Not many people realise that there is a unique and very easy way to get between Malaysia and Thailand… jumping from one tropical island paradise to another in a trip that only takes 90 minutes. Almost in the realm of a hidden gem of a journey, the ferry between Koh Lipe and Langkawi is a not to be missed trip for anyone who is island hopping in the Malacca Strait or Andaman Sea. So, to prepare you for the trip, from best way to book through to everything to expect, we’ve created the perfect Langkawi to Koh Lipe Ferry guide.
What’s more is that taking the ferry from Langkawi to Koh Lipe allows you to explore some of the most postcard-perfect Thai islands, the Adang Rawi Archipelago, which is home to the Tarutao National Marine Park. So to make sure that you’ve got all the information you need, we’ve also put together some short travel guides on both Langkawi and Koh Lipe too!
Getting from Langkawi to Koh Lipe
The Langkawi to Koh Lipe Ferry departs twice a day and is the only way to get between Koh Lipe and Langkawi. The journey takes approximately 90 minutes, however with all things in Southeast Asia, the schedule can be a little relaxed and leave later than the time stated.
The good news is that there are two main operators, and although the information can be a little confusing, we’ve got it all here in the detail you need to make the best decision.
Frist of all, it’s good to know that the two main operators’ ferries depart from different locations! So it’s good to check your ticket to make sure that you’re heading to the right location. We’ve also been to both ports, with the ferry from Penang to Langkawi arriving into Kuah (the main city on Langkawi) at the Kuah Jetty and then Telaga Terminal (also known Telaga Harbour Park), which is the other end of the island – actually not too far from the Langkawi Skybridge.
So the first option, which is the one that we took, was with Satun Pakbara, and departs at 9.30am from the Telaga Harbour Park.
Check out the latest tickets in this handy widget below.
Below in this article, we’ll go into the arrival, check in and immigration process in much more detail. The good option in using Satun Pakbara via Bookaway is that they have a great cancellation policy, so if your plans change, you’re able to reschedule for a later date!
Note: If you book Tigerline tickets (which is due to leave at 9.00am), this is a shared service and you might end up on the 9.30am Satun Pak bara boat anyway…
The alternative is to use Bundhaya Speed Boat, which departs from Kuah Jetty, and although uses a smaller speed boat is still a service we’d recommend. We actually took their service from Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta and were pleasantly surprised. Departed early, arrived early and very comfortable (for a speedboat).
Langkawi to Koh Lipe Ferry Schedule 2020
|Service||Langkawi to Koh Lipe||Koh Lipe to Langkawi|
|Satun Pakbara/ Tigerline||Departs: 9.30am|
|Bundhaya Speed Boat||Departs: 10.00am|
*Note that although it is a 90 minute journey, there is an hour’s time difference between Malaysia and Thailand.
If you’re wanting to visit both Langkawi and Koh Lipe, it is really important to realise that the ferry does not run all year round. Due to bad weather (the monsoon season), arriving in June and lasting until end of September, there are no ferry services running during this period.
For the 2019 – 2020 season, the dates that the ferry are operational is from 9th October 2019 to 15th June 2020. Please also note, that during lower season only 1 ferry may run each day.
Location of the two Langkawi Ferry Terminal
Location of the Koh Lipe Ferry Terminal
What to expect on the Langkawi to Koh Lipe Ferry
You’re check in process is not the most straight-forward, so we thought it better to get it down on paper, so you know full well what you’re in for when arriving at the departure terminals.
First of all, you’ll be greeted by a ferry company employee who’ll usher you to your first window. Here, you’ll leave your ‘check in’ bags with all the others, and at this window they will make a note of your online booking reference number, and ask for your passports. This is the first time you hand over your passport (but also not the last).
After a short wait, you’ll have your name called and be handed your passports back along with a printout of your booking. From here, you’ll be ushered around the corner to a second window. Here you’ll be provided with your boarding pass and Thailand immigration forms, which they ask you to fill in straight away.
Once completed, you’re all set for Malaysian immigration – this generally opens at around 9.00am, so until then sit tight.
Immigration at Langkawi
As soon as the doors to the Immigration office open at 9.00am, there is a bit of a rush to get into the queue, so in our experience, if you’re wanting your pick of seats on the ferry, collect all your bags and be ready near the Immigration Centre entrance. Here you’ll enter a modern boarding office and be called to the Immigration counters one at a time for your Malaysia exit stamp.
Once stamped, you’ll head out on the journey along the pier to start boarding. But, just as you leave the Immigration Centre, boat staff will request your passports, which are then handed to the Captain, who keeps these for the duration of the trip and hands them directly to the Thai Immigration officials.
So passport-less, but with your luggage, board the boat, where friendly staff will take your bags and store them for you. It’s then a free for all, so pick where you’d like to sit.
Langkawi to Koh Lipe Ferry Crossing
Generally, the crossing will be relatively smooth – however, if you aren’t that comfortable with ferries, then it’s worth thinking about some sea-sickness medication beforehand. The weather was fine for our crossing, but you are in the open sea, so expect the boat to sway from side to side!
It can also get a little bit chilly on the boat as the aircon is on, so best that you have a fleece with you. There is also no food or drink, so although a short trip, if you haven’t had any breakfast, it may be worth picking up some snacks and water before the Langkawi to Koh Lipe Ferry. The entertainment on board also isn’t great – you’re looking at an old movie playing in the corner, so a good idea to have a book or some music to keep you entertained. Overall, the boat is a little dated, but seats comfortable. There is also only one, very basic toilet, so pack hand sanitiser and tissues.
Immigration on arrival into Koh Lipe
So whether you are arriving with Satun Pakbara/Tigerline or Bundhaya you will go through one of the weirdest arrival immigration processes you’ve ever experienced. On arrival onto Koh Lipe, your luggage will be loaded onto the beach, where it will go through customs checks. You will then be seated in an outdoor (shaded) waiting area, where your passports are being held by Thailand immigration. Once they have processed your details, Thai immigration will call you up one by one to collect your passport.
Next you will be directed to one further immigration counter, where you will receive your entry stamp.
From here, you are then directed to the National Park counter, where you need to purchase a 5 day tourist pass. This costs 200 THB (6.40 USD/5.00 GBP) and can be paid in a multitude of currencies.
If you’d like any advice or have any additional thoughts on the Langkawi to Koh Lipe ferry, let us know in the comments below or get in touch with us here.
Can you fly between Langkawi and Koh Lipe?
Unfortunately not, there is no airport on Koh Lipe, and there really isn’t a faster way to get to Koh Lipe from Langkawi than taking the ferry! Unless you are a secret millionaire and can look into a helicopter that is…
However, if you are coming from other places in Malaysia, you can look into flights into Langkawi, check out the latest options on Skyscanner.
Or if you are travelling from other islands in Thailand and looking at how to get to Koh Lipe, check out Bookaway for the best routes from the likes of Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and other islands.
Are there other alternatives to the Langkawi Koh Lipe Ferry?
There are no alternatives to these two options that we have outlined above. So if you aren’t the most comfortable with ferries or speed boats, we’d suggest that you look at the best weather dates to travel using a great source like Windy, and with the Satun Pakbara cancellation policy on Bookaway, you can plan your trip to be over the calmest seas possible. We did exactly that and changed our ferry date to a calmer day, once we realized that our initial chosen day looked a bit too bumpy for our liking…
Of course, if you are coming from mainland Thailand, there are a multitude of ways to get to Koh Lipe, including ferry hopping across the islands, or a bus and then ferry from Hat Yai. Our suggestion? Plan your required route on Bookaway to find the best route for your journey.
Getting around Langkawi
Grab: Our favourite way to get around Langkawi is to use the Southeast Asia equivalent of Uber, Grab. Install the app, load a credit card and away you go. The costs of Grab Taxis are really reasonable, especially if you’re arriving into Langkawi Airport – you’ll get much cheaper rates than a normal taxi.
If you’re also looking to do a tour of the island, have a chat with your friendly Grab driver and see if they’d be happy to be your driver for the day. The cost for a half day tour is in the region of 100 MYR (24.00 USD/18.60 GBP)
Scooter: If you’re comfortable riding a moped or motorbike, then you can also look at hiring one. It’s a great way to get around the island, but make sure you wear a helmet!
Getting around Koh Lipe
Walk: The island is really small, it’ll only take you 15 minutes to walk from one side of the island to the other, across its shortest point. So if you’re looking to go to sunrise, sunset or any of the other famous beaches, stroll away.
Taxi-tricycles: The other option on the island, if you don’t want to lug your baggage around, or if you’re running really late to catch that sunrise or make your ferry, then jump on one of the local taxi tricycles. They won’t cost much for a short trip!
Why go to Langkawi?
Hopefully we don’t need to convince you to go to one of Malaysia’s premier islands, right? But, just in case we do, here are a few good reasons you need to visit:
- If you’re needing some time in the sun, Langkawi offers almost endless beaches – they’re even currently constructing a ‘Cenang II’ beach to meet demand for deserted shores! More than this, most of the good hotels have wonderful swimming pools areas for you to relax and recuperate by
- The food, oh the food. Whether it’s Nasi Lemak or delicious sweet potato chunks in coconut milk (bubur cha cha), Malaysia has some of the most mouthwatering dishes on the planet, and Langkawi is no different!
- It’s a great jumping off point for Thailand. Yes, if you’re keen to see more islands, Langkawi has a direct 90 minute ferry straight to Koh Lipe, Thailand. Actually, that’s what this entire article is about!
What are the best things to do on Langkawi?
Other than scrunching your toes up in the pristine white sand, what else is there to do in Langkawi? Well, more than you might expect!
While there is a lot of do, you still can’t start a list without mentioning the various beaches dotted around the island.
- Cenang Beach (Pantai Cenang) – the place to be seen. The epicentre of Langkawi, nearly everyone spends a day on Cenang. It’s in a very convenient location plus has a number of great beach bars and restaurants flanking its shores. Our vote goes to Huggin Hippo restaurant.
- Tengah Beach (Pantai Tengah) – the little sister of Cenang, its definitely not as beautiful but undoubtedly quieter. It’s next door to Cenang and is a good place to get away from the crowds but also try your hand at parasailing.
- Tanjung Rhu (Pantai Tanjung Rhu) – the most northern of the public beaches but the most untouched for sure. Tanjung Rhu is known as the most exquisite of the options although, if it was up to us, it wouldn’t take top spot. This beach is nestled next to the Four Seasons Resort who apparently sometimes try to stop patrons from entering. If that happens to you, just drive further along and try to re-enter.
- Customs Beach – technically still part of Tangjung Rhu this is a busiest stretch of beach that is located across a Customs building, hence the name! We liked it for the multi-coloured umbrellas set up and since just round the corner was Scarborough Fish and Chips, who apparently do their signature dish with style
- Sandy Skulls (Pasir Tengkorak) – one of Langkawi’s lesser-known hidden beaches, this is a great beach if you want to get away from the tourism on the island. That said, it is a very small stretch of sand so if some families do come down, you’ll find it cramped quite quickly.
Go up the Skycab and Walk the Skybridge
This must be the most touristy thing to do in Langkawi, but we enjoyed it anyway! A trip out of town will see you arrive at the ‘Oriental Village’, essentially a manmade village selling everything from coffee to clothing. From there, you’ll queue up for your tickets to the cable car.
Now the Skycab (known as a cable car or a funicular or gondola depending on your language), is the world’s steepest as well as the longest free span. Pretty impressive, right?
Once you’ve got your tickets in hand you’ll be whisked up the side of the mountain for about 15 minutes in a 4 person ‘bubble’, giving you great views below – the undulating green hills and the bright blue Malaysian sea (apparently on a clear day you can see as far as Thailand!). At the top there are a number of viewpoints, all of different heights and vistas for you to get the best lookout over the valley.
One of the highlights, however, is the Skybridge, a 125 m long bridge that – you guessed it – has a record as the longest free span and also curved bridge in the globe. You’ll need to buy a separate ticket for this Malaysian landmark, either including a short train journey to get there or, as we did it, walking down through lush trees and spotting monkeys as you go.
The bridge is quite a bit of fun, even for those scared of heights. You’ll walk the length of it, snap those selfies and definitely never, ever, look down!
Check out the Eagle
If you come in (or leave) from Kuah Jetty, you can’t help but notice a particularly large bird perched on the water’s edge.
It’s a 12 metre tall statue of an eagle, almost poised to take flight. And while it might seem a little tacky, people flock to take a snap with the eagle; one of the country’s most iconic landmarks!
In case you’re interested in the history, the eagle was built at Dataran Lang (Eagle Square) as an emblem of Langkawi as the name of the island references it i.e. ‘helang’ means eagle and ‘kawi’ means reddish-brown.
Disclaimer: When we last went to Langkawi it was the heat of summer, so the waterfalls were not that impressive. However, we’re told they are amazing after a little bit of rain and since the two largest are near other important attractions, you might as well add them to your list.
- Seven Wells (also known as Telaga Tujuh) – the clue is in the name. This waterfall flows down into seven beautiful wells where tourists and locals alike come to frolic in warmer weather. You can walk (or take a taxi) to Seven Wells from the Oriental Village, so a trip there is best tagged onto a cable car visit.
- Temurun (also known as Air Terjun Temurun) – This is deemed to be a more impressive waterfall – three tiers gushing down the cliffside for 200m. Located in the Mat Cincang Nature Park, this waterfall is not far from Tanjung Rhu waterfall, so you could pair those sights together.
Discover an underwater world
Nestled in the centre of Cenang is a great activity for kids (and big kids) alike – the Underwater World. Particularly if the weather isn’t great, this is a wonderful place to visit, boasting over 4,000 sea species.
Meander around the mangroves
Another cool thing to do in Langkawi is to get up close to the mangroves through a boat tour! Generally these four hour excursions will take you deep into the mangrove forest, where you’ll see how this particular climate is the ideal breeding ground for fish, shrimps and even beautiful birdlife like kites, eagles and kingfishers. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a dolphin or two!
Get your adventure on
If you’re lying on that sandy beach in Langkawi, inevitably you’ll notice lots of adrenalin-fueled activity around you, so why not get in on the fun?
- Parasailing – there are a number of operators running parasailing off the water, just strap yourself into the bright harness and off you go! It can be booked right there on the beach or beforehand.
- Jetskis – one of the best ways to explore the surrounding islands of Langkawi is on the back of a jetski! You’ll scoot across the ocean, through the ‘Fjords’, and definitely stop at Pregnant Maiden Island (also known as Dayang Bunting), the largest lake in the area.
- Ziplining – You can get epic views of one of the world’s oldest rainforests through a zipline! Fly over that Seven Wells waterfall, spot birds flying about and feel the wind in your hair by attempting the 12 ziplines and 3 bridges in the geopark.
Where to stay in Langkawi
Langkawi is a relatively large island, and if you’re looking for really top notch resorts, you will have your pick of luxury places, but the good news is that there is pretty much something for every budget type. Here are some of our top recommendations.
High-end: If money is no object, there are 3 resorts which sit above the rest, the Danna, Datai and Four Seasons. However, if you’re looking for high-end but a little less wallet damaging, we can’t recommend Aloft more. It’s set in an excellent location for Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah, has great facilities and were surprised by how reasonable the food and drinks were.
Mid-range: Looking for somewhere near to the airport for when you arrive or just before leaving Langkawi, then the Smith House is a mid-range hotel that gets our vote. A great location to explore the Langkawi Cable car, the hotel has excellent rooms, a phenomenal breakfast and an enjoyable rooftop swimming pool.
Budget: If you’re looking to be close to all the action on Pantai Cenang? Then we’d suggest that you check out the Cenang Plaza Beach Hotel. It’s only 160m to the beach, has aircon, good rooms and at a very affordable price, what more could you want?
Why go to Koh Lipe?
Again, you’re probably dead-set on your decision to visit one of the most unspoiled islands in Thailand, right? Let’s just hammer that decision home…
- While its by no means a deserted island paradise anymore, Koh Lipe does still retain a lot of its laidback charm. Plus, if you need to ‘get away’ from the masses on Koh Lipe, a more deserted island is just a long tail boat away
- You can choose your travel style – there are a few high end resorts available but you can also ‘rough’ it in a backpackers or a beach hut for a few days
- Like most of Thailand, you’ll find delicious food on every corner – whether a street hawker or a sit-down restaurant. Take, as an example, Tonkow. This family-run Thai restaurant serves homemade, amazing fare that made us come back to stand in line two nights in a row!
What are the best things to do on Koh Lipe?
Ahhh, the island paradise of Koh Lipe. Again, like Langkawi, your focus is probably going to be on spending as much time on the beach as possible. And, hell, we wouldn’t blame you: Koh Lipe has some spectacular sandy shores to explore.
However, if you want a bit more spice in your itinerary, here are some other ideas for activities to do on Koh Lipe.
Catch a sunrise and a sunset
Any map of Koh Lipe will make it evident: there is one place to watch a killer sunrise, and that’s Sunrise Beach. And one place to take in a sunset, and that’s Sunset Beach. Handy names and both beaches are very accessible – about a 10-15 stroll from Walking Street to Sunset Beach, and 5 minutes to Sunrise Beach.
You’ll find many other travellers there (so don’t expect to have them all to yourselves), but its undoubtedly worth the time spent. For sunset, grab yourself a beer from one of the vendors or, if you want to go upmarket, you can try out one of the bars like Bayview for a cocktail.
Hike the viewpoint
Now the viewpoint isn’t necessarily on Koh Lipe itself. In fact, it’s a 10 minute longtail boat ride away to neighbouring (larger) island of Koh Adang. Where, except for a few tents and only one resort, the island is entirely uninhabited, so it’s a bit of a hidden gem!
Catch a longtail from Sunrise Beach (it costs about 100 THB/3.20 USD/2.50 GBP per person one way), and make your way over to Koh Adang. Once there, the resident ranger will point you in the direction of the Koh Adang viewpoint.
It’s about a 45 minute hike and not at all easy – steep, with ropes and uneven terrain – so please wear sturdy shoes (not flip flops!) and take lots of water with you. That said, the view back over Koh Lipe is worth every bead of sweat. There are three viewpoints but Viewpoint 2 and 3 are the cracking ones – if you can stomach making it up to Viewpoint 3 you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views across the bay, and a little feeling of pride that you conquered that hill while on an island vacation!
Snorkel around the reefs
There are a number of great reefs accessible just off the shore of Koh Lipe, and many people just rent (or buy) a mask and fins, and just spend hours paddling through the water. However, you can also book a snorkelling ‘tour’ with one of the many operators on the island. They usually take the form of a half or full day tour, and centre around a specific area.
For example, Program A usually sticks close to Koh Lipe itself as you snorkel at Jabang, Koh Adang and Koh Yang, check out the beautiful shiny black stones at Koh Hin Nam and settle in at the beach on Koh Rawi. Whereas Program B goes further afield including the islands of Koh Lugoi, Koh Dong, Koh Bulu and the strange rock formations seen at Koh Hin Sorn.
We’ll tell you honestly – we liked this tour except for the beach break. We saw some lovely sea life, enjoyed our snorkelling time and thought it was great value (our tour was about 450 THB/14.30 USD/11.00 GBP per person), but we disliked the stop at Koh Rawi.
Like any package tour, all guests converge on the same places at once, and Koh Rawi was absolutely heaving.
If we could do it again? We’d shell out the bucks for a private boat and tour.
Be a Trash Hero
We were gutted when we found out we left Koh Lipe on a Monday and wouldn’t be able to take part in this amazing community initiative. Essentially Trash Hero gets locals and tourists to remove waste – picking up trash to see the real world consequences of overuse and commercialism.
We have been told it’s not just a wonderful sustainability initiative but a great way to meet likeminded travellers who also care about the environment!
Anyway, Trash Hero meets at 10am every Monday at Pattaya Beach.
Where to stay in Koh Lipe
We’ll be honest, Koh Lipe isn’t the cheapest place in Thailand… lots of people want to visit this little island paradise and there isn’t a huge amount of space to build. However there are a few gems that you can find:
Luxury: Akira Beach Resort on Pattaya Beach has to get the nod if you’re looking a luxurious Koh Lipe beach resort. Beautiful rooms, pools overlooking the beach and ocean, great gym.
Mid-range: Located on Sunrise Beach, with your chance to jump out of bed and head into the ocean, check out Wapi Resort. A great location and gets excellent reviews.
Budget: We loved hanging out at the Bloom Café, and the attached Bloom Hostel gets great reviews. So if you’re on a budget, this is a in a great location and a popular hangout.
What’s the best time of year to visit Langkawi and Koh Lipe?
The best time to visit these two stunning islands is between December and March, when there is the least amount of rain and most number of warm sunny days. Although it’s important to remember December and January are the busiest times of the year, so be prepared for crowds and make sure you book early!
What should I pack for Langkawi and Koh Lipe?
It’s most likely that you’ll be visiting Langkawi or Koh Lipe during the nice hot dry season, so make sure you’ve got your beach clothing handy… although it’s worth chucking in a warm fleece for the cold ferry ride. Here are our must-pack items for Koh Lipe and Langkawi:
- Sunglasses and suntan cream – it’s hot so make sure they’re in your luggage.
- Comfy hiking shoes – if you’re keen on your hiking on either Langkawi or Koh Lipe, it’s worth a good sturdy pair of shoes or hiking sandals. We love our Teva’s!
- You’ll definitely be doing some water activities, so get a good waterproof bag to keep your stuff dry – check out this one from Osprey.
- Island essentials, your swimming gear, flip flops, a hat – you know the drill.
- Get yourself a good travel adapter, Malaysia uses the UK plug as standard, 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 Langkawi to Koh Lipe Ferry?
The ferry from Koh Lipe to Langkawi or the other way around takes 90 minutes. However, it’s worth factoring in that sea conditions may make the journey longer and as you’ll be going through immigration at each end, that process can take around 30 – 45 minutes.
What’s the distance between Langkawi and Koh Lipe
The distance between Koh Lipe and Langkawi is approximately 40 kilometres (around 25 miles).
What’s the best way to get from Langkawi to Penang?
Although you can fly between Penang and Langkawi, we actually think that the best way to make the 3 hour journey is by ferry. You can read our full review on the best way to get between these two amazing Malaysian islands here.
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