Ko Lipe is an amazing island in the beautiful Tarutao national park.
Don't be put off by the mild complexity getting there.
The English information along the way is not great but the staff will help you, just keep asking where to go and they will point you in the right direction. Here is some notes on our trip April 2022 you may find useful.
What to know in advance:
-This route is not suitable for wheelchair users as is. Definitely make contact with the operator if you have access needs.
-if you are prone to seasickness it can sometimes be rough on the boat. Def bring preparations like ginger tablets.
-Do pack your own water and snacks, be prepared it's quite hot on the boat with the lifejackets on, and hot at the concrete areas of the pier. There may not be time to purchase water on the way.
-Bring the smallest bag possible, moving large heavy bags in the heat of the pier and sand on the beach are not fun. It's also challenging to fit large bags in the minivans and motorcycle taxis. If this is part of a longer trip and you cannot avoid having a big bag then reccomend you either:
--stay a night either side in hat yai and pay for a friendly hat yai hotel to look after your bigger bag, just take needed things in smaller bag
--pay for an extra seat on transport to and from the island to ensure the minivan can fit your bags.
-Ko Lipe has (open in April when we went) several pharmacies, a 7-11 and many other shops. Things like sunscreen, mosquito repellant, water, booze, masks, shampoo can all be purchased there. As well as hats, swimwear, sunglasses etc. Shops are open in the evenings. Prices are a little higher than the mainland but it's not crazy.
-Many shops on Ko Lipe only take cash. There are ATMs but one night they were all broken, this happens from time to time apparently. Recommend you take 150 percent the cash you think you need and pay card in the places they do accept card to conserve your cash.
-you absolutely do need to print the 12GO confirmation (just the first page). You use the paper several times on the trip.
-take beach shoes and normal shoes.
-your accomdoation on Ko Lipe should have a way to get you from the pier to them. If it involves calling a phone number on arrival ensure you have a way to do that. We had 4G reception with DTAC Sim on Ko Lipe and used Skype to make the call.
-Ignore the 3-4 hour travel times listed on 12GO.
I would psychologically prepare that it's 3/4 of a day of a travel all up. But it's worth it as long as you plan to spend 4+ days on Ko Lipe.
-We booked 0930 hotel pick up. The minivan will also go to several other hotels. It didn't come to ours until 0950. There is no text message with pickup time or anything but I think you could call the number on your confirmation if you were concerned.
-The minivan is air conditioned and about a 2hr drive. If it's full you may have your small bag on your lap or between your feet The drive was smooth but as other reviews have noted the driver crossed the lines to overtake a lot. Oncoming traffic simply got out of our way. (Same driving with a different operator the other way, but otherwise I experienced good van drivers in Thailand so not sure what is different about this route)
If this kind of driving makes you extremely anxious then it might be worth making your own way to Pakbara pier in a taxi. I would aim to get to the pier
30-45 minutes before your boat leaves.
-At the pier we dropped our bags at the main pier entrance and one of us waited there. The driver took me to the office of the boat company (only 50m away) where they
-wrote the pier number and desk number on my booking confirmation
-gave me stickers to wear and for our bags that said 'Ko Lipe'
-These transport company offices all have signs that should match the tour operator description on your 12GO confirmation.
-Then back at the pier entrance went through vaccine control. We showed our euro vaccine confirmations no problem.
-You then walk about 60m to the dock building. You go through a desk where you pay 220 baht each for your national park entrance tickets. Keep these tickets in your wallet the entire time on Ko Lipe you will probably need them.
-Then in the building find the check in desk of your boat company. They will give you a boarding card which has a color and a number, and they should give you a boarding time. Annoucements are hard to hear so go back and check with the desk if you are confused when you should be boarding.
-The building is air conditioned with a small cafe to buy water, I also bought a plastic wrapped crossiant here which was stale.
Reccomend you change into your beach shoes here as when you get off the boat next few times it may be straight onto a beach.
-Then when it's time to board your boat your color should be announced, also keep an eye on others holding same colour as you.
-You go out to the dock, they will take your bags and then you line up roughly in the order of the numbers and board the boat. Someone may look at your national park entrance ticket already. There are passport signs but passport was not needed for us.
-The boat journey is about an hour and a half with two 15 minute stops. Both stops were at amazing islands in the national park, not sure what other reviewers were complaining about. Take some photos.
At the first stop is proper bathrooms, second one has no facilities.
Keep an eye on which boat you are, pretty informal system of waving and running around to collect people when it's time to leave.
-At Ko Lipe you will get off on a floating dock directly onto the beach. They will bring your bags onto the sand. Some resorts will have people waiting, others you will have to call for pickup or get a taxi.
There are several ferry drop off points on Pattaya beach so use the name of a nearby building to inform where you want to be picked up.
Congratulations you made it!
Check in, take a rest and get down to a western facing beach for sunset (access sunset beach through Bayview sunset resort or North point beach next to Zodiac bar) and then head to walking st for dinner!
Was very similar to getting there.
-Again ensure you have water can be hot on the ferry and stifling in life jacket and mask.
-The booking confirmation this time had a map of where the ferry leaves but it was innacurate (maybe they move the floating docks?). However the name of the dock was correct and the motorcycle taxi driver understood this.
Def get there 15 minutes before and use the bathroom.
-This time the tour operator did not match the name of the boat company, but there was only two check in desks so not a problem.
Show your confirmation at the check In desk, they will point to where to drop your bags and give you coloured numbered boarding passes again.
-The ferry made no stops this time. went directly to Pak Bara.
-After getting to the main dock carpark we found our tour operators office on the other side. We brought our bags there and they pointed us to a van, this time we waited about half an hour for another person to join.
-This person was delayed because apparently their boat broke down! So they found us another van.
-Same 2 hour drive and dropped off back at our hat yai hotel. Van took a 5 minute toilet break on the way.
-We stayed the night in Hat Yai to take a lunchtime flight out next day.
-We stayed in hat yai either side and this is definitely the low stress option if you have the time.
-Next time getting there I think I will get an early flight to Hat Yai and go straight onto the Ko Lipe transport, however it will be a very long and exhausting day of travel with flight, minivan, ferry.
-Getting back think it could have been stressful to try and go directly onto an afternoon flight. Given the flexible waiting time at Pak Bara for the minivan, I would not get a flight out of Hat Yai airport where I had to be at the airport before 2pm without confirmation from the operator this is possible.
Sorry if the formatting makes this review hard to read! Looks like the review platform takes out the line breaks
Ferry Speedboat, Jolly Travel (บริษัท จอลลี่ จำกัด), Apr 30, 2022
It was my second time of using 12Go, so
Ferry Speedboat, Jolly Travel (บริษัท จอลลี่ จำกัด), Apr 21, 2022
The trip is ok but there is too long waiting time at the Pakbara pier to get the vehicle to go to the aiport. The spaces in the boat are a bit small considering eveybody is wearing a safety jacket. Air conditionning in the bus is not top performing.
On the trip to go to Koh Lipe, the 2 stops at Karutao and Koh Krai are a waste of time, nothing much to see except garbage on the beaches.
Ferry Speedboat, Satun Pakbara Speed Boat Club (บริษัท สตูล ปากบารา สปีดโบ๊ท คลับ), Apr 18, 2022
Genial, organisation au TOP
Ferry Speedboat, Satun Pakbara Speed Boat Club (บริษัท สตูล ปากบารา สปีดโบ๊ท คลับ), Apr 12, 2022
We arrived at Hat Yai airport at 8:30AM. We went to the checkpoint by 8:45AM and waited in the area. Several times we walked around trying to find information on our pickup and nothing more could be found. By 9:25 (our van was supposed to leave at 9:30AM) we called the number on the PDF and someone answered. Eventually he called back and said a driver would be there shortly, after which a taxi driver came over to find us. We almost missed our ferry and the ferry operator was calling us repeatedly asking where we were. Thankfully on arrival she met us at the taxi and hurred us directly to the boat, which we thankfully were able to get on just in time.
Van Van, Dee Travels Hatyai (ดีทราเวล หาดใหญ่), Mar 14, 2022
All as planned
Ferry Speedboat, Jolly Travel (บริษัท จอลลี่ จำกัด), Feb 18, 2022
Trip from Hat Yai to Koh Lipe - Thailand - January 2022
Booking this trip was easy (the Plattform of 12Go). I chose Dee Travel for my trip from Hat Yai to Koh Lipe. I was at the pickup point of Hat Yai Airport the half an hour before, as indicated, and the driver was already there with a sign with my name on it. The minivan was clean and comfortable. We made a short toilet break half way and got to the peer where the driver showed me where to get the boat voucher from. There too, the staff were friendly and told me which port to go to.
There, we had to scan a QR code and fill out a registration form, mostly for Covid and show it to the staff, together with the proof of vaccination. We then proceeded to the peer we were told to go and received a card with a number and requested to take a seat. Punctually, we were asked to hand out suitcases to the boat staff and called to line up according to the numbers on the card and prepare our passports. Everything was very well managed and we boarded the boat Accor the numbering, however the seating on board is free to chose. I chose a seat at the back as recommended in a review. The speed boat was from a company called Ploysiam. This one was not full or overbooked as I’d seen on other reviews. There were 3 staff on board and the boat had 3 motors (which I’d also read in reviews of the motor dying mid-water). Allot of locals used this company, which is a good sign I guess. We stopped, as indicated, at two islands, which allowed for a short visit, photo taking and using the restroom, if needed. Each stop was about 15 minutes, but be back at the advised place a bit before as not to miss your onward trip. We arrived after about 3 hours - the trip being a total of 6 hours with boarding and covid/passport control, etc.
In 3 day’s time, I’ll be going back to Hat Yai Airport and hope for smooth sailing there, too! :) I can only recommend Dee Travel Thailand.
The way back was as uncomplicated and organized, and much faster than on the way there, as we did not stop at any islands. The boat ride lasted just over an hour and I then had to wait 30 minutes for the very clean and modern minivan who then, too, seamlessly bought me to the airport, without bathroom break. The way back for both means of transportation was very bumpy, so if you get car/sea sick, remember to bring a bag.
Again, I can only recommend 12 Go and Dee Travel Thailand.
Van Van, Dee Travels Hatyai (ดีทราเวล หาดใหญ่), Feb 2, 2022
Ferry Speedboat, Satun Pakbara Speed Boat Club (บริษัท สตูล ปากบารา สปีดโบ๊ท คลับ), Jan 31, 2022
Great service, on time, very safe and efficient. Highly recommend this company.
Van Van, Dee Travels Hatyai (ดีทราเวล หาดใหญ่), Jan 26, 2022
We arrived with the ferry at the pier and there wasn’t anyone there to pick us up. After having asked if there was an agent from 12go somewhere, they told me that I should go to their office across the road.
There they immer knew who I was because the van had left 20 minutes before without us.
They said they had waited for us we we didn’t show up at 11.30 - how could we have? We were on the ferry at that time! and there couldn’t have been a ferry that had arrived earlier; so I really don’t know why they left without us.
Luckily they could organize another van which took us to Hat Yai airport.
All worked out well but with a bit hassle…
Ferry Speedboat, Lipe ferry and speed boat (หลีเป๊ะ เฟอรรี่ แอนด์ สปีด โบ๊ท), Jan 7, 2022