Next up on our adventures was the stunningly beautiful island of Koh Lanta. This island came highly recommended by a few people, namely Callie of From The Corners of the Curve. We were convinced to add it to our itinerary as it’s a slightly more chilled and up-and-coming island in comparison to the likes of Koh Phi Phi, Phuket, Phanghan and Samui. We wanted to go somewhere a little off the beaten track, and where we could just chill away from the hustle and bustle, and for this Koh Lanta is just perfect.
Map from amazinglanta.com
The island is situated just off the coast, right in between Krabi and Trang. You could fly to either Krabi or Trang airport and get a transfer over land if you didn’t fancy getting the ferry. It’s a big enough island to have no trouble with supplies, and it doesn’t have the small island feel of Koh Lipe, the final island on our itinerary. It is, however, small enough to drive a moped around it in no more than 3-4 hours.
We got the ferry from Koh Phi Phi after our whirlwind few hours on the famous island, and the trip was a fairly quick 2-3 hours. The ferry goes to Lanta directly from Koh Lipe, and costs about 700 Baht each (about 14 pounds). The transfer is pretty painless, although a word of warning is the onboard attendands will try and convince you that once you reach Koh Lanta there’s nothing around the port and it will be impossible for you to get anywhere without their help, and that they need to call a taxi on your behalf to come collect you and take you to your hotel. Also, you need to hand over the cash to them there and then, and it’s a fairly unreasonable 240 Baht each. For the two of us this would have been 480 Baht in total, close to £10. This is fundamentally untrue. Be warned, the attendants are just lying and trying to make money off you. Fortunately we cottoned on to this little scam after getting a bit miffed with how persistent they were in pushing this onto us, and we decided to take a bet and had to continually refuse (they will continuously ask and pressure you to believe them and hand over the cash!), and were proved right when we arrived and saw that the ferry port is pretty much slap bang in the middle of the main town and you are literally surrounded by taxi drivers and Tuktuks waiting for the arrival of one of the daily ferries.
Despite this little drama right at the beginning of our trip to Lanta, pretty much all of the rest of our time there was brilliant. We got off the ferry and were starving, so we took a right straight off the ferry, where there are loads of bars and restaurants, and since we had no internet access at this point we decided to take a gamble and go ahead and just pick one.
We lucked out BIG TIME when we chose to go in the Moo Uan, or ‘Fat Pig’ Restaurant; it turned out to be the best food we tried in all of our time in Thailand and we returned every single day we were in Lanta at least once in order to sample as much of the menu as possible. Our experience of Thai food had been pretty hit and miss up to this point, so to find a restaurant that met and exceeded our expectations was a real relief and super exciting.
Since we became pretty well acquainted with the place after 4 days, and tried the majority of their food and drink menu, I’ll write up a separate blog post specifically for this restaurant and link it here so you can read more about it of you want to.
Our hotel of choice was Mook Lanta Resort, which we came to really love by the end of our four night stay. We’d booked in to one of the basic ‘Standard Fan Bamboo Bungalow’ rooms, which were extremely cheap (prices I’ve seen range from £14-£17 per night depending on when and where you book), but after one night we decided to upgrade for the rest of our stay to one of the ‘Deluxe Air Con Bungalows’, which are more in the £40 per night price range.
For us the jump in quality of the room was well worth it – the rooms were much more like hotel rooms than the shed vibe you get from a lot of Thailand’s shack bungalow accommodation. The room was a lot less prone to insects, thanks to the superior windows and doors, plus you cannot put a price on having air con when you’re in this country. Sleeping in a pool of your own sweat is no fun at all.
The breakfast here was pretty great, and the owners are English and really friendly and knowledgeable about the island. They also sort out leasing a moped for you if you want one, which believe me, you probably will! It’s slightly more expensive than if you found one of the stores that rent them out yourself, but it means you have the convenience of being able to just leave it at the hotel when you check out instead of having to return the scooter yourself. And considering that you’d need to pay for and arrange transport back to the hotel after you’ve done that, it probably doesn’t actually work out much more.
Riding a moped around the island was one of the highlights of our trip. I imagine that it’s especially fun if you’ve never ridden a bike or scooter before – for me the novelty was pretty extreme. There’s nothing like driving down a hill with a stunning view with the wild in your hair and the air in your lungs. Probably going to sell my car immediately and embrace moped life.
Seriously, it was really fun. It’s by far the best way to get around and explore Koh Lanta, and since the island’s attractions are quite well spaced around the island it’s also probably the cheapest too. I can’t imagine that we ended up spending more on petrol and scooter hire than if we’d been getting Tuktuks and taxis all over the place.
Beware, though, they’re pretty easy to skid or lose control of if you’re not used to driving them, which both me and my BF discovered. Basically, beware of gravel and over-revving your scooter. I fell from mine when I tried to grab on after losing control, but of course the accelerator is on the handle where you naturally go to grab which makes matters worse. Oops!
The views from up on Lanta’s hills and mountainous regions are drop dead gorgeous, and one place in particular that we revisited a few times was the Viewpoint Restaurant. We didn’t eat here, but it was the perfect place to stop after you’ve been scooter-ing (is that a word?) for around 30 minutes out of the main town towards the old town and need to stop to rehydrate. Plus that view is easily one of the best in Koh Lanta.
We must have gone around the island a good 5-6 times by the end of our time there, and the feeling never got old. There were loads of new places to go and explore – my personal favourites were Old Town and the Southern Point.
Right at the most southern point of the island there’s a bar called Sun Rise Bar which has the most stunning setting. We didn’t receive the best service, and only stayed for one drink because of this, but I easily could have stayed for lunch and a few cocktails if the place wasn’t a little intimidating. The staff laughed at us (no idea why!) and even asked to ‘borrow our mopeds for 15 minutes to go buy cigarettes’. Which is pretty odd when they sell cigarettes in the bar. We probably would never have seen those mopeds again!
Old town had some pretty cool stores, markets and sights. There were also quite a few restaurants but we didn’t stop by at any, which I regret quite a bit now as some are very highly rated on Trip Advisor.
The market stalls were some of the best, and I picked up quite a lot of souvenirs and goodies to take home for friends and family here, plus I bought two pairs of those typical ‘Thailand trousers’ which I ended up living in for most of the trip.
There’s also a pier which you can drive down on your moped, and has the most wonderful view back onto the shore and the old town. I’m not sure what the pier is primarily used for, probably fishing boats, but quite a few tourists were using it as a viewpoint to look back onto the town from a offshore perspective.
The beaches of Koh Lanta aren’t Thailand’s best, but these are some gorgeous sandy beaches (namely Long Beach Nui Bay and Klong Nin). We saw wonderful sunsets at each of these beaches, and the bars and restaurants in Nui Bay and Klong Nin are some of the most buzzing.
One of my other highlights was Lanta Animal Welfare, not so much for the attraction itself, but as a wonderful cause to the island’s animals the community there. It’s an organisation set up by one woman who had come to the island and was appalled the animal cruelty that she witnessed, and was shocked by the number of stray cats and dogs on Koh Lanta’s streets. After seeing this, she sold everything and moved to the island, setting up this not for profit organisation to offer a home and treatment for stray and injured animals.
It was a lovely place, and I very nearly had a sob when I heard some of the terrible back-stories of some of these animals, but it was so wonderful to see them now happy and healthy and cared-for. I would recommend this to any animal lovers visiting the island, and be sure to give a donation or buy some of the merchandise so you can contribute to the amazing work that goes on at LAW. They also have a sister organisation, Time for Lime, which offers a bar, restaurant, cooking school and accommodation, all the profits of which go towards funding Lanta Animal Welfare. It also plays home to a number of the animals of LAW. If my BF wasn’t allergic to cats I most definitely would have stayed there!
Koh Lanta was an unforgettable part of our time in Thailand, and looking back I have to say it was definitely one of my favourite legs of the itinerary. It was such a chilled out place with so much to offer, with some of the best food, best markets and most stunning views. I would definitely hurry back there if I find myself back in Thailand any time soon.
What part of Koh Lanta would you most like to check out?