I would like to recommend a good way to get to Koh Lipe from Koh Samui… But unfortunately, I can only recommend a way to avoid.
Being in Koh Samui, the Travel Agent advised me to get to Pak Bara pier for 1000Baht. The journey would start at my hotel at 6am and was meant to be finished around 6PM. Then, I could stay overnight in a hotel and continue my journey to Koh Lipe in the morning taking a 90-min speedboat.
Despite an early morning that I hate, the trip seemed to be better stitched then Koh Tao to Krabi I took before. We were seamlessly transferred from a minivan to Lomphrayah ferry, and then from a ferry to a bus. After the bus, I had a short ride in a local taxi and after half an hour wait (just enough to grab some lunch) I was in another minivan from Surat Thani to Pakbara.
I was travelling alone, and I got a comfy seat near the driver. I felt almost there, falling asleep on a smooth road.
We’ve made a few detours to collect some documents, relatives, post… But who cares, I’m almost there. Only an extra hour.
Then the driver put on some music. Some sounding like 90s disco Thai music. Very loud. I realised i’m not a big fan of that. At all. But, I’m on a front seat, and almost there. Only 3 hours left.
Then, we stopped on a road and picked up a few more people into our crowded van. One got to sit between myself and the driver, constantly dipping into sleep. When dipping, he preferred me to the driver, and a 90-kilo hot wet mass was constantly threatening my remaining calamity.
I’ve checked the Google map, realising we’re not taking the shortest route. Not at all. We’re actually at Hat Yai, 100 KM the other way. And, we’re in the traffic jam. And it doesn’t seem we’ll be out of this town until every passenger, including my neighbour, gets to their doorstep. I’ve asked the driver about Pak Bara, and he only said “Ok, Ok”.
After an hour spent in the traffic jams, and all passengers delivered, the driver stopped at the bus station. No buses to Pak Bara. He drove on for about half an hour and dropped me off at another one. The minivan was due to depart at 6:30, half an hour after I was meant to be home!!! I arrived at 20:30 or so in a crammed local mini-bus. At least I had a good night sleep.
Next day, I bought a ticket to Koh Lipe. The boat was full of locals. Everyone was forced to wear a life jacket – which I’ve never done before! I thought that would be a quick trip to Koh Lipe (640 Baht). However, at the entrance to the pier everyone was charged an extra 200 for National Park Entry and 20 for the Pier entry (!!!). I don’t recall paying those fees last time (in April 2017).
I was about the last person to board the boat. To my surprise, we started slowing down and stopping at Koh Turatao. We were off-loaded and offered to take pictures at the island, where our 200-baht tickets were checked. I was quite annoyed, because I’ve envisioned my day snorkelling at Koh Lipe, not taking pictures at Turatao! But then we stopped at another island!!! The journey took 2.5 hours instead of 1-1.5!!!
Well… my advice is… before taking the boat ensure it’s direct with no extra fees. I didn’t know that was possible, but here we are.
And… don’t take that same route from Koh Samui. Despite a 1.5 hour wait in the morning, the night ferry from Koh Tao to Krabi is a better option.