You’ve spent your time lazing in your hammock, taking in the dawn on Sunrise Beach and watching twilight approach on Sunset Beach. That means your time on Koh Lipe, one of the quietest Thai islands is coming to a close. So, what next? Well, probably swapping one island for another as you head to the busier (although definitely not bustling) island enclave of Koh Lanta.
Not sure what to expect of the journey? We recently took a trip between these two utopian outposts and so know exactly what you’re in for when taking the ferry between Koh Lipe and Koh Lanta.
A tale of two speedboats
By the time we had to book our tickets online to hop over to Koh Lanta, we were ferry aficionados. After 11 months travelling through Southeast Asia, we had taken our fair share of ferries, speedboats and even long-tail boats to traverse the wide blue ocean. So, for us, the choice of ferry operator on this trip was relatively easy…
Serviced by three companies – a more traditional highspeed ferry in Tigerline and two speedboat companies, Satun Pakbara and Bundhaya – we easily clicked on the Bundhaya link and booked ourselves two speedy tickets for the 9am slot.
While we usually like to take ferries as they are larger and slower (so more stable), we knew that Tigerline had some slightly dodgy reviews while Bundhaya, on the other side of the spectrum, was a solid choice that we had taken before. Although, after taking the ferry, it turns out that the Tigerline service was also a speedboat option, run by its sister company Siri Lanta.
A stroll across the sand
The one thing we love about island life is how laissez faire you can be about things. Usually when we’re taking transport we’re stressing for hours before to ensure we get to check in with ample time to spare.
On Koh Lipe? Not so much. While you definitely need to be there 30 minutes before, it’s a maximum 10-minute amble across the small island alleys to get there, meaning there isn’t too much of a rush. We even had time to tuck into the signature banana pancakes at Bloom Bar, our ‘local’ for our time on lovely Lipe.
When we did arrive at Bundhaya’s check-in, calm prevailed. It was as simple as flashing our mobile phones with the tickets displayed and taking a seat on the chairs, all smartly positioned to see the sea lapping at the sandy shores.
We also took the chance to head to the bathroom – yes, speedboats do often have toilet facilities but it’s a tricky affair trying to balance yourself while bumping across the waves!
Sailing away across the Andaman Strait
Before we knew it, it was time to get onto the boat. Now boarding a speedboat is never the most glamorous of affairs – if you’re lucky it can pull up onto the shore but usually it involves hiking up your skirt or trousers, holding all your luggage aloft and wading through water before collapsing onto the slippery deck.
This time, we were in luck. The Bundhaya speed boat was accessible via a floating pier so we just lumbered our way down climbed aboard, with a little more decorum than usual. Our luggage had even handily been marked up beforehand and put on the correct boats by the friendly staff.
We navigated towards our favourite seats on the speedboat: Right at the back. In case you’re a speedboat novice, the rear is the most stable place to perch yourself. Yes, you might get a side of sea spray in your hair for your efforts (and it’s undoubtedly louder on the ears) but it’s the most stable place to be.
Then, it was finally time to go. We strapped on our life jackets (and used the spares as makeshift cushions beneath our butts) and started our voyage across the Andaman Sea.
The journey took around 3 hours – something that other operators had said could be a little shorter, but we found was definitely on the button, as we arrived at exactly 12:00 pm.
As is par for the course, the ride was bumpy; you’re in a small speedboat after all. Because you can’t really move about too much (unlike larger ferries), its best to pack something to keep you entertained: a good book (or Kindle), some noise-cancelling headphones with your favourite beats or, in Lee’s case, an anti-anxiety tablet and a bottle of water to help her snooze for the entire duration of the trip!
And, before we knew it, the three hours were up, and we were pulling into Koh Lanta. In the case of Bundhaya, you’re not arriving at the ferry port like the larger ferries themselves but positioned a few metres down the shore, at Bundhaya’s Koh Lanta headquarters.
Landing in Koh Lanta
It’s a quick dock into their dedicated pier, luggage collected and then onto the laidback island of Koh Lanta, and into the arms of an eager waiting songthaew driver, keen to take you to your hotel or hostel of choice for a few baht. Although make sure you haggle on the price!
So, what did we think of the journey? Not much to report, really.
Yes, a speedboat feels like you’re jostling about, jumping high atop the waves. Yes, there is no air conditioned cabin and on-board snacks to buy. But, on the whole, we wouldn’t change a thing. Bundhaya is a solid, trustworthy operator on the Koh Lipe to Koh Lanta route (and further afield to Koh Phi Phi and Phuket too), and one we’d use again.