I don't like the idea of a seven-hour boat trip. Is it possible to go to the pier at Pak Bara and catch a boat from there? If so, how long is the crossing and how do I get there from Phuket? Thanks for your advice. Belinda
Koh Lipe is a long way from Phuket. The best way of getting there is to fly to Hat Yai, then take a bus to Pak Bara. Although there is no direct bus from the airport to Pak Bara, you can easily find a minivan at the bus terminal opposite Hat Yai Train Station. The vans serve passengers travelling on Hat Yai-Pak Bara all day and the journey time is about 90 minutes, the same as if you fly to Trang and take a taxi from the airport to Pak Bara pier in La Ngu district.
Going back to Phuket: The distance from Phuket to Pak Bara is about 400 kilometres. It's possible to take a bus from Phuket to Satun and get off at La Ngu. The bus usually leaves from Phuket Bus Terminal in the town centre, and will take up to seven hours to get to La Ngu District where Pak Bara pier is located. The service, which is operated by Trang Ruam Mitr company, runs four times a day at 8am, 10am, noon and 8.30pm. The ticket costs Bt347. Once you arrive in La Ngu district, you need to take a song thaew for eight kilometres along route number 4052 to Pak Bara pier. Getting from Pak Bara to Koh Lipe by speedboat takes about two hours.
To me, the journey doesn't appear any easier than going by boat from Phuket. The most popular mode of transport to Koh Lipe is by ferry operated by Tigerline Travel, the same one that runs to Langkawi Island in Malaysia.
The ferry departs Phuket at 8am and arrives at Lipe at 3pm. Yes, it is a seven-hour trip but along the way you’ll pass Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Koh Ngai, Koh Kradan and Koh Mook, so you’re guaranteed some great scenery.
I wonder if you could suggest some options for travelling down the Mekong from Yunnan to the Golden Triangle. Thanks, Ruth
Boat services on this route remain suspended following to an incident on the Mekong in October 2011 that led to the discovery of the bodies of Chinese nationals on a boat. However, there is news that the passenger boat service between Chiang Saen on Thailand’s side of the Golden Triangle to Jinghong, the capital of Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan, will resume again next month.
This trip offers passengers a glimpse of the 4880-kilometre Mekong River, one of the world's longest, and its influences upon nature and societies in the Indochina Peninsula. From its source in Tibet, this mighty river runs through China's Yunnan province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The Jinghong-Chiang Saen boat schedule has not yet been released, but it seems likely the boat will run once a day on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, while departures from Chiang Saen to Jinghong will be on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The boat trip from Thailand will be upstream, which takes 10-12 hours, while the trip from China down to Thailand will be a lot quicker. The boat trip costs 750 yuan per person or about Bt3,750. You may check the updated information at www.MaekhongTravel.com or call (+66 53) 642 517-9.