I am planning to travel to Koh Lipe in April 2019, and fly into Phuket on the 20th. My flight home is actually out of Langkawi in Malaysia, around the 28th.
I already confirmed that there is a ferry from Phuket to Koh Lipe, at least in the high season (Nov - April). I prefer to do it this way than to minivan or fly to Hat Yai and catch the ferry there, as there is an Australian foreign ministry Do-Not-Travel warning for that region (which would void travel insurance).
There are apparently 2 ferry companies operating between Phuket (Rassada Pier) and Koh Lipe - Tigerline and Satun Pakbara Speed Boat Club. Both have many horrible reviews, with a smattering of good ones.
Tigerline has the most overwhelming collection of bad reviews, whereas Satun Pakbara has a more balanced mix, but I'm not sure if that's just due to Tigerline serving more people, or that LonelyPlanet thread having been around for longer.
I'm wondering if anyone has experiences with ferries in the Andaman islands, and particularly these two companies?
What route do they take? I know that at least one stops at Koh Phi Phi and maybe other islands?
Are the two companies a pretty comparable experience? Are the boats similar, or are there big differences? Eg does Tigerline really reliably offer a 'high speed ferry', or is it just whatever they have on the day?
Is it worth booking online? It seems like even in high season the ferries have spots, that often it's cheaper in person, and that having the optionality to choose the company that seems the least shambolic on the day is also a major plus. Any problem with just rocking up half an hour before the supposed ferry time and finding a ticket?
How (un)reliable are the services? Eg if I fly out of Langkawi at 6pm, is it too risky to transfer from Koh Lipe that morning? Better to transfer across the day before, given flaky ferries, immigration etc, and spend a night in Langkawi?