It will be a long journey from Bangkok to Koh Lipe but trust me: it’s worth it. The beaches are beautiful, the coral reefs breathtaking and the sunsets legendary. You won’t regret the loooong long journey to get there.
How long and how much it took
Prices and length can vary a little but here is how much we paid (per person) when we traveled from Bangkok to Koh Lipe in February 2016. It should give you a ballpark idea of what to expect if you go there by train.
Total time: 24h
Train time: 14h
Minibus time: 2h
Speedboat time: 2h
Long boat time: 5 mins
Total cost: 1725 baht
Train cost: 605 baht
Minibus + Ferry cost: 850 baht
Pier entrance cost: 20 baht
National Park fee: 200 baht
Long boat cost: 50 baht
From Bangkok to Hat Yai
Take the train from Bangkok to Hat Yai. I would not recommend taking the bus for such a long trip. If you are booking a couple weeks in advance, take a look at airplane fares. It’s only about two hour flight and can cost about the same as the air conditioned overnight train if you buy in advance.
Which train to take?
Well it’s up to you depending on your budget. You basically have 4 options:
- First class air-conditioned beds (but who’s got money for that, right?) 1 394 -1 594 baht
- Second class air conditioned beds 855-945 baht
- Second class beds with fan 555-605 baht
- Seaters 259-535 baht
There is a little price differences between lower and upper bunk. Paying for the lower bunk is worth it in my opinion but you might not have the choice: they fill up fast. I personally found the air conditioned trains get too cold at night. The seaters are a great price but I would not recommend unless you’re on a really tight budget. The second class bed with a fan is my favorite option. Be careful and buy your ticket at least 2 days in advance if you want to be sure to get the ticket you want.
Avoid train #41 as it arrives into town quite late and you’re most likely to miss the ferry!
How we went: Train #171, second class beds with a fan departing at 13h and supposed to arrive at 5:52 (but it actually arrived closer to 7) for 605 baht.
From Hat Yai to Pakbara
As you exit the train station, you will be greeted by a bunch of locals trying to sell you “tours” to Koh Lipe. They are quite pushy and we honestly thought it was a scam and avoided them at the beginning. Turns out, they get paid 50 baht if they bring clients to a nearby tourist agency that sells perfectly legitimate tickets to (almost) Koh Lipe. The agency we went to is about 40 meters away and is called Lipe Tour:
For 850 baht we got tickets for a minibus until Pakbara as well as a speedboat ticket until the platform near Koh Lipe. We paid a little less on our way back, but it honestly is a pretty good price.
The minibus ride takes about 2h from Hat Yai to Pakbara.
Note: If you already know your departure date, buy your return train tickets while you’re still at the station: you cannot buy any from the island. While you probably won’t get stuck in Hat Yai, they might not have the exact tickets you want on your way back. Be careful to buy tickets for the afternoon train (after 3pm) as you won’t be able to make it back to Hat Yai before early afternoon.
From Pakbara to the Platform
Once you’ve arrived at Pakbara, your minibus driver should direct you to a person that will give you your speedboat ticket.
Be prepared to pay 20 baht for the entrance to the Pier:
Once you find your boat, get comfortable as it takes another 2 hours to cross the 60km of sea until the platform near Koh Lipe. I recommend you go hang out n the roof if you’re on one of the big speed boats. Take in the fresh air, the wind and don’t forget to snap some beautiful pictures.
The last ferry from Pakbara to Koh Lipe departs at 15:30, be sure to plan your arrival to the Pier accordingly.
From the Platform to the Island of Koh Lipe
What is this platform you ask? Well, Koh Lipe is part of a National Park and has protected coral reefs all around the island. Because of this, a Pier cannot be built directly on the island and all visitor must disembark the big speedboat at a platform 500 meters from the shore to switch to a smaller long boat that won’t damage the reefs.
Have some cash on hand to pay the 200 bath entrance fee to the National Park:
Then, you will also have to pay 50 baht for the 5 minute until the shore.
As I said, there are many steps involved but the island of Koh Lipe is absolutely worth the hassle. Because of the barriers to entry, the beach is not crowded at all and you can be free to enjoy is in peace!
This are slightly different on the way back and there are a couple things I could like to mention. Firstly, the speedboat + minibus back was only 600 baht as opposed to the 800 we paid in Hat Yai. Secondly, the speedboat was much smaller and because of the weather conditions everyone on the boat got completely soaked. We absolutely didn’t expect that since nobody warned us and the boat design of the previous boat would not have allowed something like that to happen. The locals said the waves were unusually strong that day and people don’t usually suffer from more than a few splashes but be safe: protect all your electronics and plan to have some dry clothes on hand when back on land.
I have made a little video of our journey from Bangkok to Koh Lipe that you can watch here:
Thank you for reading, let me know if you have any questions,