Koh Lanta, an underrated Thai gem.
The first time I traveled to Thailand was in 2012. I knew about Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi and the infamous 'Leonardo Di Caprio beach'. However, I had never heard of Koh Lanta before, neither did during that trip. But once I moved to Thailand, a new whole world appeared in front of me.
Koh Lanta is not as famous as the islands I mentioned before, however it is well-known among the locals. If I have to choose one island in Thailand to design a personalised trip for you, Koh Lanta would be one of my top choices, but ssshh don't spread the secret!
Let’s make this clear, I went In May, meaning it is the beginning of the low season. From May to October Koh Lanta’s mood is super chilled and relaxing. May and October are the best months to visit, still the rainy season gives a break from the heat here and there and there is a chance of lot of sunny days, but the island is not crowded. Another perk to take into account is the prices of accommodation, tours, activities, food or transportation. In Low season Prices can go to as little as half of the high season.
Thailand is in the top 10 of the most visited countries in the world, number two in Asia. Thailand used to be extremely cheap, nowadays is cheaper than western Europe but for a decent hotel and 3 regular meals you can expect to pay 50/60 euros per person a day. If you only eat Thai street food and stay in hostels you can make it for 30 euros a day.
How to get to Koh Lanta? From Bangkok can be as cheap 35 euros return. By bus it would cost you around 25 euros and 16 hours, not for me thank you. Either you fly or you decide to have a fun experience on the bus, you will arrive to Krabi. Krabi is an important tourist spot in Thailand. It has several connections to the islands in the Andaman Sea, such as Koh Phi Phi or Koh Pu. Once in Krabi, you need to take a public van to Koh Lanta. Smart tip: If you arrive later than 5pm, public vans normally do not work and you will pay a very overpriced transfer. If it happens to you that your flight arrives late, the best option is booking a decent hotel close to the airport and take the public van in the morning. You can pay even 10 times less if you do it this way.
Koh Lanta is quite large island (27km long) and most of the beaches are on the west coast, but it does not mean you should skip the East area of the island. Roads are decent with no rain renting a scooter is the way to go. I would suggest you to stay on the North West of the island, either Laem Kho Kwang Beach or Long Beach. That area has a lot of food options and accommodation for all budgets. The south of the island is wilder, the beaches are mixed with the jungle and it is less developed. However, in this area is located the most famous (and most expensive) hotel in the island and one of the most expensive ones in the country 'The Pimalai Resort and Spa'. The East side of the island is super cool. It is more local and you can find farms, small guesthouse, humble restaurants and places to mix with the locals. Also on the East side you will find the old town and the old pier. It is important to know because in order to visit some cool islands with a really good price (avoiding tourist traps) this is the pier to go.
What to do? Before telling you what to do, I am going to tell you what NOT TO DO. Please, DO NOT visit the elephants safari, elephants ride or anything related to elephants in this island. Elephants are used as a money makers and they are not living in good conditions. If you want to visit elephants in Thailand, please visit one of these options, Chiang Mai: https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/ or Kanchanaburi: https://www.ourlandthailand.com/
One of the coolest things to do in Koh Lanta is visiting the south of the island. Take the scooter and head south. Do not miss Kantiang bay and Bamboo Bay. Also, there is the waterfall Bay if you want to go for a bit of a hike, but the waterfall is not very impressive to be honest. However the hike is not bad. The best of this trip should be the natural park at the very bottom of the island, Mu Ko Lanta National Park. You have to pay for the visit, but the beach is gorgeous! You can climb the small hill next to the beach for some fantastic views. Bring your towel with you, sunscreen, wetsuit and enjoy a couple of hours like a lizard under the sun.
I’m passionate about water, boat trips, anything related with sea, and Koh Lanta has some interesting activities related to the liquid element. If you want to make it easy, just book an island hopping. There are different offers like the 4 islands or Koh Rok. Most of these trips offer snorkel masks. I love island hopping trips. You can use Freedom adventures as a reliable company.
Another option to spend a day on an island is doing it yourself. I love this plan because it makes me feel more independent and also it makes feel that I achieve something, everyone can book a tour, but can you move freely by yourself using your own resources through the territory you are visiting. I challenge you, try it, you won’t regret it. Just follow this advice, don’t get lost. While in Koh Lanta I recommend renting a scooter (or take a tuk tuk / taxi) and heading to the old town pier. Once you there, agree a price with the local boat owners that are hanging around there. (I paid 800 baht return to Koh Bubu) but you can also go to Koh Por or Koh Kam, for more information about the uncountable Thai islands and a hassle free trip completely tailor made for you, contact us and we will be happy to give you all the help you need.
One of the greatest things to do in Koh Lanta is diving in one of the top world diving spots, Hin Daeng and Hin Muang. Important note here is that it is not possible to do it during low season (weather conditions make it impossible).
Koh Lanta is not the most famous island in Thailand, however, it has impressed me more than any other in the country. It is a top destination and a must visit. I would rather visiting Koh Lanta over Phi Phi, Samui or Phangan with no hesitation. For more secrets in Asia and around the world, contact us! We have bespoke holidays unique to you.