Koh Lanta! The beautiful island paradise
For those of you who have not heard of Koh Lanta, it is a fabulous little island in the Krabi province of Thailand. It is approximately 25km in length and less than 10km wide. Between the months of November and April the island is a hive of activity. Tourists arrive from all over the world to experience the incredible beauty on offer. In the low season the die hard locals remain as the monsoon season hits this part of the world.
It is very difficult for me to write an unbiased article about Koh Lanta so I don’t think I will even bother. I had the pleasure of living on the island for the best part of 18 months and it was one of the most incredible, thought-provoking, humbling and life changing experiences I have ever had. If you are backpacking through South East Asia then this is a must see island and one that you will surely not regret. Whether you are chilling out at Long Beach Koh Lanta or visiting the Koh Lanta National Park you are sure to have an unforgettable experience.
Before i become all nostalgic and go off on a tangent let us take a look at all of the best things to do in Koh Lanta.
Long Beach, Koh Lanta.
If you are a backpacker then there is a very good chance that you will be staying in an area called Long Beach. Long Beach Koh Lanta is a long stretch that is located just a couple of kilometers away from the ferry port. Most of the islands hostels are in this section of the island. They are grouped together and just a few minutes walk from the beach. Speaking about the beach, it really is something special! it has beautiful white sand that stretches on for as far as the eye can see.
Long Beach Koh Lanta is also a part of the island that gives great value for money. If a hostel is not your thing there are also plenty of bamboo bungalows that might be. You can get something very basic for just a few baht a night. The beach here has plenty of restaurants and bars. They are perfect for relaxing in when the sun goes down. Most have comfortable wooden seats with cushions that you can lie back on and relax.
Koh Lanta Old Town.
Nearly everything that happens on the island happens around the edge of one side of the island. With the exception of one thing – Koh Lanta Old Town. Old Town is on the south side of the island and it is completely different to anything else on the island. It is mainly focused around a small stretch of road that is just a couple of hundred meters long. For some reason unknown to me it is also the nicest bit of road for driving on. There are several restaurants serving both local food as well as international classics. You will find several souvenir shops selling great things to take back to your family. This part of the island is still largely unaffected by tourism and is the perfect place to relax for a few hours in the afternoon.
Koh Lanta National Park
No trip to the island is complete without a trip to Koh Lanta National Park. It is situated right at the tip of the island which is a perfect location. It is perfect because it means you have to drive past countless beautiful sights to get to it. When you arrive at Koh Lanta National Park you will have to pay approx 200 baht as a foreigner to enter. I vaguely remember paying an additional 20 baht to park my scooter as well. The beach at the National Park is absolutely stunning and on the occasions that I have visited it has been mostly deserted. You will find various trails to enjoy as well as a restaurant for some lunch. On each occasion that I have visited I have run into many monkeys all wanting to steal my lunch or some other form of chaos.
There is a small lighthouse sitting on a rock at the end of Koh Lanta National Park which is definitely worth a visit. You can climb up the small rock and from there you get an incredible panoramic view. There are over 100 species of bird in the park. A camera is an absolute essential whenever you decide to take a trip.
Just Driving Around
One of the things that I used to really enjoy was just getting on a scooter and going for a long drive. You can start in Saladan and drive all the way down to the National park which takes about 40 minutes. You will drive past plenty of incredible viewpoints which give you amazing views out to sea. The roads are full of pot holes in places and you should always wear a helmet but it is an incredible journey. You will gi up and down large hills and get up close and personal with many different forms of wildlife. Another great journey is to travel from one side of the island to the other. The middle of the island has a dense forest area that has winding roads. Some of the roads are very steep so making sure you pick a dry day is a big advantage.
Koh Lanta Night Life
There are many events on throughout high season that will keep you entertained. There is usually a different event on each night to make sure something is always happening. You also have a weekly quiz on a Monday at the Irish Embassy pub which is always a highlight. Regular club nights are held at Pangea which always draw a large crowd. All of the bars along the beach front in Khlong Khong have regular live music and if you are a fan of reggae you will particularly enjoy it. If you prefer to just go out for something to eat then you will not be disappointed. Koh Lanta has a huge range of eating places to choose from. There are street stalls at some of the markets selling good quality cheap eats, mid-range Thai, and international restaurants and also a good choice of high-end restaurants.
In most cases when you arrive on Koh Lanta you will be in Saladan Town. This is the place where you can also get the ferry from Koh Lanta to Phi Phi, Koh Lanta to Phuket and also various other locations. The town here is only small but it has a couple of banks that can help with currency exchange as well as Western Union. You can also stock up on supplies at the local supermarket or stop for a drink and something to eat. There is a large selection of restaurants and bars in this area as well.
A large percentage of the locals on the island are Muslims due to the location of the island. You cannot help but notice the various mosques as you drive down the roads and also the call to prayer that you will hear. If your accommodation is located near a mosque then you should expect to hear this several times a day. Most notably at sunrise each morning when it will often wake you for a few minutes. There is a Buddhist temple just outside Saladan Town that can be visited.
This article is just a small taste of what you should expect to enjoy on Koh Lanta. Above all make sure you check out Koh Lanta National Park and Long Beach Koh Lanta.
If the above was not enough to leave you salivating at the thought of arriving then hopefully the video below will be enough to push you over the edge. There are plenty of places to enjoy snorkelling and almost twenty dive shops on the island.