I skipped posting about Koh Phi Phi since we were only there for about 24 hours and didn’t do anything out of the ordinary (swam, kayaked to Monkey Beach, watched a few fire shows).
Unfortunately, I also came down with food poisoning.
After eating street food in Bangkok without so much as a stomach cramp, I was really bummed that I got sick from (most likely) something I ate on one of the islands. But I was able to hold it together during the ferry ride to Koh Lanta by eating some rice and downing a few anti-nausea tablets from the pharmacy. Thank you Thailand for your profusion of helpful and modern pharmacies.
Since my travel partner came down with the same thing, we spent our first day and a half on Koh Lanta recovering. But if you have to be sick, why not be somewhere beautiful and relaxing? We booked an air-conditioned room with a pool and settled in to a slow island rhythm.
We ended up spending six nights on Koh Lanta, all on Klong Nin Beach. It was the perfect place to spend our longest stretch of time in the Andaman Sea. Everything was a positive contrast from the places we’d been before: unlike Phuket, the bars and restaurants were reasonably-priced; unlike Koh Phi Phi, there were no crazy parties (but you can still see some kids swinging flaming sticks around if you really want to); and unlike Railay Beach, there were no long-tails, so the beach was delightfully quiet.
After a few lazy days at the beach and pool, we rented a motorbike to explore. Koh Lanta is a good place to practice motorbike riding as there aren’t too many ways to get lost and the traffic is forgiving. The only things to watch out for are the bumps in the road, and, in the south, the monkeys that sit in the middle of the road and seem to have no fear of humans or motorbikes.
The highlight of our bike tour was Bambou Beach at the southern end of the island. It takes a while to get there from Klong Nin, and the road gets steep and windy, but it's well worth it. I only wish we had arrived earlier so we could have spent some time on the relatively isolated beach (complete with an ultra-chill beach bar that looks like a place out of a movie).
There were quite a few villas and bungalows for rent around this side of the island; it seemed like a good choice if you’re looking to get away from it all. Just watch out for the monkeys, which can be quite aggressive and like to steal backpacks and bottles of water!
We spent a lovely morning on a shady beach called Phra-Ae, next to a public park; a great way to escape the sun.
All in all, I loved Koh Lanta. I know there are less touristy places in Thailand but if you want an easy, relaxing and comfortable island that’s relatively easy to get to, this is a great way to go. I can’t wait to go back.
If you go: a few tips for Koh Lanta
- In my opinion, the easiest way to get to Koh Lanta is to fly to the Krabi airport and get a shared van to the island. For us, an airport transfer van from the island cost only 300 baht per person and took about 2.5-3 hours (we booked through our guest house). Krabi airport is small but it’s nice to avoid the craziness of Phuket, and you don’t even need to get a separate ferry ticket since the van takes a ferry across the water. Koh Lanta is well-serviced by ferry routes to other islands too.
- While you're there, rent a bike! For 250 baht plus some fuel costs, you can fit two people and have a whole 24 hours worth of exploring the island.
- The cooking class at Time for Lime was amazing and I’d definitely recommend booking an evening in advance—they do different dishes each day of the week so check it out online.
While we didn’t explore the entire island or eat at even a fraction of the many restaurants, we did run across a few favorites
- We tried Nang Sabai German Bakery on the recommendation of a German travel blogger we met, and it was the best bread I’ve had so far in Thailand. You can get a nice German-style breakfast, homemade yogurt, and great sandwiches, all of which are perfect for a change from Thai food.
- We also tried a French bakery but it wasn’t very good and didn’t seem especially French—skip that one.
- We had some very good Thai food at Koala Bar, and heard they do nice western-style dishes as well (not a surprise, as they’re owned by an Aussie). Our Thai dishes, sweet potato curry and ginger duck, were a bit different from the norm, which was nice.
- We were craving a burger one day and ended up at Fat Monkey, a funky bar/restaurant with a good selection of Western food, beer, and wine. The burger was HUGE and the fries were perfectly cooked.
- I’m assuming the food at Time for Lime is delicious, although we didn’t get a chance to try it as we were in their cooking class. I can vouch for the cocktails (try the chili margarita!). You can feel good about spending money here as profits go to their animal shelter.
- We stayed at three different places on Klong Nin Beach. The first, a bungalow at Time for Lime, was cute but a bit too rustic; the Thai toilet system (which requires dumping a bucket of water into it to flush) might be a charming experience for some but was just too much for us to handle while still recovering from food poisoning.
- Due to this we moved to Andaman Lanta Resort, a nice place with a lot of Scandinavian tourists and a kind of “meh” breakfast, but the pool with beach view made it feel luxurious.
- Finally, we stayed at a bungalow at Lanta Scenic on the end of the beach, which was the most inexpensive of all of our stays (1200 baht, or about $34, per night for an air-conditioned bungalow with a nice bathroom). There was no breakfast and no beach view, but there was a short walk to the beach and a small pool.
- There are so many options for lodging in Koh Lanta, and March is slow season so everywhere had availability. You can stay for cheap if you don’t need AC, a pool, or other comforts (for example, we talked to a couple that was paying 600 baht per night for a bungalow just down the beach from us).
Don't have time to visit the islands? I have also written about how to get to Pranburi, Thailand, a peaceful beach town just 4-5 hours south of Bangkok.