Use the quicklinks below to jump to the desired section regarding transport in and around Ko Lipe.
The closest airports are in Hat Yai and Trang, both around 100 km from Pakbara. Hat Yai services daily flights from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, while Trang can only be reached from Bangkok courtesy of Air Asia and Nok Air. Both of these airlines offer all-in tickets via Hat Yai that include flight, minibus transfer and ferry to Ko Lipe. While this service is not offered via Trang, you can book a minibus/ferry transfer direct to Ko Lipe from one of the travel offices across from the train station, provided you get there before the 09:30 departure. (See the Trang transport section for more info.)
The closest train stations are also located in Hat Yai and Trang, both serviced by at least two daily trains from Bangkok's Hualamphong Station. Hat Yai can also be reached by train from Malaysia.
Many travellers book a combined minibus/ferry transfer to Ko Lipe from Krabi, Trang or Hat Yai, all of which can be reached by long-distance bus from Bangkok and many other places in Thailand. Pakbara can only be reached by songthaew from the nearby town of La-Ngu, which itself can be reached by hourly public minibuses and regular buses from Trang, Hat Yai and Satun.
At time of writing, there are no public boats running between Ko Lipe and Satun's Tammalang pier, and transfers to Satun could not be booked at Lipe travel offices. To reach Satun town, catch one of the orange La-Ngu bound songthaews (20 baht) that depart from the parking area in front of the pier in Pakbara. Once in La-Ngu, you can transfer to a minibus (50 baht) to Satun town, which depart every 30 minutes until 17:00. Tell the songthaew driver in Pakbara that you're headed to Satun and they'll drop you at the right place.
Ko Sukorn and Ko Libong can only be reached from the mainland via a songthaew and ferry from Trang. Otherwise you can book a private transfer from Pakbara for around 2,000 baht, or first head to Ko Kradan and arrange an expensive private longtail from there.
Ko Lao Liang can only be reached by an arranged pick up service in Trang (info at www.laoliangresort.com), or private longtail from Ko Sukorn or the mainland.
During high season (November through April), speedboats operated by various companies depart for Ko Lipe from Pakbara pier on the Thai mainland at 09:30, 11:30, 14:30 and 15:30, cost 650 baht, and take around 90 minutes. It's possible to purchase tickets from offices operated by the boat companies in Pakbara town, though this is not cheaper than booking through a travel agent. Boats return to Pakbara from Lipe at 09:30, 13:30, 14:30 and 16:00.
In low season, speedboats depart Pakbara for Ko Lipe at 11:30, returning at 09:30 (weather dependent).
To/from Ko Tarutao
In high season, boats departing Lipe at 09:30 and 13:30 stop at Ko Tarutao for 450 baht. One boat departs Ko Tarutao for Lipe at 11:00. Ko Tarutao is not open in low season.
From November 16 to April 30, speedboats depart Langkawi's Kuah Jetty in Malaysia for Ko Lipe at 09:30 and 14:30, cost 1,000 baht, and take around 90 minutes. Thai immigration will stamp you into the Kingdom upon arrival at Pattaya Beach. Boats run to Langkawi from Lipe at 11:00 and 16:00. Boats do not run between Lipe and Langkawi in low season.
To/from Ko Adang and Ko Rawi
Longtail boats to Ko Adang and Ko Rawi can be arranged directly with the boatmen on any of Lipe's beaches. If headed to Adang, grab a boat from in front of the school on Sunrise Beach as these cost only 100 baht one-way, as opposed to 200 baht or more from elsewhere. A one-way trip to Ko Rawi will cost around 500 baht. It's best to arrange for a pick up with the same boat driver if you're only doing a day trip. Otherwise you'll have to ask the not-so-helpful national park staff to call a boat, or try to jump in one that's already been arranged by other travellers.
From November 1 through the end of March (Tigerline may run into April), Ko Lipe is connected to a handful of other islands by direct island-hopping speedboats. These depart Lipe at 09:00, reaching Ko Bulon Lae at 10:00 for 600 baht; Ko Kradan at 10:45 for 1,400 baht; Ko Muk at 11:00 for 1,400 baht; Ko Ngai at 11:30 for 1,600 baht; and Ko Lanta at 12:00 for 1,900 baht. Ko Phi Phi and Phuket can be reached by transferring on Ko Lanta, or by taking the Tigerline ferry (more info below).
In the opposite direction, speedboats depart for Lipe from Ko Lanta at 10:30; Ko Ngai at 11:00; Ko Muk at 11:30; Ko Kradan at 11:45; and Ko Bulon Lae at 12:30. We've found the Bundhaya speedboat to be more prompt than the Satun Pakbara speedboat (this is the company's name and not the destinations involved), though only the latter stops at Ko Kradan.
Boat tickets can be purchased at virtually any travel office or resort on Lipe and any of the other islands serviced by the island-hopping speedboats. Tickets can also be purchased in advance through www.thaibeachtravellers.com at the same fares as other travel agents, though it doesn't offer all available options.
The Tigerline ferry also runs to/from Ko Lipe during during high season, departing Phuket at 08:00 and Ko Phi Phi at 09:00 and stopping at all of the islands served by the other speedboat companies, plus Hat Yao pier in Trang, before reaching Ko Lipe at 15:00 and continuing on to Langkawi. Tigerline heads north from Ko Lipe at 10:00. Tigerline is a bit cheaper but also slower than the Bundhaya and Satun Pakbara speedboats. Regional travel agents often don't sell their tickets, which can be booked directly at www.tigerlinetravel.com.
At time of writing, the arrivals/departures situation at Ko Lipe was confusing. The Bundhaya and Satun Pakbara island-hopping speedboats were departing and disembarking directly on the sand at Pattaya Beach, but Tigerline and other ferries from the mainland were docking at a floating platform off the coast of Sunset Beach, requiring passengers to pay 50 baht per person for a longtail boat transfer to/from shore, in addition to the 200-baht national park fee.
We were told that the floating platform had been recently moved from the water off Pattaya Beach due to wind and will likely be moved back later in the season. It may also be moved to the water off Sunrise Beach. The travel agent who you buy your ticket from on Lipe should tell you where and when to meet your boat.
During high season, tickets for combined ferry and minibus transfers can be booked from most travel offices on Ko Lipe. Limited services will be available in low season. Do shop around as some travel agents try to charge a higher commission than others. Expect a chaotic scene when you arrive in Pakbara; keep your eyes and ears open for signs and people shouting the name of your destination.
All options listed below involve a 09:30 departure from Lipe. Timeframes cover the boat ride, transfer time and minibus ride, and they assume minimal delays.
Bangkok: 1,400 baht, uses a regular-size air-con bus that terminates at Khao San Road.
Hat Yai: Costs 700 baht to the city or 800 to the airport, takes around four hours.
Krabi: Costs 900 baht, takes around six hours; passengers heading to Ao Nang, Phuket or Ko Lanta can transfer here.
Surat Thani: 1,300 baht, requires a transfer.
Trang: Costs 700 baht, takes around four hours, drops passengers at the airport and then the train station.
Ko Lipe is no more than a few square km wide and up until a few years ago the only ways to get around were walking, kayaking and longtail boat. The roads have since been sealed and widened throughout the island, and sidecar motorbike taxis are now prevalent. Expect to pay a flat 50 baht fee if you can't manage the five- to 15-minute walk between beaches.
Rental bicycles have yet to catch on. Some of the resorts, including Phuritra and Time to Chill House, offer bicycles to guests for free and may rent them out to non-guests if there are enough to go around.