The closest airports are in Hat Yai and Trang, both around 100 kilometres from Pakbara. Hat Yai has daily arrivals 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 transfer direct to Lipe from a travel office across from the train station if you arrive before the 09:00 departure.
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.
Most travellers coming from the mainland book an all-in transfer to Ko Lipe via Pakbara Pier from a travel agent, departing in high season from Hat Yai at 08:30, 10:30 and 12:30 for 600 baht; from Trang at 09:00 for 600 baht; and from Krabi at 07:00 and 10:00 for 1,000 baht. Only the earliest departures are available in low season.
Pakbara can also be reached directly by public minibus from Hat Yai’s Talad Kaset Station (note, this is not Hat Yai’s main bus terminal) departing hourly from 08:30 to 18:30 for 110 baht; you could then buy a boat ticket to Lipe upon arrival. Pakbara cannot be reached directly by public transport from Trang, but you can catch a Satun-bound minibus and ask to get out in La-Ngu for a transfer to a Pakbara-bound songthaew.
Boat tickets to/from Ko Lipe can be booked through travel agents, directly through the boat company’s websites and ticket offices, or from third-party online services like 12go Asia.
To/from the mainland
In high season, speedboats depart for Ko Lipe from Pakbara Pier at 09:30, 11:30, 13:00, 13:30 and 15:00 for 600 baht and take 1.5 hours. Of these, we’d go for a Ploy-Siam boat leaving at 09:30 because it makes a stop, purely for fun, at stunning Ko Khai along the way. Also for 600 baht, a more comfortable high-speed ferry departs Pakbara at 10:30 and takes two hours. In low season, speedboats depart Pakbara at 11:30 only.
See our Pakbara travel page for tips on using this chaotic pier.
High-season boats from Pakbara dock at a floating platform off Pattaya Beach, where you’ll have to pay 50 baht for a longtail boat transfer to the shore. In low season the boats pull right up to Sunrise Beach. You may get wet from the waist down.
From Ko Lipe, boats return to Pakbara in high season at 09:30, 11:30, 13:30 and 16:00. You’ll need to find the correct departure point on Pattaya Beach and check in a few minutes beforehand. In low season, boats depart from Sunrise Beach at 09:30 only.
Boat companies running between Lipe and Pakbara include Bundhaya, Satun Pakbara, Ploy Siam, Baramee and Lipe Ferry & Speedboat Tour.
To/from Ko Adang
Shared longtail boats depart for Ko Adang from a boat taxi stand in front of the school and from Captain Yut’s, both on Sunrise Beach, at least three times per day from morning to mid-afternoon for 100 baht one-way or 200 baht round trip. The last boats return to Lipe at around 16:00.
To/from Ko Tarutao
In high season, at least one Pakbara-bound speedboat usually departs Lipe at 09:00 and stops at Ko Tarutao an hour later for 450 baht. However boats may not stop at Tarutao if only one or two passengers want to go there, which is sometimes the case in shoulder months, so try to book your ticket a couple of days in advance. On Tarutao, pick up times for Lipe vary so ask the park staffers in advance. Ko Tarutao closes from May 15 to October 15.
From November 1 to April 31, speedboats and ferries depart Langkawi's Kuah Jetty for Ko Lipe at 08:30, 13:30 and 14:30, cost around 1,000 baht and take at least 90 minutes. Thai immigration will stamp you into the kingdom upon arrival at Pattaya Beach. Boats run to Langkawi from Lipe at 09:30, 10:30 and 15:30. Boats do not run between Lipe and Langkawi in low season, when you’d have to take a ferry to Satunand from there make your way to Pakbara.
To/from other islands
From October 20 to March 31, speedboats departing from Pattaya Beach link Ko Lipe to a number of other Thai islands.
The Bundhaya speedboat departs Lipe at 09:00 and reaches Ko Bulon Lae at 10:00 for 600 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.
The Satun Pakbara speedboat also departs at 09:00 and stops at the same islands as Bundhaya for the same prices, but also arrives to Ko Kradan at 10:45 for 1,400 baht; Ko Phi Phi at 13:30 for 2,100 baht; and Phuket at 14:30 for 2,400 baht.
In the opposite direction, speedboats depart for Lipe from Phuketat 08:30; Ko Phi Phi at 09:30; 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.
The Tigerline high-speed ferry also runs to/from Lipe in high season, departing Phuket at 08:00 and stopping at all of the islands served by the speedboats except Ko Bulon Lae, plus Hat Yao Pier in Trang, before reaching Lipe at 15:00 and continuing on to Langkawi. Tigerline runs north from Lipe at 10:00.
All three of these companies often run late, though we’ve found Bundhaya to be a bit more punctual than the others.
If heading to less-popular islands such as Ko Libong, Ko Sukorn, Ko Lao Liang, Ko Jum and Ko Yao Noi, you’ll need to make a transfer in Trang or Krabi.
Tickets for combined ferry and minibus transfers can be booked at most travel offices on Lipe; do shop around as some agents charge higher commissions than others. Expect a chaotic scene when you arrive in Pakbara -- look for signs and people shouting the name of your destination.
All options listed below involve a 09:00 departure from Lipe, and timeframes include the boat ride, transfer time and minibus ride.
Bangkok: Costs 1,400 baht and uses a regular air-con bus that terminates at Khao San Road and takes more than 15 hours.
Hat Yai: Costs 700 baht to the city or 800 baht to the airport and takes around four hours; note that Hat Yai city (not the airport) can also be reached by public minibus from the car park in front of Pakbara Pier.
Krabi: Costs 900 baht and takes around six hours.
Surat Thani: Costs 1,300 baht and takes around seven hours.
Trang: Costs 700 baht, takes around four hours and drops passengers at the airport and then the train station.
Ko Lipe is small enough for most people to use only their feet to get around. You’ll also find too many sidecar motorbike taxis zooming about the narrow lanes like a sped-up kiddie car ride at the fair with no safety barriers -- be careful walking around corners. Motorbike rental is not available, but you can rent a bicycle for 100 to 200 baht per day at Bundhaya Resort, Palm Inn, Shanti Hostel and Phuritra Resort, among others.