth ferry crossing or a rather bouncy one. If you’re not the best on boats, then maybe it’s best to use an app like Windy.com and check out when the sea conditions look calmest. If this is the case, maybe plump for Satun Pakbara so you can decide if you want to change your travel date.
Ko Lanta to Koh Lipe Ferry Schedule 2020
What are the Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe Ferry times?
|Ferry Operator||Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe||Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta|
|Satun Pakbara||Departs: 10.30|
|Tigerline/Siri Lanta||Departs: 10.30|
Location of the Koh Lanta Ferry Terminal
Location of the Koh Lipe Ferry Terminal
What to expect on the Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe Ferry
So we’d suggest that you get to the pier at least 30 to 45 minutes before departure. If you’re looking to grab good seats, the earlier you arrive the better (especially if you are going from Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta, as you are handed a boarding card number and the lower your number, the quicker you get onto the ferry and get your choice of best seat).
As you arrive at the Saladan Pier on Koh Lanta, find the location of the correct store for the company that you have booked with. Take note, they aren’t all in exactly the same location, but they’re pretty easy to spot (Bundhaya being the first that you’ll reach, next Satun Pakbara and finally, right at the end closest to the pier is Tigerline/Siri Lanta).
Once you find the correct operator, provide them with your booking reference, and you’ll be issued with a boarding card and sticker to go onto your shirt. You’ll also sometimes receive a luggage tag to put on your suitcase or backpack. As you board the boat, helpful staff will take your luggage from you and load it either at the front or back of the boat. If you’ve got protective rain covers for your backpacks, it’s worth putting these on for a bit of added reassurance.
Insider tip: Make sure that your taxi/tuk tuk driver drops you at the right location for your ferry/speed boat option, for less walking!
The ferry crossing
Setting off from Koh Lanta, you’ll head through the narrow strait southwards, before entering the Andaman Sea. If you’re lucky and it’s not too busy, it’s worth spreading out a little and even using the lifejackets on board as a pillow. You’re in for a 3 hour speed boat journey, where you can’t really move around too much and so there’s really not much to see or do. A good book and some music are definitely your best friend for the next couple of hours.
From our experience, the better seats are towards the back of the boat if you don’t want to be jostled around as much, however, the engines are a little louder back there. So a bit of a trade off on what you think is worse. We definitely prefer putting on some headphones and trying to grab a snooze further back on the boats.
On board there is a toilet towards the front of all ferries, but we’d definitely recommend that you use the facilities before boarding. Even in flat seas, using the toilet is a rollercoaster of an experience! But worth having some tissues and hand sanitiser available for emergencies…
There are no snacks or drinks available on board so stock up before you get on the boat. There are a few shops as you arrive at the pier offering the basics so make sure you don’t forget to pick up something here!
So, after 3 hours on the Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe ferry, you’ll arrive into Pattaya beach on the beautiful island of Koh Lipe. When you get there, you’ll dock at one of two floating piers, one more central of the bay, the other at one end. In reality, it doesn’t really matter too much which pier you arrive into as they are both near to each other on a relatively short stretch of sand.
However, as you make your way onto the island, you’ll be directed to one of the park ranger desks – Koh Lipe is part of the Tarutao National Marine Park and everyone who arrives is required to purchase a 5 day national park ticket that will set you back around 200 Thai Baht (6.30 USD/4.90 GBP). You’re required to keep this park ticket on you at all times, but does provide you access to all the other islands in the area.
Can you fly between Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe?
Unfortunately not! There are no commercial airports on either island so flying between Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe is not an option. And the direct Koh Lipe Koh Lanta ferry is the fastest way to get between the two.
If you’re looking into which airport is closest to both Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe, then Koh Lanta is not too far from Krabi airport, just outside Krabi Town. And for Koh Lipe, the closest airport is actually in Malaysia on Langkawi. However, there is a Langkawi to Koh Lipe Ferry, which in our opinion, is the best way to get between Malaysia and Thailand!
If you want to find out the cheapest flights to either Krabi or Langkawi – check that out on Skyscanner here.
Are there other alternatives to the Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta Ferry?
Yes, if you’re really not keen on taking the ferry/speedboat for 3 hours, the only other alternative is to take a mini-van for part of the journey between Koh Lanta and Pak Bara in the Satun Province. And then jump onto a speed boat from Pak Bara to Koh Lipe. In our opinion, this doesn’t make much sense – the speedboat section takes two hours alone, and then you’d be adding an additional 4 hours on top of this for the mini-van leg. So, your whole journey would take over 6 hours!
It’s also good to know that many of the ‘routes’ start in Phuket from the Rassada Pier, but you will have to change ferries at least once, and the route all the way from Phuket to Koh Lipe via Koh Lanta will take over 6 hours in total.
Getting around Koh Lanta
Tuk tuk: Probably our favourite way of getting around Koh Lanta is to jump onto one of the local tuk tuks. Quite different to most that you see in Southeast Asia, these tuk tuks are essentially converted motorbikes, with sidecars added that can take 3 additional passengers. They’ll easily fit two adults with luggage. Just make sure you barter hard. Especially if you are arriving into Saladan Pier – they will try to charge over double what the going rate is…
Motorbike/Scooter: If you’re relatively comfortable riding a moped, then it’s worth considering renting a scooter. You can hire them all over the island and should set you back no more than 200 THB a day (6.30 USD/4.90 GBP). In general the roads on Koh Lanta are good quality, but make sure you wear a helmet!
Song thaew (Taxi): The classic converted pick up truck, with room for 10 people or more in the back – these taxis are a great way to get around, although cost slightly more than the local tuk tuks.
Getting around Koh Lipe
Walk: We can’t recommend this more, the island is tiny and you can walk from one side to the other in just 15 minutes. It’s not particularly hilly or strenuous to walk around, even in the heat of the day.
Taxi-tricycles: Alternatively, if you don’t want to lug your backpacks across the island, you can also look at jumping on one of the taxi-tricycles. We didn’t take one on the island, but can see how they’d be handy if you’re running late for your ferry!
Why go to Koh Lanta?
- If you’re looking for a good ‘in-betweener’ option – with the beautiful beaches like Koh Phi Phi or Koh Samui but bigger than small islands like Koh Lipe, then Koh Lanta is for you. It’s particularly great for families.
- Somehow Koh Lanta boasts some of the most incredible sunsets in all of Thailand. We’d recommend you go to Koh Lanta just for cocktails on the beach to watch the sun go down…
- It’s the ideal base for day trips to places like the Trang Islands but also a key stopping point on the trail between Phuket, Phi Phi and Koh Lipe. Even if you spend 2-3 days there, it will be worth your while.
What are the best things to do on Koh Lanta?
Explore Koh Lanta National Park
This is a great activity if you want to get out and about, and do some exercise. The National Park boasts hiking trails, incredible beaches and even a lighthouse, perfect for an Instagram shot or two! Keep in mind that the park does have quite a few monkeys and you need to be vigilant – don’t feed them, or tease them and, if possible, don’t have food available or visible at all.
The park has a 200 THB (6.30 USD/4.90 GBP) entry fee per person.
Kick back at a sunset bar
With the exception of the sunset in Luang Prabang that we saw, Koh Lanta must honestly have the world’s most epic sunsets. Nearly every night we were there delivered bright red and crimson streaks across the sky that we will never forget. To capitalize on this there are tons of chilled beach bars, where you can just collapse into a deck chair, sip your cocktail and watch the sky turn to fire.
Our favourite (we went there three times!) on the island was Majestic Bar on Klong Nin. Their happy hour (between 5-7.00pm) offers 100 THB (3.20 USD/2.50 GBP) cocktails that are incredibly delicious. Do try the Sea Breeze or the many-flavoured mojitos on offer.
Go island hopping
There are a number of boat tours going out of Koh Lanta to the neighbouring Trang islands, including Koh Ngai, Koh Muk (Mook) and Koh Kradan. It’s worth trying to do a private boat tour (barter if you do!) to avoid encountering lots of group tours on speedboats.
Usually this includes a trip to the Emerald cave (where you can swim through the dark tunnel), lunch on Kradan, and then snorkelling at Ngai or Cheauak/Maa.
Check out the diving
Like its island brethren, Koh Lanta is an island teeming with underwater marine life which is best explored by scuba diving. Now most of the key dive sites are not actually on Koh Lanta but on the nearby islands so you’ll inevitably do a day trip out to Hin Daeng and Hin Muang, famous for bright-coloured fish set on a steep ‘wall’, lavender coral and leopard sharks! Trips often also go to Koh Ha, which includes a swim-through cavern.
Cook up a storm in a Thai cooking class
Now you could probably do this anywhere in Thailand but if you’re got spare time on Koh Lanta there are a few good schools. Our pick is the Rot Thai Cooking Class – it was conveniently located near where we stayed but, regardless, is one of the best on the island.
The class includes a trip to the local market to buy your ingredients and then an interactive session to make four delicious courses including chicken satay, minced chicken salad, tom yum soup and usually a fish course.
Where to stay in Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is in that odd middle ground – it’s not a budget backpacker destination and isn’t as high-end as other Thai islands. That said, there are definitely some great options on the island.
Luxury: With one of the best locations in Koh Lanta, Coconut Bay Villas is not only near Klong Nin but has its own exclusive private beach. This complex of 18 luxury residences has everything from top-notch furnishings to landscaped gardens and a wonderful pool to relax in.
Mid-range: It’s called ‘affordable luxury’ for a reason, as Sri Lanta resort offers premium rooms at bargain prices. The resort has an epic location on Klong Nin beach, 3 pools and 2 restaurants although does have a few issues around its older rooms that should be considered before booking here.
Alternatively, if you need to stay near the Saladan Pier, we would highly recommend Asura Resort. We stayed one night before transferring over to the main part of the island and thought this was an amazing property!
Budget: Top of the pile is Blanco Hostel. Located right near the beach this is a resort-style hostel which has super fast free wifi, a huge garden and even a fire pit and hammocks to laze in all day.
Why go to Koh Lipe?
Perhaps you’ve already made your decision. But, if not, we thought we’d throw in some motivation on why you should visit this island paradise:
- Listen, it’s not a deserted island anymore. That said, Koh Lipe is still one of the most undeveloped, relaxed islands in Thailand and feels far more authentic than some of its neighbours. Plus a truly deserted island is just a longtail boat away…
- You can live it up in style at a high-end resort or you can backpack and stay in a cheap as chips hostel. Any kind of travel style is welcome in Koh Lipe
- The food! Okay, that’s all of Thailand. But, truly, Koh Lipe does have some delicious food and we truly enjoyed eating banana pancakes at Bloom, trying pad thai at the hawker stalls and eating (twice!) at the amazing family-run Tonkow.
What are the best things to do on Koh Lipe?
You’ve probably come to an island to relax, right? Well then you’re in luck – Koh Lipe is all laidback luxury and beach-related activities. Here are a few favourites we did and wanted to mention.
Watch the sun rise (and set)
The map of Koh Lipe doesn’t lie: there is a beach for sunset (Sunset Beach) and one for sunrise (Sunrise Beach) and we suggest you visit both. They won’t be empty but you will get some cracking views… Both are totally accessible and a maximum 15 minute walk from the Walking Street.
Hike up the viewpoint
This is technically on Koh Adang, the larger protected island that’s 10 minutes away by longtail boat. But the viewpoint gives you an epic view over Koh Lipe and was our top thing to do while we were there!
Take the longtail from Sunrise beach (it costs 100 THB/ 3.20 USD/2.50 GBP per person one way),and then walk about 45 minutes up towards the viewpoints. There are three and we recommend you do all three, and try to do it early rather than in the heat of the day! As with most things in life, the most difficult one (Viewpoint 3) is the best!
If you’re not sure how to get up there, just pop into the ranger station at the start and they’ll show you the map.
If you want to stick close to the islands, just rent a snorkel and fins from any of the stores near the beaches, wade into the water and find some coral! That said, you can take a boat tour to see many of the beautiful snorkel spots further afield.
You can usually choose one of two programs: Program A explores the areas close to Koh Lipe like snorkelling at Jabang, stopping at Koh Adang and Yang, seeing the black stone beach at Koh Hin Nam and a beach stop at Koh Rawi. Conversely, Program A goes out quite far from Koh Lipe as you visit Koh Lugoi, Dong, Bulu and Hin Sorn.
We did Program A and loved it expect for the beach visit at Koh Rawi which was absolutely heaving with people all coming from their package tours. That said, the boat tour was worth it for the sea life and snorkelling and was only 450 THB (14.20 USD / 11 GBP)
Our advice? If you can afford it, do a private boat and tour.
Explore the dive sites of Pulau Payar
You’ll probably encounter this island if you continue and take the ferry between Koh Lipe and Langkawi, Malaysia. Essentially Pulau Payar is a diver’s paradise with bright corals and almost untouched reefs. You can book a trip out there with any dive shop on Koh Lipe, or in advance via Get your Guide here.
Pick up trash
You didn’t know you’d be a garbage collector on your vacation, huh? But seriously, one of the coolest things to do is to join the Trash Hero initiative; Koh Lipe was one of the original founding towns of this global program! Essentially locals and tourists come together to clean up the rubbish on beaches and key sights, as a sustainability push. It’s not just a great way to care for the environment but you’ll meet like-minded travellers while doing it!
Trash Hero meets at 10.00am every Monday at Pattaya Beach
Where to stay in Koh Lipe
Now because it’s still finding its feet as a global tourist destination (which we actually prefer), the island doesn’t have a lot of affordable accommodation. It’s a tiny island and space is at a premium so expect slightly inflated prices at Koh Lipe hotels. That said, we liked these options:
Luxury: Akira Beach Resort is just there on Pattaya Beach and is definitely the top resort on Koh Lipe. Luxurious rooms, a pool overlooking the sandy shores and even a fitness centre.
Mid-range: Wapi Resort gets great reviews, has a convenient location on sunrise beach and an awesome pool. A great affordable mid-range option.
Budget: We’d stay at Bloom Hostel just for those pancakes and the vibe! It’s also in a good location on the walking street.
What should I pack for Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe?
Generally we’d imagine you’re visiting Koh Lipe in the hot season so will pack lots of beach-ready gear! That said, remember to pack a warm jacket or fleece for your ferry ride – most of them can get quite chilly. A few more things to consider jamming into your bag:
- Sunglasses and suntan cream – be sunwise! Too many tourists walk around sporting crimson-red burns…
- Comfy hiking shoes – particularly useful if you want to do the Viewpoint (which you can’t do in sandals). Don’t have some? We love our Teva’s!
- Waterproof bag – you will definitely need one if heading anywhere near the water. Check out this one from Osprey.
- Island essentials – your swimming togs, flip flops, a hat. Anything you don’t pack, you can buy relatively cheaply.
- Get yourself a good travel adapter – Thailand is the European style socket. We never leave home without this one.
What camera equipment and other gear do we use?
We’re living proof that you don’t need the most expensive gear to travel the world and take good photos. Here are some of our must have items that make it into the packing list for all our travels.
- Main Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
- Drone: DJI Mavic Air – Fly More Combo
- GoPro: Hero 7 Black
- GoPro Dive Case: Go Pro Housing
- GoPro Case: Smatree GoPro Carry Case – Small
- Packing Cubes: Eagle Creek Packing case
- Backpack: Osprey Farpoint 70
- Powerbank: Anker Powercore
- Phone: Xiaomi Mi 9
- Hard drive: Transcend Slim Storejet 2TB
- Laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad 720s
- Headphones: Bose Quiet Comfort 35
- Wifi Hotspot: GlocalMe G4
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is the Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe Ferry?
The ferry from Koh Lanta to Koh Lipe and from Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta will take around 3 hours. If the weather is not great it may take a little longer, on our recent trip it was around 15 minutes faster than expected.
What’s the distance between Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe
The distance between Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe is 129 km (80 miles).
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