We stumbled upon Koh Lanta by chance as we sat in Bangkok, wondering where to go next. We wanted to go back to Koh Tao, which we had visited a couple of years ago and loved, however unusually bad weather made the beautiful Koh Tao off limits - we had heard horror stories of the little island being practically flattened by storms! We also heard that the weather around Koh Phi Phi and Phuket was unusually wet for the time of year. Mike was ready to leave Thailand altogether and head straight to Malaysia, but I wasn't done with Thailand just yet.
Ignoring the weather forecast, I pondered over visiting the famous Koh Phi Phi islands, however, we had stopped by Phi Phi a couple of years ago on a boat trip and were not too impressed with the crowds. This time we'd be heading there right for Chinese New Year, so no doubt the island would be packed! Not what I had in mind for our last few days in Thailand. Looking at the map I discovered Koh Lanta nearby. Koh Lanta is a little off the typical backpacker route and is on the way to Malaysia from Bangkok. Bingo! After I did a bit of research, mainly on Travelfish, I knew we had to go there.
Introduction to Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta is somewhat in the shadow of Phi Phi and Phuket and gets far fewer visitors. It is predominantly a Muslim island, which might have helped slow, and lead to more thoughtful development. Rather than high rise hotels and party streets, it's bamboo bungalows and chilled out beach bars. The pace of life on Koh Lanta is slow and laid back. It is perhaps what Phi Phi was like 20 to 25 years ago. The island is made up of long white sandy beaches down the west coast, untouched jungle in the middle and spectacular cliffs and mangroves down the east.
We booked a 14-hour overnight bus from Bangkok (680 Baht/$19/£15.50pp), and off we went. We both slept surprisingly well on the bus and were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the following morning when we were dropped off at the ferry port for Koh Lanta. The sun was beating down on our necks as we bought our (very cheap) ferry tickets and hopped aboard. Where was this rain ey?!
The ferry only took about 15 minutes, but during that time we managed to bag ourselves a ride to our accommodation at Khlong Khong 30 minutes away for 200 Baht ($5.70/£4.50).
I chose Khlong Khong as it is the 'backpacker' area with cheap digs, cheap eats and decent happy hour deals. When we arrived at our new home, Pitt Bungalows ($16/£12.75), we instantly fell in love. We were greeted by the friendly Mr Pitt and immediately shown to our bamboo bungalow. It was basic and beautiful (I wish we had taken more pictures!).
One of the best things about Pitt Bungalows is that every bungalow comes with a moped, no questions asked. Koh Lanta is a huge island and by far the best way to get about is by moped. Having free rein of a moped during our stay was excellent value for money.
Mr Pitt was also an incredibly nice man. We managed to knock our fan over onto the hard bathroom floor and completely shatter the fan blades. When we took the fan blades to show Mr Pitt, he was more concerned that we didn't have a working fan than trying to bill us for it. He disappeared off and moments later reappeared with a brand new fan. He never did charge us for it.
We had originally booked 4 nights at Pitt Bungalows but we soon extended to 5 and to be honest, I could have easily spent another 5 nights there...
Making friends with a kitty at the bungalows
Kitty didn't want to leave our bungalow!
We were starving after the long bus journey from Bangkok so we had a delicious breakfast at Malinda's - the restaurant at Pitt Bungalows - and then scootered off to Khlong Nin beach - recommended by Travelfish.
Chilling on the beach waiting for the sunset
Having some refreshing coconuts at Charley Barleys
Waiting for the sun to set
What We Got Up To
We spent most of our time on Koh Lanta checking out some of the many beautiful beaches and in the evenings making new friends at the funky beach bars. We also spent a morning scootering over to Old Town on the other side of the island to get a glimpse of the spectacular view of the smaller islands.
Enjoying the peace on Khlong Jak beach
Almost nobody around on Khlong Jak
Taking a photo at the Old Town pier
Mike had been itching to try paddle boarding ever since he had missed the opportunity on Phu Quoc in Vietnam, so on our last day he gave it a go and was, of course, a natural!
I had to show him how it's done
Mikes silhouette in the sun
The best restaurant we found was Friend House Food & Drinks, just down the road from our bungalow. We managed to eat there 3 times in our short stay, now that speaks for itself. We even bought our bus tickets to Hat Yai from there because the owner was so friendly and he gave us a good price. The food was delicious and cheap and their fruit shakes were to die for!
- Thinking about going to Koh Lanta?? Don't think about it, just go!! You won't regret it. It is definitely one of my favorite places in Thailand. It's super duper chill, not over developed, and simply a beautiful place to be.
- Stay at Pitt Bungalows if you know what's good for you. That moped deal is an offer you can't refuse.
- Head down to a beach bar to check out a jungle party in the evening. There's one on pretty much every night.
- If you really want to get away from it all head to Khlong Jak beach. With only a couple of little wooden beach bars on its perimeter, it is quiet and idyllic.
- Take weather forecasts with a pinch of salt! The weatherman predicted rain and we got nothing but glorious sunshine every day! Maybe we just got lucky...