Have you been to Koh Lanta? If not, you should! If you love cruisy islands with amazing beaches, awesome hostels/backpackers that are also so so cheap, hotels fit for a Queen but cheap enough for the whole family, a peaceful place to scooter around, snorkeling, diving, yum food, the bluest/ most clear water you’ve seen, hardly any people around, just as beautiful and if not more beautiful than Koh Phi Phi (and way less people around), and in my opinion, far far better than Koh Samui, then Koh Lanta is for you!
The decision to go here was completely out of the blue (like many backpacking adventures), and it ended up being one of the biggest highlights of my trip.
When to go:
I went early January, the weather was perfect, and there were hardly any people there.
Where to stay:
Hotel: Pilanta Spa Resort – we decided this would be our luxury escape. We had our own private pool, spa bath, a huge king size bed, amaaaazing breakfast – all for around $44 USD a night. Before this we were staying in hostels/backpackers and we thought we would splash out for the last couple nights.
Hostels: as I have not stayed in hostels in Koh Lanta, I cannot really recommend. However, there are so many amazing hostels shown on Hostelworld. Also, the hostels are quite spread out so I would definitely recommend looking up a few hostel names and checking availability if you can, as the tuk tuk ride from the ferry could be longer than 20 minutes to many hostels.
How to get there:
This is an island in the Krabi province, so you will need to take a ferry across. You can take a bus/van + ferry ride across to Koh Lanta from Krabi, or a ferry directly from Phuket, or a ferry from Koh Phi Phi. If you have your own scooter or have hired one, you can take a scooter across from any of these destinations. When I visited, there was no need to book the ferry in advance. Just take notice of the ferry timetable from the port you are leaving, and give yourself enough time to buy a ticket and board in time. I always like to give myself a bit more time (about 45 minutes) as I like to avoid stressful circumstances if I can!
- The Four Islands: this tour was a highlight of the trip for those of you who do not dive. I saw so many tropical fish and the water was crystal clear blue. The downside was that the coral in these parts had been pretty badly degraded. The highlight was swimming through a pitch-black cave for 80m and popping up in a small beach inside a naturally hollowed out smugglers cove/ limestone hill in the middle of nowhere. This was called Emerald Cove and it was amazing! The islands we visited or passed included Ko Mook, Ko Kraden, Ko Chueak, Ko Waen and Ko Ngai The cost was about 1200 Thai Baht, but depending on when you go, you can get it cheaper by haggling it down.
- Full day diving tours: these are naturally more expensive, but my friend did one here and said it was definitely worth it. It was still much cheaper than what you would pay in say Australia in the Great Barrier Reef. Shop around for these dive trips, as different companies go to different sites each day. Costs vary depending on which trip it is and whether you take the speed boat or slow boat. Approximate price of around 3000-4000 Thai Baht including gear hire.
- Day trips to Koh Phi Phi are also possible.
What to eat:
I have to say that authentic street food was harder to come by in Koh Lanta. This was a definite downside to the Island. The restaurant meals were typically higher in price, but there were some amazing restaurants to eat at. There are many restaurants right on the beach which is always a wee treat. Of course there are the cheap and delicious nutella and banana pancakes available almost wherever you go!
Laundry services were pretty expensive in Koh Lanta, both the hotel and the street services. The price was about 40 Thai Baht per kilogram. Being the cheapos we were, we washed our clothes in our whirlpool bath and hung them up in our private backyard :p.
There are many places to hire scooters from in Koh Lanta, including hostels, hotels, corner shops and along the main roads. They are reasonably priced from 150-250 Thai Baht per day (including helmet hire). This depends on the condition, whether it is manual or automatic, how many ccs and where you are hiring it from. Typically hotels are more expensive to hire scooters from. However, I believe there is less risk of being blamed for dints or scratches that you didn´t create. Make sure you take before and after pictures of the scooter.
Also, you usually need to return the bike with the same amount of gas as you started with. Check how much gas you are starting with, and show this to the person you are hiring it off. My scooter was almost empty, and I might have been charged extra had I not showed the owners this. Gas costs about 40 Thai Baht off the local street vendors.
We hired the scooters and drove to the old town and back. We drove until sunset, and it felt incredibly safe! It´s definitely a good place to get your confidence up on a scooter as the Island is so quiet.
This island was incredibly relaxing. Hiring scooters and driving from one end of the island and back was amazing. I really began to feel at home here! I know I will be back. If you have any questions or comments, get commenting! I am happy to help :).